“When it rains it pours” was the slogan that made Morton Salt famous. But is there more to salt than what comes out of a shaker at your local dining establishment? You bet there is!

Salt is mostly mined from the earth or evaporated from ocean water and comes in many forms such as: fine iodized table salt, Kosher salt, course salt, and salt exclusively for culinary purposes. There are a vast array of gourmet and naturally occurring salts such as Himalayan pink salt or unprocessed sea salt from the Sea of Cortez.

Some of the more flavorful and culinary adventurous salts I have in my pantry are: sea salt from the sea of Cortez (which my two sons brought back from a trip to Baja, Mexico), Chardonnay Oak Smoked salt and Alder Wood Smoked sea salt. Kosher salt is what I use for an everyday general-purpose salt because the crystals are larger, easier to distribute in foods and not as harsh as table salt. I usually mix this half-and-half with course ground pepper. The salt brings out the natural flavor in foods while the pepper adds a bit.

A good quality salt doesn’t taste quite as salty as one might think. The salt from the sea of Cortez tastes like the ocean breeze. Himalayan pink salt contains a little more than 98% sodium chloride (salt) with the remainder consisting of an array of minerals making it earthy tasting and colorful ranging from white to rose colored. It also has a nice little crunch to it if you leave it on the course side. The Chardonnay Oak Smoked salt was a little saltier than I expected with a Smokey Oakey hint to it. The Alder Wood Smoked sea salt was really bold with what I would describe as campfire quality.

Experiment and use different salts when preparing your dishes. From mild to bold tasting, the right salt can make a huge difference. The more flavorful salts can be used in cooking as well as finishing by sprinkling them on just before serving.

Here are a couple of recipes I cooked the other night that you might enjoy:

Grilled Salmon w/Alder wood smoked sea salt

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Salmon Fillet Steaks
Olive Oil
Alder wood smoked sea salt

Directions:

Prepare the coals in a BBQ or pre-heat a gas grill. Let salmon steaks come to room temperature then coat with olive oil and sprinkle medium to moderately with the salt. When the coals are covered with white ash or the gas grill has pre-heated; it’s time to put the salmon steaks on. Depending on the thickness of the steaks and the temperature of the grill, leave the salmon steaks on the first side for 3 – 5 min. then turning them over carefully with a spatula, grill the other side for about 3 min. until just cooked and the fish slightly flakes apart with a fork. Finish with Alder wood smoked sea salt and serve immediately!

Grilled Potato Wedges

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 med. Yucon Gold Potatoes
2 med Purple Potatoes
2 med Sweet Potatoes
Olive Oil
Chardonnay Oak Smoked salt
Fresh ground pepper
Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary is always good for potatoes)

Directions:

Wash potatoes thoroughly and remove any unwanted bad spots or eyes. Par boil the potatoes starting out with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until a fork just starts to go into the potatoes easily. Remove potatoes and run under cold water or place in ice bath to cool off and stop the cooking process. When potatoes are cooled off, pat dry with paper towels, cut into wedges and coat with olive oil then toss with salt, pepper and any herbs. Place on grill until nice grill marks appear then turn them over to achieve the same on the second side. Serve with your favorite condiment: ketchup, sour cream, sweet chili sauce, hot sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce or mayonnaise.

Grilled Summer Veggies

Serves 2

Ingredients:

An assortment of fresh, colorful, summer veggies:

Colored Bell Peppers
Mushrooms
Leeks
Red Onions
Scallions
Sweet Vidalia Onions
Zucchini
Yellow Summer Squash
Snap Peas
Egg Plant
Swiss Chard
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
Baby Bok Choy
Etc.

Olive Oil,
Fresh Ground Pepper
Fresh chopped Herbs
Himalayan pink salt

Directions:

Wash, Peal (if needed), de-seed and chop veggies of your choice into bite size pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs. Place in a veggie grill basket and grill until tender and grill marks appear.
Serve immediately!

