Tag Archives: MasterChef

Italian Corn Summer Salad

Hey all. First time positing since Cooks vs. Cons on Food Network, more on that to come on a later date. I made this one up for Fourth of July when I had  5 picnics to go to and it went over so well that a lot of people have asked me for the recipe and I figured I would share it with everyone!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

12 ears of corn

1/2 jar Roasted Red Peppers

1/2 jar Sun-dried Tomatoes

1 carton cherry tomatoes

Scallions

garlic

ginger

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

olive oil

butter

old bay

 

Directions:

1) Butter ears of corn and wrap in foil.  Cook on grill or in oven around 500 degrees for 40 minutes (turn once if on grill).

2) Place all tomatoes on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook in oven or on grill with corn for 15-20 minutes on baking sheet (this way the juices are gathered on the baking sheet)

3) Rough chop the scallions, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers.

4) Cut all corn off the cobs and put in large mixing bowl with tomatoes (reserving the juices on the side), scallions, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. Thoroughly mix.

5) Make a simple dressing by whisking together the juices of the tomatoes, 2 tbs olive oil, 3 cloves roasted garlic, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tbs juices from Roasted Red Pepper jar, 1 tbs juices from sun-dried tomato jar, salt, and pepper.

6) Dress the salad, mixing well, and dust with old bay seasoning.

7) Enjoy!

 

I hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did! Till next time, MaurPowerFoodie signing off.


CT Chefs Challenge 2015 – MaurPowerFoodie Competes! #CTChefs

That’s right. As you may recall from an earlier post, I have been selected as 1 of the 8 chefs to compete in this year’s CT Chefs Challenge on September 18, 2015, the 5th annual showing of the event.

ctchefchallenge-1

This is going to be one intense challenge as I take on 7 of the best chefs CT has to offer. Just check out this list of the competitors:

Mark Vecchitto – Seehund German Pub: 2014 Winner
Adam Bedini – StrEATery
Justin Kern – Meeting House Pub
Trevor McGrath – YooNeke: Hells Kitchen Season 9
Carlos Baez – The Spread
Joshua Morosi – A Chef’s Choice
Jason Maur – MaurPowerFoodie: MasterChef Season 3
Carol Koty – The Waterview and Lockwood Lodge: World Food championship competitor

Now Carol and I go way back, and I am psyched to cheer her on (for 2nd place after me). But the competitors aren’t the only amazing part. The event will be hosted by the unstoppable Chef Plum of PlumLuvFoods (you may recognize him from The Taste, Guys Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen, and more) and judged by Chef Derrick Prince (Master Chef Season 2), Judy & Joy (who have made their rounds throughout the culinary world), Ken Tuccio (Welcome to CT), and more! Not to mention my buddy’s over at OmNomCT covering everything on Social Media. It is just ridiculous, in the most amazing way!

10387222_773838162724971_7491971473890752069_n

Now for the question on everyone’s mind, what will I be making? I am not going to give it all away, but I am sticking with my BBQ roots, but with an extreme upscale twist. Going to be killer, especially thanks to the help of the Chef/Owner of Bar 140 in Shelton, CT, Joe, who has agreed to Sous Chef for me.

The event is taking place at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton. You can purchase tickets here!

COME OUT FOR THIS! It is going to be one hell of an event and you do not want to miss it.


Tarry Lodge – New Haven, CT

New Haven, CT has become one of the greatest spots in CT for quality food from a great variety of cultures. But when talking about New Haven food, the Nation knows it for one thing… Pizza… or since I am in CT I should say Appiza. When bringing a new pizza restaurant to town, it is important to bring something unique, something different, something fresh. That is exactly what Tarry Lodge delivers.

Chef Drew

One of the restaurants from the great minds and talents of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich (for those who do not know, I have a “history” with Joe Bastianich) , alongside Andy Nusser and Nancy Selzer, the team has done it again. First thing done right, get the right Chef. They have done this with a friend of mine, whom I met while he was the Sous Chef at Tarry Lodge in Westport, Executive Chef Andrew Marsilio.  Chef Drew has combined his training and experience to carry out an amazing menu with the skills of a master. Speaking of the menu, they got that right too. This classic Italian menu celebrates the tradition of taking fresh, quality ingredients, keeping it simple, plating them beautifully, and cooking them perfectly. Along with the plating presentation, add a great ambiance (albeit a tight fit when the restaurant is packed), and a quality wine list (which it better be with Bastianich on the team) and my friends, you have yourself a restaurant that will strive in the bustle and hodge podge that is New Haven, CT.

