Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Intense Chocolate with Strawberries and Cream

I'm starting to create the Valentines menu and found a flourless chocolate cake that is amazing and had to be shared with everyone. The cake is easy to make and then it's showcased by adding some vanilla bean ice cream and amaretto soaked strawberries. The cake is started by bringing coffee, butter, and sugar to a boil and pouring over bittersweet chocolate shavings. The hot chocolate mixture is added to whipped eggs, salt, and vanilla until tempered. Strain the mixture into a cake pan and bake in a water bath at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting and dusting with confectioners sugar. The strawberries are soaked in amaretto and sugar for 3 hours before serving. The vanilla bean ice cream is freshly churned and topped right before going out. This will be the dessert course for our valentines menu in the restaurant after a multi course wine dinner.
Enjoy the recipe:
1 cup Bittersweet Chocolate
12 oz Unsalted Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Coffee
6 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ice Fishing

A few of the guys at work managed to talk me into ice fishing with them this week and I ended up going to try it out and say that I've done it. We drove up the mountain early in the morning to about 10,000 ft and ended up at Antero Lake. The snow wasn't blowing too hard but the thermometer read -6 degrees when we pulled up to the frozen lake. After unloading all the equipment, tents, and gear we started our journey onto the center of the lake to set up and start fishing. You can bet that I was bundled up with multiple layers of clothing to stay warm and even wrapped my 3 pairs of socks with plastic bags to keep warm, none of that helped by the way. After setting up the tents, we drilled holes into the lake and set up the fishing poles. Now I'm a city kid and have never even considered walking onto a frozen lake, let alone to cut out holes and then sit down to start fishing, pure madness. Within the first 10 minutes, I had caught my first rainbow trout and was ready to go home but they laughed and said we were just getting started. After a few hours of my toes being numb and both hands shivering nonstop I had caught 7 trout and kept two of the larger ones. The only negative besides standing on a frozen lake was the snow storm that hit us on the way out. The wind was blowing profusely and we had to trudge through almost a foot of snow with all the gear uphill. It was a complete white out and it took over an hour to get back to the truck, a true workout that had me sore the next day. Overall, I had fun and as a chef, really enjoyed the fresh fish but don't plan on ever ice fishing again, I have enough sense and patience to wait for spring. Here are some pictures from the trip....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Peanut Brittle

This is the time of the year where one of my favorite snacks starts to appear on coffee tables across the country. Peanut Brittle is extremely easy to prepare and makes a great gift for those multiple secret Santa gift exchanges. I made this recipe tonight for a component of our "amuse bouche" (a small bite to excite the palate, courtesy of the chef). The peanut brittle is broken into smaller pieces and topped with a pepper crusted goat cheese truffle. Here is the recipe for peanut brittle in case you want to take a shot at it.
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Water
2 cups Peanuts (crushed)
2 Tbl Unsalted Butter
2 tsp Baking Soda
Procedure: Mix the sugar, syrup, and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the peanuts and cook the syrup on high heat until 300 degrees (use a candy thermometer). Remove the pot from the heat and add the butter/baking soda. Mix until smooth and all the butter is melted. Pour the mixture onto a greased sheet pan or a silpat and spread thin with a spatula. Allow to cool before breaking into pieces.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bacon Pizzette

I found a use today for the bacon powder and everyone was blown away with the flavors of the meal. I made some pizzettes and decided to spread bacon jam, truffle ricotta cheese, and caramelized onions on the dough. I baked the pizzettes and garnished with some frisee lettuce, watercress, Parmesan, and bacon powder. The different bacon components really made these small bites exciting and full of "wow" factor. As you bit into the crunchy crust, the bacon jam gave a sweet accent, and then salty finish. The greens were refreshing with the creaminess of truffle infused cheese. The bacon powder was a great touch because it dissolved on your tongue releasing tons of bacon flavor in each bite. I think we have found a replacement for grated Parmesan on pizza and it's bacon powder.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brine Your Turkey Please!!!!!

