Monday, December 8, 2008

You say Potato, I say Dauphinois

When I talked to my sister-in-law over Thanksgiving, one thing she said is that I should try to do more recipes that anyone can do.  I like that idea, and I think I will listen.  However, that being said, the recipes that I may do may not always be "easy" or "quick" but they will be good, and everyone will think you are a genius for making them.  Well, maybe not a genius but a good cook none the less.  

Over Thanksgiving I made a potato dish.  I was calling it one thing but really it is another.  They are called Dauphinois potatoes, which is French, and really, I would never call them that when serving them to someone from Indiana, or Kentucky for that matter, which is where we were.  If someone who knew very little about cooking terms was eating them they may think that they were "scalloped potatoes" which is fine because that is really very close to what we are going to make.

Now, let me say, throw out any notion of what you may think of when you hear the phrase "scalloped potato."  If you are like my wife the image of a nasty box mix enters your mind and you refuse to allow your husband to make them for you.  This is not that.  It is a million times better and you will love it.  If your spouse or significant other does not want you to make Scalloped Potatoes then don't.  Tell them you are making Dauphinois potatoes (pronounced dôfinˈwä).  If they say that they don't like Dauphinois potatoes tell them to kiss off, or just make them without them knowing, they will thank you for it.

First find a casserole dish or baking dish of your choice, depending on the size crowd you are feeding.  I have made this in sizes ranging from a bread pan to large hotel pan.  If you are cooking for a crowd at home you can go with a large casserole dish.  

Take about 6 potatoes, more or less depending on size and amount needed.  Slice all of the potatoes thinly.  Try to slice them so that they are all close to the same thickness so that they cook evenly.  In your casserole dish, coat the bottom with a small amount of olive oil, or butter.   Layer some of the potatoes about three layers high.  Season with salt and pepper, not a ton, and also spread a layer of swiss cheese.  The swiss can be shredded or sliced.  Also, if you are feeling adventurous you can also sprinkle some cheddar cheese.  When done with this step, repeat it.  And repeat until you reach the top of your baking dish.  

When you reach the top of your dish with potatoes.  Stop.  Do not put cheese on the top of your dish, but leave the top layer as just potatoes.  At this point you are going to add heavy cream.  You will probably need about a pint of cream (again, more or less depending on how much you are making).  Pour the cream over the entire mixture of potatoes.  You will add enough not to cover the entire batch of potatoes, but probably about half of them.

  Bake in a preheated oven of 375 degrees for about an hour.  Note, if you want you can use Cheddar cheese entirely in place of swiss as well.  I have done it in a pinch.  But don't do it just because you are afraid of the taste of swiss by itself, because you won't taste that traditional "swiss" taste.

The potatoes are done when you can insert a knife through the potatoes with little resistance.  Also, the top will be a nice golden brown.  Enjoy.  

5 lb bag Russet potatoes
Olive Oil
1 lb swiss cheese (this will probably be more than you need)
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Pint Heavy Cream

Sunday, December 7, 2008


It is time for more recipes.  I am going to try and do more of them and I will also try to make it so that you can link directly to the blog with the recipe.  If anyone has a request for a recipe that you may be looking for and cannot find just let me know.  Also, if I put the recipe on here I will try to to also include a picture.  However, that will not always be possible, so if you make one of the recipes from this site, maybe you could take a picture and send it to me and I can put it on.  Of course, I will be happy to give you credit for it as well.  Thanks for visiting my blog.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Asher Foods Catering

Well, as I have mentioned already I am starting a catering business.  Things have been slow going as to now to become an "official" business.  With the time that goes in to work, and to working at home watching Annabel, or just trying to help Lynsey (she may not know what I am talking about when I say that), finding time to form a new business is not easy.  Plus, I had the privilege of going to a Bible college (my choice) and not getting any business classes to even give me a clue as to what it takes to really start a business.  "Thanks Bible college!"  Anyways I have been reading and researching what I need to do and it is finally all coming to a point.  I now have an accountant, and am getting ready to finally incorporate!  So that being said, now I am just looking for business.  

