Share it

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bocuse d'Or 2015

I originally composed and posted this piece in December of 2012, prior to the 2013 edition of the Bocuse d'Or competition. I feel the need to update the post, and get this up before next week's 2015 event. I have left the background information about it unchanged, but updated with the "need to know" on this year's Team USA, and some slight changes. I hope I can bring a little more awareness to this interesting, and important, event.

Until I picked up the book Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition by Andrew Friedman, I had never heard about the Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest. I had heard of the Culinary Olympics that take place in Germany every four years; but the Bocuse d'Or is not to be confused with the Culinary Olympics. Friedman's work followed the training and performance of the 2009 Team USA's Captain Timothy Hollingsworth and Commis Adina Guest of Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa, California. It's a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it if you have any desire to learn more about the behind the scenes of a real cooking competition.

So, you ask... "What IS the Bocuse d'Or, Frank?" Well, you're in luck; I just happen to feel like dropping some Food Nerdery on you all, today!

Monday, January 19, 2015

JOMORW - Joplin Missouri Restaurant Week

This week, January 19th through 25th, marks the first year of the Joplin Missouri Restaurant Week (JOMORW)! I'm really excited to see this get organized and taking place. A brainchild of Jason Miller (owner/chef of Instant Karma and Eagle Drive In) and Erryn Jones, there are twenty participating local restaurants, each offering some variety of special deal in exchange for non-perishable food donations for the Crosslines Food Pantry. Crosslines serves an average of 750 families for food requests each month. 
Wait! What?!
That's a stark reminder that whenever we are sitting down at our dinner table at home, or meeting up with friends at any of the great local offerings around town, we have many, many families, in fact, too damned many families, starving... right here in Joplin, Missouri. That means children are going to school hungry, unable to concentrate and learn. That puts them at an instant disadvantage in the world. Crosslines is doing incredible work to try to alleviate some of this hunger and malnutrition. But they rely on donations and volunteers.
This special week brings awareness to the local restaurants in Joplin, benefits a great cause, and most importantly, helps other members of our community that may not be able to provide the necessary nutrition for their families. Patrons can support local business while giving a helping hand to our neighbors, and get a little perk in return.
Each of the twenty restaurants are offering deals such as 2-4-1 specials on their menu items and drinks, a percentage off with a donation, free desserts, free drinks, free side orders, and on and on. I see this as such a win-win situation. And you can register at each participating establishment for a grand prize of twenty $20 gift certificates, one certificate for each restaurant!!! Everyone in the Joplin area should get out on the town, this week, and participate.
Below is a graphic showing the participating restaurants. It's a must that you head over the JOMO Restaurant Week Facebook page and find all the deals being offered. Then, you can put together your local meal itinerary for the week! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Frank About... this Blog

I hope you all are doing well. I realize I've been very quiet, here, and on the Facebook page. For that, I apologize. Life was very busy for me around the holidays, and to be quite Frank about it, I found myself at a bit of a loss of motivation, or juju or pizazz, for the blog. I hope to find my muse again, soon, and re-fire my passion and bring you more great content. Until then, I hope you remain with me, and keep checking in, and be sure to browse older posts on the blog. Thanks again for all your support.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Frank Flashback: Eggnog

It's that time of year, again, and I love eggnog! But only homemade eggnog! Here is my post from last year on making your own eggnog at home! Enjoy!

One of the best flavors of the Christmas season, in my opinion, is eggnog. No, I'm not talking about the cheap, overly sweet, overly processed stuff at the store. And no, I'm not talking about the alcoholic version you buy in the liquor aisle.

What I'm talking about is the eggnog you make at home, with real eggs, and a tastey bourbon, rum, or brandy. Anyone who knows me knows that my bourbon of choice is Maker's Mark. I've used recipes from the distillery, and one from Alton Brown. I prefer the Alton Brown version, with my Maker's Mark addition.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dishing Up Thanksgiving: Cooking With Carol

I've shared several dishes, recently that would be perfect for holiday parties and your Thanksgiving table. I decided to collect them all here, for you to peruse. 