Here’s an interesting fact: Salt is the only rock eaten by humans.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

Chocolate, food of the Gods! Throughout the centuries chocolate has been forbidden, revered, used as currency, reserved for the elite, savored and indulged in. Now that Chocolate is commonplace it has been suggested that the top of the food pyramid should be changed to chocolate and rightfully so!… There are many health benefits attributed to this chocoholic delight, here are just a few:

1.) Chocolate contains natural chemicals that produce neurotransmitters and mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love.
2.) Chocolate contains antioxidants, which helps in the prevention of diseases.
3.) Chocolate is an aphrodisiac.
4.) Chocolate melts at body temperature!

Considering the vast array of chocolates to choose from (white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate), dark chocolate, nutritionally speaking, is the best.

Chocolate is transformed in many different forms: chocolate cakes, brownies, cookies and other baked products, chocolate milk and ice cream, bars with fruit, nuts and liquor, chocolate liquor, and sauces.

Be sure to check out my Chocolate Truffle Demonstration 2:00pm at the Colorado Chocolate festival June 26, 2010. Here’s their website: http://www.chocolate-festival.org/

Email me and I’ll send you a copy of “Top Ten Reasons why Chocolate is the World’s Most Perfect Food”.

Here are some chocolate recipes you’re sure to enjoy and savor!

Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 35 walnut sized truffles

Ingredients:

1 LB. Organic Dark Semi-Sweet Chocolate
(Chips or copped into small pieces)
1 Cup Organic Heavy Cream

For Coating: Organic Dark Cocoa
Chopped Walnuts
Dagoba Organic Chocolate with Chilies and Cinnamon
Shredded Coconut

Procedure:

Place chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. In a small pan, heat cream over medium high heat until bubbles start to form around the edge and just before it starts to boil. Remove from heat immediately and pour cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate is soft and melted. Let stand for 15 min, then refrigerate, covered, until firm. Scoop out truffle mixture with a spoon or scoop; form into balls of your preferred size, roll in the coating you choose, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chef’s note:

You can also add nuts, coconut, (tawny) port wine, etc. to the mixture after it has cooled a bit.

Serve with a nice Tawny Port

Flourless Chocolate Torte Soufflé

Makes two one layer cake serves 20
or one double layer serves 10.

Ingredients:

Shortening and gluten free flour for pans
1 Lb Semi-sweet Chocolate
1/4 Lb Semi-sweet Chocolate for shavings
1/2 Lb Butter
10 Lg Eggs (separated)
10 Oz. Granulated Sugar
1 Pinch Cream of Tarter
1 Pt. Heavy Whipping Cream
to taste Powdered Sugar
Berries for garnish
Chocolate Syrup
Equipment:

Two 9” Spring Form Pans
Double Boiler Pan
Four Mixing Bowls (1 large, 2 medium and 1small)
Rubber or Silicone Spatula
Metal Whisk
Wooden Spoon
Pastry Knife
Potato Peeler or Grater
Squeeze Bottle

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300f.
Grease and flour pans, knocking off excess flour, and place in freezer
until ready to use.

Melt in a double boiler:
1 # semi-sweet chocolate
½# butter

Separate 10 whole eggs:

Whip whites to medium Peaks
(adding a pinch of Cream of Tarter)

Wisk yolks with 10 oz. granulated sugar then slowly add the chocolate mix.
Make sure chocolate mixture is cooled enough that you don’t wind up with
scrambled eggs.

Fold in ½ egg whites, then the 2nd. half.

Pour batter in two 9” spring form pan:

Bake for 1 hr. 10 min. or until toothpick comes out not wet but not dry, just clings slightly.

Let cool and frost with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Garnish with: chocolate shavings and powered sugar strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, fresh flowers, etc.

Serve on a white plate and drizzle chocolate syrup from the squeeze bottle (before placing the fruit or flower) in a swirling motion painting both the torte and the plate.

Raw (Vegan) Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4

Ingredients:
5 Ripe Organic Avocados
6 Medjool Dates
1 Cup Agave Nectar
1 TBS Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Organic Cocoa Powder
Pinch Sea Salt

Directions:

Remove pits from dates and soak in a cup of water for 5- 10 min. In the meantime, scoop out the avocado from their shells, cut into small pieces and place in food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and puree’ until completely smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Adjust sweetness. If you need to thin mixture out a bit, spoon in a little of the water that the dates were soaking in and blend until desired consistency. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Garnish with mint leaves and raspberries.

