Monday, May 9, 2011

Got a New Hat and It Made Me Want to Cook

My girl and I were walking in downtown Denver a few weeks ago and we stumbled upon a unique and wonderful hat shop.  We shopped through the window and found the one that called my name~a new Panama that I adored.  I had worn a similar hat for our wedding twenty two years earlier.  How could I resist?  I got a new hat. It wasn't a traditional Panama, but a new hat all the same.

We played a little Latin music driving back to the Springs and planned out a special meal. 
Fish tacos would be the star.  Red beans and rice, fried plantains, spicy tropical mango coleslaw, home made tortillas and a touch of Cuban Rum.

A quick stop at the market on the way home allowed me to gather the necessary ingredients and I was ready to cook!
Fish, Cabbage, Mangos, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic, Plantains, Banana Leaves and Fresh Cilantro.

Slice the cabbage thin and add to the thinly sliced mango, red bell pepper, red onion and some chile pepper paste, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Slice the plantains about one half inch thick then fry them in clarified butter with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Let cool and smash them with your palm.  Then fry them again.

Home made corn tortillas

Our Red Beans and Rice
Cook the beans about eighty percent of the way, then steam them with jasmine rice to finish.

Make a plate!

Fried Plantains

I got a new hat and it made me want to cook!

Fish Tacos with red beans and rice, fried plantains, spicy mango slaw and corn tortillas

Fresh Porgy Snapper

The Tortilla Press in Action

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One of our former favorites - Le Central

A former student, Joseph Ress, is working in the kitchen so we decided to stop in while on a recent trip to Denver.  The place was beautiful and we were very pleased with our brunch. 

Omelette Lorraine
Their fresh pastries are excellent!

The 'Couple in Shades' rates Le Central --Excellent in the following categories:
  • Service
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
Moderately Priced
We recommend if you haven't been to Le Central in a while... treat yourself!

Thank you Le Central - you are on top of your game!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cowboy Cooking in Colorado

Ed Painter~ Montrose, Colorado

Camping and Cooking...always an adventure.

Trying to make gourmet while out on the ranch or range is an exciting challenge.  The main mission ~  have a good cowboy weekend with my son Liam and brother Ed.  But of course, I love to cook!

My focus...cook clean and make great tasting food.  Final presentation takes a back seat when cooking in the wilderness.  Most important, lots of flavor!  So, we peeled onions, sliced garlic and roasted chiles more than once during our cookouts.  Even in my camping gear I keep stores of spices and dried herbs like thyme, mint and sage.  You never know when you want to add them to a dish.
We found some hard wood (Apricot) and an old grill that was missing its legs.  We  put them both to good use to create a delicious steak dinner, outdoors - Colorado Cowboy Style.

A quick stop for some Vino to go with our meal

Through the woods and across the river

Finding the Perfect spot for our cookout

For an ideal dry heat cooking method, burn the hardwood down to just hot coals - No flame!
Getting things started

Initial Stages of the Hardwood Fire - Getting smoked out

Cowboy Cook in action with the help of a few portable burners and cast iron

All together now, for some last minute warming over the fire.
This Italian Chianti went perfect with our
Wood Grilled Ribeye, Garlic Buttered Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms & Grilled Asparagus


The long ride home with Liam bringing up the rear, and moving a bit slow!
By: Chef Mark S. Painter - The Italian Cowboy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pinot Noir and Wild Caught Cedar Planked Salmon

 There are tales a plenty!  Tales of good fish and good red wine---together!

I have had red wines and fish together many times and it definitely works.  When pairing red wine with fish, keep in mind that a light red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais will complement and not over-power the flavor of a grilled, smoked or baked  fish.  Once you start adding sauces and different preparations, the wine suggestions will include some bolder reds. 
My father in law, Abe came down with his brother Raymond for a special visit.  Raymond has been living near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  Being an avid hunter and fisherman, Raymond came to the house with a special treat in hand--Steelhead Salmon he had caught himself in clearwater river just below Dworshak Dam.  The nearly 20 pound fish found itself on the cutting board of Chef Mark.  The big fish was filleted and made to walk the plank--the cedar plank. 

This was the perfect occasion to pull out the two bottles of 2006 Argyle, Dundee Hills, Cowhouse Pinot Noir that we had been saving. 

The cast was set and the show was as follows:
We served the Salmon with Grilled Fennel, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Peppers and a
Cast Iron Quinoa-Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Oh yeah.  It was Excellent!  Next time you should join us!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rewards of Teaching

Greetings Everyone!

I have been teaching Culinary Arts at PPCC for five years now and with each semester I have the priveledge of meeting, working with and educating future chefs. 

