Thursday, December 25, 2014

how to roast beef tenderloin with yorkshire pudding

How to Trim and Roast Beef Tenderloin with Yorkshire Pudding

By: Chef Cristian Feher

Just in time for the holidays! In these two videos you will learn how to trim and roast a whole beef tenderloin, and you will also learn how to make yorkshire puddings!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kenmore Elite Digital Countertop Convection Oven Review

Review of the Kenmore Elite Digital Countertop Convection Oven
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Recently I had the pleasure of receiving a countertop convection oven from Kenmore to review. Kenmore is known for quality, and innovative kitchen appliances. So, I was excited to take this oven for as spin.

The first thing that caught my eye were the sleek, sexy lines - is that possible with a toaster oven? In this case, yes. Kenmore took the time to make this thing look as good as it cooks. The main focal point is the ultra-sharp, bright LED digital display which flashes crisp, blue and orange information (like mode and temperature).

To test it out, I decided to make three foods that typically end up in the toaster: chicken salad melts, chicken wings, and, because this unit actually comes with a really nice pizza stone, a pizza. They all cooked quickly, did not burn or over-cook, and the pizza cooked really nicely at 450 degrees - crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle.

Here is how it scored:

- The quartz heating elements are not only really nice looking, they also heat up very quickly. It took less than 4 minutes for the oven to heat up to 450.
- A fully-functional convection fan inside the oven circulates the hot air around the food, allowing it to cook faster and more efficiently.
- The pizza stone that comes with the unit is great for small and medium sized pizzas. It's thick and heavy as it needs to be to retain heat properly.
- There are several modes to choose from from bake, to broil, to specific modes like pizza and bagels. You can also position the rack 3-different ways in order to best cook your food according to which heating elements you're using (top, bottom, or both).
- The digital timer can be set with a knob, and so can the different function knobs.
- A digital timer is an included function. You can set it easily by rotating the knob.
- You can cook at accurate temperatures by setting the digital thermostat.
- The oven is big enough to cook a 12 inch pizza, but small enough to fit on your kitchen counter comfortably.

- I am king of a computer and electronics geek, so the digital menu was easy enough for me to figure out. However, a person who is not good with computers or electronics - like my grandmother - would never be able to figure out how to use this oven. If you can use a smart phone, you can use this oven.
- The metal handle on the door got pretty hot. Which my previous toaster oven did not do. But it was not so bad that I couldn't handle it with a kitchen towel. An insulated acrylic handle would have been better.

All in all, not only will this oven out perform most other toaster ovens, but the sheer looks of it is sure to increase the visual value of your kitchen. It's the best-looking toaster oven I've ever had!

Pick one up online at This would make a great holiday gift for your avid cook!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the best water filtration system

The Truth About Water Filtration Systems

By: Chef Cristian Feher

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the owner of a company who makes water filtration systems - who actually started making state-of-the-art water filtration systems as a contractor for the Department of Defense. His company has been in place for decades and is on the leading edge of water filtration technology. So, I took the opportunity to pick his brain on the subject of water filtration, and what I learned, changed the way I look at water, and water filtration. 

What is the question? 

The first question I had about water and water filtration had to do with what is found in our municipal tap water. If you could send a sample of your tap water to a lab for analysis, you would find that there are significant amounts of chemicals, bacteria, and living organisms. And what is most troubling to me, is that our tap water is medicated - there are significant amounts of pharmaceutical drugs and even birth control hormones present.  

Every time someone takes an anti-depresant, a heart pill, shoots heroin, crack, cocaine, a sleeping pill or even a birth control pill, they eventually flush it down the toilet. And guess where that goes? Yep. It finds its way back to your tap water.  Not to mention factory run off and general chemical pollution.

Our water treatment plants seem to be only somewhat effective in removing harmful bacteria and living organisms from our water by use of chlorine and other such chemicals. But removing drugs from the water is either, not of much interest to them, or the technology (or cost thereof) is just not there yet. Yes, much of those chemicals are filtered from that water, but not nearly enough, in my opinion. So our water is medicated and poisoned.  Conspiracy theory? Nope. Anyone can send a sample of their tap water to a lab and see the results for themselves.

The drugs and poisons are there. In small amounts - yes - but what do you you think the results might be of ingesting a small steady stream of drugs and poisons into your system over a period of months, years and decades? We are not exactly the healthiest people on Earth, and I think it's pretty obvious why - we ingest the most drugs and chemicals.

