Monday, October 8, 2012

Porchetta Basics

Porchetta in Italian is an herb stuffed rolled shoulder of Pork that is roasted low and slow to tender deliciousness.  It can be as fancy or as simple as you like.  My example is of a butterflied shoulder rubbed with herbs and topped with pork belly.  Once it is tied together and roasted the belly fuses itself to the shoulder and everything is sliced in one piece.  The shoulder is herby and delicious by itself, but the pork belly adds a layer of richness and moisture that truly can't be beaten.

This is the shoulder.  Once it's butterflied it should lay as flat as possible.  The whole thing gets rolled up and tied so it stays compact and even.  At this stage it is rubbed all over with an herb paste.  It is a combination of garlic, parsley, sage, thyme and basil.  You just buzz it all in a Cuisinart with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.  It looks like this...
There's no wrong way to do this.  You could even go old school and go at your herbs with a knife and simply stir in the olive oil, Salt and Pepper.

Once you've got the shoulder seasoned it's time for the Pork Belly, also known as raw bacon!  Pork Belly is where bacon comes from and in it's raw uncured state it is a thing of deliciousness all by itself!  It roasts and braises beautifully.  Sliced thinly it is rich and fatty and awesome.  Use sparingly, you know, like covering a whole roast!
Belly usually comes with the skin on.  If so you can have your butcher remove it.  And if you didn't know, pork belly skin is where the greatest of all southern snack foods comes from, PORK RINDS! 

Once you get the skin off rub the belly all over with the marinade.  Lay the belly on your work surface fat side down, place the shoulder on top and roll that bad boy up with your hands!  It doesn't have to be perfect that's what tying is for.  Place it seam side down and grab some butchers twine.  If you don't have any, ask your butcher.  They'll usually include it for free.  BONUS!
You're going to want to tie it about every inch and a half all the way to the end of the roast.  Once you get it hogtied, that's right, HOGTIED!  Slather that baby once more with your herb rub season all over with Salt and Pepper and put that sexy beast in the over at about 300 degrees for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  It will get golden, your house will be amazing smelling, your guests will be ravenous from the moment they walk in your door and smell it.  Be sure to let it rest for about 15 minutes before you slice it.  Remove all the string and you'll be amazed, it's all one piece!  Slice into it and it will hold together and look like this....
See that beautiful ring of herbs there?  Oh yeah baby that's the stuff!  To view the rest of the components of this wonderful meal, visit my Facebook page at Kelly Lehman.  Part of the Kelly Lehman Personal Chef Service.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Best Part of My Job

So the business is heading into it's 6th month.  Half a year has flown by and I don't know how it's happened so fast, but I am racing to get to the next 6 months and see what the 1 year mark has to show.  But I have to say, this has been one of the best experiences of my life.  It's been challenging, nervewracking and thrilling.  And the absolute best part of my job has been working with and for the clients I've developed over this amazing period of time.

My main reason for starting a Personal Chef business was the fact that I wanted to work one on one with people again.  When you work in the restaurant business you can put out plate after plate of food all at a breakneck pace and never once see the face of someone who eats it.  Do they like it?  Are they thrilled?  Do they want to throw the plate back in your face?  I'll never know.  And the issue with me was that I truly cared about knowing the answers to those questions.  

Food for me is an expression of love, caring and nurturing.  I don't take shortcuts.  That soup I made you started with stock made with the chicken bones I roasted and then covered with water and aromatics and turned into the best Chicken Noodle Soup you've ever had.  Everything I make starts from scratch.  And everything I serve you comes from a starting point of wanting to make something you'll absolutely love.

So when a client walks into their house after a long day at work and comes into the kitchen to find me finishing up and says: "My God the house smells fantastic!  And I don't have to do anything but enjoy it!  I love you."  Well you've got to know, that's the best part of my job.  And I love you right back.  And I do that for every client I have.  You may only want a turkey sandwich from me, but you'll get a Turkey Sandwich with smoked paprika aioli and most likely tomatoes from my own garden.  Or dishes with herbs I've grown myself.  Little touches like that are just an automatic extension of who I am as a chef.  It's who I am as Your Personal Chef.  

So Thanks!  Whats the best part of my job?  You are.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Roots

I have been fortunate enough to be able to donate my talents to an organization called NEW ROOTS that provides produce shares at a very small cost to people in under served areas like Old Louisville and the West End of Louisville.  Twice a month for as little as $12.00 people in the neighborhood and surrounding areas can purchase a huge share of fresh produce and fruit.  The woman responsible for organizing and keeping this program running is Ms. Karyn Moskowitz.

