Saturday, April 28, 2012

How to grill a steak

Around the World in 60 Steaks
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Ah, the life of a jet-setter! Traveling around the world. Carefree. More pictures than your camera can hold. Praying with monks in the Himalayas. Soccer with Argentinian children. An epic meal at El Bulli in Spain - followed by mollecular gastro-intestinal pain on the way to Morocco, where you befriend some Saudis and before you know it you’re stepping down the stairs from a private jet in Dubai. Your first sand storm. But it doesn’t end there, because in Dubai someone told you about the modern mountain country of Khazakstan, and there you met some Russians whom you’ve joined for a motorcycle tour of the former Soviet Union. The plane ride from Magadan to Anchorage, Alaska is a nightmare, but you made it with another story to tell. We don’t even need to go into the skiing adventure in Banff, fighting a Yeti in British Columbia, or the horseback riding in Montana, because for most of us this will never happen.

Before you get too depressed, however,  I have some “staycation” tips of how you can travel the world in your own backyard, vicariously through your steak! May is Florida beef month, after all.

Your trip starts in Argentina where good beef speaks for itself. And although the only accompaniment of an Argentinian steak is some chimichurri (herbs, garlic, olive oil), the main course charcoal-grilled rib eye steak is preceded by fine cheeses, pickled roasted peppers, a green salad, “empanadas” (the best damn thing that’s ever been wrapped in pie dough), grilled sausages on a bun (called “Chori-Pan”) and is finished with fine liqueurs and “alfajores” (Argentinian Pastries). This is why Argentina shuts down for three hours each day, and you’re taking an extra long afternoon off to enjoy your steak.

You’re on the same side of the planet still, so a flight to Australia just makes sense. Here you put throwing “Another shrimp on the barbie!” to good use as you grill a garlic-rubbed beef tenderloin and poach some tiger shrimp in butter, Foster’s beer and curry powder. But don’t even think about having that steak before you’ve had a sumptuous appetizer of Australian beef pies with ketchup - yes, you heard right. And according to an Australian I once met, they consider ketchup to be a flavor enhancer (which sounded more like “Floyvah inhanzah mate!”.

Japan is the land of the Samurai, Sapporo beer and Kobe beef, and it’s a straight shot north from Australia. You start with an exotic appetizer of raw kobe beef sashimi with ponzu sauce and ginger, before you move onto a main course grilled Kobe beef steak marinated in garlic Tamari (a cousin of soy sauce) and served on wasabi mashed potato. As you wash it down with with an ice-cold can of Saporo beer, you learn about how the japanese cows which produce Kobe beef are fed a nutritious diet which includes daily beer and massages. This yields a nicely-marbeled, tender beef the Japanese tout as the best in the world - and although it’s really good beef, it doesn’t compare to the grass-fed Argentinian beef you had earlier on your trip, or good American beef.

You’ve spent three days in Tokyo trying to find a Mexican restaurant and although the taco-sushi Mr. Oyakada made you, it’s not the same. 36 hours later you land in Cancun, and head over to Playa Del Carmen where you marinate your steak in liquid smoke, soy sauce, garlic, and cilantro before you rub it with cumin. While you’re letting the flavor sink in, you make yellow rice, cumin black beans, pico de gallo, salsa verde with green tomatoes, and your famous avocado guacamole. Leftover avocados? No problem, stick them in a sauce pot with some sauteed onions, cilantro, garlic and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and stick it in the blender for the most amazing cream of avocado soup you’ve ever had! Now you’re ready to sear your steaks on the grill and enjoy a little taste of Mexico!

Your next stop is the pirate port of Jamaica in the caribbean where you begin your culinary journey with a spicy beef oxtail stew powered by scotch bonnet peppers. Yowza, that’s hot! You soothe your taste buds with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer while you rub jerk seasoning on your steak (thyme, allspice, garlic, onion, hot peppers, sugar, salt, soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, nutmeg and ginger) did you get all that? Good. Sear that on a charcoal fire and bring your taste buds back to life, the good life!

You’ve saved the best for last now that you’re back in Florida! You enjoy the sunshine while your steak swims in a pool of mojo (garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, black pepper, kosher salt, cilantro, Tabasco sauce, lime and orange juice) No need to get your grill out though, because in Florida, every day is a BBQ day! You sear your mojito steak and enjoy it with a citrus red cabbage coleslaw and fried plantain. A perfect end to a perfect trip, all in the comfort of your back yard!

