Friday, October 23, 2009

It WAS Finger Lickin' Good

Soooo sorry that I left ya'll hangin' for so long. Life got a little busy with gigs and new opportunities that have recently come my way. Exciting stuff that, I promise, when they start to materialize that I will keep you updated.
So the last gig that I did was a rehearsal dinner for some friends at a private home in Elk Grove. That bad boy went off with out a hitch. Rachel, my chef, again props to you. I'm gonna take a minute to talk about the baddest female chef in the Sactown area. The woman is gangster. Not only can she make the most delicate, rich and utterly delicious pastries and desserts this side of the Mississippi, she can simultaneously grill 60lbs of tri-tip and 40lbs of chicken with 3 foot flames surrounding her and make brussels so good that you thought they were collard greens that had been cookin' on the pot for hours. Gangster! On the back of her chef coat it should say, "Above average, potential classic!"

For that gig, my husband made a citrus rub for the chicken that we served. He modified it from a recipe from family friends that used to own a bed and breakfast up in Sedona. Everyone went crazy for the chicken at the rehersal dinner, so two days later I thought I would try a piece for myself with the extra rub that we had left over. I sat down with my son at the dinner table and began to partake in this fine piece o' meat in front of me. Forty five minutes later I'm still working on this one piece of chicken. I have now completely stripped it of all meat like a hyena on the Serengeti and am trying to suck the marrow out of the bone. Ridiculous. My two year old son who finished his dinner twenty minutes earlier, is pulling on me and yelling, "Mama stop eatin', you said I can have cookie! Put chicken down Mama now!" I'm ignoring him, trapped in a frenzy to get every bit of juice I can out of this bird. THIS was some good chicken. My son, now in a full tizzy, has broken my trance and brought me back to reality. The chicken is gone, my side dish is cold and I am so depressed that I only cooked one piece. Greasy lipped and longing for more, I get my son his cookie. At least one of us is happy.

So I feel that after having such an experience that I have to share it with all of you. This recipe was originally written the Garland's Lodge cookbook back in 2006. They are no longer there and sadly missed because their food was awesome. So here is the recipe for the rub. I strongly suggest that you use chicken that is bone in and skin on. I know that might not be the most health conscious, but it will provide you with an extremely more flavorful piece of meat. For novice chefs, it is important to get a good sear on the meat after you apply the rub. In a frying pan on med-high with a about two to three table spoons of olive oil, sear each side for about two minutes. Transfer to the oven preset at 350 degrees and roast for about 35-45 minutes. After chicken is done (when poked, clear liquid should flow out) let rest and with pan dripping create a jus. I like to transfer the drippings back to the original pan I used to sear the chicken, add 1 tbsp of butter and 1 cup of chicken stock. Simmer on high and reduce the jus down until it's a dark creamy caramel color. Pour over the chicken and enjoy.

Citrus Herb Rub
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons sage
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarse ground pepper
Lightly toast the dry herbs and zest in a small skillet over medium low heat. Do not burn! Partially grind the herb-zest mixture in a spice mill and mix with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can't Always Get Whatcha Want

First off I want to start today's entry with a thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read this blog. I've loved all your comments, they've made me laugh and made me think. To Vanny, guurl I've already started planning the trip to Vegas 2010! Roberto's or bust. Es tiempo para un buen cerveza y comida. OoooEee!
So two nights ago was the Herncia bartenders competition at Zocalo. There were 9 bartenders competing for bragging rights over who had the the best tequila based cocktail. It was great to come out and support these men and women mixologist. Now let me tell you what wasn't great.
1.) The bartenders had to create their cocktails behind the bar, working simultaneously with the staff, creating a traffic jam of bartenders dancing around each other and spectators jockeying for space at the bar to watch the competition next to patrons that were there to watch the football game.
2.) When the competition was over they brought the bartenders into a private dining room with guest that paid $50.00 a head for a coursed dinner to announce the winner. There was a verbal uproar from supportive friends and family as management pulled the curtains closed shutting us out from the verdict. (Management quickly rethought their decision and opened the curtains.)
It was an aggravating night to say the least. When our homeboy Chris didn't even place, I felt like going into black girl pose #325. One hand on the hip, finger waggin' with the other, poppin' my hips back and forth saying, "Aaaw hell naw!" But instead I smiled sweetly and golf clapped.
Chris I thought your drink was fabulous. You'll get 'em next time. To Herncia, your tequila is delicious. It's bouquet was wonderful, it was smooth and had amazing drinkability as a sipping spirit. To Zocalo, one big thumb down. Love your restaurant, but don't love how you ran things the other night. It was clear who the VIP's were and who were not and for an establishment such as Zocalo I would hope that you would make all guest feel welcomed and appreciated, since they were supporting your business with their dollars.
p.s- R.I.P Gourmet Magazine. I will always love you and your sick recipes and articles.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More Than Just Beer in a Bottle and Whiskey on the Rocks

