Posts tagged Q&A

Chef Q&A: Joseph George of Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

Chef Joseph George

Chef Joseph George

I’m still pondering some Thanksgiving tweaks for this year. What about a little pumpkin in the potatoes? I recently spoke with Chef Joseph George, executive chef at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme, Michigan who shared some foodie insights as well as a recipe or two.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?

At home you can always find different types of cheeses like brie, chevre and baby bell which I love eat with rustic breads from local bakeries. I also drink lots of orange juice with eggs, deli meats for sandwiches and cereals.

Your favorite meal to make or serve?

My favorite meal to make is braised short ribs. The there are several cooking techniques involved, which I love, from marinating to searing, to braising to proper cooling so the meat stays moist. You can make this dish multidimensional by pairing it up with several different types of sides.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a chef like you it must be something spectacular?

I have a sweet tooth. When I indulge, I go for the chocolates in life. I enjoy a rich smooth chocolate infused with different flavors in a truffle or a bon bon. It is quite a treat so I love to analyze it, is it smooth, is it flavorful, is it tempered correctly and the list goes on.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?

One of my worst cooking mistakes happened when I was 19 trying to force my knife through an onion. The knife was dull, slipped and I cut myself pretty bad.  Needless to say, I am a big advocate of sharp knives from then on out since most injuries occur with dull knives, not sharp ones.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?

My favorite is a new one I just discovered this year and that is the honey cream line from Sleeping Bear Farms. It is a richer form of honey that they produce plain, with lemon or cherry. Great product for home and for a professional kitchen.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Grand Traverse Resort & Spa? What menu item should they make sure to try?

When staying at the hotel or a local going out to dine I highly recommend eating breakfast in Sweetwater bistro and ordering my favorite salmon Benedict. For dinner I would go right to the top of the tower in Aerie Restaurant and Lounge to try the Tuna Tartaki appetizer followed by the Maytag Encrusted Filet.

Yield:  6 servings

Spiced Sirloin:
6 Sirloin Steaks
1 c. quatre espice – (equal parts ground: ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, nutmeg, clove)
2 T. bacon fat
Salt

Pat dry all steaks.  Season steaks with salt, rub generously with quatre espice.  In a large sauté pan, sear both sides of steaks in bacon fat until dark brown.  Roast in oven on roasting rack for 10-12 minutes (medium steak), more or less for different temperatures.

Pumpkin Potato Gratin:

1 quart heavy cream
1 16oz. can pumpkin puree
8 peeled Idaho potatoes
1 T. nutmeg mixed with 1 T. cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 pound grated parmesan Reggiano

Grease a 9×13 baking pan.  In a small container, mix pumpkin puree, cream and cinnamon mixture.  On a mandolin, slice potatoes very thin, layer potato, cream mixture, salt and pepper then parmesan.  Continue again until pan is full to the top.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (or until soft all the way through), bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.  Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting.

Mushroom Braised Swiss Chard:

8 stalks Swiss chard – julienned
4 pints button mushrooms – sliced
3 peeled shallots – diced
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic cut in half
Salt and pepper
12 oz. white wine
½ pound butter
Juice of 2 lemons

In a medium rondo pan, place mushrooms, shallots, thyme, garlic, wine, butter and lemon cook on medium heat covered for approx. 15 minutes.  The mushrooms should release a good amount of liquid, at this time, add the Swiss chard and simmer for 5-7 minutes covered.  Strain and serve.

Assembly:
Cut potato gratin into squares, place over braised Swiss chard/mushroom mixture.  Slice sirloin next to potatoes, cover again with Swiss chard and more mushrooms.  Garnish with fried onions, shaved Reggiano or fresh vegetables.

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Chef Q&A: Pam Turkin of Just Baked

cupcakes

Photo credit: Pam Turkin

For over a year, Pam Turkin put in long hours through the weekend tweaking and perfecting her recipe for buttercream frosting. “I bet I made 100 batches,” recalls Turkin of her efforts. Along with buttercream, Turkin baked different varieties of cupcakes trying to find the right balance of sweetness, flavor, moistness and that indescribable something that just makes cupcakes so alluring: See Just Baked’s Fat Elvis cupcake for an example☺

During the week, Turkin worked in marketing and advertising often traveling for her job. She’d noticed on her travels little boutique cupcake shops dotting each coast and yet when she got home to Michigan, she couldn’t find a similar shop. “I just got it into my head that a cupcake shop was one thing I wanted to bring Detroit,” says Turkin. To date, she’s brought four retail shops, called Just Baked to Michigan.

Turkin’s first store opened in Livonia in 2009. Other stores followed in Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, and soon the first franchise in Canton, just across the street from IKEA. While Turkin admits baking, marketing, planning and everything else involved with running the cupcake shops have eaten away most of her time, her family has been supportive all along the way. Granted, her five kids acted as the official taste-testers in the early days of her business!