Also, I am appearing on Cooking With Carol, this afternoon, to demonstrate one of these side dishes: Pecan Praline Sweet Potatoes. It's a wonderful twist on the sweet potato side dish. As you dip your spoon in, the crunchy praline topping gives way to the custardy whipped sweet potato layer. Your guests will be dazzled by the absence of burnt marshmallows perched on canned yams! 

The video:

Praline Sweet Potatoes

4 C mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 C white sugar
2 Tblsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
8 oz heavy cream
1/4 lb butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C flour
1 1/4 C pecans, chopped

1.  To get your mashed sweet potatoes: wash, peel, and cube approximately 2 lb of sweet 
     potatoes. Boil until the cubes are soft enough to be mashed easily. Drain and mash.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3.  In a mixing bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and 
     cream. Blend well, and spread evenly in a lightly buttered 2 quart casserole dish. 

4.  Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Mix until crumbly, and sprinkle over the 
     sweet potato base.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes. 

Brussels Sprouts Gratin 

1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned and
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces

1.Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish.
2.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook uncovered until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, then immediately immerse in ice water for several minutes until cold to stop the cooking process. Once the Brussels sprouts are cold, drain well, and cut in halves or quarters, depending on size. Set aside.
3.Meanwhile, place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until limp and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper then toss for about 1 minutes to evenly distribute the seasonings. Arrange bacon and Brussels sprouts on the prepared baking dish. Pour cream evenly over the Brussels sprouts, then sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese on top. Distribute pieces of butter over the bread crumbs.
4.Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Dip

8oz. cream cheese, softened
2 C. powdered sugar
15oz. can solid pack pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
1 Tblsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tblsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate

1.  In a medium bowl, cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar together, until smooth. 

2.  Gradually add the pumpkin. 

3.  Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice concentrate, until smooth and well      incorporated. 

4.  Place into serving vessel and chill before serving, at least one hour. 

5.  Serve with graham crackers, gingersnaps, and/or any other item you would prefer. 

Makes approximately 4 Cups of dip.

Pecan Cheesecake Squares

Shortbread Layer:
1½  C all-purpose flour
¾ C firmly packed light brown sugar
½  C butter, softened
½ C finely chopped pecans

Cheesecake Layer:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
½ C sugar
½ C milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Pecan Pie Layer:
¾ C firmly packed brown sugar
½ C light corn syrup
1/3 C butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ C pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.  For the shortbread layer: In a medium bowl, combine flour and ¾ cup brown sugar. Using a pastry   
     blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in ½ cup pecans. Press mixture evenly   
     into bottom of a greased 9”x13" baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven, and cool slightly, 
     about 10 minutes.

3.  For the cheesecake layer: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with a paddle 
     attachment, and beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in sugar. Add milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla,   
     and beat until combined. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled shortbread layer. Bake for 15   
     minutes; remove from oven and cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

4.  For the pecan pie layer: In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ¾ cup brown sugar, corn syrup, and 
     melted butter. Gently stir in the eggs, salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in 1½ cups 
     pecans. Pour pecan mixture over cooled cheesecake layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is set 
     and pecan pie layer is a rich brown color.

I prefer serving this dessert chilled, and cut into squares or triangles.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Frank Flashback: Soup Season

I originally posted this in early 2012. With the cold and snow moving into our area, this weekend, my mind is going straight to soups, stews, braises, and the like. So, I will share this great recipe for you to give a try!

When the weather turns cold, one comfort food really comes to my mind: SOUP!