There are always so many people that ask me each year how to properly roast a whole turkey for their Thanksgiving feast and my immediate response is usually "do you brine the bird"? A brine is extremely important because it has multiple benefits before the cooking process even begins. A brine is simply a salt water solution that allows the salt water to flow through cell walls of the protein and also carry in flavor by osmosis. Once the process is complete, the extra moisture and seasonings stay inside the bird creating a more flavorful and juicy turkey, which we all want for Thanksgiving. A brine is simple to do and will build your confidence when cooking for the family during the holidays. Here is a basic recipe for an average sized turkey that I've used over the last couple years to impress family members and make them wonder what secret I have as a chef when cooking turkey. Please feel free to be adventurous and add some other flavor components like chipotle, molasses, orange juice, ginger, cloves, etc.... Remember, this is a basic brine that will work as a base or simply by itself.

1# Kosher Salt

1# Brown Sugar

1 1/2 Gallons Water

1 Tbl Black Peppercorns

5# Ice

12# Turkey

Procedure: Place the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and water in a large pot; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling completely. Add the chilled liquid to a large bucket, cooler, or pot (large enough to submerge your turkey with the liquid), add the ice. Place the turkey (head first) into the liquid and completely submerge (use a few plates to keep the bird under the brine). Allow the bird to soak overnight or at least 8 hours in a cold place like the refrigerator. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it off completely. Dry thoroughly before trussing the bird with butchers twine (it is extremely important to truss the bird for even cooking and presentation purposes) Check the following for a good video on trussing a turkey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auQB7D_xB0I. Season with a dry rub or infused butter underneath the skin and inside the cavity. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and roast for 3-4 hours, I usually check for 155 degrees with a calibrated thermometer in the thickest part of the bird (between the leg and thigh). Remove from oven and allow the bird to rest for at least 30 minutes, this process will redistribute the juices in the bird and also continue cooking to 165 degrees. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and good luck, feel free to contact me if you have any questions bluck@benchmarkmanagement.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bacon Powder

Now here is another form of bacon that I'm working on incorporating somehow into a dish, ideas are always welcome. I had some bacon fat leftover from brunch today and decided to mix it with some Tapioca Maltodextrin (about 60% fat and 40% tapioca maltodextrin) and create a "Bacon Powder". Tapioca Maltodextrin is a modified food starch that stabilizes foods with high fat content. When mixed with any oils it will create a powder form and dissolve when in contact of moisture, such as the tongue. I haven't decided where to use this in the restaurant, but I like the idea of having it around for specialty functions. The best part of playing with this technique was teaching the staff and watching their reaction to bacon powder dissolving on their tongues while turning back into a liquid again.

Trout Skin

One of the biggest challenges of cooking "skin on" fish is getting that crispy texture evenly across the fillet. I put a new dish on the menu that consists of Ruby Red Trout with Bacon Jam and Tamarind Honey. The dish is great, but I've noticed that the cooks struggle with the crispy skin technique during busy periods. I figured that it was a problem that needed to be resolved and started working on a solution. I remembered a technique that involved removing duck skin and baking it until crispy to be served as a garnish with duck breast. First, I carefully removed the skin from the trout and placed each side by side between 2 silpats. I put 5 sheet pans on top of the silpats and 1 underneath to keep the skin flat while it baked 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. After cooling the results were above and beyond my expectations. The skin was translucent and really crispy with a salty taste, it reminded me of all the fish chips I enjoyed growing up in San Francisco by Chinatown. After the fish was cooked, I glazed it with the tamarind honey and bacon jam. Right before the dish goes out to the guest, it is garnished with the crispy trout skin. I think that it's important to continue questioning techniques and searching for better alternatives. My wife told me last night that I'm the type of person that always thinks there is an answer for everything and I just have to find it. I never realized how extremely true she was. I think the reasoning is I enjoy learning and continuing my education while pushing others around me to do the same. Good luck on searching for your next alternative and cherish the journey...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Components of a "Panzanella"