So far, Turkin’s keeping mum on her cupcake recipes (darn!), but she passed along a recipe for her pumpkin cookies to share with MKES readers.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?
Fresh eggs, fresh butter, potato chips

Your favorite meal to make or serve?
I love to cook. My favorite meal to cook is Thanksgiving dinner—the turkey, stuffing, I love the smell of it, the look of it—I love everything about it.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a foodie like you it must be something spectacular?
Easy, shortbread. We make our own homemade shortbread to use in a lot of our cupcake bottoms. Many of the cupcakes are layered. We also use crumbled shortbread as a topping for our strawberry cheesecake cupcakes. My employees know to stash a little extra shortbread in the back for me.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?
My mother never cooked, but she happens to make one thing really well and that’s brisket. No matter what I do, I either overcook or undercook it. Every time I make it it’s just wrong. I’ve given up.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?
I love Faygo sodas. When I think of Detroit I think of Faygo, it’s indicative of Detroit. I had the opportunity to go to the plant—it has to be the best smelling place in the world. It smells just like orange cream soda.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Just Baked? What menu item should they make sure to try?
Our Grumpy cake cupcake is definitely our bestseller. With the holidays coming up, though, I’d have to recommend the pumpkin pie cupcake—it’s my personal favorite. Then there’s the sweet potato pie cupcake that we also only do around this time of year and that’s really good too. *By request Turkin also has gluten free and vegan cupcakes available.

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Chef Q&A: The Jolly Pumpkin’s Maggie Long

Photo credit: esthereggy

The concept for the Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery has literally been stewing for years. The eatery located in downtown Ann Arbor is the brainchild of chef, and managing partner, Maggie Long and brewer extraordinaire Ron Jeffries. Jeffries has been crafting his artisanal sour beers in Dexter, Michigan for years and now has a restaurant and brewery in Traverse City along with the café, which opened in September of 2009.

Long says the philosophy behind the food at the café is fresh, organic. For example, her oldest daughter volunteers at an area farm where some of the ingredients come from for the café. And the sourdough pizza is fashioned with a sourdough starter that Long received from a fellow foodie whose held onto it for 130 years. Beyond the fresh ingredients, Long says that the aim of the café is “welcoming.” “We want everyone to feel comfortable here, especially families,” explains Long. “I love to see families here and I’m honored to provide food for them that is both healthy and delicious.” She notes that the menu includes kid favorites like chicken strips, but that the strips are made from locally raised chickens and breaded in organic cornflakes.

For a taste of Long’s organic creations, you can try this recipe from the Jolly Pumpkin café’s appetizer menu; this edamame spread is served alongside fresh, grilled sourdough pizza.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?

Quinoa, organic peanut butter—it’s gotta be crunchy, and honey from the farmer’s market. Those are the staples in my house. It doesn’t mean I put those all together!

Your favorite meal to make or serve?

That’s a hard one. I absolutely love Tamworth hogs. A braised pork shoulder is my favorite meal–slow cooked. Tamworth is a heritage breed of hog and it’s a flavor not to be missed. It’s a darker meat and it has a ton of flavor.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a foodie like you it must be something spectacular?

Ron introduced me to Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate, a small chocolate maker in Missouri. I’m not usually a fan of dark chocolate but the stuff this guy puts together is absolutely amazing. My favorite is the 70% Madagascar chocolate bar with little cocoa nibs in it. It’s addictive.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?

Anything that I burn. Once, I burned the mac ‘n cheese sauce—totally toasted it. I tried to fix it, but you can’t. I use really good pasta and really good cheeses, but nothing can take that scorched flavor out.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?

For me, anything seasonal. Rosewood Farms makes a phenomenal tofu.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Jolly Pumpkin? What menu item should they make sure to try?

I make a smoked tofu salad that’s really good. There’s spinach, cherry tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, shaved broccoli, a sesame vinaigrette and, of course, smoked tofu. The flavors meld really well. The sourdough pizza is always good too.

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Oven-Seared Amish-Raised Chicken “Chop” with Morel Sauce

Oven-Seared Amish-Raised Chicken Chop
Decadent & creative

Oven Seared Amish Raised Chicken “Chop” with Morel Sauce
Nick Seccia CEC
Serves 6

Chicken Chop
Ingredients

6 Airline cut Amish raised chicken breast 6-8oz ea
6 Slices thick cut hickory smoked bacon
1/4 Cup pure olive oil
2 Cloves garlic peeled
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 Tablespoon ground black pepper
Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except chicken and bacon, puree in a blender
  2. Remove the meat and skin from around the bone on the chicken
  3. Pour marinade over the chicken and marinate overnight
  4. Place chicken skin side down flat with the bone pointing away from you then roll the thin edge towards the chicken until rolled into a chop shape
  5. Stand chicken up so the bone is straight up then wrap the bacon around the bottom
  6. Roast at 350F for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through
  7. Serve with morel sauce

Morel Sauce
Ingredients

1 cup fresh Morel mushrooms sliced in half lengthwise and cleaned
1 large shallot minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup roasted veal stock reduced from 2 cups
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and ground black pepper as needed
Directions

  1. Saute the mushrooms and shallots in butter until the shallots are clear and the mushrooms are tender
  2. Add the brandy and reduce until almost dry
  3. Add the stock and heavy cream reduce until thickened
  4. Season with salt and pepper
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