Chocolate Chili Empanadas

Ingredients:
• 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour – OR – for a Gluten-Free version (see modification below*):
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 large egg for dough
• 1/3 cup ice water
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 egg for egg wash

* For a Gluten-Free version, make a large batch of flour according to the following ratio, and then use 1:1 as all-purpose flour. (So, for this recipe, use 2 1/4 cups of the blended product):
• 1 cup of brown rice flour
• 1/3 cup of tapioca flour
• 1/3 cup of potato starch
• 1/3 cup of sorghum flour
• 1 tsp of xanthan gum
(NOTE: You may substitute any of the above flours if not on hand with quinoa flour, amaranth flour, or teff).

Directions:
Mix all of the dry ingredients well. Cut the butter into small pieces and, with a fork or a pastry knife (or in your mixer) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. (Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours)

Ganache (filling):
1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 – 2 teas. Cayenne (to taste)

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 375f. Place chocolate in a medium-mixing bowl. In a small pan, heat cream over medium high heat just until boiling. (Do NOT let cream boil over) Remove from heat immediately and pour cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate is soft and melted. Let stand for 15 min, then add cayenne. Refrigerate, covered, until firm.

Place the empanada dough on a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a layer approximately 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into circle using a circle biscuit cutter, etc. Place empanada filling onto dough circle.
Brush egg wash around the edges and fold over the circle, enclosing the contents to form a semi-circle.
Crimp down the edges of the dough with a fork.

Place on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 12 min. or till crust is golden brown.

Serve while warm with ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

Want to impress your brunch guests with a simple but rustically elegant dish? Originally crafted by the Italians, frittatas are an excellent tasty attention getting brunch item that is so simple to make. Frittatas are also good for picnics, lunch boxes and a light dinner. A frittata is basically an egg pie that you can make with a variety of food items. These are great for dealing with leftover veggies, cooked meats, cheeses and chopped herbs.

I would consider this more along the lines of Intuitive Cooking since there are only a few specifics you’ll need to know. Use what you have in the refrigerator and don’t over worry about amounts. Put in what you have and how much you’d like. Normally you won’t have to plan too far ahead, you’ll just have to remember a few very simple rules and suggestions.

The first thing you’ll need is a well-seasoned 12-inch cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

1 Doz. Fresh Organic Cage Free Eggs (see if you can get these locally or from a farmer’s market)
1/3 Cup Organic Heavy Cream, Half & Half or Milk
2 – 3 Cups Shredded Asiago, Gruyere or Swiss cheese (or whatever is in your fridge)
2 TBS Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Sliced Onion
Chopped Veggies
Cooked Meats (optional)
To Taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Herbs of Choice

Directions:
(or rather rules and suggestions)

Pre-heat oven to broil setting.

Break eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated. The more eggs you have, the thicker the frittata will be. Add cheese, cream, salt & pepper and herbs to eggs and stir in (reserving some cheese to sprinkle on top). Set aside.

Heat up olive oil in a cast iron skillet until hot enough to sauté the onions and garlic but not to burn them. Add onions and stir occasionally until they are translucent. Adding the garlic just before the onions are done so the garlic becomes fragrant but not burnt.

Add any chopped veggies you might want and cook until they are still a bit firm and crispy (al dente’).

Add any cooked meat(s) you want at this time. Get a good visual ratio of veggies (meat) to egg.

Add the egg mixture and stir well. Let the eggs set but still a bit runny on the top. With a heatproof silicone spatula, lift the egg in several places from the parameter of the pan tilting it to let the uncooked egg mixture ooze it its place.

Traditionally the frittata would then be either flipped over in the skillet or by placing another pan on top of the skillet, turning it upside down so the old top is now on the bottom of the second pan. It is called a frittata because it is fritta (fried). That’s kind of a hassle and who (besides me) has two skillets?

Here’s what I do at this point:

I sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the frittata and place in the oven broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful not to over cook it or it will become rubbery.

Remove from oven and let rest for several minutes.

Serve with fresh fruit and your favorite brunch beverage.

