Archives for January 2015

Root Vegetable Soup

Root Vegetable Soup
Serves 4
  1. 5 T. butter
  2. 2 yellow onions, chopped
  3. 4 shallots, chopped
  4. 1 leek, trimmed, washed, sliced thin crosswise
  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
  7. 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
  8. 1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
  9. 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
  10. 2 white turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
  11. 6 cups chicken stock (or water or vegetable stock)
  12. Salt and pepper
  13. Sprigs of fresh parsley, to garnish
  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter and slowly cook the onions, shallots, leek and garlic until tender and soft, about 5 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Add diced root vegetables and stock. Simmer until all vegetables are soft (35 minutes.). Puree in 2-cup batches in food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. Return pureed soup to saucepan; heat through and season to taste.
  4. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Stirring up Memories by Deb Forkins

I have no memory of my father ever spending time in the kitchen while I was growing up. The kitchen was my mother’s domain where she exercised her creative genius nightly. She had Sunday off and dad would grill steaks or burgers on the Weber, everything always WELL done.

Skip ahead 50 years. My mother has been gone for several years, and my father has developed a new penchant for “haute cuisine”….as far as he is concerned…recalling dishes from his childhood in his native Switzerland. Forget the steaks, give him barley soup or schnitzel mit spaetzle. When he visits we often spend time in the kitchen together. He is either baking his family favorite, linzer torte, with me playing sous chef or overseeing my attempts at getting his roesti just right. He is 93 years young, and his memory is not always reliable. However, when we are in the “Swiss” kitchen, associations are stirred along with the ingredients. He begins to recount stories from long ago…things I have never heard before….. The time that he fell from a tree and broke his leg while gathering hazelnuts for his mother’s praline. The pear bread he and his mother would bake and bring to the nearby farmers who supplied his family with cheese and milk. Oh yes, and the time he hung his little sister up on the door jamb so that she would stop following him around.

These times together are absolutely priceless. He moves more slowly now, but his mind is clear, his eyes still sparkle, and he can still make a fabulous linzer torte!Linzer

Linzer Torte
  1. 8 oz. ground almonds
  2. 1 cup plus 3 ½ T. sugar
  3. 1 t. cloves
  4. 1 t. cinnamon
  5. 1 t. freshly ground nutmeg
  6. 2 cups (plus slightly more if needed) flour
  7. 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
  8. 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk for brushing the dough.
  9. 1 jar of seedless raspberry jam
  1. Mix ground almonds and sugar together and set aside.
  2. Over hot water in large bowl, mix butter by hand until melted. Remove from hot water bath and add two eggs to the butter, beating after each egg. Add almond and sugar mixture. Add the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add 2 cups flour. Add 3 ½ T. more flour on top of dough and let settle for a half hour. Then mix in the added flour with a knife.
  3. Butter a spring form nonstick 9 inch pie pan. Sprinkle with bread crumbs* Roll out about 1/3 of the dough to cover the bottom of the pie pan. Pour in ½ of the raspberry jam. Place another 1/3 of dough over jam, and cover with remaining raspberry jam. Roll out remaining dough and cut ½ inch wide lattice strips. Weave lattice pattern on top of jam. Use leftover dough to fill in any gaps between lattice strips.
  4. Mix one egg yolk with 1 T. water and brush it over lattice top.
  5. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, until the torte is brown and cooked through the center.
  6. Remove from oven and release from pan. Once fully cooled, it is best if you let the torte stand covered overnight before serving for best flavor. Will be good for a week….if it lasts that long!
  1. *Plain bread crumbs, just enough to coat the pan to make removal easier
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Surprise Tatin

Surprise Tatin
  1. 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  2. 2 T. olive oil
  3. Salt and black pepper
  4. 1 lb. new potatoes (skins on)
  5. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  6. 3 T. sugar
  7. 2 t. butter
  8. 3 oregano sprigs
  9. 5 oz. aged goat cheese, sliced
  10. 1 puff pastry sheet, rolled thin
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Halve the tomatoes and place them skin-side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven to dry for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim off a bit of the top and bottom of each potato, then cut into 1-inch-thick discs.
  3. Saute the onion with the oil and some salt for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Once you've prepared all the vegetables, brush a tarte tatin pan (or 9-inch cake pan) with oil and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. In a small pan cook the sugar and butter over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to get a semi-dark caramel. Pour the caramel carefully into the cake pan and tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom. Pick the oregano leaves, tear and scatter onto the caramel.
  5. Lay the potato slices close together, cut-side down, on the bottom of the pan. Gently press onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the slices of goat cheese evenly over the potatoes. Cut a puff pastry disc that is 1-inch larger in diameter than the pan. Lay the pastry lid over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes inside the pan. (At this stage you can chill the tart for up to 24 hours.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the tart for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until pastry is thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and let settle for 2 minutes only. Hold an inverted plate firmly on top of the pan and carefully but briskly turn them over together, then lift off the pan. Serve hot or warm.
Marcel's Culinary Experience