To say Karyn is passionate is a huge understatement.  She is a bulldog for social justice, food justice and serving a large part of the Louisville community that is greatly overlooked.  It is incredibly easy in these times to feel like outreach and participation is just something of the past.  And it can be difficult, it requires commitment and just showing up, which as involved with our own lives on a daily basis can attest can be the biggest challenge of all.  But the reward of getting outside your comfort zone and exposing yourself to new opportunities and people, well, it makes me smile and I can use all the smiles I can get.

I have a budget of $30.00 to fill in the gaps to round out a menu for about 60 people, sometimes more, each time I do a Chef Demo.  I've always come in on budget and I've cooked some great simple food that the neighborhood really loves.  One woman called me the "Slap yo mama Chef" because it was so good it made you want to well.... Slap yo mamma!  Here is a sample of what I cooked for them.  I hope you'll try it for your selves.

Curried Sweet Potatoes

3# Sweet Potatoes
2T Curry Powder
Olive Oil
2c. Whole Milk or Heavy Cream

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

Prick Potatoes with a fork and roast in the oven on a sheet pan till they are fully cooked and soft.  Aproximately 45 minutes

Scoop interior of potatoes into the bowl of a mixer

Heat the Olive Oil in a saucepan big enough to hold the milk.  Add the Curry Powder and gently cook the spices in the oil.  Add the milk or cream and bring to a simmer.

Slowly add the hot liquid to the potatoes as you mix them to the consistency you prefer.  Add Salt and Pepper to season them to your liking

Hot Tomato and Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers
2-3 medium sized Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
4 tablespoons olive oil (or to taste)
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 fresh chilies, (either jalapenos or fresnoes your choice)

Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into small pieces; place in bowl, add all remaining ingredients and stir.
Refrigerate for an hour while all flavors come together. Add more of above ingredients to suit your taste.

Summertime Corn Chowder

2# Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernals (fresh is best)
1 Large Onion (diced)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
Olive Oil
6 oz Bacon (cut into strips)
¼ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1# Diced Potato (Yukon Gold or another Waxy Variety)
Fresh Parsley
Milk or Heavy Cream

Cut the corn off the cob and use the back of your knife to scrape down the cob and get as much “corn milk” out of it as possible.  Reserve the cobs

In a stock pot heat a Tablespoon of Olive Oil and fry your Bacon until it’s crispy.  Remove ½ the Bacon and reserve for garnish

In the remaining bacon fat and oil sauté the onion and garlic until just soft (no color) and then add the thyme and corn with it’s milk.  Allow it to cook out a little bit and then put your corn cobs into the pot.  Just barely cover the whole thing with water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a strong simmer and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes.  Remove the cobs and add the potatoes and milk or cream.  Cook until the potatoes are tender and the mixture had reduced and thickened slightly Season with salt and pepper.

Remove a small amount of the soup and puree it in a blender to make the soup’s texture a little creamier.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and bacon.

Squash and Zucchini “Pasta”

2# Zucchini and Squash (cut into “ribbons” on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler very thin)
¼ cup Chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
Parmesan Cheese to taste
Approximately 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Blanch Squash and Zucchini ribbons in salted boiling water for a few seconds until they soften slightly.  Plunge into ice water to stop them cooking and drain them on a sheetpan with paper towels.

Heat a sauté pan with the Olive Oil and add the Squash and Zucchini, toss to coat them and add the thyme and parsley.  Season to taste with Salt and Pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Plate immediately and serve.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summertime = NOODLES

When it gets this hot my thoughts turn to noodles.  Specifically Asian Noodles giant bowls of Vietnamese Bun with grilled pork and thin delicate Rice Vermicelli teeming with mint, basil and cilantro and topped with Nuoc Cham full of chilies, lime juice and fish sauce.  This salad is cooling and fresh, filling and affordable!   

Or Cold Soba Noodles from Japan chewy and earthy.  They are made out of buckwheat and have a fantastic nuttiness to them.  When topped with a dash of Sesame Oil, Nori and Sesame Seeds and then dipped into a cold broth made out of Dashi, Soy Sauce and Mirin.  This is the simplest most soul satisfying dish around.  