10978515_808344562552354_8166862856168777165_n

Alright, onto the food. First, I must than Chef Drew for sending out a couple extra courses beyond what I ordered for me to try (the Octopus and the Tiramisu). But, let’s start with the beginning.  We started of with the Heritage Pork Polpette (meatballs) and Chef’s Octopus.  The Polpette was seasoned to perfection. A simple tomato sauce, some aged grated cheese, salty and savory with just a touch of sweetness fresh ground pork.  The only issue, it was served next to my favorite thing I ate all night, the grilled Octopus. I love octopus… when it is cooked right. So often, even the best of chefs overcook Octopus, leaving it rubbery. Not at Tarry Lodge. Not only was the texture buttery and tender, but the  acid of the lemon, the squid ink, and the touch of spice from the shishito peppers truly brought out the best in these tentacles. I wish my photo had come out so you could see the vibrant colors and artistic plating on this one too, but just trust me, the fact that you eat with your eyes first only helped enhance this dish. Onto our entree…

Guanciale pizza

As I said, when doing pizza in New Haven, it not only has to be great pizza, it has to be unique. Pizza does not get more unique than this house specialty Guanciale pizza. Guanciale is an Italian cured bacon made from pork cheek. Similar to a pancetta, but with a much stronger flavor, it only makes sense to pair it with the bold, earthy tones of black truffles. Many people in the food world talk about the different flavor palates, one of which that escapes most people is Umami. The savory, earthy goodness from truffles is my perfect example of Umami. Add in the salty guanciale, melted cheese, a lightly seasoned, crispy crust, and the rich egg yolk and you have a truly decadent, flavorful pizza. Every ingredient working with the other ingredients in harmony to create a depth of flavor that enhances with each bite. I want to try the other pizzas here too, but am hard pressed not to order this every time I go.

Gnocchi

The other entree for us that evening, my personal favorite pasta dish to order when I go to a good Italian restaurant, Gnocchi. At Tarry Lodge, they prepare their gnocchi All’ Amatriciana, which is in a sauce made with the above raved about guanciale, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. If you are looking for something to compare it to, the closest I could give is a non-creamy vodka sauce. Though, as above mentioned, guanciale has a very bold flavor, so it shines through in this sauce. But the star of this dish is the gnocchi itself. Not only are the dumpling flavorful, they are as pillowy as I imagine a cloud to be, literally melting in one’s mouth. As full as we were after all this, it was time for dessert, so we ordered the flourless chocolate cake…

chocolate cake

Fresh cream on top, pistachio crumble, and rich chocolate cake, with no flour (that means it is healthy, right?… cause we ate the whole thing). Creamy, velvety, goodness. Definitely enough for both of us to finish off the meal…OH WAIT! Chef sent out another dessert….

tiramisu

TIRAMISU! Now I am extremely cautious in ordering tiramisu. Most places either soak the lady fingers in too much espresso and that is all you can taste, or cover it in so much cream that it is almost not a cake…. or both!. I think as you can see above, Tarry Lodge does neither. They serve up a classic, traditional, simple tiramisu and the 3rd best tiramisu I have ever had. The first was made homemade for me in Italy when I toured through the Country with my choir when I was 16.  The second was at a celebrity chef dinner in Chicago this past October (though that one was admittedly far from traditional, with a butter toffee crunch on the bottom), and then comes Tarry Lodge. Traditional with a capital “T” there is just a hint of espresso, a perfectly sweet mascarpone, moist ladyfingers throughout and topped with fresh cream. I couldn’t ask for more… even though I wanted to. In fact we were so full, and our neighbors at the next table, a very nice couple with whom we had a great conversation throughout the dinner, was staring so intently at it when the brought it to our table, we even offered them a bite, which they enjoyed thoroughly with us.