Would you collect all of the pills from your neighbors, put them in a big candy bowl, mix them up and eat a handful of them? No, or course not. That would be dangerous! Well, you're doing it in small amounts every time you cook with tap water, drink tap water, brush your teeth with tap water, bathe in tap water and swim in tap water.

So, back to my first question: Is there a filtration system available that effectively eliminates these chemicals from our tap water? Reverse osmosis? Boiling or distilling water? Charcoal filters? Electrolysis? 

The answer, thankfully, was activated charcoal filters. And I say thankfully, because activated charcoal is cheap, plentiful, and accessible for most people. Apparently, activated charcoal can remove most chemicals and drugs from tap water to a significant degree. You can buy these to fit your sinks, shower heads and even in the form of charcoal filtered sports bottles!

Reverse osmosis does it too, but to a lesser degree than activated charcoal, and it has a big drawback. 

The process of reverse osmosis removes minerals, like calcium and magnesium from water. So, why is this a drawback? Well, your bones and teeth are made of this stuff. And if you fill your body with mineral-devoid water, guess what? It creates an imbalance, and in order to balance itself out, the water will leach calcium and magnesium from your teeth and bones! This can be a big problem which may lead to pretty serious health issues. Distilled water can be harmful too, because it's also mineral-devoid. 

Alkaline Water

I'm sure most of us who have health-zelous friends have hear all about the wonders of alkaline water, right? For those who haven't, alkaline water is simply water that has had its ph changed from acidic or neutral to basic, by various means.

So, my question was this: What (if any) benefits are there to drinking alkaline water? And, doesn't that water turn right back to acidic water within a couple of seconds of reaching your stomach (which is full of a very strong hydrochloric acid)? 

The general consensus, which aligned with my own idea about it, is that alkaline water serves very little purpose as a health-increasing agent for the human body. And that it's more of a marketing strategy, than an actual benefit. 

Here are some additional interesting facts about alkaline water. Most bacteria and microscopic organisms cannot live in alkaline water. So, by drinking alkaline water, you are more likely to be drinking water that has no living creatures in it.  Which is good - you're drinking antiseptic. 

However, your body has a very carefully balanced system which actually uses and needs the help of bacteria and microscopic living creatures. So, if you actually managed to make your body's fluids more alkaline (or more basic) you would actually be killing off the good bacteria, the good fauna and flora which help you do a million different little things inside your body.

In view of this, it is my opinion that alkaline water is for suckers! So is distilled water, and so is mineral-devoid water from reverse osmosis. You may be doing yourself more harm than good - by the way, some reverse osmosis systems are susceptible to black mold, which is a whole other can of bad-for-you worms.

The good news is that you can remove most drugs, chemicals, sediment, and organic compounds with a simple charcoal-based water filtration system. In order to remain strictly factual and impartial, I am not going to identify my friend's company or tell you that one brand of charcoal filter is better than another.

What I am going to tell you is that they are cheap, and very effective, and if you consume tap water, you should put some charcoal filters between you and it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to smoke beef brisket in a pressure cooker

How to Pressure Smoke Beef Brisket

By: Chef Cristian Feher


Beef brisket is one of the best things you can smoke. The long strands of meat and fat in brisket, when cooked under ideal conditions, melt together and absorb flavors in a special way. It's no wonder brisket is on the top of most people's list when it comes to smoked meats.

But, let's say that you don't have the time to smoke a beef brisket, or you simply don't have a smoker. Can you do this at home? The answer is most definitely yes - if, you own a pressure cooker, that is. 

The cooking process of a pressure cooker tends to drive moisture into the meat. So, when surrounded by liquid smoke and spices, a piece of brisket will pick them up. Now, this isn't going to be as dramatic as the results you would get from using a real wood smoker, but the results are quite nice - a juicy, tender, and pleasantly smokey piece of brisket.

The best part is that you can do this in just one hour! 

Ofcourse, if you have time to let the brisket marinade overnight in the spice and liquid smoke mixture, it will turn out much better when pressure cooked on the next day. But I made this recipe for someone who wants smokey brisket, and they want it now! 

Please watch the video for the recipe.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

a really good recipe for alaska halibut

Halibut in a Chili Tomato Cream Sauce

By: Chef Cristian Feher

I delivered a private cooking class to a couple of customers that had recently returned from a trip to Alaska, where they had collectively caught about four hundred pounds of fresh, Alaskan fish. I was thrilled when my tip at the end of the night involved several frozen samples of the fish they had caught: silver salmon, king salmon, ling cod, and two beautiful halibut fillets.