I am excited about the prospects of catering.  For one I feel that I can bring something that a lot of caterers that I have had the experience of dealing with do not seem to have a lot of.  That is quality.  Now without going into specifics and actually bashing other caterers I will just say that in all of the food that I cook, I do just that cook it.  Meaning I take a raw product and apply heat to it to get a desired outcome.  I refuse to use ready made food and try to pass it off like I made it.  A monkey can heat up a frozen lasagna but it takes time and talent to make a good one from scratch.  Any sap can buy frozen, already pulled pork and heat it up, but it takes time to cook it and it takes a few burns on your hands to pull it when its done.  

I guess what I am saying is that quality is my number one goal.  I look at the food and the presentation, and if I would not be happy eating it, you are not going to eat it.  I am never going to ask you to put applesauce, and over cooked green beans on the same plate.  THEY RUN TOGETHER and the flavors aren't really designed to be mixed like that.  Now that being said, if you hire me and you want applesauce and green beans served at the same meal, fine.  However, I will refuse to overcook the green beans, and I will give you the applesauce in a separate bowl.  I hope that is okay.  

Anyways, I really am excited about food.  If you read through this blog I hope that you can see that in my writing.  I hope to be able to cook for you and give you a meal that not only you, but your guests will talk about for a long time.

And one final thing.  Chuck and Becka, who have commented on here a few times (thanks guys) and who I also made the dinner for (see previous post:  Dinner party for 10).  Are making up the logo for the company as I type, and are also making up pamphlets for me to hand out.  I want to say thank you to them, and I hope that if you are reading this right now that maybe it is because you picked up one of the pamphlets and are hungry for some good food. 

Good eating, 


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Time for a Rant

Ok, I like to consider myself a pretty easy going guy.  Yeah some things can get me going, and when something gets me going I tend to be pretty passionate with my opinions.  I am sure many of you that know me know exactly what I am talking about.  Well, if I am going to go on a rant on this blog I guess that I should relate it to food, and lucky for us it is related.

As I have said before, I feed people.  Everyday when I am at work I make lunch.  Sometimes it is just lunch for two or so people, sometimes it is for a larger group.  Of course I encounter a wide range of palates.  Some people will eat just about anything.  (I think I am one of those), others will only eat the same thing that they have been eating since early childhood.  It is the palate, though, that falls somewhere in between these two extremes that drives me nuts.  

Of course, the person that refuses to eat any food besides what they have been eating their whole life, such as peanut butter, cheese, crackers and soda, does drive me nuts, you learn to dismiss them and know that you will never satisfy their hunger.  I am ok with that, I know it is their fault and they wouldn't know good food if it smacked them in the mouth.  It is the people that will eat a food, love it, and then find out that there is one particular ingredient in it (common ingredient at that) and then decide that it is disgusting.  One such ingredient is sour cream.  As I have talked about before, I will add cream to tomato sauce for a different creamier taste.  If I don't have heavy cream I will use sour cream.  Now let me tell you I make this meal all the time.  IT IS GOOD!!!  However, when one of the guys that has eaten the meal several times and liked it, notices that I put sour cream in it, he is all of a sudden disgusted and wont eat it.  Also, he hates Mayo.  Fine, lots of people do.  But the guy eats more ranch dressing than I drink water.  RANCH IS HALF MAYO!!!!!  He refuses to believe it.  It is the palate that thinks they can taste what they cannot taste and therefore refuse to eat something.

Does this make sense?  Another example maybe.  One of my favorite doughnuts is a sour cream doughnut.  If you have had one you would know that you cannot taste any sour cream at all.  If it wasn't called a sour cream doughnut you wouldn't know it had sour cream in it at all.  It just enhances the taste and makes it more moist.  Now, I could give this particular palate a sour cream doughnut and call it something like "Cheesecake" though it wouldn't taste like cheesecake (more on that in a minute) and he would LOVE it.  Though if he heard that it was called a sour cream doughnut, then all of a sudden it would be disgusting.  

All that to say that picky palates that don't really know what they are being picky about really annoy me.  Just eat the food, its good, there isn't anything that is going to kill you, its not like I am putting something like rattlesnake poison into a dish just to make it taste more....well whatever rattlesnake poison would taste like.

A final note.  I make cheesecakes every Christmas.  I try to sell some just to make some extra money during the holidays.  I have a friend that loves these cakes.  Last year he bought 3 from me and gave some as gifts.  If I told him that there was a little bit of sour cream in the cheesecakes I would never sell another one to him.  I hope he isn't reading this now....