How to make your own dog food: Recipe 3

Pasta Carbonara for Dogs
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Doggie Pasta Carbonara!
We all love Italian food and your dog is no exception. This dish was enjoyed most sumptuously by my grandparent’s Great Dane, Dutchess! You can substitute the regular wheat pasta with Tinkayada brown rice pasta if your dog has gluten allergies.

Normally, you should feed your dog 2% of its body weight per day. That figure should help you plan how much food to make your dog. 

- 4 cups of pasta (cooked)
- 1 cup of chopped kale (raw)
- 1 cup of chopped carrots (raw)
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 cups of cooked ground meat (beef, chicken, lamb, turkey)
- 2 eggs
- 2 strips of nitrate-free applewood smoked organic bacon
- 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
- A pinch of sea salt


1. Cook the pasta and set aside. You will serve at room temperature.

2. Cook the bacon crispy, cool, and chop into bits.

3. Chop the kale and carrots with a knife or food processor.

4. Mince the garlic.

5. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with two raw eggs, and add a pinch of salt. Your dog will love this. And if they don’t.. you will!

How to make organic dog food: Recipe 2

Frosted Mutt Muffins and Doggie Donuts Recipe
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Mutt Muffins for Dogs!
This is a variation of the Mutt Loaf recipe which you can see by clicking HERE.

These are a special treats for your special pet! You can bake them into cupcakes, or even shape them like donuts, or make the mixture into a birthday cake for Pooch! The possibilities are endless.

Doggie Donuts with Peanut Butter Bacon Icing!
Once you finish baking your mutt loaf into any shape you like - as in this recipe where you will scoop the meat mix into a muffin pan and bake at 375 for 40 minutes - you can frost it with one of my favorite toppings below:

Teriyaki Peanut Butter Frosting with Sesame Seeds
Yields: 1 cup of frosting

- 1 cup of smooth organic peanut butter
- 1 tbsp of organic teriyaki sauce
- sesame seeds for garnish


1. Mix the peanut butter with the teriyaki sauce.

2. Spread onto mutt muffins and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Greek Yogurt and Bacon Bits
Yields: 1 cup of frosting

- 1 cup of strained Greek yogurt
- 4 strips of organic applewood smoked bacon (nitrate free)


1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Let it cool. Chop into bits with a chef knife or food processor.

2. Mix with Greek yogurt.

3. Spread over mutt muffins.

How to make organic dog food: Recipe 1

Chef Cristian’s Mutt-Loaf Recipe
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Forget about the hot dog factory, and think about an even more “interesting” place - the dog food factory. Dog food is usually made with ingredients that are not fit for human consumption - they’re cheap, and they are usually by-products other businesses don’t want. There is very little enforcement over what goes into commercial dog food, and it’s often loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and traces of antibiotics, growth hormones, drugs, and whatever else may have been part of the carcases used to produce the meat “by-products” that make up the bulk of commercial dog food. It’s no wonder our pets are so allergic, diseased and live such short lifespans.

Bluntly speaking, a body is constructed out of the food it eats. Put in healthy food, and you get a healthy body. Put in junk, and you get junk.

My dog food is made with all-natural and organic ingredients that are not only fit for human consumption, but are full of clean protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy oils and vegetable fibers. This is a simple way to help your dog live a long, healthy, happy life.

- 3 Lbs organic or all-natural ground beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb
- 4 cups organic or regular brown rice (cooked)
- 3 organic eggs
- 3 cups Chopped organic raw kale
- 6 chopped organic raw carrots
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp Flax seeds
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- Flavoring: 1/2 cup of Non-alcoholic beer, or 4 tbsp organic teriyaki sauce, or 1/2 cup malta beverage or a couple of drops of liquid smoke.
- A pinch of sea salt


NOTE: Remember that your dog's senses of smell and taste are very keen. So you won’t be flavoring this as if you’re making it for yourself, you want to cut back on the seasoning. This means very little salt and only a little flavoring agent.

1. Mix the ground meat with the eggs, rice, kale, carrots, flax seed and yogurt. For even better nutrition, keep half the carrots, and half the chopped kale raw in the fridge, and sprinkle on the dog food when serving.