Chicken or Pork Potstickers
  1. ½ lb of chicken breast, cut into chunks (boneless and skinless)
  2. ½ lb of chicken thigh, cut into chunks (boneless and skinless)
  3. OR
  4. 1lb of pork tenderloin, cut into chunks
  5. 1 head napa cabbage
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. ½ package chives, chopped
  8. 3 T. sesame oil
  9. ½ t. salt
  10. 2 T. light soy sauce
  11. 2 T. mirin*
  12. ½ t. pepper
  13. 1 package tofu, sliced and squeezed of excess water
  14. Won ton skin wrappers
  1. Take the napa cabbage and shred in a food processor with the shredding disc. Remove the cabbage and place in a bowl. Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and mix. Set cabbage aside. Take garlic cloves and mince in the food processor with the blade attachment. Add chicken or pork and process until the meat is fully processed. Place minced meat in large bowl.
  2. Take cabbage and squeeze out excess water, using your hands or cheesecloth. Add cabbage & tofu to the meat mixture. Add chopped chives, sesame oil, salt, pepper, mirin, soy sauce, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Take wonton wrappers and place in dumpling mold. Add about 1 small spoonful of pot sticker filling to the middle of the mold. Place water around the outer edges of the wonton wrapper and fold mold together. Repeat until all the filling has been used.
  4. Fill a nonstick pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and heat on medium high heat. When pan is hot, place pot stickers in pan. When one side of the pot stickers are fully browned, add chicken broth/stock to cover the bottom of the pan and cover. When all the liquid is gone from the pan, the pot stickers are done.
  1. *Sweet cooking rice wine
Marcel's Culinary Experience

A Grain of Salt by Paul Lindemuth

“With a grain of salt” is an idiom, which means to view something with skepticism or to not take it literally. An interesting history of this phrase reaches as far back as Roman times when General Pompey believed he could make himself immune to poisons by ingesting small doses of poisons with the addition of a few grains of salt to assist in swallowing the poisons.

A loose correlation of this philosophy tells us that everything tastes better with a little salt. Fast forward to the current day kitchen and we are in the middle of a salt revival. Salting food is one of the most fundamental and ingrained habits in cooking. But never has there been such an array of salts available.

Mark Bitterman, author of “Salted” writes, “salt can be a revelation” and he urges, “no food is more potent, more nutritionally essential, more universal, or more ancient. No other food displays salt’s crystalline beauty, is as varied, or as storied”.

That’s quite a tribute to what many consider so mundane and everyday. Once you look past the habit of picking up the salt shaker and start thinking creatively about working with salt, you will be better equipped to understand the differences between salts. In “Salted”, Bitterman includes a 19 page salt reference guide which compares more than 150 different salts and their origins, colors, flavor profiles and applications.

Coming right on the heels of my recent class “Prep School-Perfecting Salt”, I want to share the knowledge that you can not only cook WITH salt, but also cook ON it or IN it. My students eagerly waited as the Himalayan salt block reached the proper temperature and then enthusiastically seared thinly sliced flank steak directly on the block. The perfectly cooked steak flavored by the block itself and a little freshly ground black pepper was devoured and disappeared as fast as it could be cooked. Another technique that we explored was roasting a whole fish in a salt crust. 6 cups of kosher salt bound together with water created a rock hard salt “oven” and yielded perfectly cooked, juicy and delicious fish after the crust was cracked and removed.

With today’s focus of arming ourselves with the knowledge of where our food comes from, it is just as important to explore the most fundamental element that brings out flavor and makes those other already great ingredients taste even better.