I prepared the halibut in this off-the-cuff-sauce with a couple of thoughts in mind. I wanted a sauce that was slightly creamy, and slightly spicy with a hint of citrus. Halibut has a delicate flavor, and while I love flavorful dishes, I didn't want to over-power it - not completely, anyways.

Recently I have been making a Thai chili butter sauce which I have found to be a beautiful base for fish and seafood. The sauce that I made for this halibut was based roughly on that Thai sauce recipe, with the exception of wine, and the addition of field tomatoes.  Part of what makes this sauce so good is mixing Asian and Western ingredients together, as in the chili garlic sauce with wine (or in this case, chicken stock and lime instead of white wine). Try it! It's quick to make, and I guarantee this will quickly become one of your favorite fish sauces.

Yield: 2 large portions of halibut

  • 2 large halibut fillets (about 1/2 lb each)
  • 1 tbsp of Vietnamese chili garlic sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 fresh lime, juice of
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of fresh, diced tomato
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Get all your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. This means, mincing the garlic, preparing the chicken stock, dicing tomato, etc.
  2. Melt butter in a hot skillet. Add the chili garlic sauce and minced garlic. Fry for about a minute to get the aroma of the chili and garlic. Keep it moving so that it doesn't burn.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another two minutes. Make sure the skillet is nice and hot, so that the tomatoes break down and the water that comes off of them evaporates instead of pooling.
  4. Add the chicken stock, squeeze half a lime of juice in the pan, and bring to a simmer. Once it's simmering, add the cream and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the halibut and cook in the simmering sauce. As the sauce reduces, the fish will cook, absorbing all that wonderful flavor!
  6. Once the sauce has reduced, and the fish is cooked through (do not flip fish over), season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve over Jasmin rice or garlic mashed potatoes with your side of choice and enjoy!
NOTE: Fish is cooked through when it's opaque and you can easily flake it apart with a fork. In this recipe it only took about 10-12 minutes once it was simmering in the sauce.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jerk Chicken with Brown Sugar and Lime

Jerk Chicken with Brown Sugar and Lime
By: Chef Cristian Feher

 Whether you’re grilling out, or using the oven, this recipe makes a flavorful, juicy and tender chicken you will not soon forget! I find traditional Jamaican Jerk chicken, delicious, but a little too hot (from the Scotch bonnet peppers). So I skipped the hot peppers, and created this recipe to capture the essence of jerk chicken, with the sweetness of brown sugar and tang of fresh limes!

For this recipe, you can use pre-mixed jerk seasoning from the grocery store, or you can make your own (recipe below). You can also choose to use bottled lime-juice if you don’t have any fresh limes.

It’s important that after seasoning the chicken, that you let it sit overnight in the fridge to let the flavors of the spices, sugar, and lime juice soak into the chicken. It will be worth it, I promise!

If you are going to mix your own jerk seasoning, here is a basic recipe:
- 2 parts white sugar
- 2 parts onion powder
- 1 part dry thyme
- 1 part allspice
- 1 part salt
- 1/2 part turmeric
- 1/2 part cinnamon
- 1/2 part cloves
- 1/2 part dried red pepper flakes

Main recipe:
- 6 chicken drumsticks (skin on)
- 4 chicken thighs (skin on)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp of jerk seasoning
- 4 tbsp of lime juice
- 4 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of salt
- 2 limes, sliced


1. Make sure the chicken is completely thawed out. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Put in large container, pot, bowl, or whatever you’re going to put it in.

2. Coat chicken with jerk seasoning, salt, and brown sugar. Mix well with wooden spoon or your hands.
3. Drizzle the chicken with the lime juice and soy sauce. Mix well with wooden spoon or your hands.

4. Place the lime slices over the chicken to infuse it with the essential oils of the lime, cover and refrigerate overnight.

5. Grill on the BBQ until done, turning often to avoid burning, or roast at 375 until chicken is browned and cooked through (about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven).

NOTE: To prevent the sugar on the chicken’s surface from burning in the oven, cover loosely with a sheet of non-stick foil during roasting process.

BASTING: For the last five minutes of grilling the chicken, baste it with 1 tbsp of Japanese soy sauce and 2 tbsp of lime juice.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

how to cook braised pork tongue Chinese style

Pork Tongue! It's what's for dinner.. 