Earlier this year, a good friend and chef named Bob Zappatelli made a phenomenal Panzanella Salad with me at a VIP client function in Texas. This version is a tribute to his passing and will hopefully be chosen as the first course for an upcoming charity event. The panzanella is literally a bread salad that is tossed with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, anchovies, garlic, capers, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I've literally taken each component and stacked them in a tower with showing off the colors of the salad. The layers are as follows starting from the bottom: tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olive tapenade, toasted breadcrumbs. I've drizzled some white trufflle oil, basil oil, and aged balsamic around the plate. When you break into the tower, the toasted breadcrumbs mix into the other components creating the flavors of a traditional panzanella. I'm very proud of this salad and wish that he was here to taste it....

Rest In Peace Bob Zappatelli

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Achiote Chicken with Corn Salad

Here is an updated version of a current dish that simplifies the demand for "meat and potatoes". The chicken is marinated in a blend of garlic, vinegar, achiote paste, and oil for a minimum of 24 hours and then vacuum sealed to really intensify the color . We cook the chicken in the sealed bag for about 30 minutes at low temperature and then cool. The corn salsa is simply corn, peppers, cilantro, scallions, lemon, jalapeno, and salt. The colors are amazing on the plate and by simply piping some potatoes around the dish creates a nice visual appearance. For anyone that does not know what achiote is here is the definition:

Achiote Paste- this is a bright orange seasoning paste from the Yucatan made of ground annatto seeds; it is often thinned with vinegar or citrus juices for marinades and sauces.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mushroom Mosaic

A terrine is simple thing to create and all it takes is a little patience. This is an upcoming chilled appetizer on the new menu and it really showcases Colorado cuisine. The wild mushrooms are placed in a hot vegetable stock over medium heat to cook until tender. Afterwards, they are strained (reserving the liquid) and pressed until all the moisture is gone. The hot vegetable stock is strained and gelatin sheets are added after blooming in cold water. All the mushrooms are packed into a mold and the stock is poured over. After pressing the mushrooms down and weighing down overnight, it is sliced to reveal a beautiful mosaic of mushrooms. I lightly roasted some red bell peppers and pureed them with oil and white wine vinegar. The sauce was strained and 3 dots were placed on the plate. Some frisee lettuce was tossed in truffle oil to garnish the plate and give the refreshing crunch that was needed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Ingredient: Meat Glue

While working in Florida, I was introduced to Meat Glue (aka transglutamine activa rm). The "meat glue" is a powdered enzyme that binds proteins together allowing you to stick proteins together like bacon wrapped without a pick or casing-less sausage. After doing some research I found some techniques on changing the shape of meats, utilize leftover products, and merging hybrid fish like tuna and halibut. The "meat glue" cost me about $90 for 2.2lbs from a website called http://www.chefrubber.com/. Once it arrived, I set out to start playing around with new ideas for the kitchen. This is the first dish that was created with the meat glue Filets of Salmon with Pomegranate Butter. The procedure was fairly simple: lay out two filets of salmon and sprinkle with the meat glue, place on top of each other opposite directions to create an even filling (head to tail and tail to head), wrap into a perfect cylinder with plastic wrap and tie the ends, allow to rest in the cooler for at least 4 hours if not overnight. The next day, I came in and immediately ran to the cooler to cut the steaks. After slicing the salmon into individual steaks, they were perfectly round and consistent with each other. I made a simple butter sauce with pomegranate seeds and caramelized the fish in clarified butter. It's amazing what this means for future opportunities such as food cost savings and enhancing plate presentations. Meat glue has been in use since the mid 20Th century and was most commonly used in ingredients like chicken nuggets and imitation crab meat. I will be posting more in the future as I find other ways to use this ingredient. P.S. Meat glue needs to stay extremely cold to stay active, I broke down the 2.2lb package into smaller vacuum sealed bags and currently have it stored in the freezer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grilled Halibut with Saffron Banana Butter and Balsamic

