10/13/16

Local Bacon Mustard = Best. Hotdog. Ever.

Bacon Mustard 1

Last week, I joined a group of old friends, piled into an RV, and headed up the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge on a gorgeous fall day to get a taste of the world famous Hood River Fruit Loop.

14670813_1342145935820236_7194965231120090705_n
This 35-mile loop through the stunning Hood River valley in a brightly colored daisy-chain of fresh fruits, veggies, flowers, local wineries, fresh fruit pies, jams, syrups, fruit smoothies, and local artisan gifts.

You will never, my friends and neighbors, bite into a more perfect tasting apple of pear, or take a more delicious sip of fresh cider…anywhere…ever.


I, of course, was a kid in a candy store, coming waddling home with bags of new, local, goodies to try.

One of these, was AJ’s* Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard with Smokey Bacon.

I pan-seared a couple of all-beef hotdogs this afternoon, gave it a generous spread of this pork-centric condiment, hit it with a sprinkle of sweet and red onions and, MAN…so freaking good!

Bacon Mustard 2

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The mustard has a great texture, a perfect balance of tang, heat and sweet, and a very clear, very clean (but not overwhelming) bacon flavor.

It is, I kid you not, the best mustard I’ve ever had on a dog. Can’t wait to make some soft pretzels!

Chef Perry
MY KITCHEN Outreach

*AJ’s Edible Arts, Inc. is a woman-owned business based in Pasco, Wa.  They specialize in hand crafted mustards, sauces, dry mixes, and gourmet gift boxes. Check ’em out!

12/4/15
Best kitchen knives to buy for Christmas

Best knives to get your favorite chef this Christmas


Let’s talk a little (or a lot) about knives…specifically, knives for the Home Chef on your Christmas list, and if that’s you…good for you, you deserve it! 😉

I’ll admit, up front, that I am a completely biased Henckel man, who was raised by a biased Henckel man, who was ALSO raised by a biased Henckel man, lol. Both dad and granddad were professionals and, while they might be swayed on their religion, they were steadfast in their Henckel knife faith.

Me, I’m not so much a disciple, as I’m inexperienced in other brands. I grew up using my father’s knives and he bought me my Henckel’s as a wedding present. They’ve been flawless for (almost) 20 years, so I’ve seen no Best kitchen knives for Christmasreason to experiment.

This is the Henckel set I have…

I realize that this is the high-end for the home chef, but, as my dad liked to say, “Buying your knives is like getting married, you only want to do it once.”

‘Course – he was also divorced three time…so…lol.

A less expensive option…

Wusthof ($165) – Good price (maybe too good) for another professional quality brand, and I like that they are high-carbon stainless.

However, I’m not wild about the look of them, the solid plastic handles look cheap to me…and at $150+, they shouldn’t look like a set of Walmart knives.

I’ve added these to our e-store anyway, just in case.

The Wusthof Classics (William Sonoma) have the benefits of the cheaper ones above, and look a lot nicer, but their the same price and the Henckels, so…again, I’m biased.


A note about knife sets with “steak” knives…

Steak knives are for restaurants that don’t know how to cook a steak…cook the steak right, and all you need is a butter-knife (another Dad-ism) Plus, you can buy 4 AWFULLY nice steak-knives, separately, for the extra $50-70, that they usually tag on to the price.

Or…you can get him (or her) this bad boy…lol…

Best kitchen knives for Christmas

I LOVE my cleaver and I use it all the time. It also keeps you from doing bad things, like chopping through bones, with your expensive Chef’s knife.


MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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And this book…

Personally, I don’t think anyone should be allowed to own good knives, unless they’ve read this book. (How uptight did that sound, lol?)

Okay, so sorry for the long winded post, asking a cook about knives is kinda like asking a hunter about his scars…you’re opening Pandora’s box, lol.

I you decide to go with any of the knives above, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d consider buying them through my Amazon store…the price is the same as from Amazon direct.

Thanks!

-Chef Perry

 

05/2/15

Sriracha – The Movie

So, unless you’re brand new to this blog, you probably know that I have a deep, serious, soul-mate connection to my beloved…Sriracha sauce. Especially on my favorite breakfast, Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps:

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Last night, (actually very early this morning) once again in the grip of my old friend insomnia, I was perusing movies on my Amazon Prime account, and stumbled across this… (Watch it below).

Sriracha Movie

I won’t bog you down with a lot of my own thoughts on the movie, but I just have to tell you a couple of things. First…love Sriracha or hate it…this is a just plain  awesome movie. Great filming, great writing, great pace (and just 33 minutes or so), I really, really enjoyed it.

Second, it’s not just a long commercial for a hot sauce.

The story of the amazing man who started and owns the company is one of the great “coming to America” success stories (which I’m a sucker for) and it’s told with wit, and a humbleness that belies the fact that the guy is like a gazillionaire now. :)

Oh, and here’s the link to the movie on Amazon (if you want it without the director’s commentary). It’s free for Prime members, or you can buy it for $1.99.

Enjoy!

Chef P





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04/17/15

Lava Red Reaper Sauce Review

Heyya Peeps!

If you like hot sauce (and I mean HOT sauce) be sure to check out this review of “Lava Red Reaper Sauce” by my buddy Aaron, over at Aaron’s Food Adventures.

He gives this sauce a 5 out of 5, and if Aaron says it, you can believe it’s not just hot, it’s delicious too!

If you’re into the burn, make sure you LIKE his FaceBook Page, and sign up for notifications!

As Aaron says…Embrace that pain! LOL

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week.

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!



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04/6/15

The Perfect Turkey Sandwich

perfect turkey sandwich recipe

I do love me a good turkey sandwich. Lean smoked turkey, some top-notch extra sharp cheddar, double smoked bacon….oh yeah.

Here’s how we do it at my house…

2 slices Dave’s Killer Bread (21 Grain)
4 sliced mesquite smoked turkey breast
2 oz Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar (about 4 thin slices)
2 thick slices double-smoked apple-wood bacon, warm.
1 Tbs. Just Mayo
Dash or two of Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup mixed baby greens

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Spread Just Mayo evenly on each slice of bread. Toss greens with vinaigrette.

Stack greens and remaining ingredients on the bread, top with the remaining slice of bread, and slice the sandwich in half.

Serve with a cup of soup, or a small tossed salad.

Perfect Turkey Sandwich

*Disclaimer: while I receive products, including the cheese used in this recipe, free from this vendor. I am under no obligation, real or implied, to provide any review, positive or otherwise, in return. The opinions put forth in this post are strictly my own, and are in no way influenced by how I obtained this product.

02/2/15

Krusteaz Breakfast Night!

Krusteaz Breakfast Night

Working with Krusteaz to promote “Breakfast Night” and I just got my gift pack in the mail, woo-hoo! We will be offering a reader giveaway for a similar gift pack directly from the fine folks at Krusteaz.

That’s where I need YOUR help. What kind of contest should we have? Best pancake photos? Most unique use of pancake mix? Best topping recipe? Best pancake story?

What do you think?

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

12/8/14

Christmas buying guide: Chef’s Knives

We’ve had a couple of requests for our thoughts on chef’s knives as Christmas gifts this year.

HenckelsOur friend Gary asks:

A friend wants a really nice 8″ Henckel Chef knife. What do you recommend and how much? I would say something in the $50-100 range.

Hey Bro,

I took a look on Amazon, which will likely be the best deal, and found you a couple of options, which I added to our store.

The first (and more expensive) is the Pro-S series ($129.00), which is the same one I have. 18 years and going strong.
 


The second, is a less expensive option ($54.95), but still a very good knife for the average home user.

The only real difference she would find would likely be the the Pro-S has a little better balance, is a little heavier (a good thing), and probably holds an edge a bit longer.

On sale and free shipping on either.

Both good knives.


SimplySmartDinnerPlans friend, Lisa asks:

Hi Chef Perry, my husband has asked for a knife set for Christmas. I am looking at Wusthof or Henckel brands. Do you have any advice? I like the idea of sticking with about $200 but willing to go up to $400 if convinced it was really worth it.

Thank you :) – Lisa

Lisa,

Thanks for asking!

I’ll admit, up front, that I am a completely biased Henckel man, who was raised by a biased Henckel man, who was ALSO raised by a biased Henckel man, lol.

Both dad and granddad were professionals and, while they might be swayed on their religion, they were steadfast and puritanical in their knife faith.

Me, I’m not as much a disciple, as I’m inexperienced in other brands. I grew up using my father’s knives and he bought me my Henckel’s as a wedding present. They’ve been flawless for (almost) 18 years, so I’ve seen no reason to experiment.

This is the set I have.

I realize that this is the high-end of your budget, but, as my dad liked to say, “Buying your knives is like getting married, you only want to do it once.”

‘Course – he was also divorced three time…so…lol.

As to the knives you listed:

41KHL6MChbL._SL210_Wusthof (normally $299, but on sale at Amazon right now for $125) – Good price (maybe too good), I like that they are high-carbon stainless.

I’ve added these to the hautemealz e-store, just in case.

BTW, in my not-so-humble opinions, “steak knives” are for bad restaurants…cook the steak right, and all you need is a standard dinner knife. Don’t waste the extra money buying a knife set with a much of serrated steak knives.

Spend it on this book, instead…

Personally, I don’t think anyone should be allowed to own good knives, unless they’ve read this book.

Okay, so sorry for the long winded answer, asking a cook about knives is kinda like asking a hunter about his scars…you’re opening Pandora’s box, lol.

If you decide to go with any of the knives above, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d consider buying them through our Amazon store…the price is the same.

Thanks!

– Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

12/2/14

Poke Stop’s Salmon Poke…at home.

Salmon Poke at Home

Okay, this is my first post in a new series exploring some of the best dishes I’ve eaten at various restaurants, and then helping you recreate them at home.

First and foremost, let me say…I love eating at restaurants. Seriously, it’s one of my favorite things in life. I love experiencing new dishes, experiencing the energy of a new place, getting away from my usual surroundings, the whole package. So, I’m not posting these recipes because I don’t want to go to restaurants, I’m posting them because I want to experiences new places, and still be able to enjoy some old favorites.

So…I, literally, want to have my cake and eat it to! :)

I believe that with a little research, practice, and a few basic skills, any home chef should be able to recreate a favorite restaurant dish in their own kitchen. In fact, I think the home chef  should be able to make it better than in the restaurant, as they are not under the same time and budget constraints, and can focus on just a single dish instead of a trail of tickets for 20 different ones.

(By the by, if you’re interested in what I mean by “Home Chef”, please check out my post:The Evolution of the Home Chef“)

So, for our first dish, I’m choosing an old favorite, from one of my very favorite lunch stops in the whole world, Oahu’s Poke Stop.
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Poke Stop on Urbanspoon

What I tried: A lot of stuff

What I liked best: Furikake Salmon Pokē, Kahlua Pork Wontons

https://burninlovebbq.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/zpoke1.jpgChef Elmer Guzman operates a small but efficient kitchen that delivers the freshest, tastiest and most delectable Hawaiian Seafood dishes. Poke Stop offers a very nice selection of Poke, Sashimi/Sushi platters, hot dishes and Bentos to go.

Note: Poke (poke-a) is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Pokē is the Hawaiian verb for “to slice or cut”. Native Hawaiians have always eaten poke, and it should not be confused with raw fish dishes such as ceviche, ika ota, or kinilaw, which use vinegar or citrus juice to “cure” the fish.

Both the Furikake Salmon Pokē and the Kahlua Pork Wontons knocked my socks off (or would have, if I’d been wearing socks.)

Now, I’m from Oregon AND I’m a fisherman…I know good salmon, and this was the stuff!

Fresh and firm, it played nicely against the crunch of the raw onions. The combination of the furikake seasoning and the shoyu sauce gave a perfect contrast of sweet, salty, and savory…my favorite combination. Add in just enough red pepper flakes to command your respect without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the salmon, and…well, it’s worth a plane ticket to Oahu to get some!