Also, I hope that I have not offended anyone, if I have though, maybe you will take that offense and use it to grow a backbone and try some food that you may not usually try because you think it is "weird."  And when you find said food that you thought that you would hate and realize that you love it, call me and let me make it for you and some friends again.  I cater you know ;)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dinner Party for 10

I was just thinking about some past meals that I have had the opportunity to do for different people. One of those meals was a dinner party for two friends and the board of directors that oversee their ministry. I have pictures which is the big reason that I want to tell you a little bit about it, but it really was a fun meal to pull off and gave me a great first test to pull of a plated multi course meal.

To start the meal I served everyone a few appetizers. Each plate had three individual items on them for each person to sample. One of the items was clams casino, the other a piece of shrimp on a rosemary skewer with a mint pesto sauce, and the third item was a date stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with basil and prosciutto. Unfortunately the ugly plates that I had to present them on kind of took away from the dish itself but it was pretty cool plating them all and serving them.

The second course was a "Caprese Salad." It is a salad made up of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It is every simple but very delicious. For this particular salad I used different heirloom style tomatoes and also some Roma tomatoes.

The third course was the main course. It consisted of a duck breast with a port wine reduction, bacon wrapped asparagus, and a homemade rice pilaf. I was a little disappointed in my reduction as I just didn't get it to the consistency that I really wanted to, but they loved it anyways.

And the final course was of course the dessert. For this dessert I took fresh peaches and grilled them and then served them with a big scoop of ice cream and drizzled it all with a raspberry puree.

It was really cool getting to do this meal and seeing the different reactions that each person had to what was set in front of them. The favorite thing that I heard was from the couple that at the beginning of the meal was upset that they were not going "out" to eat. They had dressed up and expected a different style of meal, and were frankly disappointed that they were going to have to eat dinner where they had been meeting all day long. By the end of the meal though, I had completely won them over, and I am still holding out hope that they will someday fly me out to Las Vegas where they live to do a dinner party for them. How cool would that be.

Well that is it, I hope it looks as good in the pictures as it was in my mouth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pulled Pork

So, it has been awhile since my last post...sorry for all of my faithful readers.  I have been doing a lot in the kitchen though.  A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of catering a rehearsal dinner for Lynsey's cousin Nathan.  Nathan's mom was originally going to make the meal herself, but much to my benefit, the father of the groom convinced Nathan's mom that she should not have to stress about that meal, that she would have enough things to worry about.  Which is where I come in.  They asked me to make a meal consisting of pulled pork, green beans, corn, roasted potatoes, apple crisp, and pumpkin bars.  So this particular entry is devoted to the pulled pork.  It is something that I make a lot of at work, and it is great for the family as well.  Everyone seems to love pulled pork and it is easier to do than you might think.  The hardest part is the waiting.

First let me say before going on, that the best way to do this is with a smoker.  However, not everyone has a smoker, or in my case a smoker big enough to do a case of butts.  "Butts?"  ( I will get to that later).  Do not worry if you don't have a smoker.  While smoking is an art form and a skill that all backyard bbq'rs long to have, in this case it might not be as important as you think.  Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  9.9 out of 10 people wont know if the pork was smoked or not.  Sad isn't it, but probably true.  So if you like most other people can't tell if it was smoked or you just don't have a smoker to do the quantity that you need (like me) you can do them in the oven.  

Ok first, start with a pork butt.  It isn't actually the butt of a pig.  It is the butt end of the shoulder.  Sometimes you will here them referred to as Boston Butts, this is the same thing.  I prefer bone-in butts as opposed to bone-out.  The down side to this is that you have to pay money for a bone that you won't eat, but it acts like a perfect thermometer to let you know when the pork is done, and I am sure that it adds some flavor....maybe not but I still like it.

Ok so you have your butt on the counter (sounds funny huh) and you are ready to cook it.  First let me tell you that if you are wanting it for dinner you may want to start about 6-8 hours before dinner time.  But time aside this is how I prep my butt before cooking it.  