By: Chef Cristian Feher

This recipe is for those of you that can appreciate the finer cuts in life - the finer cuts meaning: organ meats.  Those of us who have ventured to eat the "nasty bits" have been rewarded for our bravery with something much finer and more complex than your average steak.

This recipe goes back to one my most cherished of Chinese-Canadian foods - braised pork tongue on steamed rice with bok-choi. Easily found at most Chinese BBQ shops. For decades, this dish (along with crispy roast pork belly) has been one of my staples.

The best way to enjoy this dish was having the meat piled high on a take-out container of steamed white rice, drenched in braising liquid, accompanied by parboiled bok-choi greens, and - although any Chinese person will tell you that it's only for chicken - I love pouring ginger scallion oil over top (recipe included in video).

Typical Chinese BBQ restaurant in Toronto, specializing in BBQ duck, pork, chicken, and braised organ meats.

Now that I live in Tampa Bay (and good Chinese food is non-existent here) I make this dish for myself whenever I come across pork tongues at the restaurant supply store.

I will provide a list of ingredients below, but for instructions, you are best off watching the video above. So, enjoy! Or as they say in Chinese, Xiǎngshòu!

 Ingredients for braised tongue:
- Pork Tongue
- 1 inch of Ginger
- 3 Star Anise pods
- 1/2 tsp White pepper
- 1/4 cup White Sugar
- 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- 4 tbsp Chinese Dark Soy Sauce (mushroom flavored if possible)
- 4 cups +- Beef Stock (mixed from bullion)
- 1/2 tbsp salt

Ingredients for Ginger Scallion Oil
- Ginger
- Scallions
- Salt
- Peanut oil

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

how to stir-fry foods properly as in Chinese techniques

The Proper Way to Stir-Fry
By: Chef Cristian Feher

 © The Modernist Cuisine - A hot wok.
How many times have you tried stir-frying a bunch of vegetables only to find that it tastes nothing like it does when you get it from a Chinese restaurant? If you're reading this article, I think you know what I mean... Why can't you get it right? Why does it turn out soggy? And, what are you missing?

In this article, I will demystify stir-frying, and get you on the path of hot, crunchy righteousness that will have you stir-frying like an Asian chef.

Lost in Translation

In the world of food, there are generally two schools of cooking - Asian and European. The French and Spaniards evolved, codified, and standardized, what is today commonplace "cooking" in the Americas: Pots, pans, stoves, ovens, and chef knives. Your kitchen at home, along with all the cooking stuff you're used to, most likely, can be classified as the European school. In fact, some of you may not realize that any other type of kitchen or cooking style exists.

The Asian school, however, is different. Their pots are different, their stoves are different, they don't normally use ovens, they don't all have fridges (they buy their food fresh every day), their knives are different, their tools are different, you get the idea. It's a totally different way of looking at and preparing foods. If you're from Asia, parts of the Middle East, or parts of Africa, the Asian way of doing things is probably what you're used to.

Stir-frying is an Asian method. And when someone tries to do it in a European kitchen, the finished product can end up, well... lost in translation! Vegetables that are supposed to be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, end up soggy. Meats that are supposed to be tender and thin, end up chunky and tough. And sauces that are supposed to be silky and delicate, end up watery and overly-flavored.

Is it possible to make a proper Asian stir-fry in a European kitchen? The answer is yes, but only if you understand how an Asian chef does it.

Fire, Lots of Fire!

The first element to a proper stir-fry is the heat. Lots of heat! Foods are stir-fried over a very hot fire, thus the outside of the food sears, traps in the moisture - which steams the inside of the food. That's how you end up with a crunchy outside and steamed inside. And that's also why you have to constantly stir the food while it's cooking - as in "stir-fry" - otherwise it will burn!

Asians cook over large fires at very high temperatures. Even poor Asian homes, more often than not, have gas or wood burning stoves which get much hotter than electric stoves. Electric stoves are a North American gadget. They were built in order to take advantage of America's power grid, and because, well,  people buy them! They're not better than gas. I often tell my customers, that even the cheapest gas stove, is still better than an electric stove in terms of heat output and pleasure to cook with.

If you're cooking vegetables under low heat, what ends up happening is all the water cooks out of the vegetables, pools into the bottom of the pot, does not evaporate fast enough, and you end up boiling them in a kind of soup. Hence, that limp, soggy, soy-sauce-flavored-stew you probably end up with. All because you don't have, or didn't use, enough heat. You gotta CRANK UP THE HEAT when you're stir-frying!

It's Not an Argentinian Steak House!

