Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cauliflower Arancini

Dinner in the Dark here in Cleveland is quite literally an "Open Mic Night for Chefs" as described by my friends Brian Okin and Jeff Jarrett.  They have been making a monthly difference in charities around this great city and including some of the best talent that this region has!  The alumni list is a Who's Who in the culinary world!  Sometimes, with a little luck and timing and because of your previous experiences, you get the opportunity to do another one.  Monday, was my 3rd time being lucky enough to celebrate what they do as well as have Food Fanatics represented!

Their concept is simple, as a ticket holder, you know the location....  When you arrive and are seated, your 6-8 course flight is paired with a cocktail or wine or, in this case, beer.  Your menu has the following:
a simple image of what protein or vegetable or starch you may be eating
the name and company of the participating chef
the cocktail or wine or other beverage that is matched with said picture

These guys rock it and every month, the bar is raised!
Here is my dish from this amazing lineup!


Cauliflower Arancini with Smoked Gouda and duck confit / smoked pea puree / charred tomato sauce / candied duck skin

1 lb riced cauliflower
2 T. olive oil
1 t. Cajun seasoning
1 T. butter
1/4 c. diced red onion
1/2 c. arborio rice
1 qt. chicken stock
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 c. shredded smoked gouda
1 c. heavy cream
4 ea. duck legs - confit and shredded - duck skin removed
egg wash
panko bread crumbs
1 c. sweet peas
hickory chips
1 bunch green onions
2 T. white balsamic vinegar
3 large tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 c. maple syrup


for Arancini:

1.preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.toss cauliflower with Cajun seasoning and olive oil.
3.roast in oven 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. large saute pan, heat butter and red onions on high heat until translucent.
5.add rice and toast about 30 seconds.  reduce heat to low.
6.add chicken stock and stir occasionally until rice is al dente ( about 20 minutes)
7.add gouda and cream to finish risotto.
8.add to cauliflower and chill down in freezer for 1 hour.
9.form balls stuffing with duck confit and refreeze to set up for 1/2 hour.
10.roll balls in egg wash and panko
11.fry until golden brown.
12.finish in oven for 3-5 minutes.

for Smoked Pea puree:
1.soak hickory chips for 1 hour.
2.remove water and place in foil pan or foil on top of burner of grill. Turn grill onto medium heat. peas, green onions and white balsamic in pan.
4.smoke on grill with lid closed for 35-40 minutes or until desired smoky flavor is achieved.

for Charred Tomato sauce:
1.turn grill up to high and burn tomatoes on grill.
2.add to tomato sauce and puree

for Candied Duck Skin:
1.lay duck skin on parchment paper
2.cover with maple syrup.
3.toast in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until syrup becomes crunchy.
4.chill in freezer and rough chop.

Plate smoked pea puree, top with risotto ball, charred tomato sauce and top with candied duck skin.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Toasted on the Town

Brussels Sprouts were a thing.  Then again, so was TANG.  Just kidding.  Brussels Sprouts in the last few years have grown because people are not afraid to step out of the norm any longer.  So, the search continues for new ways to use cost efficient products.  Cauliflower is this years' Brussels Sprouts and for sure, it's full steam ahead!  Uber - paleo and fantastic flavor, it's used everywhere from salad bars to full on entree center of the plate.  Celebrate Cauliflower and all it's goodness!!!


Cauliflower Stir Fry

1 bag riced cauliflower
1/4 c. canola oil
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 t. cajun seasoning
1/4 c. Caramelized onions
1 t. roasted garlic
1 T. Sriracha sauce
2 T. Korean BBQ or Teriyaki Sauce
2 ea. chipotle rubbed chicken thighs
1 head broccoli(steamed and chopped)
1/2 c. chicken stock


1. lay cauliflower out on sheet pan and season with oil, salt, pepper and cajun spice.
2. roast in 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and somewhat crunchy. Reserve.
3. in saute pan, brown chicken and add chicken stock.  Remove and rough chop chicken once fully cooked.
4. return chicken to pan and add remaining ingredients.
5. heat on high and stir well to combine all ingredients.
6. serve when it all has a slight crunch to it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Irish Onion Soup

Sheri loves French Onion soup. She loves the richness but simplicity that it envokes!  Simple... Kinda, richness... YES!  It's not that it's rich beef broth could overtake it or that the sweetness of the onions are a great contrast. Its simply that she loves the once crisp roasted crouton that soaks up the tasty broth while being smothered in bruleed swiss cheese.  In her words, "I crave it!"  Here's to my Valentine, Sheri, with all my love!

Irish Onion Soup

2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
salt and pepper
1 gallon + 2 cups chicken stock
3 T. Beef base
1 can Guinness draught
1/2 loaf french baguette, sliced thin
2 T. garlic butter
1/4 wheel Guggisburg baby swiss cheese, sliced


1.In saute pan on medium heat, cook onions with shallots, salt, pepper, 1 T. beef base and 2 c. chicken stock until translucent in texture but a bit darker in color.
2.Transfer to stock pot, and add remaining base, stock, salt, pepper and Guinness. slow simmer for about 1 hour.
3.Add more chicken stock or water if reduced too much.
4.pulse with a stick blender for 1 minute to break up about half of the onions. (this will thicken the soup a bit as well).
5.With oven at 400, toast bread with garlic butter spread on pieces until crunchy like a crouton.
6.Break break into chunks.
7.Fill ramekins or hearty bowls with hot soup, Top with croutons of bread and swiss cheese.
8.Broil soup crocks to melt and brown cheese. About 3-4 minutes.