First, rub the butt (ha ha, I am like a little kid when I say that).  I like to use a rub of season salt, coriander, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper and onion.  I will leave the ratios a secret.  Put a generous amount all over the meat, when you are done rubbing it will look something like this.

Place the butts in a roasting pan, cover and bake in an oven at 350 for about 6 to 8 hours.  Honestly when I am cooking these, I am usually cooking a whole ovens worth so it might take less time if you only have one butt in the oven.  At 6 hours pull out the meat, and tongs or with something to protect your hand grab the bone a
nd try to pull it out.  If it pulls out easily it is done.  If it doesn't want to come loose, give it some more time.  But when the bone comes out, it is done.  At this point, cover it loosely and let it sit for about another hour.  The butts will look something like this after they come out of the oven.

After they have set for awhile, it is time to pull it.  The best thing to use for this process, your hands.  Just dig in, separate out the fat, be careful, because it will still be pretty hot.  When you are done pulling you are ready to eat.  Sit down with your favorite bbq sauce and some friends and enjoy some good pork.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Power of Cream (part II)

Ok real quick, I have to tell you the coolest part about cream. Whip it enough and you have butter. Simple enough huh, and no you don't need a butter churn like your grandma used. If you have a mixer, preferably a stand mixer, just pour it in and turn it on high. First it will turn into whipped cream. Whipped cream is the real version of cool whip, (though I do love cool whip), and is great for desserts. But if you continue mixing the cream it will eventually start to break down. For awhile it will look like all you are doing is beating the crap out of it and it isn't going to do anything, and you will wonder if your lights are doing funny things because you will swear that it is starting to turn yellow. (It is). Continue beating the cream and soon you will notice that it has gotten really watery. About the time that the "water" starts splashing out of the bowl you have butter. It all sticks together and comes out in a big blob. It is a little different than what you get in the store, but it is still good. I tell you that making butter is one of the coolest things I have done. I am sure that the feeling of accomplishment by doing it by hand is even greater, but hey we have electricity so lets use it.

A few notes. I am pretty sure that the "watery" stuff is buttermilk....i could be wrong though.
Also, do this in your mixer with a "whip" or "whisk" not a paddle or dough hook, that's ridiculous.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Power of Cream

So I haven't written about anything in awhile, not sure why, maybe because I am probably writing only to myself.  Which is fine, I just hope people will eventually be able to use this site as a reference for good food maybe.  
Anyways, I was thinking the other day about something that I was wanting to write about.  The power of cream.  Cream is used all of the time in things like ice cream, soups, pies, and what not.  It is very possible that many people have never had a reason to purchase and use heavy cream, some of you may have even substituted milk, which sounds like something my mom would do.  But it really is a great ingredient to have on hand.  
One of my favorite ways to use heavy cream is to put it in tomato sauce.  First, I like to start my tomato sauce by browning sausage and sweating onions.  The more of both the better.  After draining off the fat I usually add equal parts tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.  Season with Oregano, thyme, basil (lots of basil), salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings that might fit into the Italian family you want.  Let it cook for awhile to help cook out some of the acidity.  Just before serving the sauce add some cream.  Not to much, but not to little either.  (Vague enough for you).  The sauce will certainly lighten up some and not be so red.  You will love it, it is rich and delicious. 
Come to think of it, there are so many sauces that you can enhance with a little bit of cream.  Try it next time you make some.

Also, a hint in case you want to try it but don't want to go buy cream for one dish.  Try a little sour cream instead.  Not quite the same rich flavor, but a little bit healthier, and still delicious.

Buen Provecio   

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Corn Salsa

Ok, this is really simple but really good.  Especially if you are fortunate to have your own garden.
4 cups corn kernels, frozen if you have to
2 cups diced tomato
1 red pepper, small dice
1 green pepper, small dice
1 yellow pepper, small dice
1/2 red onion, small dice
2 Jalapeños, small dice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp cumin (or to taste)
2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
2 tsp granulated garlic (or to taste)

Mix everything to together and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chip.

Also a great addition is black beans.  Have fun.