Have you heard how eating chilies when it's hot outside actually helps to cool you down?  It's true!  And when it's a billion degrees I always think of curry.  This time by way of Thailand and a fantastic green curry and coconut milk soup with sliced chicken and wide fat rice noodles, the scents of lemongrass and galangal (a member of the ginger family) in this fantastic dish are purely transportive.

Then there is Udon.  Fat slippery chewy wheat noodles from Japan.  It's a bit of an obsession of mine, Udon and Ramen both.  My Broth usually takes 2 days and is rich with both pork and chicken.  This is not a diet dish rather, it is a rich full on assault.  A dish you will eat till you think you're going to pop.  It's topped with slow roasted pork, poached egg, nori, fish cake, chili powder and anything under the sun you can think of.  It's a bowled up buffet suspended in a rich broth steaming hot.  It'll do you right!  Udon seems to be more of a cold weather dish for me.  But waxing about noodles the way I am, it just seems unfair to leave them out.

Most of these dishes are surprisingly easy to make and are a great way to use up any leftovers you might have in the fridge (last night's chicken anyone?) and all of the noodles cook in mere minutes and can be done ahead of time and refreshed with a little cold or hot water depending on how you're eating them.  Rice noodles especially are a fantastic addition to anyone eating a Gluten Free Diet.  Take a look and give them a try.  It's the perfect time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice

2 medium onions
6 cloves of Garlic 
4 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
Pinch of Red Chili Flake
4 Tablespoons Sweet Curry Powder
2 Cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk

1# Collard Greens
6 Small White Potatoes Cubed
2 Zucchini Cubed
2 Yellow Squash Cubed
4 Roma Tomatoes Cubed
1/2 # Snow Peas Cut on the Bias (reserve for last)

Peel and slice the onions and garlic.  Heat a large soup pot over a medium heat and add the oil, garlic, onions and chili flake.  Season with Salt and Pepper and cook until the onions soften but don't allow them to color.  

Add the Curry Powder and allow it to fry slightly with the vegetables for a few minutes.  Add the coconut milk and 2 cans of water.  Stir to incorporate and bring the mixture to a bare boil.  Add in all your vegetables, (with the exception of the snow peas) season again with Salt and Pepper and bring back to a bare boil. 

Once it looks like it's about to boil, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer the curry for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Just before you're ready to serve the curry, add the snow peas.  Serve in a bowl over cooked Basmati Rice.

Peach Lassi

This Recipe really couldn't be simpler and it is wonderful for these incredibly hot days of summer.

 Serves 4

 6 ripe peaches (but not brown on the inside)
1 cup yogurt of your choice (whole, lowfat or nofat)
1 cup of milk (same choices apply here)
3 Tablespoons of Sugar or Honey
2 handfuls of ice

Blend everything in a blender till smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy.
For fancier flavoring; add a small pinch of Dried Cardamom or Cinnamon or both while blending.  Keep cool.  You can make this in a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.


Southern Italian Style Greens

These Greens are completely vegetarian, but so packed with delicious flavors.  I have been told from very reliable sources that they make you want to:

I in no way advocate parental violence! :)

Serves 6-8

1# each Collard, Mustard, Swiss Chard & Kale or any other green of your choosing (tough stems stripped off and greens chopped up and washed in a sink of cold water)

2 Medium Yellow Onions
6 Cloves of Sliced Garlic
Red Chili Flake
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Wash chopped greens thoroughly in a sink of cold water.  Drain the sink with the greens still in it, the residual water on your greens is all you'll need to braise them in your pot. 

In a pot 3 times larger than you'll need for the final product, heat approximately 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil on a medium heat.  Cut your onions in half, peel them and slice them crossways.  Add the garlic to your pan and let it cook slightly for a few seconds, then add the chili flake and finally the onions.  Season these with a little salt and pepper and cook till the onions soften, but do not let them color or burn.  

Add your greens a little at a time and stir them through the onions and garlic, you'll see them shrink way down, when the volume goes down add more greens until you've got them all incorporated.  Once they're all in the pot, season the greens with salt and pepper and give them a good stir, turn your heat down to a medium low to low setting and let the greens braise for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir them frequently, they can burn.  If the greens look dry you can add about 1/4 cup of water to your pan.  

When you taste them for doneness they should be tender and not bitter, if they taste tough or stringy at all, they're not quite done.  Let them cook some more.  When they are finished, stir in about 1/4 cup or 2 ounces of Balsamic Vinegar, stir it through all the greens.  Keep warm and serve.  These greens are great on their own or incorporated into another dish like a frittata or quiche.