To give you an example, here’s what I put in my frittata this morning:

Onion & Garlic
Tomatoes
Ground Beef (Organic)
Black Beans
Cilantro
Asiago
Jalapeño and Serrano peppers
and topped it off with Pico de Gallo

Yumm!

Note of interest:

Zenyattà Mondatta is the third album by The Police, released in 1980.
Zenyattà Mondatta are invented portmanteau (a blend of) words, hinting at Zen, at Jomo Kenyatta (Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya.), at the French word for the world (“le monde”) and at Reggatta, from the previous album’s name, Reggatta de Blanc.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

Strawberries are making their grand entrance into the grocery stores now and are always a long awaited treat. Luscious, plump, ripe and juicy, these succulent beauties are among the Aphrodites of fruits. Although they are good in desserts like strawberry/rhubarb pie, strawberry shortcake, tarts, etc., they stand their own chilled, dipped in chocolate or drizzled with cream and served with Champagne. Purchase them late May throughout the summer looking for firm, plump, fragrant and completely ripe berries (red all the way around the berry – they won’t ripen once they have been picked). Strawberries with their stems attached makes it easy to feed to one another. With their delicate skin, wash them off just before using, patting them dry with a paper towel. Buying local, seasonal and organic insures the greatest possible quality, nutritional value and taste.

A couple other interesting things about strawberries are that they contain anti-oxidants, vitamin C and protects against diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. Strawberries are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside.

Here are some very simple and delicious recipes for strawberries:

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 Pint Fresh, Ripe, Organic Strawberries
12 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Directions:

In a double boiler melt the chocolate. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can put a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. In either case, keep the water level below the bottom of the pot or bowl containing the chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon till completely melted. Let cool off a bit until the chocolate coats the strawberries without dripping off. Place on a sheet pan (cookie sheet) lined with parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate till the chocolate sets and the berries are nice and cold.

Strawberries with Chantilly Cream

1 Pint Fresh, Ripe, Organic Strawberries
1 Pint Fresh Organic Heavy Cream
1 Whole Vanilla Bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teas. Cognac (Optional)
to taste Powered Sugar

Directions:

Chill the bowl you are going to use to whip the cream in. Add the cream to the chilled bowl. Split the vanilla bean, scrap out the seeds and add to the cream. (or add vanilla extract) Add powered sugar to the sweetness you prefer. Whip with a mixer or by hand with a whisk until soft peaks start to form. Whip a little more if you want the cream to be more dense, but don’t over do it. You’ll end up with butter. Drizzle strawberries with the Chantilly cream and serve.

Note: Place the spent vanilla bean in your sugar container to make vanilla sugar.

Serve with chilled Champagne or Riesling.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

One of the most important things to me about food is sharing with and making new friends. I recently had the opportunity to befriend someone who taught me how to make authentic Italian tomato sauce and meatballs over pasta. She learned to cook by hanging out in the kitchen with her Sicilian grandmother since she was a little girl. One of the things that fascinated me was that this is purely intuitive cooking. It appears to take a whole family to cook a meal. Everyone contributes as they pass through the kitchen: it needs a little more salt, more wine, it’s too thick – let’s add some pasta water, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how anyone in an Italian family has ever written a cookbook, you could never keep track of who put what in the sauce and how much. It is always good, but never exactly the same. The only exception is if Grandma rules the kitchen and promises to bludgeon you with a wooden spoon if you get to close to the stove.

The same thing happened when I went to Baja Mexico. I sat down with a friend of the family in La Paz and was taught to make authentic Mole’ from scratch. It was one of the most intense recipes I have ever made and it was delicious! I spoke more Spanish than she did English but we were able to communicate well enough and when I got home I had to decipher the recipe that I had written both in English and Spanish.

The utmost enjoyable part of any journey is sitting down at the table, breaking bread, pouring wine, eating fine food and enjoying the company.

Here’s my version of an intuitive recipe for authentic Italian Tomato Sauce and Meatballs over Pasta.

I’m giving amounts and measurements for the sake of convenience. Feel free to use more or less of anything as you see fit. That’s the beauty of intuitive cooking, cook how you want it to be. And remember, the fresher the ingredients, the better its going to taste!

Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce

Makes about a quart.

