Dominica Tropical Forest Chefs

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Super Soup

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Have you ever been served soup at a friends house and said “wow, this is great whats in it?”  They look at you laughing and say “I just cleaned out the fridge”.  Yeah, hard to believe that one. So I decided to give it a shot. Where I live every thursday is garbage day and I always clean out the refrigerator. My problem is I buy too much produce and never get it all used. I end up tossing it.

This week I was determined not to waste a thing. Here is a soup I ended up making. I had the following things, 4 baby bella mushrooms, 1 turnip, 1 Yellow squash, 1 shallot, 1 clove of garlic, a small bit of fresh ginger root, 2 rubbery carrots, 1/4 a head of cabbage, 1 handful of thick asparagus, small bunch of fresh green beans, 1 large sweet potato, 1 small leek, 1 green onion, 2 stalks of rubbery celery, 1 lb of cooked hamburger(rinsed of fat), 1 small bottle of opened white wine(3 days old) and the following fresh herbs, Parsley, thyme, tarragon, marjoram. I placed the vegetables in my dutch oven minus the herbs, scallions and hamburger meat. I poured in 7 cups of cold water with 2 tablespoons of the wine and brought it to a boil. I reduced heat to a simmer and covered with a lid for 15 minute. I took lid off and added the meat, herbs, green tobasco sauce, kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

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I simmered it uncovered for 5 more minutes and it was done. I served it to myself with freshly grated parmesan and a little bit of fresh marjoram. I must admit it was a little bland the first night but, the 2nd and 3rd it was fully developed. I later put a couple of spoonfuls of steamed white rice into a bowl of it and I was very happy with it. Then it was gone. So the next time you clean out the fridge think twice before you waste a thing. You could have a fine meal waiting to be made.…

The Best Chicken Dish

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A batter bread made by a private chef is a yeast dough that you don’t have to knead or shape. You can bake in any oven proof dish you desire and that is the shape it will take. This recipe uses two metal coffee cans. This is a cool idea for many reasons as you will see. After you bake the breads you can also store them back in the can. Here is how things turned out for me. Proof the yeast in your mixing bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar for 15 minutes. Then Stir in 2 tablespoons of honey (or use sugar again), 1 and a 1/2 cups of warm milk, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of oil (I used canola). Lastly, beat in an all-purpose unbleached white flour one cup at a time until stiff and heavy (4 to 4 and a 1/2 total). Grease insides of cans and lids as well ( I forgot to and it stuck). Divide batter in half, pour into the cans and cover with the lids. This is the coolest part because the lids will pop when the dough has risen to the right height or 45 minutes has passed. Do not wait too long after this to start baking. I forgot to preheat my oven to 350 degrees and those extra 10 minutes were a bit much.

 

Bake on bottom rack of oven for 45-50 minutes. The tops will get really brown. When you remove from the oven put the cans on a cooling rack and brush tops with butter if you like. Cool for 5 minutes and try to loosen the mushroom shaped top with a paring knife (you may have to cut some of it off).

The can is still very hot so use a towel to hold it while you gently shake it loose. I was surprised at how soft this bread was and after it cooled off the bread was still pretty soft. I think because I did over proof it one of the breads had a large pocket of air in it. The flavor was really good and I ate a little more than I should have! One of the perks of having a chef at home. As an afterthought you could put this in the freezer after you put the lid on for the rise. When thawing it out on you counter it will take around 4 or 5 hours to pop. The hardest part about this whole thing was finding a metal coffee can.

The leek is actually a member of the onion family, so technically this is an onion and potato soup. But hey, the leek is the star here. How many leek dishes can the average American even name? What a wonderful underused vegetable this one is.  I don’t think the French could ever live without leeks or shallots (another onion family member). This is my version of a simply prepared rustic soup. I rendered the fat from a few slabs of Smithfield salt pork. Remove pork and add butter till melted. then sauté’ 3 thinly sliced leeks, 1 diced onion, 1 sliced shallot, 1 green onion (white part only) and 3 large cloves of minced garlic for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine and bring to simmer 1 minute.

Pour in 6 cups chicken stock, 1 and a 1/2 pounds of cubed potatoes (I used yukon gold), salt, pepper and 1 fresh bay leaf. Bring to simmer for 30 minutes. Because of the pork fat you will have to skim the top a couple of times. Puree with a emersion blender or a food processer until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and serve with chopped green onion tops. A couple of drops of hot sauce would makes this private chef NYC recipe even better.