10942445_797659230287554_7663809484146794252_n

Thank you so much to Chef Drew, general manager Steve Bayusik, the amazingly attentive waitstaff, the kitchen crew, and everybody else at Tarry Lodge for a meal not soon to be forgot. In fact, I will be back tomorrow night for dinner with some friends before a show to share the experience. As for you Joe Bastianich, consider the hatchet buried… I forgive you for rightfully kicking me off MasterChef for a terribly plated dish. My skills have improved greatly, maybe I will see you again, but all I really have to say is thank you. Thank you for helping to ignite a true passion food in me, thank you for continuing to help create fantastic restaurants for me frequent, and thank you for dinner… wait, I thought they said the next one was on you… oh well, I’ll still be back there tomorrow. Go enjoy a night at Tarry Lodge with Chef Drew and the crew. If you see me there, don’t hesitate to say hi, but don’t be offended if you find me in a food coma at the end of the meal. Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing out.

 

Tarry Lodge Enoteca and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Pork in the Park – Stamford, CT – Cooking Demo!

That’s right everybody… I will be doing a full out cooking demo at this year’s Pork in the Park BBQ Festival in Stamford, CT. Definitely come check out the entire festival this weekend. There will be other amazing cooking demo’s. Fabulous food and drinks, and perhaps the thing I am most excited about… A KANSAS CITY BBQ SOCIETY SANCTIONED COMPETITION!!!!!

ee1f04_5f124fb8f1fb786b44947873059e40da.png_srz_883_268_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srz

Festival Dates & Times

Saturday, July 13, 11am – 8pm​​​​

Sunday, July 14, 11am – 5pm​

Admission costs

$15.00 for adults

$5.00 for kids.

Children under 5 are FREE!​

As for what I will be teaching you all how to cook. I can tell you it will involve a lot of fantastic ingredients, homemade BBQ sauce, some booze in basically each and every element of the dish (tequila, vodka, and beer will all be used), a refreshing twist, and you DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT. My demo is on Sunday the 14th from 12:15-1:00. Please come check out how I put MaurPower on the Plate for a Summer BBQ Spectacular. Here is the jalapeno infused tequila in the making!

935004_10100351645656135_415988768_n

Check out OmNomCT (the people who invited me to demo and a fantastic food blog) for the list and schedule of all the demos! Right before me is another reality TV chef from America’s Baking Competition. PLUS… local chefs and BBQ Competitors. And here is a sneak peek as I begin my prep for this Sunday!

883449_10100352217649855_714401848_o 1065223_10100352218238675_1195701032_o 1039645_10100352215758645_1856970778_o 1074666_10100352216053055_1387240074_o

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” signing off. Come check out an awesome festival this weekend. I guarantee a great time for all.


Foodie Pen Pal! Tenth Month – May 2013

That’s right! Foodie Pen Pals is back! And it is reveal day once again

This is part of a program called Foodie Pen Pals in which every month I get/send a basket from/to another foodie from around the country. Then, every month, everyone reveals who their pen pal was, what they received, and get to see what everyone else got on the same day :-)

This month I received a fantastic package from Mary Morehouse… and “IT” finally happened… the moment every man waits for… Wait for it…

20130518_124006

SHE SENT ME A BACON BOX!!! A BOX WHERE (almost) EVERYTHING WAS BACON OR BACON THEMED!!! Needless to say, I was excited.

20130518_124048

First off she sent me bacon cheddar popcorn (delicious), a bacon rub (that I used on a great pork chop and plan on using when I smoke my own bacon this summer… BACON RUBBED BACON!), and well of course…. BACON! I used this to make these amazing Loaded Smashed Baked Potatoes.

20130522_192106

Next she sent me some Bacon jerky. Now I am not usually a jerky guy, but this is BACON. It is basically the same thing as eating wonderful slices of bacon out of a bag. Yumm! Then there was a Smokin’ Bacon Ranch. I have not yet used this. I plan on possibly putting it out at the next party with Veggies and Wings. I am sure it will not disappoint though

20130518_124214

Finally, Mary sent me some examples of the sweeter side of bacon (one of my personal favorite uses of bacon is in desserts, so these were right up my alley).  The Oregon Bacon Bar… milk chocolate with tiny crunchy pieces of bacon! How could you go wrong? And then there was something I actually make myself… Bacon Brittle. Salty, sweet, crunchy, and simply divine.