On Monday, October 5th our friend Chris Dooley is participating in his third Sacramento Mixology contest. The last two he won, so we are excited and anticipating a 3-pete. Dooley is highly creative in his ability to concoct beverages that have incredible balance, gastronomical imagination and a bit of whimsy. In his last competition he topped his drink with caviar made from Campari. The sickening part is that he doesn't even come up with the recipes for his creations until the night before.

When I go to these events it's such a sigh of appreciation. Molecular gastronomy is nothing new to the culinary world. But since Ferran Andria began making beetroot foam in the 90's, the game has never been the same. Though as many a Sacramentian know, culinarily speaking, trends and advances in technique arrive in Sacramento at about the same rate it takes the California legislature to pass a state budget.

In the early 2000's I remember reading an article about the shift in bartending. Bartenders in San Francisco taking five minutes to make a drink that was muddled with an ingredient list that looked more like a receipt from Whole Foods than a drink description on a Chili's happy hour menu.

I was working at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Sacramento as a Food and Beverage Manager in charge of the bar. I was determined that I was going to bring that same ideology on drink making to the hotel bar. I had a meeting with my bartenders and expressed that I wanted everyone to bring me a drink recipe following this new aesthetic within a week. The best recipe would be featured on the new drink menu.

Well, all but two of my staff looked at me like I was smokin' rocks at the meeting table and all but two of my staff ignored what I said. Aaaah the Sac town workforce on a union property. So cooperative. Of the two, one made me a drink so good, it made me wanna slap my momma! (Side note to my's just an expression. Love you girl!!!) She made the drink with fresh squeezed apple juice that she hand juiced at the bar. We called it the Natural Apple Martini. Ooh it was good! It was still like pulling teeth to get everybody on board after the success of the first new drink.

I remember shadowing bartenders at various establishments that said," Oh, we don't put Vermouth in our martinis." In which I quickly replied, "Then it's not a martini. It's just a shot and a half of gin or vodka." Their retort,"Well people don't like the Vermouth and send it back." And in an irritated tone I stated, "Then it's your job as a bartender to educate your guest. If what they're really asking for is a shaken, chilled shot you need to serve it that way. Don't put it in a martini glass if that's not what you are making and don't call it a martini if it ain't."

Since those frustrating days, the scene has changed drastically. Some long missing aspects of bartending have returned. Vermouth in martinis is back, I no longer have to request it in my drinks, educating the guest and bartender spirit knowledge has resurfaced. And with that the creativity and craftsmanship of old has come out of exile. Thank you baby Jesus! It ain't the same mixing drinks at home on the kitchen counter and pretending your husband is the newly hired sexy bartender that is slipping you free drinks...maybe that last bit was to much info? Anywho, I can't wait for Monday. The event is going to be like an episode of "Top Chef". The competitors won't know some of the required ingredients until they arrive. Oooh daddy! I love it. Dooley has given me a recipe to share with ya'll. Make it often and enjoy.

The Vanity
  • 1 1/2 oz. Leopold's Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 4-5 Fresh Mint Leaves

Add ingredients together in a pint glass. Give a brisk shake, 2-3 shakes. You want to marry the ingredients not beat them together. Double strain into a Collins glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh mint.