Friday, September 30, 2011

Ghost Peppers

I was doing nothing but minding my own business at work when Jake came up to me and asked if I was having Indian food today. I told him I was making Thai. He asked if I would like a half a case of ghost peppers. Sure I told him.

Ghost Peppers are the hottest pepper in the world. Also know as Bhut Jolokia

In the Scoville Rating:
Ghost Peppers: 855,000-1,050,000 (I tried some) (They are Hot) (Really Really Hot) (In fact, the tip of my tongue is still numb after 8 hours and counting)
Habanero: 100,000-580,000
Jalapeno: 2,500-8,000

Ghost Peppers have a numbing affect in the mouth after about 2 minutes. I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing. They actually have a nice flavor.

nothing like a container of the world hottest pepper

except maybe 14 cases of the worlds hottest pepper
really, 14 cases, Jake
are you trying to kill someone
roasting time
the fumes from the peppers were making everyone in the kitchen cough  

roasted jalapenos, ghost peppers, and birds eye

the warning sign did not slow many people down
almost all gone

Grilled Plantain Fritters with Curry Rice, Coconut Daal,
and Roasted Green Beans with Spicy Peanut Sauce
note-I did not put a whole ghost pepper on everyone's plate

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Asian Tofu Plate with an Edamame Jade Pesto

It was a crazy morning.

First, I was to have Chana Masala, but the east/west station was having Indian today.
So I changed it to a Thai Tofu Plate, but there were no yakisoba  noodles.
Later on I found out that there actually was yakisoba noodles on hand. One of the other cooks stashed them. This is common jungle survival in a busy kitchen.
So I changed my entree to a Thai Tofu Plate with rice, but then I found there was no coconut milk for the curry sauce.
So I changed the sauce to an Edamame Jade Pesto.
So I changed my entree to an Asian Tofu Plate (nice generic name so I could do pretty much whatever I wanted).
It was a nice dish, but it was never supposed to happen.

PS-quarterly’s are starting up. More on that soon.

Asian Tofu Plate with an Edamame Jade Pesto Sauce
Served with Steamed Broccoli, Brown Rice, Egg Roll, and Roasted Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper, and Edamame

(Edamame Jade Pesto Sauce is caramelized onions, garlic, and ginger with olive oil (this takes about 40 minutes)
with edamame, sherry, soy sauce and cilantro blended in.

I add a little turmeric to the cornstarch before frying to give the tofu a nice look


This is a leaf I found on the way home today

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cooking for the President of the United States of America

It can be hard to get up and go to work for the past 30 years and convince myself I am going to make the best food I can. When I come to a crossroad in my day, which will determine the quality of my food, I ask myself one question. If I knew the President of the United States was going to eat my food, what should I do?
I put that question to the test on Friday, February 20th, 2011.
Barack Obama was coming to town and our kitchen was going to cater the event! I would be cooking for the President!
The Presidential menu: Box lunches.
Not exactly Portobello Mushroom Wellingtons, but that was fine. We needed 15 vegetarian box lunches, which I was put in charge of. Why do I always get the vegetarian cooking jobs?

In my vegan box lunches:
  • Roasted Vegan Turkey Focaccia Sandwich w/ Fresh Avocado Slices, Fire Roasted Red Onions, Shredded Romaine, and House-Made Vegan Chipotle Aioli
  • Red Quinoa and Black Barley Salad with Toasted Almonds, Dried Cranberries and Golden Raisins, with a Fresh Lime Dressing
  • Coconut Marionberry Bar with Dark Chocolate and Roasted Walnuts
  • Tangerine
  • Pretzels
Three days before he arrived, his Secret Service started to arrive. They are easy to spot. They are the ones wearing ties. Some companies have casual Fridays. It has been suggested that Intel should have formal Tuesdays.
Secret Service did a sweep of the kitchen. If they just keep the president away from our equipment (see: safety signs blog) he will be fine.

With new flags flying outside, new bark dust laid, a Coast Guard helicopter flying overhead, 5 satellite news trucks with their miles of cables, an ambulance, and a fire truck outside, it was time for the President of the United States of America to arrive.

I packaged up the vegan box lunches, put them on the catering cart, with the rest of the catering, and helped wheel everything to the president. After the secret service inspected each box and we went through the metal detectors, we continued our journey down the hall to the president, only to be stopped short by a very serious, and large gentleman, who told us he would take the cart the rest of the way. So close.
Back to reality:
It was 2 hours until lunch started. I still needed to cook and serve for 100 on my vegan station. On the menu today; The Obama Bowl with a vegan chocolate chip cookie. Just in case.

special badges for the special day
news trucks
Red Quinoa and Black Barley Salad with Toasted Almonds, Dried Cranberries and Golden Raisins, with a Fresh Lime Dressing

Roasted Vegan Turkey Focaccia Sandwich w/ Fresh Avocado Slices, Fire Roasted Red Onions, Shredded Romaine, and House-Made Vegan Chipotle Aloe

all ready to box up

ready for the president!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vegan Mapo Doufu/Vegan Mapo Tofu

The other day I served Mapo Doufu (Google-43,600 results) also called Mapo Tofu (Google-78,300 results) for lunch.
It is a very spicy Chinese dish from the Sichuan province. It is one of those dishes you dare not eat unless you can really handle the heat. To make the heat a bit more tolerable, you sprinkle a spice on top called Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan peppercorns have this numbing effect on the tongue.
I served the dish with a cold marinated salad which had matchstick daikon radishes, carrots, and regular radishes, that I marinated in rice vinegar, lime juice, and sugar. This salad would help cleanse the pallet between bites of tofu.
The highlight of my day was I had two customers from the Sichuan province buy this dish! They were very excited to see it and said it looked just right. It made me feel good that for a moment they could think about their hometown so many miles away.

(vegan mapo tofu/vegan mapo doufu)
getting everything ready
I used the whole gallon of Sambal with 12 pounds of tofu

(vegan mapo tofu/vegan mapo doufu)
you need to toast the peppercorns and then grind it to a powder
getting the salad ready
(vegan mapo tofu/vegan mapo doufu) 
radish man says (vegan mapo tofu/vegan mapo doufu) 
was very spicy

Monday, September 19, 2011

VegFest 2011 Portland Oregon

In kitchens we have a saying. "It is all about the food."

VegFest would seem to be "all about the food" but if you stop there you are missing it. It's about the people and their stories. There were thousands of people at VegFest this year and each and everyone has a story. Bodybuilder, Robert Cheeke, is the skinny kid from Corvallis, OR who really is a nice guy with a great story. Journalist, Grant Butler, the one month vegan challenge that just kept going. Chef/author, Alan Roettinger, the trendy chef now finding a niche for himself in today's young chef market place. If you want some of the best stories, talk with NWVeg Cindy Zoczy, if you can keep up with her. She will tell you about the first VegFest with just 200+ people showing up.


Marsha Rakestraw helping educate the world.

I think I can take him.
Robert Cheeke really is a nice guy.
Book review coming soon.

We all love Bob's Red Mill.

You should try their wraps!

Cindy Zoczy
Thank you Cindy for your hard work!

All things vegan.
Picked up some rare vegan white chocolate chips.

1st time author Sayward Rebhal.
Way to Go!

David said I could have his job at PCC when he retires in 15 years!

Really good beans.
It is not just the flavor it is also the perfect texture.
 Thank you Northwest Veg for this great event!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Safety Signs

Working in a commercial kitchen can be very dangerous. I have personally cut off the tip of my thumb, had a deep-fat fryer super heat some trapped gas and blow a 4-foot flame into the air in-front of me singeing my eyebrows, had an oven blow its doors open, with a ball of flames, hitting me in the arm, had the underside of a gas grill burst with shooting flames that sent a sound shock wave that made my chest thump like a bass drum, had the most painful cut while dragging the bottom of my hand across a serrated cutting edge of clear-wrap container while lowering a heavy pan to the counter, and cut and burned myself more that I would ever tell.
I have seen kitchen help stabbed with a 10-inch chef knife, an arm twisted in a mixer with the dough hook attachment, and more electric slicer cuts to remember. There was even one cook that put his legs into a large pot of hot deep-fat fryer oil while coming down from standing on the counter to remove the hood vents.

To help combat these issues the manufacturers of dangerous equipment now place these graphic  images on their equipment. These photos were all taken from my kitchen.

where are your non-slip shoes? where are your feet?

nice non-slip shoes. must me a newer sign. kind of like the bike lane pictures that have the bike helmets on the biker

its fun to stay at the YMCAaaaaaa

who checks hot surfaces like this?

poor germs :(

rotating knife. what could go wrong

I got nothing

i hate when that happens

is that blood?

really. we put equipment in our kitchen that can do this.

always good advise