Another difference between the American/Euro people and the Asians, is how they eat and handle meats. And although I could write a whole, very interesting book, on how people eat based on an event that happened 10,000 years ago in the Indo European area of the world, I will keep this brief.

Much of Europe was forested, and thus Indo Europeans hunted and ate meat as their main diet. And meat continues to be a huge part of our diet. Whereas Asians did not have as many fertile forests, and came to rely on a diet high in grains and plants instead. Meat was, and still is, eaten in much smaller portions when compared to the American/European way of eating.  (And this is also why I think different body types are made to eat different foods in different quantities for optimum health... but that would be part of that book I was telling you about).

An Asian stir-fry consists of thinly sliced, small pieces of meat, many of which have been tenderized before frying (with cornstarch, egg white, and/or protein-busting enzymes like papain). Thus making the meats soft, plump and juicy. You will notice that Asian stir-fries have pieces of cheap meat, that would otherwise be tough. But because they have been chemically tenderized, and sliced really thin, end up being soft, juicy, and enjoyable. And there's not 50Lbs of meat on your plate! It's a small amount compared to the vegetables.

Now, let's look at the average American stir-fry. You buy a bunch of chicken breasts, steak, pork, whatever. You don't tenderize or marinade them, you cut them into huge chunks, and you boil them in your "veggie stir-fry soup" for like, 15 minutes (which ends up draining the meats of all their moisture and toughens them up like bricks). So you end up with dry chunks of protein leather with a side of limp, soupy vegetables...

Before stir-frying your meats you want to thinly slice them, and marinade them for 4 to 12 hours in either one of the following: 1. Corn starch. 2. A combo of cornstarch and egg whites with a tiny bit of soy sauce. 3. Sprinkle them with some meat tenderizing powder, like papain and add a little soy sauce. Under some hot fire, this will give you those thin, juicy, tender, flavorful pieces of meat you crave if you've ever had a good stir-fry!

The Ying and the Yang

Let's say the Ying is the gentle whisper, and the Yang is a blaring rock concert!

How come my stir-fry tastes nothing like it should? I notice that many people like to flavor their stir-fries with a bunch of soy sauce, so it's overly-salted and way overly-spiced (the Yang), or they make it so bland that there is no taste (the Ying). So, what's the deal? Is there an optimum amount of soy sauce? Is there a balance between the Ying and the Yang?

Well, what if I told you that soy sauce plays a very small role in stir-fries? In fact, that is what I'm telling you. The most crucial part of a good stir-fry is the sauce. And if you master a good stir-fry sauce, the rest is easy. So, what's in a good stir-fry sauce?

A good sauce is comprised of a base, flavor enhancers, and a thickener - yes, a thickener so it doesn't turn out like soup!

The Base - is usually a good tasting stock. Chicken stock or beef stock are good. Make them yourself out of bullion so that they taste nice. That liquid stock you buy at the store is garbage - it's so watered-down and weak that goldfish could swim in it. You want to start with a nice flavorful stock. For the average stir-fry for 4 people, let's say you start out with 1 to 2 cups of warm stock (not hot, warm. I'll tell you why in a sec.)

Flavor Enhancers - these are the little ingredients that flavor your stock. They can be all sorts of combinations, but this is my go-to Chinese combination: 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of white pepper, 1 to 2 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine or sherry, 1 tsp of vinegar, 1/2 tbsp of sugar or honey, 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil. These are all ingredients you should have on hand if you want to make basic Chinese dishes. Note that Chinese soy sauce and Japanese soy sauce are totally different and should be regarded as such. It's like the difference between Ketchup and BBQ sauce in our world - two different things. Use Chinese soy sauce for this recipe. And if you want to get nit-picky, use 1 tsbp of dark soy sauce and 1 tbsp of light soy sauce.

You will also want to start out any good stir-fry by frying minced garlic, or minced ginger, or both, in peanut oil. This gives it an additional layer of flavor.

Thickener - that velvety, smooth and silky texture found in most Chinese sauces come from the addition of a starch (not a flour). Most often corn, or tapioca starch. These can be used the same. I use corn starch because that's what I have. Never mix corn starch into a hot liquid. Always into a cold or slightly warm liquid. That way it won't start to thicken until you actually start cooking it. Mix 1.5 tbsp of corn or tapioca starch into the sauce for the stir fry, and now you're ready for something good!

Wok or Pot?