I’ve shared a delicious recipe here, using the same technique to prepare a bone-in porterhouse steak in a salt crust.Salt-Roasted Porterhouse

Salt-Roasted Porterhouse
Serves 4
  1. 3 bay leaves, crushed
  2. 1 T. whole black peppercorns
  3. 2 t. whole coriander seeds
  4. 2 t. fennel seeds
  5. 2 t. dried rosemary
  6. ½ t. dried crushed red pepper
  7. 1 t. plus 3 cups kosher salt
  8. one 30-ounce porterhouse steak, about 2 to 2 ¼ inches thick
  9. 1/2 cup water
  1. In a small bowl combine the bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, rosemary and crushed red pepper. Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder or coffee grinder and process until finely ground.
  2. Measure 2 tablespoons of the ground spice mixture into a small bowl and mix in 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Rub the ground spice and salt mixture evenly all over the steak. Wrap the steak in plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours. Reserve the remaining ground spice mixture, separately, covered, at room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  4. Unwrap the steaks and place them in a large, ovenproof skillet.
  5. In a medium bowl combine the 3 cups of kosher salt with the reserved ground spice mixture. Add the water and stir to moisten.
  6. Pack the salt mixture over the top and sides of the steak. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the steak registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Remove the steak from the oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 8 minutes.
  7. Using a wooden spoon, crack the salt crust. Discard the crust and brush away any remaining salt. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and carve into ½-inch thick slices.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Winter Fruit Bread

Winter Fruit Bread
  1. 1¼ cup chopped pitted Medjool dates
  2. ¾ cup chopped candied orange peel
  3. 1/3 cup chopped dried Mission figs
  4. 2 oz. Frangelico
  5. 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  6. 2 t. baking powder
  7. 1 t. kosher salt
  8. ½ t. ground nutmeg
  9. ½ t. ground cloves
  10. ¼ t. ground cinnamon
  11. ½ cup whole-milk yogurt
  12. 2 T. olive oil
  13. ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  14. ¾ cup sugar
  15. 3 eggs
  16. 2 cups chopped walnuts
  17. ¾ cup shelled unsalted natural pistachios
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8½ x 4½ x 2½ -inch metal loaf pans; dust with flour and set aside.
  2. Combine dates, candied orange, figs, and Frangelico in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, coarse kosher salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon into another medium bowl.
  4. Whisk yogurt and oil in small bowl.
  5. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  6. Stir in walnuts, pistachios, and dried-fruit mixture. Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.
  7. Bake breads until tester inserted into centers comes out clean and breads begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 50 minutes. Cool in pans 30 minutes. Turn breads out onto racks.
  1. *Any combination of dried fruit will work
  2. *Delicious made ahead - this just keeps getting better and better as it sits or if frozen
  3. *Serve with honey butter
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Dreaming of Summer by Maureen McHugh

glowinggreensmoothiemainjpgIt happens every January; as the calendar flips to the New Year, my husband and I know that it is time for more green shakes and mindful eating. We drink green shakes year-round, but in the depths of winter, we reinvigorate our routine. Steve rises first and packs the Vitamix with his “special recipe” and I enjoy it as I make our morning cups of coffee. It’s a great way to start the day feeling more balanced and healthy.

When the first cold snap hits, we start our annual routine of cooking hearty soups, stews and chilis. Yum! But after last week’s bone-chilling snap, I yearned for a taste from my garden. Thank goodness I had tucked away some of my late summer harvest in my freezer.


Maureen’s Warm Winter Gazpacho

I pulled out one of my favorite summer recipes from Leah Eskin, which I clipped from the pages of the Chicago Tribune a few summers ago: Roasted Gazpacho. Instead of serving cold, I warm it up and it reminds me of a summer dinner out on our porch. I use my Vitamix and give my Le Creuset a little vacation.   The process is quick and the results are great; the soup is warm and is ready to serve straight from the blender. (The 750 model has a soup preset; your soup will be smooth without having to strain the seeds) I serve the soup with warm crusty crostini and a garnish of cilantro. This soup is sophisticated with flavors of fresh roasted tomatoes, red peppers and southwestern spices. We feel just as virtuous feasting on this warming soup as we do sipping our green shakes in the morning. Everyone at the table dreams of summer and makes ambitious plans for what to plant once the ground has thawed.