Ingredients:

Battuto (Italian version of mirepoix)
(Separately mince each of the following ingredients in a food processor and use the amount indicated or to your taste):

2 TBS Onion
1 TBS Carrots (more if you want it sweeter- no sugar needed here!)
1 TBS Celery
1/2 TBS Garlic

Then add:
1 TBS Tomato paste (Optional)
1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
1/2 TBS Italian Parsley (chopped fine)
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Sauté the battuto over medium heat in olive oil till onions and garlic become translucent. Don’t let the garlic burn. Now it is referred to as a soffritto.

Add:

1 28oz. can Whole Peeled San Marzano tomatoes (regular ones if you can’t find these)
1/4 Cup Red Wine

If you like your tomatoes more chunky (like I do) just crush them in your hand as you add them to the pot and then mash them a bit with a potato masher. If you want your sauce to come out more smooth, run them through a food mill being sure to scrape off all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the mill.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least 2 hours. If sauce becomes too think, thin with some hot pasta water.

About 5 to10 minutes before serving, add:

1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

While the sauce is simmering, about 11 or 12 minutes before it is done, start the pasta. You can use virtually any type of paste, but I’d stick with spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini. Cook pasta in a large pot with lots of boiling water and a few pinches of salt. No oil is needed if the pasta has room to swim around. It won’t stick together that way. You’ll know when it is al dente (“to the tooth” as the say) when you remove a strand of paste, bite it and look at the center. There should be a very small portion in the exact middle that is still white and it will be slightly crunchy. This is just right because after you serve it with the sauce and meat balls it will continue to cook and be perfect when you eat it.

Authentic Italian Meatballs

Makes about12 – 15 golf ball size

Ingredients:

1 Lb. Organic, natural grain and grass fed ground beef (I use Laura’s Lean Beef)
1 or 2 LG Eggs
2 TBS Fresh Italian Parsley (chopped)
3 TBS Parmesan
2 TBS Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 teas. Oregano (dried)
Milk or Ricotta
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2 TBS Olive Oil

Directions:

Mix above ingredients in a bowl, then hand form into meatballs. Brown in a cast iron skillet with the olive oil. Flip them with a fork to brown the other side. Transfer to sauce as you start the pasta. Continue to simmer in sauce as the pasta is cooking.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese, garlic bread, a salad and nice red Italian wine such as Chianti.

This next recipe is for Beef Braciole. I tried my hand again at intuitive cooking and it came out great! No need for measuring out amounts, just put in how much of whatever you are using to your taste.

Beef Braciole

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 LBS Flank Steak, Round Steak or Beef Tenderloin
Parmesan (Grated)
Garlic (Minced) (or Garlic Powder)
Flat Italian Parsley (Chopped)
Basil (Chopped)
Oregano(Chopped)
To taste: Salt and fresh ground Pepper

Optional:
Hard Boiled Eggs (Chopped)
Snails
Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Genoa Salami
Provolone

Directions:

Pound out beef to about 1/8” thick 8” squares. Add ingredients on top of beef squares. Tightly roll up and truss with cotton Butcher’s twine. Sear until golden brown on all sides then place in simmering tomato sauce for 2 – 3 hours.

As Julia would say: “Bon Appetite”!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

 

I’ve always admired Jamie Oliver for his creativity and love of food. Now I have another reason to like him and support a cause that he has started: “A Food Revolution in our schools lunch program”.

Here’s what it’s all about:

For the past couple of years Jamie has been campaigning to ban the junk in schools and get kids eating fresh, tasty nutritious food instead. It can’t be done without your help though – so start a revolution in your school and help us prove that school meals can be better.

It’s all about making radical changes to the school meals system and challenging the junk food culture by showing schools they can serve fresh nutritious meals that kids enjoy eating.

What we eat affects everything: our mood, behavior, health, growth, even our ability to concentrate. A lunchtime school meal should provide a growing child with one third of their daily nutritional intake.

Here’s what you can do:

1.) Join the revolution and sign the petition:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution

2.) Tell Congress to prioritize school lunches.

http://www.chefann.com/html/tools-links/food-challenge.html

http://www.lunchboxadvocates.org/ffff/home/

3.) Take personal action:

* Make and eat healthy meals with your family.

