Monday, August 30, 2010

Salad days

Not all visitors to Deer Valley complex in Park City, Utah, want stick-to-your-ribs carbohydrates. For them, Clark Norris, executive chef at Silver Lake, created this satisfying salad for diners at Mariposa.

Buratta inspired Chef Clark to develop this Caprese style salad.

"The individual portion of Buratta preserves its 'stuffed' nature, allowing the guest to cut through the firm outer mozzarella 'shell' and release the creamy fresh mozzarella center to mingle with the rest of the salad," says chef.

The result? In Chef Clark's words, "Caprese Nirvana!"

The Mariposa's Burrata, Fresh Basil and Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad

Yield: 4 servings

16 oz. cherry heirloom tomatoes, halved
4 4 oz. balls of Burrata Mozzarella cheese (available from Gioia Cheese Inc.)
4 oz. petit basil
4 oz. wild baby arugula
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. aged balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, sliced into 8 vertical wedges
sea salt (granulates of small flakes)
fresh ground pepper blend (5-peppercorn blend is best)

Place halved tomatoes into a mixing bowl and dress with 2 oz. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of ground pepper.
Divide dressed tomatoes onto four 10-inch plates, placing tomatoes in a ring that leaves a 1-inch circular margin between the rim of the plate.
In a mixing bowl, dress the basil and arugula. tossing with 1 oz. olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.
Place dressed basil and arugula inside the ring of tomatoes, hollowing center slightly if necessary so you can place a seasoned ball of Buratta on top without its rolling off.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil (1-2 oz.) and aged balsamic vinegar (1 TBS.) to taste, around the edge of the plate inside the 1-inch margin.
Finish each salad with a squeeze of fresh lemon, one wedge's worth, over the cheese, greens and tomatoes.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chef Ouita's Pickled Shrimp

Pickled shrimp used to be a prime, special event offering from Southern cooks with as many versions as there were cooks, but you don't often encounter this once popular appetizer any more, which is a shame.  This recipe from Chef Quita Michel of Holly Hill Inn in Midway, KY, via The Woodford Reserve Culinary Cocktail Tour cook book, just might reverse that trend.

Chef Ouita's Pickled Shrimp
12-16 appetizer servings

3 lbs. fresh large shrimp, or 2 lbs cooked frozen shrimp
salt to taste
4 cups white onions, thinly sliced
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBS sugar
5 bay leaves
1 tsp. crushed black peppercorns
1 tsp. dill seeds
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. tarragon

Peel and de-vein the fresh shrimp. Combine the shrimp, salt and enough water to generously cover in a large saucepan. Steam or gently simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink and are cooked through. If using frozen shrimp, just thaw.

Layer shrimp and onions alternately in a nonreactive pan.

Whisk the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorns, dill seeds, celery salt, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and tarragon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Pour the warm marinade over the shrimp and onions and let stand until cool. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 4 to 48 hours (the longer the better), stirring occasionally.

Discard the bay leaves and marinade before serving.

NOTE: To find out more about Chef Ouita, Lexington and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky check the August posts at my other site,  Travel on the Level.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GA & KY chefs show off

Must tell you about two irresistible gourmet opportunities.

First up, Chef Laurie Erickson is holding two cook-in sessions for select groups of guests at Little St. Simons Island, GA, Aug. 27-29 and again Sept. 22-24.

The first night (guests depart St. Simons Island for LSSI at 4:30 p.m.) she cooks for you; the second she cooks with you, harvesting vegetables and herbs from the Island's USDA Certified Organic Garden and preparing dinner of fish and perhaps crabs that were caught that morning by you and the naturalists.

It sounds like a fun and memorable experience at one of the world's most relaxing getaways. Cost, $389 per couple per night, includes transportation to and from the island, accommodations, a gift, all meals and beverages and all cooking and island activities. Go to or call 866-855-0718 for details.

At Cookin' in the Bluegrass: a Celebrity Chef Dinner series all the preparation - and how! - will be done for you by 48 chefs during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, Sept. 25 through Oct. 10.

Working with the James Beard Foundation, organizers have put together once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences. On each of the 16 nights, 75-80 guests will gather at the Kentucky Horse Park's historic Farmhouse restaurant for meals and wine pairings worthy of James Beard House.

The best regional chefs will pair with notable chefs from around the country to prepare the best and freshest of regional ingredients. And what pairings; for example, Jonathan Lundy (I recently featured his shrimp and grits recipe) cooks with Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Traci Des Jardins of Jardiniere in San Francisco. Eric Fowler from Dudley's cooks with Marc Vetri of Vetri in Philadelphia and Tim Byrnes of Smoke in Dallas.

Tickets are $300 per person and you can find out all the details, from chef and wine pairings to menus by clicking around

Monday, August 16, 2010

KY bourbon super sipper

Southern cooks are known for finding more than one way to use an ingredient, especially one as revered as Kentucky bourbon. Every distillery along the Bourbon Trail has its own series of recipes, but it's hard to beat those of Woodford Reserve in Versailles, KY.

Long a proponent of matching beverage with food, Woodford has encouraged and supported the area's best chefs in creating recipes using its bourbon as an ingredient.

Invitations to a dinner at the distillery are highly coveted and I was fortunate enough to experience why. Chef Ouita Michel, who with her husband Chris established the elegant Holly Hill Inn and wildly popular Wallace Station Deli & Bakery in Midway, has become Woodford's go-to gal for spectacularly good food.

Following model Southern hospitality, I'll start with Chef Ouita's recipe for an adult refresher, a grand prize winner perfect for sitting and rocking and sipping on a big porch or a tiny backyard patio.

The Midway Front Porch Social Sip
2 servings

1 cup water
1 tea bag, any flavor
3 TBS sugar
4 large sprigs of mint
3 ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
 2 TBS fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon
1 TBS blond Lillet, optional

Combine the water, tea bag, sugar and two sprigs of mint in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Discard the tea bag and mint and stir in the bourbon, orange juice, lemon juice and Lillet. Pour over ice in two large ice tea glasses and garnish with the remaining two sprigs of mint.

Rocking chairs and lightning bugs are optional.

NOTE: To find out more about the chefs and other attractions in Lexington and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky check the August posts at my other site,  Travel on the Level.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shrimp and Grits from the Bluegrass

Has shrimp and grits become the South's new, everyone has a different version stew? A trip to Chef Jonathan Lundy's eponymous restaurant, Jonathan's at Gratz Park in Lexington, KY, produced yet another version and a souvenir recipe.

 The little bite to the sauce pairs perfectly with his Crispy White Cheddar Grits. It looks complicated but much can be prepared in advance.

Jonathan's Shrimp and Grits
Serves 6-8

The Shrimp
1TBS vegetable oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 TBS fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup shrimp, chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 TBS freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 TBS cold butter

In a 4-quart pot, preheat vegetable oil and saute onions, celery, and green peppers on high heat until tender. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper and herbs and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients except the shrimp and butter. Lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

Allow sauce to cool then process in a blender; puree to a smooth consistency. This can be done a few days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Place the shrimp and refrigerated sauce into a large pot on low heat, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking. The shrimp should be done in 10 minutes; don't overcook! When the shrimp are almost ready, stir in the butter.

Quickly remove the shrimp and set aside.

The Grits
2 cups grits, not instant
5 cups shrimp, chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups white cheddar cheese
1 TBS salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
3 cups cornmeal
2 cups vegetable oil

Place stock and cream in a 2-quart pot. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Stir in the grits and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes.

Stir in cheese, salt and white pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Taste the grits and notice the texture. When the grits have a smooth, creamy feel in your mouth, they are done. If they still have too much texture, add a cup of water and continue to cook.

Pour the grits into a sheet pan about 1 1/2 inches thick and allow them to cool in the refrigerator. When thoroughly cool, cut into 3- to 4-inch circles or squares. At this point, grits can be reserved for a few days and kept in the refrigerator.

Dust the grits with cornmeal. Set them aside until ready to fry.

Preheat oil to about 350 degrees in a large saute pan or tabletop deep fat fryer. In small batches, fry the grits to a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

The Assembly
On each plate, ladle about 3-4 ounces of warm sauce. Place grits over the sauce and then stand the shrimp up in the grits.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: To find out more about the chefs and other attractions in Lexington and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky check the August posts at my other site,  Travel on the Level

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lexington is hot spot for foodies

Leave your diet at home and indulge when dining in Lexington, KY.

Get ready for irony, too, as this center of the Blue Grass Thoroughbred industry, where anyone who rides knows, every ounce counts, specializes in the most calorie-packed and delicious of foods.

One of its signature dishes is the Hot Brown, a cholesterol raising concoction locals love. Have a cardiologist on call when you order and eat any version, but especially this classic version from Ramsey's Diner. The image, thanks to . I'll let you determine the amounts depending on the number you're feeding and your daring, but don't stint.

Ramsey's Diner Hot Brown

White toast           Cheddar cheese, shredded
Ham                      Fried bacon strips
Turkey                   Parmesan cheese
Chicken gravy
Sliced tomatoes

Layer ham and turkey on the toast. Cover with the cream gravy. Top with sliced tomatoes. Smother everything with shredded cheddar cheese. Add fried bacon slices on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the over until bubbly hot.

NOTE: NOTE: To find out more about the chefs and other attractions in Lexington and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky check the August posts at my other site,  Travel on the Level.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Always keen on peaches

Peaches began this blog almost a year ago which means it's time for more peach recipes. This one comes from South Carolina, the state that produces more than any other except California, and uses two other Southern staples, sweet potatoes and pecans. 

Peachy Sweet Potatoes
Serves 8

2 cups peaches, peeled and halved, (4-8 depending on size)
3 TBS. margarine or butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 TBS. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS. orange juice
3 TBS. peach juice
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3 TBS. brown sugar

Arrange peach halves cut side up in a lightly buttered baking dish.

Cream butter until very soft. Add mashed sweet potatoes. Add 2 TBS. brown sugar, the orange peel, salt, orange and peach juice and whip together.

Spoon mixture into peach halves; sprinkle with cinnamon, chopped pecans and the 3 TBS. brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

May be assembled ahead of time before.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shrimp, green papaya and mango meet lemongrass

When representatives from Peter Island Resort and Spa in the British Virgin Islands told me about the guest chef program focused on sustainable ingredients, I applauded. Then I asked for the recipe for one of their signature dishes. Here it is.

Peter Island Lemongrass Infused Shrimp, Green Papaya & Mango Salad

Serves 4

12 shrimp, 16/20 size, peeled and deveined
1 stick fresh lemongrass
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe mango
1 green papaya
1/2 sweet red pepper
1/2 sweet green pepper
dried mango slices
dried green papaya slices
small pinch fresh chilies
Extra virgin olive oil


Crush the lemongrass and chop. Mix with shrimp, salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and marinate for several hours.

Finely chop mango. papaya, peppers and mix. Add chili, season to taste and bind with a small amount of mango puree.
Heat a saute pan with olive oil, sear the shrimp on both sides and cook, about 3-4 minutes.
Arrange the the mango and papaya salad in a mold. Place the shrimp on the plate with dried mango and papaya slices in between.
Garnish with micro greens or arugula.

Better yet, let's hop a plane to Peter Island and let chef do it!