Roasted Gazpacho for Summer or Winter
Serves 6
  1. 2.5 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. 2 scallions, coarsely chopped
  4. 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  5. ¼ cup olive oil
  6. 2 T. red wine vinegar
  7. 1 t. sugar
  8. ½ t. sweet smoked paprika
  9. ¼ t. ground red pepper
  10. 2 T. cilantro, chopped
  11. kosher salt
  12. freshly ground pepper
  1. Roast: Place tomatoes onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast in a 400-degree oven until tomatoes are splotched black in spots, about 15 -20 minutes. Set tomatoes aside to cool.
  2. Blend: Scrape tomatoes and juices into a blender. Add garlic, scallions, red pepper, oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika and ground red pepper. Blend until smooth.
  3. Strain: (Optional step depending on the power of your blender) Press through a medium–mesh sieve or food mill and into a bowl to press all the liquid through. Discard seeds.
  4. Chill: Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for about 1 hour (Winter Variation…Serve warm (not hot) to let all of the flavors shine)
  5. Serve: Pour into bowls.
  1. Garnish with cilantro and crostini.
Adapted from Leah Eskin, The Chicago Tribune
Adapted from Leah Eskin, The Chicago Tribune
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Overnight Oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal
  1. 1 cup steel cut oats
  2. 1 cup dried cranberries
  3. 1 cup dried figs
  4. 4 cups water
  5. 1/2 cup half-and-half
  6. Sliced Almonds (optional)
  1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and set to low heat. Cover and cook for 8 hours.
  2. Stir and remove to serving bowls. Start right before bed and your oatmeal will be finished when you wake up.
  1. Wonderful garnished with sliced almonds!
Adapted from Alton Brown
Adapted from Alton Brown
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Shaping Your Culinary Style by Kelly Sears

Every year, shortly after Santa returns to the North Pole to retire the sleigh, my husband, two dogs, and I make our pilgrimage to the north woods. We escape to where the air is crisper, the sky is clearer and the stars brighter. The dog walks are long, the fires warming; we read, watch movies, and do our best to unplug as we recharge, regroup, and recommit.

The hourglass flips, positioning full back on top, and as the first grains of sand slip through the narrow passage, I think it’s only human nature to revisit your personal T-bar, reevaluating the positive and negative in hopes of restoring balance. Somewhere between the first self-imposed question and the last is usually, “Am I happy doing what I do?”

I teach to empower others, to help you find your culinary style. My job is to ensure you have the tools, the knowledge, and the confidence to put yourself out on that plate. The litany of phrases I use in a class, “a recipe is only a guideline, taste and adjust, stir like you mean it, find the balance;” hints and tricks meant to rub two sticks together and start a spark; to help you build your plate that uses your culinary words.

Without knowing it, we tell a story through the food we create. It’s personal, it’s impassioned, and it has meaning. The food I cook reflects who I am, speaking to my entire life’s experiences. Cooking as a whole evolves slowly, influenced by every brush with a new ingredient, new experience, new cuisine, new technique. When you set a finished plate in front of someone, you’re speaking through your culinary voice.


Kelly’s Winter Pork & Chorizo Stew

My voice developed from Sundays. My mom would start early, pull out the Dutch oven, and over the rustling of the Sunday paper, the air heavy with brewed coffee and eggs fried in butter, to the soundtrack of the NFL, magic would happen in that pot. Dinner would be ladled, not plated; the vessel a big bowl, not a plate, the utensil a spoon, not a fork; the first words in the making of my culinary voice.

This year, on your positive side of the T-bar, find time to develop your culinary voice. Lift the lid on your favorite pot, add some salt from a sea-side summer vacation, a bit of sweetness from the juicy bite of a July picked peach, a bit of acid from that surprise reaction you had the first time you tried a really good wine, a splash of your past, a pinch of your present, and a dash of all things in between.

My job is to help you learn to tell your story and yes, the answer is I love doing what I do. Let yourself be influenced by that new ingredient, that new cuisine, that new technique. Along the way, your voice may shout too loud, or whisper too soft; taste and adjust, find the balance.

When you set your finished plate in front of someone, speak through your culinary voice. Tell your story. Be personal, be impassioned, give it meaning. Your culinary voice is as tasty as you make it, take big bites.

Winter Pork & Chorizo Stew
  1. 3 T. butter
  2. 1 pound pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  3. 2 (4-oz) chorizo sausages cut into 1/2-inch slices
  4. 1 large onion, diced
  5. 1⁄2 celery root (celeriac), diced
  6. 3 parsnips, diced
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 t. ground cumin
  9. 1 t. cocoa powder
  10. 1 t. dried oregano
  11. 1⁄2 t. salt
  12. 1 t. cinnamon
  13. 3 T. flour
  14. 3 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
  15. 1 cup dark beer or tequila
  16. 1 (14 1/2-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  17. 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  18. 1 (15-oz) can white pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  19. 1 (10-oz) package frozen corn
  1. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat; add pork, and sear just until browned – not completely cooked through. Remove from pan.
  2. Add chorizo and onion and cook until sausage is browned, stirring often.
  3. Add garlic, cumin, cocoa, oregano, salt, & cinnamon. Add flour to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes to cook the “flour out.” Add stock, beer, and diced tomatoes collecting all brown bits from meat.
  4. Add pork back to the pan and add remaining beans and corn. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer until all flavors have melded and pork is cooked through, about 20 – 30 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience