Chile Citrus Shrimp

11 Jun

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A quick, flavorful recipe that can be served as an appetizer or main course. I served the shrimp over brown rice seasoned with butter, salt, and green onions as well as black beans with sauteed onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, coriander and salt.

Time: 15 minutes                   Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveiend (I used Black Tiger)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

How to make it


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Combine all ingredients except shrimp in a mixing bowl. Whisk to incorporate.
  • Pour mixture into skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until thick and reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and serve.lunapic_1368472858702_22
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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

10 Jun

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One thing I try to focus on when creating dishes is being able to eat and make what I love, without having to compromise much. Unfortunately, I suffer from a digestive disorder – what kind of cruel joke is that for a chef and “foodie”?! I’ve done quite a bit of trial and error on my diet to try to keep myself in good health and pain-free. Although I’m not allergic to wheat or gluten, I find that I feel much better when I don’t eat it. It seems a lot of people can benefit from reducing the amount of wheat they consume. With that said, I don’t want to give up my favorite foods or feel like I’m missing out on anything and this fried chicken is the perfect example! The buttermilk marinade adds to the flavor and moisture of the meat while the cornstarch helps to keep the breading from falling off while frying. If you haven’t tried brown rice flour yet, I highly recommend it!

Time: 45 minutes + marinate time                   Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces – about 2.5 pounds
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 1 handful celery leaves
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • neutral oil, for frying

How to make it


  • Combine buttermilk,salt,pepper,paprika,rosemary,onion,garlic,celery stalks & leaves in a large plastic zipper bag. Seal and toss to incorporate. Add chicken pieces, reseal, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and up to 36 hours.
  • Place cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Place egg, hot sauce, and water in another bowl.
  • Place flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a third bowl. Mix to incorporate.lunapic_137046272434386_28
  • Remove chicken from fridge. Heat oil in a medium stock pot to about 350F – a cube of bread should brown in one minute when the oil is ready.
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off. Dredge first in cornstarch, then dip in egg wash, and finally dredge in seasoned flour. Place in hot oil and cook for about 20 minutes. Wings may need less time and larger pieces may need a few more minutes. I went about 25 minutes on the breasts, 20 minutes on the legs and thighs, and 15 minutes on the wings. Remove and transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack. Fry in batches if needed. (I like to fry in smaller batches in a smaller pot to use less oil and give the pieces room to brown well without sticking).

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Honey Lemon Lamb En Brochette

5 Jun

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Here it is folks! This is the dish I prepared for the the lamb challenge on Episode 3 of MasterChef Season 4 on FOX. When we were waiting to go in to meet with the judges and found out our challenge, the smells that come with fresh livestock came wafting in to my nose. I looked around to see if any of the other contestants noticed and it seemed many did not. We were all anxious and excited to find out what our challenge would be and for a moment I had a flash of panic, thinking “what if we have to slaughter something?!” After a few minutes, which felt like hours, we were brought in to the judges to find out what we would be doing. When I first saw the sweet little lamb that Gordon Ramsay held in his arms, my heart dropped.

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Then, the rest of the herd was let in and our challenge was announced. We could create any dish with lamb as the star ingredient and we had our pick of any and all parts of the animal. In addition, we had the privilege of using the fully-stocked MasterChef pantry. I had to shake the feeling of being sad for the little lamb and keep my head in the game!

I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe in Matthew Kenney’s “Big City Cooking”. One of my dearest friends, Katie, gave the book to me as a gift years ago – before I discovered my passion for cooking. It’s a lovely book and back then I found it quite intimidating as many of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me at the time and the preparations are so elegant. I used to flip through it and think, “one day…” Now I can really dig into it. Thanks, Katie!

Time: 15 minutes + marinating                  Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 2 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless lamb loins – about 10 oz each – cut crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick
  • mint leaves, for garnish

How to make it


  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine yogurt, oil, honey, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Whisk together to incorporate.
  • Add lamb loin to marinade and cover. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours or let set on the counter for about 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  • Thread lamb onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, be sure to soak in water for 10 minutes so they don’t burn). Reserve marinade.
  • Place skewers on hot grill/grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness – I go 5-6 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

As we were cooking, the judges came around to talk to us, see what we were up to, and in some cases take a taste. Gordon Ramsay came to my station and asked me what I was preparing. After I described it to him, he stuck his index finger in the bowl of marinade, lamb and all, stuck it in his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s fucking delicious!” I may have been sent home on this challenge but this was a great affirmation! I know I think it’s delicious, but to know Gordon Ramsay does too… That’s saying something! Check me out doing my thing in the second row from the bottom on the left.

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The marinade may not look like much, but it does great things! The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the lemon tames the lamb’s robust flavor.

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The lamb is served over a Moroccan Cucumber Mint Salad which provides a wonderful textural contrast and freshness. Recipe coming soon.

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The dish is also served with Harissa

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…and Honey Cumin Yogurt.

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It also pairs perfectly with Moroccan Carrots.

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Jeweled Kale and Cabbage Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

4 Jun

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We all know how good leafy greens are for us, but did you know how downright tasty they can be to boot? I learned the technique of cooking off the rawness of the kale and cabbage from Chef Lulu Powers who I worked for when I was out in LA a few months back. These simple ingredients come together for a wonderful balance of flavors and textures. Enjoy! 

Time: 15 minutes                         Serves: 6

Ingredients


  • Salad


  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • orange juice or lemonade – enough to cover dried fruit
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago cheeses
  • Dressing


  • 1 tbsp Creole or other grainy mustard
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, freshly grated – to taste

How to make it


  • Salad


  • The day before you plan to make this salad, combine dried cranberries and juice in a small container. Seal and let sit overnight to reconstitute the fruit.
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Spread shredded kale and cabbage out on lined baking sheets giving room so as not to crowd.
  • Bake kale and cabbage for 6 minutes. Transfer from baking sheets to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add reconstituted cranberries, pine nuts, and cheese. Toss with dressing and serve.
  • Dressing


  • Combine mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup in a small non-reactive bowl. Whisk to incorporate. Add olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lamb Meatballs and Napoli Sauce

30 May

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I acquired these traditional Italian recipes, passed down through generations, from a chef in LA. As per usual, I added my own touches to make this dish sing. The simplicity of the sauce highlights the succulent, herbaceous lamb and everything is in harmony – the pleasant tune of spring.

Time: 30 minutes + simmer Serves: 5

Ingredients


  • Meatballs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed bread (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
  • milk, enough to cover bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only – carefully cleaned and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium-large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade

How to make it


  • Meatballs


  • Combine bread cubes and milk in a small bowl to soak.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Transfer soaked bread to a large mixing bowl. Discard excess milk any remains. Add lamb, parsley, rosemary, thyme, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks & garlic. Mix just to incorporate.
  • Form mixture into 2-inch balls and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • At this point you can bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for 20 minutes. Or you can braise them in the sauce by allowing them to cook for 25 minutes. Finally, you can pan fry them in batches with a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • I always cook my meatballs, let them cool, then put them on a baking sheet and into the freeze. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or container and you’ll have homemade meatballs waiting for you anytime.
  • Sauce


  • In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, some salt & pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add basil during last 30 minutes of simmer.
  • Serve meatballs tossed in sauce and spaghetti. Top with shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago blend and garnish with small basil leaves.

MasterChef 4 Update

29 May

Thank you everyone who supported me and my hometown of Detroit by watching the MasterChef Season 4 premiere last week! Wondering if I got an apron? Check out this peak at tonight’s episode.

 

Tune in to FOX tonight at 8/7c to see if the lamb really does steal the show. Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for a show stealing lamb recipe!

Lavender Lemonade

27 May

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Summer in a glass. Refreshing and delicious, the light floral notes compliment the sweet and tart so nicely.

Time: 10 minutes                Serves: 7

Ingredients


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried lavender buds
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon pulp
  • 5 cups cold water

How to make it


  • Combine water, sugar, and lavender buds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisk, then reduce and simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Strain lavender syrup into a large pitcher. Add lemon juice, pulp, and cold water. Stir and serve over ice.