Not all who go through our school will become chefs.  As we all know a chef is someone who will go the extra mile, work harder and longer then the average cook.  A chef studies more, learns more and develops individuals, creates the menu and leads a kitchen.

So what does my opinion of what a chef is have to do with the rewards of teaching?

I've seen many students through out the years of teaching moved on into kitchens around the area, country and even the world, and grow into very good culinarians.  Some have even started their own restaurants, catering businesses, and cooking shows and a few are now chefs. 

Just before Christmas this year, I was relaxing at the homefront enjoying my wonderful home nicely decorated with a fresh beautiful Pointsetta for the holidays.  The phone rang and a grateful past student Nathan Jordan called to inform me of his new promotion.  He was now Sous Chef at his latest job. 

Nathan wanted to invite my wife and I in for a dinner.  This was his way of thanking me for all that I had taught him in his years at the college.  He told me that I influenced him so much and that he would have not done so well if not for me.  Wow!  That made my toque tight and of course, I accepted.  

We went out to an excellent dinner at Nosh Restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs.   I had been to Nosh a few times before and enjoyed it just fine.  Now they had a new chef, sous chef and menu to offer.

Shane Lyons is the Excutive Chef and Nathan is the Sous.  We were greeted by both chefs at arrival and told not to order.  They had planned our meal for us.  Our meal went like this:

A Flight of Soups--Coconut & Lentil, Puree of Carrot with Chile Oil and Butternut Squash Bisque with Apple Butter & Brown Sugar
Excellent Starter!

 Spicy Buffilo Wings
Perfect Crispyness and Flavor on These Wings

A Salad Trio of Beet Caprese, Basil chiffonade, Pesto and Cheese

Shredded Buffalo with Breaded Onions and Pickled Carrots
A Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Red Onion and Whipped Honey

Bangers --Apple Sausage and Miso Sausage
These were excellent!

Chicken with Brown Sugar Apple Butter Sauce

Dessert! Okay--the dessert might need some attention!

What did we think?  Excellent flavors, beautiful atmosphere and great service.
Overall, this couple in shades gave it our Mark Of Excellence!

Friday, January 21, 2011

California Cabernets

BoaVentura's  2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - Black Label from Livermore California.
The photos below are a selection of ingredients that omit aromas associated with wines.  It is intresting to see them in the class and adds a nice visual intrest.

Aromas Found in Wines

As the weather consistently gets colder here in Colorado Springs this early January, I have two wonderful thoughts to comfort me.  One is the thought that I will be vacationing in sunny Flordia very soon.  The other is the thought of enjoying this lovely bottle of red wine with my beautiful wife, Kerri Jo.

Let's learn something about the Cabernet Sauvignon.

A hybrid offspring of the Sauvignon blanc and the Cabernet Franc, the Cabernet Sauvignon could be the dominate grape of the world as far as many are concerned.  We love Cabs and they are among our favorite wines to drink. 

The small black, thick skined grape produces wines that carry aromas and flavors of black currants fresh or stewed, green bell pepper, cigar box, leather, chocolate, cedar and notes of mint and violet.

They are medium to full bodied with medium to high tannins and medium to high acidity full of richness and liveliness.

This grape thrives everywhere it has been planted arond the world, however the predominate growing regions most recognized include: Bordeaux, California, Australia and Chile.  In California, the well known Cabs are from Sonoma, Napa and Paso Robles.  

Today we get to explore Livermore in the Central Coast and spice up our day with this limited production of Cabernet Sauvignon from Brett and Monique at BoaVentura de Caires Winery. 

A blend of 50% grape juice from the back flat area of the winery and 50% grape juice from the front slope where the grapes develop a rich earthness and mineral quality that make this wine something to be desired.

BoaVentura de Caires Winery is located at 9309 Tesla Road in Livermore California and is opened for tastings the first weekend of each month.  Owners Brett and Monique hand craft all the wines themselves and the grapes are all hand picked as well.  The Winery was established in 2000 and is located on a five acre lot that was once an old ranch, still lurking with chickens, dogs, geese, goats and maybe even a donkey, kids and lots of love as far as I could tell.  

I learned from Brett that he developed the art of winemakeing from family and friends like Karl Wente, Noah Taylor and many others.  It Does not matter to us, his wine is excellent.

In the old barn that serves as the Winery's tasting room a bar is constructed of tables from an old San Fransisco orphanage.  BoaVentura wines sell out really fast and are sought after by lovers of fine wines from everywhere.   They produce mostly Cabernet Sauvignon but also offer a small seclection of Petite Sirah, Syrah and a white table wine.  We love their Cabs.