Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friends of Michael Arnone

O.K., not how I planned on starting this but, Tracey and I just did some math. We have been together for 18 years.

Since the beginning we have been prone to go on adventures. Some near, some far. A road trip to Montreal, in search of their version of the perfect bagel (hate to admit it, but the Canadian bagel is superior) Rock climbing in PA ( I loved it, Tracey is still afraid of heights). Sometimes it was a quest. Sometimes we would just head out and see where the road took us.

Well one day about 17 years ago, we found ourselves eating crawfish and alligator sausage, drinkin' Budweiser and listening to zydeco music, in a now long gone, little hole in the wall, called Sun Tan Lake. I remember they had big Bud trucks with a tap right on the side. I remember dancin' and listening to Buckweat himself. I remember kissin' my girl and thinkin' I was on top of the world. Somehow, and it wasn't that day, I had the good fortune to meet Mr.Michael Arnone the organizer and promoter of Craw Fish Fest or CFF. In various restaurants over the years I have cooked for Michael. And he has bragged on me probably more than I deserve. His Craw Fish Fest has grown into a three day festival with more music than you could manage, multiple stages, camping and plenty of food. It's now held at the Sussex County Fair Grounds. Right in my back yard. Over the last few months I have been in touch with him to try to make my own place at Crawfish Fest. To bring a little of the Andre's magic to Michaels over the top event. Sadly it's not gonna work out this year. And I think Michael knew it before me. He said "why don't I bring a gang around the restaurant and you just do what you do"

So, what follows is the menu and photos, of me doing what I do. I would like to say that Michael truly inspires me. Along the way one of his guests said "It's good to be a FOM" (friend of Michael)With his passion for food, friends, music and contagious smile I have to say that, I am happy to be a Friend of Michael! Tracey and I will be going to Craw Fish Fest on Sunday the 6th of june, and we would love to see you there!

Laizes les bon temps roule'

We started with Oysters, barely warmed, with flavors of spinach and fennel. Inspired by Oysters Rockefeller.

Next was Crab Cake with Pickled Watermelon Rind, Yukon Gold Potato and Spicy Mustard.

Followed by, Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras and Duck Confit.

Then, Lamb Loin on the Grill with Local Asparagus, Red Wine and Grains of Paradise.

Dessert was Strawberries with Creme Anglaise

and a last little bite of Deep Fried Cafe Brulot Truffles.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pizza, Pizza...

I am sure that you all have your own memory of "The Perfect Slice". You were in Italy and the sun was just so, and the red wine made it perfect. Or, maybe, it was that first slice at John's after 2 weeks in France and all you wanted was a taste of home. For that matter, it could be the memory of a road trip to NYC for a slice at any one of the many infamous joints. If you were at the Taste of Talent, http://piesonwheels/ was cranking out a pretty awesome pie.

I am equally sure that you have your opinion of what makes a really great slice. For a food so simple, with not to many variables, the possibilities seem endless. Personally, a thin, crispy crust with just the right amount of sauce and not to much mozzarella, hold the dried oregano please! is what I call a great slice. I wanted to share my dough recipe with you, as well as, a red and a white topping. The red is a traditional tomato pie. The white is a take on the Alsatian Flammekuche with crispy bacon and caramelized onions. During the shoot Rob and I traded some pizza tales.

A few years ago before a trip to Holland with my family, I suggested we meet at my brother's house for lunch before the ride to the airport. I would bring some food (all cold) that we could eat off paper plates, allowing us to ditch the plates and start our vacation on a full stomach. In case you haven't gathered, I don't like to operate hungry and I like airplane food even less. The day before the vacation my aunt presented me with an "Onion Pie" similar to the recipe I have for you here. So I thought that would be a nice addition to the buffet. Great! Get to my brother's, turn on the oven and enjoy our meal. Plates in the garbage and off we go. By the way, the pie was perfect. Crispy crust, sweet and savory topping, I think I should call her and ask her to make me another. Anyway, we had a fantastic trip back to my fathers homeland (no pizza) we all ate our weight in Dover sole, and searched in vein for the new herring (a true delicacy, the season starts this year on June 8th). When we returned home and walked into my brother's house, happy to be home, but, sorry it was coming to an end, we realized something was not right. It was considerably hotter in the house than it should have been. Holy $#!t we left the oven on for 10 days!!! We all looked at each other shocked for a good 5 minutes before realizing that everything was OK. Our shock turned to relieved laughter. And we played a little "what if?"

So, here are a few recipes for you. I hope you are inspired to create a perfect pie of your own. Just, please turn off the oven when you are done.

The dough

2 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried yeast

1/4 cup oil

6 cups flour

1 Tablespoon salt

mix the first 4 ingredients, add 1/2 the flour, stir to incorporate. Let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Add the salt, remaining flour and knead until very springy. You may need a bit more flour, but try to keep the dough a bit wet. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise at room temp. Punch down and divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

let the dough come halfway to room temp and then roll or throw the dough to desired thickness.

We cook our pizza in a two step process at the restaurant. First it's grilled to give it a bit of smokey goodness then we add toppings and finish it on a pizza stone in a 500 oven.

Red Sauce

I puree a can of Muir Glenn Organic fire roasted Tomatoes with a pinch of sugar and 2 pinches of salt and a little fresh thyme

White sauce

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 1/2 Tablespoons of flour

combine and use as your sauce

1 onion caramelized

1 pound of bacon crispy

sprinkle on as topping and bake