In 2014, my family spent our spring break in Florida - Orlando to be specific. Orlando is the home of Disney World, Universal Studios, and a host of other amusement parks. Families pack the parks and tourist attractions day-in and day-out. Restaurants such as Hard Rock Café and Rainforest Café offer high priced food to hungry tourists happy with a burger or sandwich. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these commercial restaurants. They have their place, and I’ve been known to patronize a few. But what I’m really interested in is local food and history. Where did these dishes come from, why was it made, and who made it first? Aside from oranges, gator bites, kumquat jelly, and conch fritters, the one dish Florida is consistently credited with creating is key lime pie. Key lime pie originates in the coastal city of Key West.
Did you grow up with a recipe that didn’t seem to fit into your family heritage, or the culture or region you resided in? You love it of course because you grew up loving it, but it’s unclear how and why it was always available in your home. Baklava is one of those quizzical foods for me. The treat was always at holiday celebrations, birthdays, and occasionally would even show up in our lunch boxes.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I look forward to it before I fall asleep at night. It makes an incredible difference falling asleep if I know that I’ll wake up with a healthy breakfast already prepared. It’s like having your outfit already picked and laid out for the day. An ease in my life. Now I love a good elaborate breakfast with a multifaceted array of different flavors - savory and sweet all together on the same plate. Bacon happily sitting next to eggs, lavish fluffy pancakes, savory hash browns in a pile next to fresh fruit, and maple syrup on top of it all. That’s what the weekends are for - being able to sit down with a mug of coffee and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with our loved ones. I don’t know about you, but my weekdays are packed with obligations - children, spouse, work, friends, and other haphazard activities. Weekdays are just not the time for an extravagant breakfast.
Rhubarb is a classic garden perennial found in many spring planting beds. This plant’s large crimped leaves emerge early on in the season, with its bright red stalks following close behind. As a small child, I have wonderful vivid memories of gardening with my family. As the ground began to thaw and the days turned warmer and longer, my parents and grandparents began to till the soil in preparation for seeds and seedlings. Our rhubarb seedlings were first lovingly sown inside, waiting on a sunny ledge in our home while the cold winter weather continued on.
I consider myself a Michigan native, but I've certainly ventured beyond the borders of the beautiful state. As self-proclaimed wanderer, daydreamer, and adventure seeker, I rarely turn down an opportunity for a new venture. I love to take risks. This wanderlust also extends to my choice of food - I’ve always been adventurous when it comes to trying new cuisines, flavors, or interesting food combinations. (There are a few things I simply cannot swallow, but don’t we all have those…)
There is nothing quite like homemade vanilla butterscotch pudding. Creamy and smooth with a silky lightness that can only come from careful cooking, stirring, and babysitting of what can be a finicky dessert to prepare. I encourage you to be diligent and persistent in the creation of your pudding, as the results will be worth your time and patience.
As Michiganders, we are accustomed to the beauty of our state. The large expanses of crystal clear lakes, the white sand beaches, and the abundance of greenery. Trees, particularly maples, sumacs, dogwoods, and oaks tower above us and provide a spectacular display of color in the chilly fall months. There is no better way to describe our state than as being #PureMichigan!
Hot fudge sauce is the tall dark and handsome of the liquid toppings family. If it were at a bar, it would be the Hitch watching every other pick up line attempt fail while smirking into its G&T. If it were an athlete, it would be captain of the basketball team and quarterback of the football team.
Chocolate sauce begins with chocolate (cacao beans to be precise). Cacao beans have a very long and rich history beginning with ancient South American cultures. Aztec cultures were said to have ground the beans into a paste and created a rich drink similar to modern day hot chocolate. The bitterness of the drink was said to turn off the conquistador. In order to temper the bitter flavor of the chocolate, the conquistador’s added honey and/or sugar.
Do you ever wonder how the first pastry was invented? As a chef, sometimes I wonder these things. Especially about the complicated recipes like mini pies. What happened, someone decided they liked the least desirable part of bread and ripest fruits available so much that they wanted to wrap them up together and roast them over flames?
Allegedly, pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. It is said that pies were originally made simply to store the filling for eating later and not to eat the crust with the filling. Thank god someone made the mistake of taking a bite out of the full pie...
We all have smells or tastes that take us back to a place in time of significance. The smell of honey and oranges takes me back to a very special time and place in my life.
I have lived in many places, traveled to far away countries, explored hideaways, and have had the opportunity to explore my passions and true callings. The places I have traveled and lived all have significance in one way or another, whether it is the people, the place or time in my life.
By now many of you know that I am a former professional pastry chef and food/product photographer. Yes, that was a shameless promotion for myself as a photographer! But seriously, I pull a lot of my recipes from experiences, trials, and errors from working in professional kitchens. Over the years, many of my recipes have evolved and grown into popular creations for many professional venues. I am always tweaking, adjusting or adding to my core bank of recipes.
Cheesecake is a simple dessert that provides an incredibly rich and decadent flavor and creamy texture.
Coffee. The alarm clock buzzes each and every morning at an ungodly hour; you slowly wake up, check your emails, update your Facebook status, scroll through comments and likes on instagram. Slowly the realization that you need to get out of the warm cocoon of blankets creeps up on you, thoughts of freshly brewed coffee convince you to place your feet on the floor, and you slowly head to the kitchen. One, two, three scoops of beans are placed into the grinder; the blades whir and the distinct aroma of freshly ground beans assault your senses.
Homemade Chocolate Cherry Soufflé
By now many of you know that I was a chef for many years, a pastry chef to be exact. I loved the fast-paced, creative outlet that working as a chef provided. What I did not like was the 14-hour days, odd hours and lack of time I had to spend with my family and friends. You definitely form a camaraderie, a bond with your kitchen staff, they essentially become your family. Continue reading
How To Make Soda
Soda, pop, or cola all regional names for the iconic drink we have all grown up with. A sugary sweet carbonated beverage that gives us the kick of caffeine that has gotten us through long nights of cramming for exams and early mornings. Soda is a relatively new creation that only dates back to the 1780’s. Chemist Joseph Priestly invented the process of carbonating water while attempting to carbonate the beer brewing process in Leeds, England.