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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What is a Chef?



Over the past few years, I have had people call me ‘Chef’… and I have mixed feelings about that!

Yes, I am a culinary school graduate (with honors), yes, I run a food business and have survived (and grown) even with the supposedly receding recession, yes, I do try to push some boundaries, especially with our cheesecakes  and our ‘En Fuego’ cooking, but I do not consider myself a chef. When people ask, I call myself a ‘Cook from Jersey’!

I have hired culinary students, both here and in Virginia that know way more about ‘fancy’ cooking that I do. I know many chefs and cooks around town (Josh from Bin707, Theo from 626 on Rood, Diana Tarasiewicz, from DMT Catering and now District 51, Jonathan from Craving,  Chef’s Jon, Wayne and Dan Kirby from Colorado Mesa University’s Culinary Program, are just a few that come to mind, who have forgotten more than I will ever know!

While I have always loved cooking, I came into this industry late in life (after the age of 50!) and wonder, how much more would I know (and have learned) if I realized that this should be my profession years ago?

So, am I a chef?  No… a Cheesecake Savant.. maybe? (Come on, Ghost Peppers in a cheesecake?) And you gotta try our Colorado-Style Southern Chow-Chow, which will be unveiled at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in August. (Think Southern Relish meets En Fuego!)

To me, a chef is more than just a great cook. A chef knows how to hire the right people, train them the right way, in the right procedures (miz en place anyone?) and also knows how to give them a little room (not too much, at first!) and then can work with them and is able to get the most out of them, sometimes even more than they know they had in them.

A chef puts out food that makes people think, that makes people go ‘Whoa!’ and one who can do so again, again and again!!

Scary thing, well maybe not so much…. There are many great home ‘chef cooks’ out there! How many of us in the industry learned from their mom (or dad)? How many of their recipes have we adapted over the years and even have brought them into our professional lives?

Ya gotta love cooking and food and what it brings into our lives.. so go out, check out what our area chefs and cooks can do and then go home, and as we say a lot.. Play with your Food!

The ‘Website of the Week’ is Chef2chef.net. This is a great site about the industry and also has some tasty recipes. Our ‘Recipe of the Week’, Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies, is also from that site.

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 ,on Twitter (www.twitter.com/decadenceGJ) and on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/circ2000/decadence-cheesecakes-cooking-thoughts/).

Recipe of the Week...


Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies Recipe
(from Chef2chef.net)

Servings: 16 large or 24 small brownies
The addition of coconut and macadamias makes these rich brownies even more decadent and delicious.
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
  3. Place butter and chocolate in a bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.
  4. Cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugars, and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture.
  7. Fold in flour just until combined.
  8. Stir in coconut and macadamias and pour batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top.
  10. Cool completely in pan on rack before cutting.
 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July!



Every year, pretty much on the same date, we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. We celebrate it with food, fireworks and more and more nowadays, we also give a nod (as we should pretty much every day) to the people who are serving and have served in our Armed Forces.
Some people even get a long weekend! (geez, some people!)
Living out here in Western Colorado, we have myriad of choices of what to do on the weekend. Some head to the mountains and lakes, some head out to the local rivers, some take in a ballgame, some just stay home and have friends and family’s stop by… you get the picture!
But one thing that always seems to be present is food! Yes, food! And people are not satisfied with just dogs and burgers anymore (though they can be spiffed-up quite nicely, thank you!). No, they have seen the Food Network and Cooking Channel, they have seen the recipes in the local papers and say.. ‘I can do that!’, they are bursting out of the culinary-funk-norm that way too many people have stayed in for way too long.
Me, I like to play with recipes on the grill that people go… Wha?
Individual pizza on the BBQ are great, folks can choose what they want and they are really not that hard! You can get the small pre-made pizza doughs at the store or even use tortillas, let your cooking freak flag fly!
Want to check out more Pizza on the Grill recipes? Our ‘Website of the Week is from Oprah (http://www.oprah.com/food/Grilled-Pizza-Recipes-Best-Toppings-for-Grilled-Pizza) and gives you six ideas.. but by no means, feel restrained!!

Our 'Recipe of The Week' is from that same site, A Jalapeno, Garlic and Oregeno Pizza! (I am already thinking.. gee, maybe some cooked off chorizo added on?)

The next ‘flavor’ of our ‘Pop-Up/Flash’ restaurant will be Tacoz… Wednesday, July 9th at the VFW on 14th & Ute, from 5 – 7pm. Those who know me, know how much I love Tacos and these are some of my fav’s. The menu will include a ‘Beer-Bar-Coa’ Beef Taco, a Chicken Carne Asada Taco and our take on the taco that helped launch the Food Truck revolution.. A Korean Pork Taco. So stop on by!

You can know also follow us on Pinterest; Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes and Decadence Cheesecakes Cooking Thoughts... Check them out and let me know what you think!

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JalapeƱo Garlic and Oregano Grilled Pizza
(From Oprah.com)
Makes 4 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 8 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
Toppings:
  • 4 jalapeƱos, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds discarded
  • 4 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano.
Directions

Preheat grill so that 2/3 of grill is on high heat and 1/3 is on low heat. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough into a 6" circle. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

Coat a large, rimmed baking sheet with oil. Gently stretch a piece of dough into a 9" round, then place on oiled pan to coat both sides. Repeat with other pieces of dough and set aside on another baking sheet.

Working 2 pieces at a time, lift a dough round and drape it over the hot part of the grill. Repeat with second piece. Grill over high heat until seared, about 10 seconds. Using tongs, rotate dough and continue cooking 10 to 20 seconds more. Turn dough over and move to the cooler area. Apply 1/4 of the toppings to each piece of dough, then slide dough back and forth between hot and cool areas to finish cooking dough, melt cheese, and heat toppings, about 30 seconds more. With a large metal spatula, transfer pizzas to a cutting board, slice, and serve. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.