Creative Influences

January 31, 2009

I have never considered myself much of an artist. In fact, most twelve year olds can probably draw better than I can. This might be why I have surrounded myself with a bunch of talented creators. Last night I had a few of my good friends over for dinner, one of whom has started to make some serious strides as a painter. Nikki Katsikas, who just won the “judges favorite” award at the GEISAI Miami art show, has been coming over and testing my food since she spent her days in NYC at SVA. I always try and come up with something interesting when she is coming over; my canvas being the plate in which I present the meal.  Last night was no exception.

I’ve never been a big fan of overtly sweet components in a savory meal but when incorporated in a subtle manner, the outcome can be really special. The platform of the dish I made last night was a raspberry and habanero chutney. The color was a vibrant red and the flavor was a great balance of sweet and spicy. Layered on top of the chutney was a spice rubbed pork loin wrapped in bacon along with pan fried polenta rounds. The dish was an interesting balance of color, texture, and flavor and although there were no awards to be had, the reviews were great! 

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin w/ Polenta Rounds and a Seasoned Greens Salad

To take a look at some of Nikki’s work check out her website… nikkikatsikas.artspan.com

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A Street Food Favorite

January 30, 2009

It seems that you either love them or hate them but I can’t get enough of them. Fish tacos, when done well, are without a doubt one of my favorites. When the fish is fresh, and the condiments are great, the fish taco is a perfect example of balance. However, it is easy to have an individual component of the fish taco be overpowering. Whether its a salsa, or the slaws that are so often a component, too much of anything can throw the whole experience out of whack. But when there is a balance, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. I apologize for the pontification over what is commonly considered street food, but I would argue that some of the most refined and elegant dishes are created with the principles of street food in mind. Here is my version of a deconstructed fish taco:

Tortilla Chip Crusted Sole Filet with a Crab and Corn Salsa served

with a Greek Yogurt Sauce and Quick Slaw

Deconstructed Fish tacos


A Fresh Start

January 29, 2009

With the excitement of the New Year comes the dark and cold days of January and it never ceases to amaze me how all the joy and hopefulness of the holiday season is quickly replaced by lethargy and despair. Its been pretty frigid in New York and the slush that makes the busy sidewalks seem a little more crowded has made walking through the city quite draining. It’s easy to complain and to hope for the Spring and trust me when I say, I am guilty of this as well, but sometimes I wish we stopped our whining and appreciated the change in the weather. Now there are those that would love to live in a tropical paradise where the temperature rarely fluctuates throughout the year, but whats the point. The summer is great because of the winter. The winter is great because of the summer. Enough with the new years resolutions that we never keep. I have a better idea. We should all make it our resolution to embrace whatever the times give us. Sure you can’t go to the beach and lay in the sun, but you can spend a long day skiing and then warm up with a hot spiked drink alongside a warm and hearty meal. I guess what I’m trying to say is, rather than complaining about something we can’t control, we should take advantage of it. Attitude is a a choice. So next time the winter months are dragging you down, choose the alternative…

There is without a doubt a correlation between what we eat and how we feel. Many of these hearty comforting meals we choose in the winter are delicious but they often are pretty heavy. Heavy eating often contributes to the winter doldrums and its a cycle that is fairly easy to fall into. Its the rich and bold flavors we crave but that doesn’t mean were stuck eating chili and stews every night. There are easy ways to incorporate bold flavors into light and healthy dishes that will certainly increase our energy levels. And after a few weeks of winter meals, I’m always craving something “fresh”. This Cumin Rubbed Filet Salad with tomatoes, oranges, cucumbers, corn, and feta not only satisfied my winter craving but maybe more importantly, left me exuberant over the lack of a food coma….

Cumin Rubbed Steak Salad


Sometimes you just want a grilled cheese

January 15, 2009

Last night I decided that even though it was beyond cold, I was going to walk home. I live about a mile and a half from work and often walking home is like having a glass of wine at the end of the day; although that never seems to stop me from having an actual glass as well. It is also a great time to be creative about what I’d like to make for dinner. I used to go into the stores with a thought out plan but recently I’ve been challenging myself to come up with something on the fly. There are so many great options in New York as far as specialty shops and grocery stores that I revel in the prospect of finding something new and interesting to make. Except last night, no matter how long I thought, nothing new and creative was coming to mind. Maybe it was the lingering remains of that over the top basil sauce I had for a dissapointing Thai lunch. Or maybe it was the fact that I was too cold to be challenging my brain like this. Either way, I had almost given up. I was resolved to walk home in defeat and order some pizza; that delicious combination of crust and cheese with tomato and basil. There it was! I certainly wasn’t about to start making my own pizza at that point but luckily the brain started functioning again. I was no longer defeated….in fact I swept through Whole Foods like a culinary genious. Okay so I’m being a little ridiculous at this point but I’ll tell you this much: Its been a while since I had a grilled cheese that satisfied me like this one….

Grilled Mozzarella with Tomato Basil and Balsamic Reduction

Grilled Mozzarella and Fontina with Tomato, Basil, and Balsamic Reduction with a Strawberry, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad


Bring in the new…

January 11, 2009

Thanks to all of you have been patient in waiting for new posts. My computer is back and I have a ton of pictures and thoughts to share. I plan on posting a few pics and some information of the Holiday party, Silver Catering put on for a large group before the holidays but today I thought I’d share a new insight into 2009…

When I first started cooking I was all about building an extensive collection of pans, pots, and gizmos for all of the meals I planned on making. I was always looking for a good deal to pick up something to add to my collection. As many of you can probably attest to, this enthusiasm leads to a few problems down the road. How many pans do I really need? Do I really need six different sized ramekins or a million different tools? Well maybe I do and if I don’t maybe I just like idea of having all that stuff. But either way I have realized one thing. There are few items in my arsenal that I couldn’t live without. One of those items is my new cast iron pan that I got for the holidays. I’ve made it my goal to use it as many nights as possible. Its so verstatile, so efficient, and so classic. There is a different feeling that comes from a meal cooked in cast iron and if you don’t have one, trust me when I say “go get one”….
Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese

This dish had some extremely robust flavors that were supported by the subtleties of the ingredients. Its an awesome feeling when I impress myself being that I’m my toughest critic, but Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese in a Tomato, Zucchini and Marjoram Sauce is a perfect example of why I’m thrilled to have my cast iron pan.


Hang in there…

January 6, 2009

Happy New Year and thanks for those of you who have continued to check the blog out during my inexcusable hiatus.  There is nothing worse than the blogger who doesn’t blog. So I vow to get started up again soon.  My laptop is in the process of being repaired and as soon as I get it back later this week, I will have plenty to share with you…check back later on!


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