Here is a dish that I came up with a few years ago and thought that it would make a good lunch today. Our butcher had some extra Halibut filets leftover from a party the other day and put some aside for me. I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper, brushed with a little butter and grilled on each side for about 7 minutes. The butter sauce is mashed bananas, white wine, shallots, honey, thyme, and saffron reduced down. A few drops of cream and cubes of chilled butter are whisked in at the very end to enrich the sauce. I drizzled some reduced balsamic vinegar and sprinkled some salt to finish the dish. The sauce is very complex in flavors and really blends well with the flaky fish. Overall, I love this sauce and enjoy putting it on most seafood because of it's appearance and unique flavors.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bacon Jam

I've been buried in the office lately working on the recipe cards for the upcoming menu and came to a halt at the recipe for "Bacon Jam". The "jam" will be served with ruby red trout and roasted potato medley. My only problem was that I hadn't created the recipe yet and needed to ensure the amounts were right. I decided to go to the kitchen and make the jam while writing down the ratios for my recipe to ensure consistency. The result was amazing and I had to fight the staff off to keep the remainder for making the actual entree this weekend. I'm very impressed with the results and wanted to share this dish with everyone since it's bacon and nothing tops a good bacon dish. Here is the recipe and enjoy:

Bacon Jam

1/2 cup Pancetta

2 Tbl Canola Oil

2 ea Yellow Onions

2 oz Pomegranate Concentrate

1 oz Worcestershire

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

To Taste Salt

Procedure: In a medium sized saute pan, render the bacon with the canola oil until crispy. Add the onions and cook on medium heat until caramelized. Add the remaining ingredients and reduce until liquid is almost gone. Allow to cool before serving.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lamb Shanks in Red Chile Mole and Potato Corn Hash

Here is the first draft of a new dish for the upcoming menu. The lamb shanks have been braised in a red chile mole sauce and served with a potato corn hash. The flavors are spot on when it comes to sweetness, spicy, and bitter. I am really a big advocate of slow cooking and love to show off this technique whenever possible. The mole was a blend of garlic, almonds, raisins, ancho chiles, chocolate, onion, tomato, and cinnamon. I simmered the mixture for an hour before adding the lamb shanks and braising until tender. As the lamb slowly cooked in the mole, the sauce itself reduced down and concentrated all the flavors. I will be shredding this batch and serving atop my last posting of "Manchego Cornmeal Biscuits" for the Signature Chef's event as a small bite. Overall, a success that truly captures the warmth of a dish on a cold day like now. It's starting to lightly snow and the temperature was a high of 37 degrees today, beautiful Colorado.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Manchego Cormeal Biscuits

These biscuits were made as an experiment to create a base for an hors d'oeuvre that I will be serving at the upcoming March of Dimes Signature Chef's event on October 29 here at the resort. I've been participating in this event for the past couple years between Colorado and Texas. We will be showcasing 20 chefs and their cuisines while serving to 400 guests. The biscuits are made with cornmeal, manchego cheese, rosemary, and golden raisins. I am braising some lamb shanks in red chile mole for at least 4 hours. Afterwards, the lamb will be shredded and placed on top of the biscuits. The biscuits are small, but pack tons of flavor from all the ingredients. I think that this will definitely be a hit with the guests that night and introduce the culinary passion of Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ebelskivers with Frozen White Chocolate `Parfait

This dessert was inspired by pancakes and whipped cream. The pancakes are round from being cooked in a special cast iron skillet called an ebelskiver pan. Traditionally a danish specialty, it's said to have been created by vikings that cooked on their war dented helmets. The frozen souffle is whipped cream fold into a white chocolate ice cream base and frozen solid. This was a dish that was very hard to stay away from since there is nothing healthy about this dessert. Originally I first learned about this style of pancakes from a restaurant that I worked at back in Phoenix, Arizona. Every Sunday we would set up a station and fry these round pancakes for guest and fill them with berries or chocolate.

