Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuscan Fall, Bistecca Florentina

One of the many things I love about Italy is simplicity. Food to be specific for this discussion. I admire the way Italians construct amazing, fresh and simple flavors using what the season gifts them with. With the Fall season here to stay for a while I am reminded of an October trip to Florence two years ago. Walking lazily past the train station one afternoon I passed a small doorway with a familiar scent wafting from it. I turned around and peeked in the door to discover a century old indoor wood burning grill. Next to it a glass butcher case full of every cut imaginable "nirvana". Failing to notice any thing else, I was awakend from this trance by a subtle but firm "Prego". Not being terribly hungry, my arm was twisted just hard enough to stay for a late lunch of Pasta Fajoli and Beef Carpaccio. Vowing to come back for dinner I was off to my hotel for a nap and a haunting dream about Bistecca Florentina from that wood fired grill. Returning to La Lampara that night has changed the way I grill meat forever. I learned a nice cut of meat, good salt and pepper and some olive oil are very powerful tools. Last night my wife came home with a beautiful Top Round and some nice Brussel Sprouts. I am not sure what exactly triggered my memory, but Florence was on my mind. The grill was lit quickly and we had a simple yet beautiful dinner of salt and pepper rubbed Bistecca, Brussel Spouts sauteed in olive oil and garlic along with White beans in Olive Oil and Rosemary. Salute

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bringing Bali home with Sate

One of my favorite places to visit has been Bali. The people are so welcoming and they always wear a smile. The Balinese people embrace life in a celebratory manor and seem to truly enjoy sharing their culture through food. Travel To BaliSate or Satay is a favorite of mine to make for guests and to eat abroad. On a recent trip to Bali I had some sort of Sate every day and was lucky enough to get the recipe for the spice base and for a fantastic peanut dipping sauce. This recipe was given to me in metric measure and scaled for restaurant use. I converted it and scaled it down for home use.

Balinese Sate
Balinese Spice base for Chicken Sate
1oz bird's eye chilies finely sliced (small Thai red chilies are ok)
3oz ginger peeled and sliced
4.5oz turmeric peeled and sliced (ground is ok)
2oz palm sugar chopped (brown or raw sugar is ok)
2 stalks lemon grass bruised
1/4 cup coconut oil (peanut oil is ok) 2cups water
2 tsp salt
1. Combine all ingredients except lemon grass water and salt in a stone mortar or food processor and grind coarsely.
2. Place ground ingredients in a saucepan, add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for about 45 min or until all water has evaporated and paste takes on a golden color. Cool before using.
3. This paste is to be rubbed on chicken as a marinade and threaded on bamboo skewers. Grill over hot coals or a hot grill.

Balinese Peanut Sauce for Sate
2 bird's eye chilies (small Thai red chilies are ok)
3 cloves garlic peeled and slice
1oz ginger peeled and sliced
10oz Peanuts with skin
2oz Palm sugar (Brown or Raw sugar is ok)
2tbs sweet soy sauce (plain soy is ok, but up sugar abit)
2 kaffir lime leafs torn ( if you cant find, leave out)
2 cups water
1tbsp lime juice
salt pinch
1. Put chilies in a stone mortar and grind to a very fine paste. Add garlic. ginger and peanuts and grind again to a very fine paste. ( a food processor can be used but not recommended)
2. Add sugar, soy and lime leaves and gradually add water. Slowly work this base into a creamy dressing by adjusting with water. Season to taste with salt and lime juice.
3. Serve Sate skewered chicken with Peanut sauce and steamed white rice.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Culinary passion is inside me. I don't know where it came from, but it will not go away. Food and it's entirety is on my mind morning to night. I have had the guilty pleasure of traveling the globe over the past 15 years as an occupation. During these travels I have collected recipes, different ingredients and met some amazing people. Talking with a kitchen staff abroad and learning from them what small secrets they will share with me has been incredible. It has been a lot of fun tasting food abroad and trying to recreate at home. Over the years I have collected some great travel information and made some amazing contacts. Through these pages I will share with you my culinary travels, recipes and adventures in hopes it will enhance your life as it has mine.