It's Finally Football Season

Finally the greatest season of the year has begun...for real.  No more pre-season, waiting for games that mean something, and if you are in a fantasy league will finally get to see how your picks will add up.  
In honor of this great season I have some ideas of food that you may want to snack on with your buddies with a good cold beer.  First up, Jalapeño Poppers.
First, make your filling.  I like about 2 parts cream cheese to one part shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix that with bacon bits (real bacon, not that fake salad sprinkle stuff), and garlic powder.  I don't give you real measurements because so much of it is to your own taste.  Feel free to add any seasonings that you like.
Then take your jalapeños, seed them and halve them.  I find it is easiest to cut off the stem end, and using a coring tool (these kind of look like peelers that are curved with teeth) remove all seeds.  Then cut in half, lengthwise.  You can seed them after you cut them as well, but it is twice the work.  
After all of the hard work of cutting and seeding is through, stuff each half with a small amount of cream cheese mixture.  Just enough to fill.  Next you are going to bread them.
In three separate containers set out flour, egg (beaten), and bread crumbs.  Using what is called the standard breading procedure, coat poppers with flour, then dunk in egg (making sure to coat), then coat with breadcrumbs.  I like to do the egg and bread crumbs part twice for a thicker more consistent breading but that is up to you.
Once all of this is done, deep fry until golden brown, with your oil around 350.  This will only take a few minutes.  
This may all seem like a lot of work, and I am not going to tell you that it isn't, but for that really big game that you can't miss (such as Indianapolis and New England) they are worth it.  Plus another side note.  If you like the poppers hot, keep some of the seeds around as that is where most of the heat comes from.  However, just because you got rid of all the seeds doesn't mean that a hot one isn't going to sneak in there.  Last time I made poppers they were all very mild until I got to the one that got me reaching for the milk, but maybe that is part of the fun.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Perfect Cheeseburger...well for what I have to use.

One of the things that I make most out at the camp, where I run the kitchen, are cheeseburgers.  Being a man, I love to grill.  I think it is a law in the "man-code" somewhere that all men have to like to grill, and when they don't like to I must assume that they must have done something in the past that has caused them to turn in their "man-card" and they have just given up on all things man.  Anyways, after a nice long run-on sentence, I digress.  

As the title says I think that I have what I consider the perfect cheeseburger.  Now, I am not going to tell you that you have to mix half sirloin with veal and some other expensive meat that you can only find in a gourmet market.  I am just going to tell you how to take a simple patty of beef, season it and grill it.

First, I use beef patties that have been shipped to me in a package of 60 that have been pre-formed and perforated to reduce shrinkage.  I use these because they are easy, and when I have to grill 200 hamburgers, I don't want to have to make each one by hand.  I throw them on the grill in their frozen state, which is nice because it means that you don't have to have the forethought  to thaw them.  I then sprinkle the up-side with Lawry's garlic salt, and Canadian Steak seasoning.  When the burger has cooked to the point of flipping I flip it.  Repeat seasoning for the new cooked upside.  Cook until desired doneness is near completion and top with cheese of choice.  By the way, so you don't think that I use burger patties that you don't have access to, you can use pretty much patty that you find at the mega-mart,though I will say that some are probably better than others.  If you want the ones that I use, you can go to a GFS Marketplace, if they are in your area, and they are the homestyle patties, 1/4 lb each.

I hope you are not disappointed that there is nothing else to it than that, but I am telling you that I haven't had one person tell me that they didn't like them, except for that one kid who got one that was pretty undercooked... I would have eaten it though, and he didn't deserve a good burger anyways.  For the effort, and time it is a pretty dang good burger.  

Next time:  Corn Salsa


Friday, August 29, 2008

What should we eat?

What should we eat?  That is a question that I ask a lot.  Not because I am always hungry or I am just bored and eat to pass the time, but because it is what I do.  Presently I run the kitchen at a camp, and menu planning, ordering, scheduling, and generally keeping people happy are what I do.  In the summer time I do not have to cook very often because I have a full staff that cooks while I do other office duties.  But when it comes time for me to cook I want to make it good.  I don't want to eat the same old thing that we have to eat week after week, and I don't like getting caught making the same old thing that doesn't take any thought to put together.  I love to cook, and that is what some of this blog will be about.  I am going to try to make it about other things as well but who knows.  I just hope to keep it updated.  But I hope to write some about food, show you pictures of some things that I have made, and maybe put on some recipes as well.  I hope this blog is worth reading and that you enjoy.