Peppercorn Crusted Buffalo with Crawfish Ragout

Here is the main course from the dinner. The buffalo was center-cut tenderloin that was peppercorn crusted and seared in hot oil to create a hard crust on the outside. The crawfish tails were sauteed with roasted garlic, heirloom tomatoes, spinach, shallots, demi glace, and butter. The dish was very straight forward with lots of complex flavors built into each bite. Everyone was very happy with this course and the plates all came back clean.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carpaccio Wrapped Potato with Mushroom Essence

This dish was a recreation of Marcus Samuelson's idea in his Aquavit book . I was so blown away by this dish that I needed to try out the technique and experience it for myself. The beef is shaved extremely thin on plastic wrap and then a horseradish infused mashed potato is piped down the center. After wrapping the potatoes into a perfect roulade, we allowed it to freeze before slicing ensuring a perfect cut. The mushroom essence was morels and porcinis steeped in black tea with some chicken stock and red wine. It's reduce by 3/4 and it's completely concentrated. I was going to clarify the broth to go the consomme route, but felt that it wasn't the right season for the concept. Overall a beautiful dish that everyone was impressed by. The best part was how the essence was strong in flavor of mushroom, but when the horseradish potato mixed in the soup changed completely.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Calamari Rellenos with Cilantro Chimichurri and Pepper Coulis

Here is the first course from the wine dinner: Calamari Rellenos with cilantro chimichurri, red pepper coulis, and bacon parmesan stuffing. The calamari tubes were stuffed and then grilled, the filling was a nice blend of lemon, breadcrumbs, bacon, and parmesan. The tentacles were soaked in buttermilk and then tossed in seasoned flour before deep frying quickly in 350 degree oil. The cilantro chimichurri was a great accent to this dish. Cilantro, garlic, onion, pumpkinseeds, red wine vinegar, oil, and habaneros were pureed in a blender on high speed. The sweet red pepper sauce was roasted and peeled bell peppers with a touch of canola oil, salt, and rice wine vinegar. I was very happy with this dish for the most part and cannot wait to enhance it for the new menu. We are planning on filling the tubes with smoked cheddar and chorizo sausage to give some better texture.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wine Dinner Update:

Tonight was the wine dinner down at the country club and it was a huge success. We served 50 guests a multiple course menu from 6pm til 9pm. The dinner went smooth and really allowed me the chance to try some new dishes out for the new menu. I took some good pictures and will be posting them individually over the next few days. Now it's time to relax and enjoy a glass of cabernet. Bon Appetit!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gravlox with Avocado, Lime Oil, Potato Chips

The salmon has been curing for the past 2 days in the salt mixture and is ready to be plated. After rinsing the fish and slicing thinly, I made two different versions of this dish. The first is a layer of chips, gravlox, creme fraiche, and arugula. The second is a napoleon of avocado, gravlox, creme fraiche, and chips. The avocado really brought the dish together and allowed the salt from the cure to not overpower the other components. I will most likely try this dish out a few more times and perfect the cure before making this a new addition to the menu. I'm thinking of using a different type of salt instead of kosher, maybe Hawaiian pink salt.

Monday, September 21, 2009


One of the first dishes I learned to make when I started out was Gravlox. I was 16 years old and we were going to be serving Gravlox on the Thanksgiving buffet at my vocational school. I remember mixing the salt and sugar together wondering how salt could actually cook the salmon. After a few days of sitting in the cure weighted down by brick...Voila!!!!.. Amazing tender and meaty salmon slices that tasted great on a warm crostini. This is a tribute to that experience and an experiment for the new menu. I'm working on a southwestern influenced gravlox with Tequila and lime. The procedure is fairly simple: make a cure of 2:1 salt/sugar, bury the salmon in the cure, wrap and weigh down for 3 days depending on size of fillet until cure, wash the cure off before slicing and serving. This cure is salt, sugar, cumin seed, ancho chiles, fennel seed, lime zest, and cinnamon. The fish is rubbed with tequila and cilantro then buried in the salt cure. I've wrapped the fish in cheesecloth and weighted it down with a couple of large cans. I will take more pictures once it's cured and create a finished dish.