Asians use curved woks, and we use cylindrical pots. And although stir-fries flow smoother in a wok, you can use a skillet - especially a non-stick skillet and still end up with a good stir-fry. I use a wok-shaped skillet with a handle for my stir-fries. It's the best of both worlds!

Remember that it's not so much the shape of the pot, it's mostly about how hot you can get it, and how much heat the pot will retain when you toss in the food. And I'm not going to get into the whole science of metals, alloys and materials here. Just make sure your cooking vessel gets smoking hot, and you put a lot of firepower under it before you start. Non-stick is a good idea!

The Order of Things

So, here's how you make a good stir-fry. Finally... I know! Follow this order, and you won't go wrong.

1. Prep all your ingredients and have them on hand BEFORE you start cooking. You should have: the sauce, mixed and ready to go, peanut oil on hand, a hot pot or wok, a little bowl of minced garlic or minced ginger (like 2 tbsp), your veggies all cleaned and chopped up ready to go, your meat separate from the vegetables, and marinated/tenderized. A wooden spoon.

2. Put your pot/wok/skillet over something hot (preferably a hot burner) and wait until it smokes. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. And from this point, commit, because there's no walking away!

3. Add the garlic and/or ginger and start stirring. You want to cook this for a few seconds in the hot oil to set the base flavor. DO NOT BURN IT. As soon as it gets a little golden colored, you go to step 4. If it gets dark brown or black, you burnt it. Toss it in the garbage and start again.

4. Add the meat, stir, fry, and cook it just long enough for the meat to cook through. It should only take a very short time because you sliced it very thin, right? Remove the meat, put in bowl, set aside. Add more oil, let it get smoking hot again.

5. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until they are crunchy on the outside and cooked on the inside. Keep stirring and tasting to figure out when they've reached that point. If your stuff is hot enough, you have steam coming off the veggies (not water pooling on the bottom), this shouldn't take longer than 3 to 4 minutes.

6. Once veggies are cooked, add the meat back in, stir, and add the sauce, stir-stir-stir! Once the sauce gets hot, it will thicken right away. Your job here is to coat all the ingredients in this wonderful sauce! Once that's accomplished, you serve the stir-fry on a platter and enjoy!

This may seem like a lot to take in, but like driving a car, once you understand all the rules, it's a smooth ride. Happy stir-frying!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to cook zucchini flowers with garlic

Garlic-Fried Zucchini Flowers

By: Chef Cristian Feher

 The other day I found a little treasure at the local farmers market - a basket of zucchini flowers they had set aside. I jumped on it like (I can't think of a politically correct way to finish that sentence). Needless to say, I bought the whole basket. Zucchini flowers may be available where you live, but here in Tampa they are a rarity.

I got these home and thought they would make a good episode on my online food channel, The Hot Skillet, so we shot a video right away using these beautiful, fresh flowers. I didn't want to do the usual - battering them and deep-frying, or stuffing them. That's been done to death! But I thought that stir-frying them Chinese-style with garlic would make a great dish, and I was right! They turned out fantastic! 

Here is the recipe.

  • Zucchini flowers
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of peanut oil (or Coconut Oil)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp of corn starch
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash and drain your zucchini flowers under cold water. Julienne (cut into thin strips) the carrot and peppers. Slice the garlic. Mix the sugar and corn starch well with luke-warm, or cold chicken stock (not hot).
  2. Pre-heat a non-stick wok pan or large skillet and get it nice and hot.
  3. Put oil in pan. When oil starts to smoke, add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Keep the garlic moving so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the vegetables. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock mixture, toss and stir until all vegetables are covered by the sauce and are glossy – about another 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. Serve, sprinkle salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

how to make green chef salad recipe

How to make a salad bar at home
By: Chef Cristian Feher

My own personal salad bar!
Having your own personal salad bar at home has its perks - primarily, you'll actually eat salad!

My family's first choice of food at home is not salad - but put us in a restaurant with a salad bar, and watch us go to town! The difference? Variety. It's the spice of life, and it's a selling point to salad. So, I decided to make our own salad bar at home. And guess what? Everyone has been eating salad!

Try this at home and maybe your family will eat more salad too.