2. Mix in the flavoring agent of choice. In my experience, malta and beer are liked best!

3. Put into a meatloaf pan (or shape it how you like) and bake it at 375 until cooked through (about 30-40 mins)

4. Let it cool and refrigerate it overnight. Serve it cold or just slightly luke warm. Not hot. It has been our experience that hot food makes the dogs have to urinate.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Becoming a better cook
By: Chef Cristian Feher

A bead of sweat trickled down the side of Susan’s face as she focused painfully on her task. The severity of the situation was well understood. The air around her became still, as if electrically charged. The sound of the environment receded to a point of mute silence. Slowly, her left hand reached across and grasped her shaking wrist. The container hovered slowly across what seemed to be an expansive abyss below.   “Ok, Susan, this is it..” She muttered to herself. “Do or die. Don’t mess this up.”

The onlookers held their breath as she completed the pouring process into the heating container. It wasn’t until the last drop went in that she remembered to breathe again. 236.59 milliliters was called for, and 236.59 went in - Susan made sure of this. She thought that any more would have caused a catastrophe, and any less would be utter failure. She let out a short sigh of relief and readied herself for the next phase in this intricate process.

The next line down on the page called for a dash of soy sauce. She frowned, wiped her brow, and read it again. She paused before the horror set in. “A dash? A dash? What’s a dash?!” she screamed, “How many teaspoons make up a dash?” She dropped the book on the floor and steadied herself on the side of the counter. She looked up and fixed her family with a crazed look. “How much is a dash?” She demanded. They quickly turned and ran from the kitchen.

Susan stood there, alone and trembling. She gave in to the fact that she would not be able to finish the chili and all was lost. There was no universal measurement that equaled a “dash”. Dinner would have to be cancelled. A team of specialists would have to be called in.

Do you, or anyone you know cook like this? Are you afraid to deviate from a recipe? As a personal chef I have taught hundreds of people how to cook. And no matter what your level of cooking prowess is, you can always increase your knowledge and gain more confidence as a cook.

Here are some tips that will help you go from a Heat Application Technician (that’s what I call literal recipe followers) to a cook that can enjoy making his or her own dishes with creativity and flair.

When to follow recipes.  It’s not a bad thing to follow a recipe. A well-written recipe can result in a delicious dish. You should, however, understand why the recipe works. And you should work up the courage to use the recipe only as a suggestion and give it your own flair by changing the quantities and adding your own ingredients. That’s how you start learning to “create” dishes, instead of “reproducing” them.

A recipe in regular cooking, is not terribly important. With some experience, you can learn to fix your mistakes and adjust the differences to work in your favor. The only time I ever follow a recipe closely is when I’m baking. Baking is the branch of cooking that requires a more standard application and exact measurement of ingredients.

Recipes are also good when you want to standardize a certain food. As in a recipe that you really enjoy, a famous family recipe, or when you have a restaurant and expect your cooks to follow what you do exactly. It’s a written record to show what you’ve made, and it allows someone else to re-create exactly what you have written.

You can paint by numbers (remember those?), or you can just paint. Use recipes as a learning aid until you’re not afraid to paint your own picture.

How much is a dash? Probably the hardest part of making a dish, is getting it to taste right. You may be afraid to ruin it by adding the wrong spice or the wrong quantity. My advice to you is to add small quantities of spice, mix the dish, and taste. Repeat these three steps throughout the cooking process until you achieve a flavor you like. If you’re not tasting your dish as you go, you’re not cooking - you’re just applying heat to it.

The right amount of spice does not depend on the recipe, it depends on how much of it YOU like. You may even want to split up your dish into two pots, and experiment by adding different spices or amounts to each pot.

Don’t be afraid of salt. There are many variables that can make a dish good or bad. But a basic variable between flavorful and bland is salt. I notice that many people are afraid to use salt in their everyday cooking - whether they’re afraid to over-salt, or their doctor told them a scary story about it. If you deconstructed your favorite restaurant meal, you’d be surprised how much salt is in the dish. I look at salt as the carrier wave of flavor signals (sorry, I was reading about how radio waves work before I wrote this). Salt makes things taste good.

How much oil do I use? This is a question that is often asked. And this question is easy to answer when you understand why you need the oil in the first place. Oil is used to keep foods from sticking to a cooking surface. For this you need just enough to keep the food from sticking. 

Oil gets hotter than water and air. So when foods are coated with oil, they get hotter and therefore cook faster. 

Certain oils (like olive oil, walnut oil, truffle oil) are used for flavoring. In this case, you use them as you would a spice - to add flavor to your dish. Add a little, mix the dish, and taste.

Although there are many more things to learn about cooking, I hope these tips will help you move away from heat application technician, and closer to cook. If you are interested in learning more, you should consider giving us a call for private cooking classes. I’m always happy to help people learn the art of cooking!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How to make deviled eggs

1001 Ways to Devil Your Eggs
By: Chef Cristian Feher

When I thought of the title for this recipe I got a little carried away. And while I don’t know of 1001 ways to make deviled eggs, I did come up with several variations that you may find exciting.

Before we begin with the recipes, I’d like to touch on what is the best way to make hard-boiled eggs. It seems that everyone has their tips and tricks. But I have found that, unless my eggs are old (the membrane lets go of the egg), I end up with hard-to-peel eggs. That is, until I started cooking them in my electric pressure cooker!

Steam under pressure is the golden ticket to trouble-free hard boiled eggs. The pressure of the steam separates the membrane from the shell and egg, and yields perfect eggs that are a pleasure to peel.

I cook a dozen eggs at a time, with two cups of water in my pressure cooker. I set it for 6 minutes on low pressure and voila! perfect hard boiled eggs every time.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, the second best method that I’ve found is to boil your eggs in a pot of salted water. Then cool your eggs under cold running water and let them sit in a container of water submerged overnight. The porous shell allows water to seep in between the shell and membrane, loosening things up for easier peeling the next day.

Traditional Deviled Eggs

- Hard-boiled eggs
- Mayonnaise
- Yellow mustard
- Curry powder
- Pickle juice (the brine in a jar of dill pickles)
- Salt and pepper to taste


1. Hard-boil your eggs, peel them, cool them and cut them in half. Remove the yolk and keep in a bowl.

2. Mix the yolks with a bit of mayo, mustard, a pinch of curry powder and a couple of tablespoons of pickle juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. You can now spoon, pipe or scoop the egg yolk mixture back into each egg-white-half. You can garnish with whatever your heart desires; I like chives, paprika or fresh chopped parsley.

Deviled 100 Year Old Duck Eggs

Don’t let the title scare you. While these eggs can be a couple of years old, they are a delicacy in Asia and taste pretty much just like regular eggs. These duck eggs are preserved with salt and lye which turns the whites a tranlucent amber color and turns the yolk green-gray. Like several other foods, preserved duck eggs are cooked chemically by the salt and lye and are preserved for a long time.

These eggs can be found at most Asian grocery stores, or online at

I like to wow brave dinner party guests with this exotic variation of deviled egg.

For this recipe I discard the green yolks and keep the amber “whites”. I like to use regular yellow yolks from chicken eggs to make the filling. The color really stands out!

- 12 chicken eggs (hard-boiled)
- 12 preserved duck eggs
- Mayo
- Wasabi paste
- Scallions
- Black sesame seeds (for garnish)


1. Hard-boil the chicken eggs as per instructions above. Keep the yolks and discard the whites (or use them for a different recipe)

2. Peel and cut the preserved duck eggs in half. Remove and discard the green yolks with a spoon.

3. Mix the yellow yolks with a bit of mayonnaise and some wasabi paste. Fill the duck eggs with this mixture and garnish with fresh, chopped scallion or black sesame seeds.

Deviled Quail Eggs

These little eggs make an impressive presentation. They are available fresh or canned from my local Asian grocery store, or you can buy them online. Making deviled quail eggs is more time-consuming than regular eggs, but it’s worth it to impress and entertain your guests.

I actually use canned quail eggs, and find that the flavor difference is very minimal when compared to fresh quail eggs. Plus, peeling a few dozen tiny quail eggs can make one lose his patience at times!

- Quail eggs (fresh or canned)
- Mayonnaise
- Yellow Mustard
- Curry Powder
- Pickle juice
- Salt and pepper to taste


1. Hard-boil your eggs, peel them, cool them and cut them in half. Remove the yolk and keep in a bowl.

2. Mix the yolks with a bit of mayo, mustard, a pinch of curry powder and a couple of tablespoons of pickle juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. You can now spoon, pipe or scoop the egg yolk mixture back into each egg-white-half. You can garnish with whatever your heart desires; I like chives, paprika or fresh chopped parsley.

Deviled Saffron Eggs

I made these when thinking of how to do inverted eggs - a white yolk with yellow “whites”. Marinating them in a heavy saffron chicken stock did the trick! Once they were hard-boiled and I removed the yolks, I soaked the whites in the liquid over night.

- Hard boiled eggs
- Boursin cheese or cream cheese
- Saffron (real or fake)
- Chicken stock


1. Hard-boil your eggs, peel them, cool them and cut them in half. Remove the yolk.

2. Soak the egg whites in the saffron stock for at least 4 hours so that the whites become yellow or orange.

3. Remove from the coloring liquid, pat dry with paper towel and fill with boursin cheese or cream cheese.

Purple Beet Deviled Eggs

As above, I wanted these to have a beautiful purple color. So I used the juice from a couple of can of organic sliced beets.

- Hard-boiled eggs
- 2 cans of beets (the juice from the cans)
- Mayonnaise
- Yellow mustard
- Curry powder
- Pickle juice
- Salt and pepper to taste


1. Hard-boil the eggs as per above instructions. Peel them, cut them in half and save the yolks.

2. Put the whites into a container with the beet juice for 4 hours or until they turn deep purple.

3. Mix the yolks, mayo, mustard, curry powder, pickle juice, salt and pepper.

4. Drain the whites, pat dry them and fill them with the yolk mixture.

5. You can garnish with paprika, chives, scallions or parsley. Enjoy!

BBQ Deviled Eggs

- Hard-boiled eggs
- Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce
- Hot sauce of choice
- Chives


1. Hard-boil the eggs as per above instructions. Peel them, cut them in half and save the yolks.

2. Mix the yolks with BBQ sauce.

3. Fill the egg whites with the BBQ sauce yolks and sprinkle with hot sauce and chives.

Norwegian Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

- Hard-boiled eggs
- Mayonnaise
- Yellow mustard
- Curry powder
- Norwegian smoked salmon
- Pickle juice (the brine in a jar of dill pickles)
- Salt and pepper to taste


1. Hard-boil your eggs, peel them, cool them and cut them in half. Remove the yolk and keep in a bowl.

2. Mix the yolks with a bit of mayo, mustard, a pinch of curry powder and a couple of tablespoons of pickle juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. You can now spoon, pipe or scoop the egg yolk mixture back into each egg-white-half. Then top the yolk with some scrunched-up smoked salmon and garnish with whatever your heart desires; I like chives, paprika or fresh chopped parsley.

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Arepas with Huevos Perico (Venezuelan Corn Cakes with Perico Eggs)

Huevos Pericos con Arepas
(Perico eggs with corn cakes)
By: Chef Cristian Feher

When we decided to do a cooking segment on the Good Day Show featuring eggs, the first recipe that came to mind was Huevos Perico with Arepas. I grew up eating this tantalizing Venezuelan staple.

Huevos Perico translates to “Parrot Eggs”. And Arepas are fried corn cakes, made with pre-cooked corn flour. Now, don’t let the initial translation alarm you. This dish is made with chicken eggs. The “parrot” refers to the colorful end product you get by adding fresh parsley, tomato, onions and garlic to the eggs.

The arepas are very versatile. They are traditionally deep-fried or pan-fried with oil, but I like to cook them in my electric arepa maker with just a tiny spray of oil to lower the calories. You can find electric arepa makers online at

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients for the Huevos Perico
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup of diced onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of fresh diced tomato
- 1/8 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of dried parsley
- plenty of salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil


1. In a non-stick skillet, begin to cook all the ingredients with a little olive oil. Cook the mixture for 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the eggs, scramble and cook until the eggs are cooked. I like my huevos perico soggy, but you can cook them well done.

3. Next, you will stuff the arepas with this mixture (recipe for arepas below)

Ingredients for arepas

NOTE: It’s important to use the right product. Try to find Pan brand pre-cooked corn flour.

- 3 cups of corn flour
- 4 cups of warm water
- 2 tsp of salt


1. Mix water, salt and the flour and knead by hand for a few minutes until it’s all well-incorporated. I usually have to end up adding a little more warm water, as I like my dough softer than the package instructions.

2. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

3. Form tennis-ball-sized spheres of dough with your hands, and flatten them to 3/4 inch-thick discs. Fry these discs in a pan with oil or deep fat fryer for 7 minutes or until light golden color. Or you can cook them in an electric arepa maker with just a spray of oil.

4. When the arepas are done (this is a Venezuelan skill!) hold the arepa with a napkin and cut into it with a knife almost all the way through the middle. You will want to open it as if it’s a clam. Scoop the dough from the inside and set aside (you can eat it or throw it out) and you should be left with a crispy shell (top and bottom connected. Fill this shell with the huevos perico, cheese, and whatever else your heart desires. Enjoy!

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