Cheese Course

There is nothing better than cheese, except maybe pork. I'm working on a new cheese course for the upcoming menu and I had some great samples come in for a tasting. On the plate, we have a drunken goat, cambozola, creamy gorgonzola, horseradish mustard harvati, smoked gouda, and 18 month gruyere. The drunken goat is very similar to a manchego with a subtle taste of goat's milk at the end, sweet and creamy. The cambozola is a favorite of mine and I enjoy the soft brie rind with a creamy blue interior. It's spreadable and great on a piece of baguette. The creamy gorgonzola was different, very sweet and earthy without the natural sharpness of a bleu. The horseradish mustard harvati was a favorite amongst the kitchen. It had a strong mustard tang with a mellow horseradish accent, very creamy and great with a piece of roast beef. The smoked gouda wasn't too impressive, light smokey flavor. The 18 month gruyere was nice, salt crystals were present but not overpowering. Very sweet beginning and salty finish, I'm thinking of pairing this with pumpkin bread. Overall, not a bad tasting and a few things to get excited about adding to the next menu.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Buffalo and Green Chile Pot Pies

While working on the new menu, I had the idea of doing a pot pie for an appetizer course. Pot pies are a classic American staple and the perfect comfort food when approaching the winter season. After going back and forth about how to make the shell, I decided on a basic profiterole (most people know them as cream puffs). I made the savory batter and baked off the airy little pastry pockets. Once they were cool, I filled them with some of the buffalo green chile mixture. The buffalo is ground and cooked with potatoes, corn, and poblano peppers in seasoned broth. After letting the staff taste this batch, I think that it's definitely a keeper for the new menu.

Automatic Service Charges

I've been recently browsing through some discussions on automatic service charges while dining in resort restaurants and would have to agree with the mass. It is always so discouraging to dine in an establishment that takes away your right to reward the waitstaff with a cash tip according to their performance. Since I work in a resort (Cheyenne Mountain), I think it's extremely important to realize what your clientele is thinking and how can you improve on their comments. I was extremely happy to return back from my Florida assignment to find out that we are no longer placing an automatic tip on the checks, except for parties of 6 or more. This change will really allow the staff to change their mentality when servicing our customers and strive to enhance the guests experience. The new focus and direction of the restaurant has been to become more of an ala carte establishment while creating a buzz that we offer more than just Sunday Brunch or Friday Night Seafood Buffet. In these economic times, most guests are looking for savings and value while spending their hard earned money.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stuffed Quail with Smoked Cheddar Grits, Sweet Corn Puree, Pepper Confetti

Here is the remainder of the quail, inspired by a fellow chef in Naples, Fl. I was helping him try out some new dishes for an upcoming menu and he wanted to do quail, boneless. I thought that it was a great idea and decided that I wanted to use the same technique for my next menu. The wings, thigh bone, and legs are removed leaving a boneless quail. I then stuffed the quail with creamy grits, smoked cheddar, and roasted corn. After wrapping the bird in bacon (mmmhhh...), it is wrapped in plastic wrap to tighten and chill forming a perfect oval shape. I reduced some corn in honey, cayenne, and cream before pureeing until smooth in a blender. A colorful pepper confetti enhances the plate and gives the needed crunch for the filling. This dish will most likely be on the new menu coming up next month, it's nice to be home in beautiful Colorado Springs....