Before I get to the recipes and descriptions, I'm just going to give you a few pointers on making healthy salads, since the whole point of a salad is to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients - not just sugar and water disguised in the shape of salad - you can watch this video here to see what I mean.  How to make a healthy salad video

  • Use dark greens like baby spinach, baby kale, and dark organic salad mix to maximize enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. 
  • Avoid light colored lettuces like iceberg, and romaine, which don't really have any nutritional value.
  • Avoid store-bought salad dressings that are filled with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and all sorts of crap that defeat the purpose of eating a salad in the first place.
  • Make your own salad dressing - it's easy! And it's healthy. 
  • Buy organic vegetables to avoid pesticides and chemicals. But conventional veggies are still MUCH better than not having a salad at all, if that's what you can afford.
  • Use different colored vegetables to liven up the salad visually (stimulating your appetite), and to pack it with nutrients. 
Alright, having said all that, here are the loose recipes from my personal salad bar. It may probably take you a couple of hours to prep. But you'll have fresh, interesting salads all week long! And if you replace at least one meal a day with a healthy green salad, you'll notice the difference in how your body feels right away.

Sour Cream Salad Dressing  This is one of my favorite salad dressings. For this one, you will need a food processor, or at least a hand-blender to mix all the ingredients together. Put the following ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth:
  • 8oz sour cream
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Sliced Cucumbers will keep in a plastic container filled up with cold water and 3 tbsp of white vinegar. Shake off the excess water when you're ready to put on the salad.

Shredded Beets are a great way to add nutrition, natural carbohydrates and color. I used a spiral slicer to make beet strands. You can use a vegetable shredder or cheese grater if you don't have a spiral slicer.

Shredded Red Cabbage is easy to make with a food processor. Cut the cabbage into wedges that you can fit down the chute of the food processor. Put the shredding wheel on the processor and shred away! You can do it with a cheese grater, or you can just slice it really thin with a chef's knife if that's all you have.  Add a little salt, and a few splashes of vinegar to the mixture to keep longer, and to soften the cabbage.

Shredded Carrots are full of vitamins, minerals and low-glycemic carbohydrates. You can shred them with a cheese grater, or with the food processor like I did.

Pickled Radishes and Red Onions are really easy to make. I buy pre-shredded radishes, combine that with sliced onions in a container and add the brine. To make the brine, I used 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of sugar. I warmed it on the stove just enough to melt the sugar into the liquid. You can then, pour the liquid into the container with the vegetables and refrigerate over night. The result is tangy, crispy, sweet radish and onion! And most of the sugar stays in the brine.

To make Soy Marinated Mushrooms, simply quarter about a dozen large white mushrooms, put them in a pot, splash them with 1/4 cup of Japanese soy sauce, 2 tbsp of Mirin (sweet rice wine), salt and pepper to taste and bring them to a boil. As soon as they boil, take them off the heat and leave them covered for 15 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a container and keep the "mushroom juice" in the pot for the next vegetables.

To make Soy Marinated Zucchini, simply slice the zucchini, put them in the pot with the mushroom juice, bring to a boil, take off the heat, cover pot and let them sit in there for 15 minutes. Remove them, put them in a plastic container and leave the "mushroom zucchini juice" in there for the next vegetable!

To make Soy Marinated Green Italian Beans, put fresh or frozen beans in the pot with the mushroom zucchini juice, bring to a boil, take off the heat, cover pot and let them sit in there for 15 minutes. Remove them, put them in a plastic container and you're done. With this leftover "mushroom, zucchini, green bean juice", you can even poach other vegetables if you wish. It will just keep on getting tastier with each new vegetable that you add in there.

To create even more variety and add protein, you can top your salads with:
  • Grilled meats like, chicken, beef steaks, pork, turkey, sausages.
  • Cold cuts of all kinds.
  • Sliced cheeses, and creamy cheeses like Boursin.
  • Steamed fish, salmon salad, tuna salad, grilled fish, shrimp, scallops.
  • Smoked almonds, nuts, and dried fruit.
  • Canned fish, and smoked meats are quick, easy and nutritious.

You may think this is a lot of work, but you'll thank yourself after a couple of days of eating really good salads!  You may notice that you're not as tired as you used to be, that you can get more done, and you may even lose weight. But the point of this for us, was not weight loss (although it will likely happen), it was to add a tonne of nutrition to our diet. Add to this, our morning green smoothies, and we've been flying every day!

I love that I can add all sorts of grilled meats and seafood to this - being a guy, and a chef, a juicy rib eye steak, butter grilled chicken thigh, or bacon-wrapped scallop, really makes me look forward to eating a nice colorful salad for dinner.  And now that I have my GrillGrate grill grates, I've been grilling everything!

My wife and I work-out three to four days a week (since December), and I've noticed how much more energy I've had during our last two workouts - all due to the salads and clean proteins. Well, I'll stop trying to sell you on this personal salad buffet. But you know, me, when I find something I really enjoy, I like to share it with you!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Best replacement grill grates for BBQ grill

Pimp My Grill!
By: Chef Cristian Feher

GrillGrate grill grates over existing cast iron grates.

Perfectly cooked chicken and ribs! Notice the fat held in the channels.
For many of us, the term "grilling out" brings a smile to our faces. What's better than fresh air, good food, and getting back to our primal way of cooking?  Well, for one, doing it with less flare-ups and less fuel.

Whether you are looking to replace your existing BBQ grill, or would like a way to "Soup it Up!", I have a great recommendation for you!

A few years ago, my wife got me a dual grill - one side charcoal, and the other side propane. I fell in love with this grill righ away. I even coined a name for it, I call it the mullet grill (business in the front, party in the back!) If I'm short on time, I use the propane portion of the grill, and if I have time, I can spend a few hours making a smokey and delicious BBQ using the charcoal side.

I noticed this winter that the grates (made of cast iron) had started to rust. And the replacement grates were priced too steep to make it a worthwhile replacement. So, in considering getting rid of this grill altogether, I happened to come across This company makes grill grates that fit over your existing grates. Not only can you use these to replace your existing grates, but you can also take these easily from grill to grill, ensuring that they will stay with you for a long time - I like products with this type of versatility. That was my first selling point.

The other selling points of these hard anodized aluminum grates were a claim that they amplify the heat source (turning your grill into an infrared grill), allow you to use less fuel to create the same heat, have a really long life, resist corrosion, and prevent flare-ups (something everyone has to deal with when grilling out).

I received the grates two days after ordering them online. Excited to try them, I rushed out to fill my propane tank which had been sitting idle for a few weeks - I just didn't want to use the rusty grates anymore, and although I had done my best to cure them, they still rusted. But, back to the new grates - I made a raspberry balsamic BBQ sauce, picked up chicken and baby back ribs, and put these grates to the test using the propane side of the grill.

The results were as advertised:
  • I grilled with all three burners on med-low (with the old grates, I used to light one burner on high, and grill the food over the two "off" burners to keep it from burning). I can now use the entire grill surface, at an even heat without burning a lot of fuel.
  • My favorite aspect of using these were ZERO FLARE-UPS! The fat from the ribs dripped down into the channels of the grates instead of the burners below. It was a pleasure to grill directly on the flame without flares!
  • Even heat distribution across the entire grill surface.
These grates will probably outlast my BBQ grill, and I look forward to using them on any future grill that I buy - I especially foresee using these on a Traeger wood pellet grill that I've had my eye on. But for now, they have not only allowed me to keep the "Mullet Grill", but have actually improved it from its original function. Grilling season has officially re-opened at the Feher household!

In conclusion, whether your grill grates are falling apart, or you want to have a more enjoyable and efficient grilling experience, I highly recommend the GrillGrate grill grates. I have no affiliation with GrillGrate and have received no compensation for writing this article. When I come across a good product, I like to tell people about it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 tips for roasting meats

Roasting Tips
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Perfectly Roasted Beef
For the carnivore, there is nothing more satisfying and sought after than a perfectly executed roast. Whether it's beef, lamb, pork, or poultry, doing it right, makes it taste-tastic! Here are seven tips to help you make better roasts.
  1. Always season your roast with salt and pepper. This can be done before, during, or after roasting. But for the most flavor, letting the salt dissolve into the meat before roasting, will yield more flavor.
  2. Roast your meat on a rack. If your meat is fatty, place it fat-side-up. That way the fat melts and runs over, and through the meat, basting it in its own juices. And the fat that is left over, falls to the bottom of the pan below your meat. This way the bottom of your roast is not 'boiling' in the drippings, but roasting uniformly on the rack.
  3. Do not sear. Yes, many chefs sear their roasts before roasting, believing that this will somehow transform the outside of the roast into a water-proof bladder. Searing does not keep in the juices. Your roast will be nicely browned without searing it.
  4. Do not add water. If you roast your meat at a constant temperature, the drippings should not burn. If your temperature cannot be kept constant, you may want to add a little water to the drippings.
  5. Do not cover a roast. Technically, if you cover the pot, your meat will steam, thus you will be making a "pot roast".
  6. Turn a boneless roast once or twice during the roasting process to ensure a more even roast.
  7. Roasting low and slow (325 to 350) will reduce shrinkage and increase flavor, juiciness and tenderness. And, isn't that what roasting is all about?