My only addition to this dish: it’s VERY rich, and I would have liked to have seen it served over a “balancing” ingredient. I don’t know if cold rice would have worked (I’ll have to try it) but I think a small bed of shredded daikon radish salad (see below) would have been perfect.

https://burninlovebbq.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/zpoke7.jpg

Btw…Guy Fieri, host of the popular Food Network Show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (among others) stopped at the Poke Stop’s in Mililani to check out the restaurant’s delicious menu. Among the dishes tried, was Chef Elmer’s popular, salmon poke, here’s Guy, learning how to make it:

Okay, in case you didn’t follow that recipe, don’t bother watching the clip dozen times (like I did)…here it is:

Poke Stop's Salmon Poke

Salmon Poke at Poke Stop, Oahu

Salmon Poke at Home

Salmon Poke at Home

Poke Stop’s Furikake Salmon Pokē

Recipe courtesy Elmer Gonzalez, owner Poke Stop in Mililani, Hawaii.

1 pound cubed sushi grade salmon
1/4 cup diced yellow onions
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt
1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes
4 tablespoons furikake rice seasoning
2 ounces shoyu sauce
4 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For salad

2 cups shredded daikon radish
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine veingar

Combine salad ingredients and refrigerate up to one hour.

Be sure that all pin bones have been removed from the salmon. (See how, here.)

Combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

10/21/14

Blackberry Banana Smoothies in the Ninja Blender

Nutri Ninja DuoAfter watching the demos for the new Ninja Duo blender system at International Food Blogger’s conference this year, I was pretty excited to find out that I had won the drawing to receive one of these bad-boys for myself!

My old blender has seen better days, so the timing couldn’t be better.

I have a slew of recipes I want to try out, and the unit came with a beautiful little cookbook, but I’d promised my daughter that the first thing I’d make would be our traditional blackberry-banana smoothies, which we make from the berries we pick here on our little farm.

While probably not the fanciest thing I’ll make in the new Ninja, it’s a treat we make often here, and would be a make-or-break recipe for any blender in the Perkins’ house.

Ninja Blender

Needless to say, the Ninja Duo passed the test with flying colors. It’s triple blades and Auto-IQ blending made short work of my smoothie ingredients, finishing up in about half the time that the food-processor took on the same dish.

The frozen berries, which sometimes bogged down the Cuisinart, pureed with no noticeable effect on the Ninja.

You can read more about the specs and features of the Ninja Duo here.

Nutri Ninja BlenderAnother thing I love about this machine is that it comes with the Nutri Ninja feature, a separate single serve cup attachment with it’s own blade.

I think this would be an ideal set up for families who have food-allergy issues, as they could use the the smaller Nutri Ninja blender cup solely for non-allergen foods, helping to reduce the risk of cross contamination when the larger unit is used for foods that some members of the family may need to avoid.

Oh, speaking of the larger blender unit, another awesome thing about the Ninja is that it’s capacity is great enough to make enough smoothies (or anything else) for the whole family.

Blackberry-Banana Smoothie Recipe

Blackberry Banana Smoothies

Blackberry Banana Smoothie recipe2 medium bananas, peeled
1 cup frozen blackberries
1 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
2 Tbs. sugar (or non-sugar eq.)
1 cup milk

Place all ingredients into the Ninja blender.

Blend on high for about 15 seconds (using the “Frozen Drinks Smoothies” button – how awesome is that?), or until it is creamy and smooth!

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Garnish with some banana slices or whipped cream. and serve immediately.

Serves 2

Blackberry Banana Smoothie recipe

10/10/14

Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Hands down, Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” is my all time favorite book about food.

I could wax poetic about how much I’ve learned reading and re-reading it, about the subtle mental shifts and violent face-plants I’ve experienced…I could say a lot of things, but none of it would do justice to Pollan’s own words.

Michael Pollan CookedSo, here are just a few of my favorite excepts from this amazing book…

On the value of cooking…

“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”

Cooking is about connection…

“Cooking is all about connection, I’ve learned, between us and other species, other times, other cultures (human and microbial both), but, most important, other people.

Cooking is one of the more beautiful forms that human generosity takes; that much I sort of knew. But the very best cooking, I discovered, is also a form of intimacy.”

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Raging against the machine…

“Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization—against the total rationalization of life.

Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our non-waking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?)

It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption.

This dependence marketers call “freedom.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That’s it. I mean…what could I possibly say after that?

Read the book.

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com