Quail Lollipop with Lavendar Honey and House-Made Queso Fresco

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately, but I've been working in South Florida for the past month helping out another hotel. The executive chef put in his resignation and I was asked to come down and help out until the new chef was hired. It was extremely hot and humid, but beautiful nonetheless. Here is a picture of my amuse bouche for the night, Quail Lollipop with Queso Fresco and Lavender Honey. I had some leftover quail legs and thighs, so I decided to chop off the knuckles and pull the meat down into lollipops. The house-made queso fresco is simply hot milk with the addition of apple cider vinegar and kosher salt. Once the milk separates and the curd hardens, it's strained into cheese cloth for a couple of hours to dry. The cheese is crumbly with a decent amount of salt content. I finished with quail with some lavender infused honey.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Revised Wine Dinner Menu

After doing the tasting on Wednesday, I made some changes to the dishes and attached are the wine selections. I didn't have my camera with me the day we did the food, but I was extremely happy with the results. The dinner will be on the 26th of September at the Country Club of Colorado. If interested in attending please contact the restaurant for reservations (719) 538-4088:

Calamari Rellenos, Red Pepper Puree, Cilantro Chimichurri
Stuffed with Parsley, Shallots, Parmesan, and Smoked Bacon
Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Wild Mushroom Essence with Beef Cannoli and Horseradish Potato Filling
Melini Chianti Classico, Italy

Green Tea Sorbet

Entrée Duet
Peppercorn Buffalo & Crawfish Scampi
Baby Spinach Leaves, Creamy Risotto, Heirloom Tomatoes
Juan Rojo Toro, Spain

Cheese Course
Chef’s Selection of Gourmet Cheeses and Accompaniments
Georges Dubeuf Saint Veran Chardonnay, France
Cruz de Alba Crianza, Spain

White Chocolate & Berry Parfait with Aebleskiver Pancakes
Muscat De Beaumes De Venise, France

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Upcoming Wine Menu

So we have decided that we are going to host our next wine dinner in September and have begun the process of getting pairings done. I just put together my first draft of the menu and will be conducting a food and wine tasting on August 6th. Once I taste the wines, it will be much easier to match the flavor profiles of each dish. Here is what I have so far:

Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese Tart
Grilled Artichoke Hearts, Arnoud Olives, Roasted Sweet Pepper
Wild Mushroom Tea with Rocky Mountain Beef Carpaccio
Crab and Avocado Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Entree Duet
Hot Smoked Salmon with Citrus Fennel Salad
Mission Fig Stuffed Pork Loin with Molasses Creme Fraiche
Frozen Blueberry Parfait with Danish Pancakes

Friday, July 3, 2009

Foie Gras Carving Station

Here is a photo of a foie gras carving station that I helped with at a food and wine event. Michael Ginor is the owner of hudson valley foie gras and also author of the book "Foie Gras". When I asked him what we would be doing that day, he response was 3 different preparations of foie gras: a terrine, a flan, and a carving station. After looking at him puzzled, he said it would be just like prime rib in Vegas, excepts we would carve lobes of foie gras for the guests. We pan seared a couple lobes of foie gras and roasted them until they were warm in the center with some shallots and thyme. The foie gras was sliced and sprinkled with a pinch of clean sea salt as each guest walked up to our station. It's not very often that you get to work with such an expensive ingredient on a buffet style presentation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One day your here and then your gone.....

Life is extremely short and you never know when it's your time to depart. I really believe that each moment is a gift and you should cherish them before they pass. A really good friend and mentor of mine recently passed away at the young age of 50 years old. His memory will always be of high quality ingredients, a passion for your craft, and good scotch. He was a great friend and an amazing chef that made everything seem so much more interesting and beautiful when he was involved. I hope that when I'm gone people will say the same about me and remember that I loved my craft and family. Take a second to step away from the constant rush of the kitchen, buzzing ticket machines, and clanging of pots from the dishroom to realize what's most important in your life. Rest in peace Bob Zappatelli....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Petite Prime Rib