Growing up, my mother made a potato soup that I have never been able to replicate, or find a recipe that comes out like hers did. It had a thin, milky base… actual CHUNKS of potatoes (not those mashed up, thick soups)… bits of crunchy white onions… a raft of butter floating across the surface… a nice seasoning of black pepper. I used to practically sop all the broth out of the soup with saltines. (This is probably when my “one sleeve per can of soup” saltine habit developed!) There is just something about that soup memory…

When we got into a cold spell in December, I came across a soup recipe online that sounded very interesting. It came out absolutely fantastic! I will reprint it below for anyone interested. It had some really deep, complex flavors that just meshed so well together, and provided just the thing we needed for a cold December evening. I’ve been ready to delve into some more soups, but it got a bit warmer out, to which we’ve become accustomed in Missouri. However, this week it has gotten frigid, again; and I felt it would be a good time to approach the soup subject with you.

So, tell me... What are some of your favorite soups, in the depths of winter? Do you have a family soup recipe that you just have to make every year? Or even, where do you go for a great bowl of soup?

I’ll be looking forward to your comments and feedback! 

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Note: This is a recipe that was submitted by a user named Mary P. on and can be found here. This is not my recipe, and I do not take credit for creating it. 

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 C. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 C. beef broth
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. red wine
4 large tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
1 C. thinly sliced carrots
1/2 Tblsp. packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1½ C. sliced zucchini
8 oz. fresh tortellini pasta
3 Tblsp. chopped fresh parsley

1.    In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown the sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

2.     Sauté onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3.     Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. 

Notes from my personalized preparation of the soup

1.  You can use hot Italian sausage in place of the sweet version, if you desire. 

2.   I actually used dried basil, instead of the fresh. I used approximately the same amount, although you would normally use a 1 to 3 ratio when replacing dried herbs for fresh. (That is, for example, if you need 3 Tblsp. of fresh, you would use 1 Tblsp. of dried.)

3.   Instead of whole tomatoes, I used whole canned tomatoes, and scraped out the seeds. If you haven't notice in recent years, the tomatoes you purchase "fresh" at the store are horrible excuses for a true tomato. 

4.  I actually added the carrots while the onions and garlic sautéed, to add a little caramelization to them. I won't get into all the science and intricacies about caramelization (I'll save that lesson for another post, at a later time.), but anytime you put a little caramelization, or browning, on a food, it adds a richer, nutty, more complex flavor. It helps add a "pop" or pizzazz to your dish. 

5.  I topped each bowl of soup with some Parmesan-Reggiano ran over my Microplane grater, and served with a nice crusty piece of French bread. ( I split the loaf and put it under the broiler in the oven, until it had a nice crusty surface.) A nice glass of red wine compliments the layers of flavor from this soup very well. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cooking With Carol and Webb City Farmers Market: Pumpkin Dip

It's that time of year, again! Harvest parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and various other gatherings. You might be invited to several of these gatherings.You may be at a loss for time, and/or ideas. An old standby that I like to make that is inexpensive, fast and easy to prepare, and is always popular with guests and friends. I'm talking about a pumpkin dip. 

With the winter market hours at the Webb City Farmers Market in full swing, market manager Eileen Nichols asked me if I would be interested in demonstration some fall or winter recipes. I thought the pumpkin dip would be the perfect recipe. I will be at the market, this Saturday, November 8 from 9am to 12pm. 

I also had the pleasure of joining Carol Parker on "Cooking With Carol", today, on Living Well on KSN16. Here is the segment:

This is a very basic recipe, and is great served alongside gingersnaps and graham crackers. Be sure to have the cream cheese softened, to facilitate a smoother, creamier consistency.

Pumpkin Dip
8oz. cream cheese, softened
2 C. powdered sugar
15oz. can solid pack pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
1 Tblsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tblsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate

1.  In a medium bowl, cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar together, until smooth. 

2.  Gradually add the pumpkin. 

3.  Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice concentrate, until smooth and well      incorporated. 

4.  Place into serving vessel and chill before serving, at least one hour. 

5.  Serve with graham crackers, gingersnaps, and/or any other item you would prefer. 

Makes approximately 4 Cups of dip.