* Teach your children to eat as “Local, Fresh and Organic” as possible.

* Buy ingredients, not pre-prepared meals. There are tons of easy recipes that you can make and refrigerate or freeze extra for meals throughout the week.

* Avoid Fast Food and Concept Restaurants.

If you missed Jamie’s Food Revolution, you can watch it here:

http://abc.go.com/watch/jamie-olivers-food-revolution/250784/254757/episode-101

Hear Jamie’s TED award speech here:
(Very impressive!)

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news/jamie-wins-prestigious-ted-prize

Start the revolution right in your own home!

Please contact me if you need more information or have some to share. I am very passionate about this issue!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

I love to play with words. Puns, palindromes, anagrams, tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks, haiku and oxymorons. Contrary to the advice my mother gave me as a child, I also love to play with my food! I’m always thrilled when I can combine the two. The first word/food play that comes to mind is a hamburger I saw at a pub that was called: “Blackened Bleu” (Burger). A twist on “Black and Blue” and Cajun blackened burger topped with bleu cheese. Here’s a palindrome I just found: “Emil, a sleepy baby, peels a lime”. Then there’s the: “Evil Olive” and ”A nut for a jar of tuna”. Everyone has heard of “Baked Alaska”, “Jumbo Shrimp” and “Crispy Cream” for oxymorons.

Here’s a fun appetizer recipe I just came up with:

Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with a Citrus Cajun Martini Marinade
By
Trusan

Makes 6 skewers

(This was inspired by the Cajun martini’s served at Kilgore Trout’s. You get an ice cold martini where jalapeños have been marinading in the vodka over night)

Citrus Cajun Martini Marinade:

2 LG. Jalapeños (cut vertically – seeds and veins included)
1 Orange (Juice and Zest)
1 Lemon (Juice and Zest)
1 Lime (Juice and Zest)
4 Cloves Garlic (Crushed and rough dice)
3 TBS. Olive Oil
375 ml Vodka (about 2 cups) or (Tequila if you prefer)
1 teas. Sea Salt
1 teas. Ground Black Pepper
1 sprig Fresh Oregano
1 TBS Ponzu

Grilled Jumbo Shrimp:

6 Jumbo Shrimp (peeled and de-vained)
6 Wooden Skewers (soaked in water for about an hour)

Add and mix all marinade ingredients in a non-reactive (use stainless steel, ceramic or glass) bowl.

Peel and de-vain shrimp and place in bowl of marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Soak wooden skewers in water while the shrimp are marinating.

Pre-heat grill to medium high. When ready to grill, Place each shrimp on a skewer and put on grill. Turn once when they easily lift off grate and grill until opaque but not over cooked. You might have to do a test one to get this part perfected.

If there is a major flame flare up, have a squirt bottle of water handy to tame it down.

Enjoy with a Cajun Martini, Margarita or and ice cold Imported Beer.

I’ll conclude this blog with a Haiku:

“Jumbo shrimp are drunk
The icy hot martini
Taste buds in delight”

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

I was driving down to Denver the other day listening to KBCO when they played: “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police. Being the very beginning of spring, “When the days are getting longer and the nights are getting stronger than moonshine” (to quote another iconic musical group), everything is starting to thaw out. I am reminded of the magical culinary delicacies that Mother Nature is promising us. Farmers markets will soon be sprouting up with her tender pencil sized spears of asparagus, peas, spinach and lettuces. Just the thought of green after a white and cold winter warms my soul. When the grass pokes its delicate green blades through the contrasting ephemeral spring snow, I get visions of peas in cream. It’s hard to decide which is my favorite. Is it asparagus or peas? O.K., hands down it’s asparagus with peas running a close second.

Nothing beats “from garden (or farm) to table” in quality, nutrition and taste. I encourage you to either grow your own veggies, or buy local from an organic co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) such as the 63rd. St. Farm if you live in the Boulder area: http://www.63rdstfarm.com

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for asparagus:

Asparagus, Red Pepper and Three Cheese Frittata
by
Trusan

Serves 6

Ingredients:

12 LG Whole eggs
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half)
3/4 Cup Grated Mozzarella
3/4 Cup Grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
2 Dash Nutmeg
1/2 teas Ground pepper
1/4 teas Sea salt
1 TBS Olive oil
1 Pound Thin asparagus (cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices)
1 Med Red bell pepper (cored and diced)
1 LG Shallot (chopped fine)
2 Med Garlic cloves (minced)
2 TBS Chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 LG Vine ripe tomato (sliced into wheels)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the nutmeg, salt and pepper, cream and 1/2 of the cheeses with the eggs. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Cook asparagus, peppers and shallots until asparagus is bright green and peppers are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and 1/2 the parsley.
Pour egg mixture into skillet. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, place tomato wheels on top, scatter parsley evenly and cook until slightly set, lifting edges to let uncooked mixture run beneath, for 2 minutes.

Transfer to oven and cook until eggs are cooked through but still soft and cheese is a nice golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into 6 wedges, and serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.TrusanCuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

I recently got into a rather fiery discussion on the proper way to cook rice. Do you start rice in cold water or do you throw it into rapidly boiling water referred to as the “Pasta Method”? I’ve always been taught to start rice in cold water with a little salt and oil, bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 – 25 min. This has always worked for me. It’s a standard in the industry and used by every chef I’ve known and/or worked for. I just discovered that some people throw rice into boiling water until done, then strain it through a sieve. Hmmm, I’ve never heard of this before. It just sounded odd to me. The first thing I did was to ask several chef friends of mine if they had ever heard of the later. Karen thought that throwing rice into boiling water was preposterous, completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense. In other words, absurd! John said that yes, this was a valid way to cook certain types of rice. I then consulted two faithful reference books: James Beard’s “Theory and Practice of Good Cooking” and “Joy of Cooking”. James Beard attests to the later of throwing rice into boiling water. Joy of Cooking says to put rice into a pre-determined amount of boiling water, then cook over very low heat, covered, for 15- 18 min. I then found James McNair’s “Rice Cookbook”. He uses 3 different cooking methods mostly adding liquid to the rice and then bringing it to a boil. McNair also states the pasta method is good if you are adding rice to a dish in which the rice will continue to cook further. There are also the risotto, baked rice, Spanish rice, sticky rice and sushi rice methods, which are topics for another study.

I am going to put this through the “Proof of the (Rice) Pudding” test so to speak. Here are my results:

Steam Cooking Method:
Put liquid, rice, pinch of salt and 1 tsp butter into
pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover
for 20 min. (or per directions on package)
Let rest for 5 min. and fluff with fork.

Pasta Method:
Throw rice into rapidly boiling water until done then strain through a sieve.
______________________________________________________________________________________
Jasmine Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooked nice and tender, somewhat fluffy and a bit sticky. One cup yields 4 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
The rice didn’t stick together but didn’t fluff up either. One cup yields 3 1/2 cups cooked rice.

Lundburg’s Brown Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooks a little more meaty than Jasmine but not as sticky or fluffy. One half cup yields 1 1/2 cup cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
The rice came out cooked but very dry. One half cup yields 1 cup cooked rice.

Basmati Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Slightly fluffy and minimal stickiness. Nice nuttyFlavor. One cup yields 3 1/2 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
Cooked Tender, fluffs just slightly. The kernels didn’t stick together. One cup yields 3 cups cooked rice.

Lundburg’s Wild Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooked pretty tender for wild rice. The hull opened but the kernel didn’t split or swell up. Wild rice doesn’t really fluff. Six ounces yields 3 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
Came out about the same.

In conclusion, I prefer the classic cook rice like you’re cooking rice method. I like rice to stick together slightly, it’s easier to eat and it holds together nicer. I would, however, use the “Pasta Method” if I was adding rice to a dish in which the rice will continue to cook or to substitute it for orzo pasta for someone with a gluten free diet.

Here’s the basic recipe for cooking rice:

The general rule is 1 part rice to 2 parts water. (Consult the package for specific cooking directions.)

1.) After you have rinsed the rice until the water is clear, put rice and cold water in a pan with a pat of butter or a little olive or veggie oil and a couple pinches of salt. Stir once to incorporate everything. Do not stir again!

2.) Bring to a boil for about a minute, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.

3.) Let simmer for about 20 minutes, remove the lid and if you see tunnels in the rice, it’s done.

4.) Check for tenderness. If you want the rice a bit more tender, add more liquid and leave on the stove for a bit longer. If you want the rice more firm, use less liquid and less cooking time.

If you’re just not confident in your rice cooking skills, electric rice cookers are awesome!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

I recently got into a rather fiery discussion on the proper way to cook rice. Do you start rice in cold water or do you throw it into rapidly boiling water referred to as the “Pasta Method”? I’ve always been taught to start rice in cold water with a little salt and oil, bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 – 25 min. This has always worked for me. It’s a standard in the industry and used by every chef I’ve known and/or worked for. I just discovered that some people throw rice into boiling water until done, then strain it through a sieve. Hmmm, I’ve never heard of this before. It just sounded odd to me. The first thing I did was to ask several chef friends of mine if they had ever heard of the later. Karen thought that throwing rice into boiling water was preposterous, completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense. In other words, absurd! John said that yes, this was a valid way to cook certain types of rice. I then consulted two faithful reference books: James Beard’s “Theory and Practice of Good Cooking” and “Joy of Cooking”. James Beard attests to the later of throwing rice into boiling water. Joy of Cooking says to put rice into a pre-determined amount of boiling water, then cook over very low heat, covered, for 15- 18 min. I then found James McNair’s “Rice Cookbook”. He uses 3 different cooking methods mostly adding liquid to the rice and then bringing it to a boil. McNair also states the pasta method is good if you are adding rice to a dish in which the rice will continue to cook further. There are also the risotto, baked rice, Spanish rice, sticky rice and sushi rice methods, which are topics for another study.

I am going to put this through the “Proof of the (Rice) Pudding” test so to speak. Here are my results:

Steam Cooking Method:
Put liquid, rice, pinch of salt and 1 tsp butter into
pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover
for 20 min. (or per directions on package)
Let rest for 5 min. and fluff with fork.

Pasta Method:
Throw rice into rapidly boiling water until done then strain through a sieve.
______________________________________________________________________________________
Jasmine Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooked nice and tender, somewhat fluffy and a bit sticky. One cup yields 4 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
The rice didn’t stick together but didn’t fluff up either. One cup yields 3 1/2 cups cooked rice.

Lundburg’s Brown Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooks a little more meaty than Jasmine but not as sticky or fluffy. One half cup yields 1 1/2 cup cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
The rice came out cooked but very dry. One half cup yields 1 cup cooked rice.

Basmati Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Slightly fluffy and minimal stickiness. Nice nuttyFlavor. One cup yields 3 1/2 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
Cooked Tender, fluffs just slightly. The kernels didn’t stick together. One cup yields 3 cups cooked rice.

Lundburg’s Wild Rice
Steam Cooking Method:
Cooked pretty tender for wild rice. The hull opened but the kernel didn’t split or swell up. Wild rice doesn’t really fluff. Six ounces yields 3 cups cooked rice.

Pasta Method:
Came out about the same.

In conclusion, I prefer the classic cook rice like you’re cooking rice method. I like rice to stick together slightly, it’s easier to eat and it holds together nicer. I would, however, use the “Pasta Method” if I was adding rice to a dish in which the rice will continue to cook or to substitute it for orzo pasta for someone with a gluten free diet.

Here’s the basic recipe for cooking rice:

The general rule is 1 part rice to 2 parts water. (Consult the package for specific cooking directions.)

1.) After you have rinsed the rice until the water is clear, put rice and cold water in a pan with a pat of butter or a little olive or veggie oil and a couple pinches of salt. Stir once to incorporate everything. Do not stir again!

2.) Bring to a boil for about a minute, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.

3.) Let simmer for about 20 minutes, remove the lid and if you see tunnels in the rice, it’s done.

4.) Check for tenderness. If you want the rice a bit more tender, add more liquid and leave on the stove for a bit longer. If you want the rice more firm, use less liquid and less cooking time.

If you’re just not confident in your rice cooking skills, electric rice cookers are awesome!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com