This dish was apart of wine dinner that I hosted recently. The prime rib was cooked in smoked rock salt for 4 hours at 250 degrees. With the beef having such an intense flavor, only a small portion was served and the components really completed the dish. The potato puree was infused with horseradish, the tomatoes were roasted 4 hours slowly in olive oil until the flavor was condensed into an explosion of flavor. The garlic chips were the best part besides the beef. With a sharp mandolin, the garlic cloves were sliced thinly (similar to the razor in goodfellas) and brought to a boil in milk to remove the bitterness. After rinsing off the milk, the slices were deep fried in oil until golden brown and sprinkled with sea salt. I was really proud of the simplicity and thought behind this dish. Each guest raved about how amazing it was to have classic prime rib course on a wine dinner.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


My wife and I just purchased a home in Colorado Springs, CO and threw our first party for some our friends and family. I knew that everyone attending expected some great food since I am a chef. I decided to go above and beyond their expectations and bought a 40lb pig for the party. You can imagine the suprise on their faces when they walked in the kitchen. The pig started out in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and then it was turned down to 250 for the next 3 1/2 hours. The skin was perfectly crisp and the meat was so tender and succulent. I made a pineapple jalapeno bbq sauce to go with it that really put it over the top. Now I'm trying to figure out what else can I do with all this leftover pork. Any ideas????

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Summer Corn Soup w/ Shrimp, Walnut Oil, Ancho Powder

Here is a soup that I put together for tonight. The soup is a sweet corn puree that has a hint of honey and spice of ancho powder. The shrimp are poached in walnut oil and tossed with scallions. This soup is perfect for the spring season but rich enough to serve as an upscale starter. The balance of walnut oil and sweet corn are amazing when accented with a little heat from the ancho.


The beauty of working in a kitchen is the everchanging melting pot of flavors that come from all the cultures we work with. I've been craving some "posole" for awhile now and asked Juan (a talented cook from Mexico) to whip some up for the day. A few hours later, Juan dropped a big bowl of steaming "red chile posole" on my desk. The bowl was filled with chunks of stewed pork, shredded cabbage, hominy, and lemon wedges. For those that don't know, Posole is a stew that originated in Jalisco, Mexico and is commonly served during Christmas time. It's an easy dish to make that can feed lots of people on a low budget, (perfect for this economy). He started off boiling some pork covered with water, a chopped onion, and garlic cloves. In a separate pan, he boiled some dried red chiles, onion, garlic, and water until it was all tender. After pureeing the chile mixture in a blender, it was added to the simmering pork and cooked for another hour. The soup was seasoned with salt and lemon and served with fresh cabbage slaw. Yesterday we all enjoyed a yellow chicken curry for staff meal and today it's posole. More than often, this industry can be very fulfilling when it comes to satisfaction. There is nothing like a light broth with hints of chile and lemon on a cool day.

Friday, May 15, 2009


A few days ago, I attended a food show in Denver and ran into one of our specialty produce suppliers. One product in particular that caught my eye were his exotic fruits. I love to try something new and saw that he had a fruit that I had never tried, Mangosteen. He gave me a few to take home and I just got done opening them up and trying the jewel fruit inside. The outside is extremely hard with a purplish brown skin. After carefully removing the skin like a citrus fruit, the center consisted of a lychee like fruit that was segmented like an orange. The flavor of the meat was delicate with a sweet start and tangy citrus finish. I cannot wait to get a larger quantity in so I can really play around with this superfruit.

Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Sausage in Pastry with Cheese Sauce

This is seriously a request for an hor d'oeuvre next week. We took some extremely fatty bratwurst and wrapped them in slices of smoked bacon. The bacon was fried over high heat to partially crisp up and seal itself around the sausage. Once they cooled, we rolled the bacon wrapped sausages in puff pastry and baked them until golden brown. After slicing into individual portions and being skewered on a bamboo pick, they were drizzled with cheese sauce. This is by far the most unhealthiest dish I have ever made and now feel the need to run a few miles after eating all the end cuts. Even though it will create peanut butter in your arteries, it's very satisfying to consume so much pork.