20130518_124257

Oh wait… Did I say finally… there was more! A couple of non-food items. First was a cute pig rubber spatula and a 101 things to do with Bacon book (I plan on doing all of them!)

20130518_132912

And there was still more. Mary is apparently not a big wine drinker and had this gift certificate around the house and sent it to me…

20130518_133021

And what’s better… the site had a special for another $100 free when you spent $150! I immediately ordered 3 cases of wine which have been added to my collection.

Thank you so much Mary for a truly wonderful Foodie Pen Pal package. To the best of my knowledge, Mary does not have a blog to post her package on, but I would be more than happy if she wanted to post something on here, so Mary.. Let me know 🙂 I hope your package was as fantastic as the one you sent me.

As for what I sent, my pen pal recipient was Raina Van Setter. You can check out what I sent Raina at her blog “The Home Plate”.

Well, thus ends my tenth Foodie Pen Pal experience, and again it was an extremely positive one.

Don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN a MaurPowerFoodie PenPal Package and SIX FLAG TICKETS!

I can not wait till June’s list is revealed and I get to do it all over again, month after month. If you want to take part in this program check it out:

The Lean Green Bean

Be sure to stay tuned for the big reveal each month and be sure to enter to win the GIVEAWAY, your own FoodiePenPal Package and SIX FLAG TICKETS from Me, the MaurPowerFoodie! :-) Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” signing off… Thanks for reading.


MasterChef – One Year Later; Avon Walk For Breast Cancer; A Special Foodie PenPal Package; and a MAURPOWERFOODIE GIVEAWAY!!!

Last night marked the premier of MasterChef Season 4, and I could not help but feel a rush of nostalgia, as it was just 1 year ago that I was going through the excitement of being one of the top 100 in Season 3. From news appearances to interviews and features in papers, tribunes, websites, and magazines, it was an amazing time. An experience I am so fortunate to have had, and the birth of MAURPOWERFOODIE! Can’t believe that this was but 1 year ago…

pic 6pic 5

I still have not worn that shirt since the show. But I did do something else for the first time since being on the show. I used the ingredient which quite arguably sent me home… Black Garlic.

20130521_185754

For my dish on the show, I decided to use a smear of black garlic on the plate for presentation and too add a depth of flavor. This did not go over well with the judges (the infamous skidmark remark) and in retrospect was a horrible use of the ingredient. Well I decided what better way to pay tribute to the amazing experience I had on the show and how far I have come since by using Black Garlic the right way in order for a MasterChef Season 4 Premier/Season 3 1 Year Anniversary Dinner. So last night I had my friend Alyssa over for dinner and the show. And the meal was fantastic. Black Garlic Rubbed Steak, Black Garlic Butter Corn on the Cob, and Loaded Smashed Baked Potato. As you can see, Alyssa enjoyed it thoroughly:

20130522_19204820130522_193656

MasterChef was a huge step on my culinary journey and has led me towards many things. As for last night’s premier… what a great episode! Definitely some amazing talent this year, some unfortunate flops, the judges were on top of their game in both entertaining and giving some solid critiques. So happy to see my boy Luca Manfe from Season 3 back after his heartbreaking elimination last year and can’t wait to see what he does this year to redeem himself. One thing some of you may remember me conquering after MasterChef was walking 40 MILES for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer!

615743_10100219219189835_1069306768_o

Well, I am happy to announce that I am walking again this year 🙂 I have a fundraising goal I have to make of $1800.00, so please, help me out and make a donation to help put an end to Breast Cancer. And be sure to see below how your donations can help you win today’s MaurPowerFoodie Giveaway!

Speaking of that giveaway… I decided to do it because my Foodie PenPal whom I sent a package to last month, Judy Thompson, was nice enough to actually send me one back. So I figured to pay it forward, I would give away a PenPal box just like the one I sent Judy to one of my luck followers. First things first, what did Judy send me? An amazing collection of snack foods: Chocolate covered marshmallows, Chocolate covered potato chips, Chocolate covered cherries, caramel waffle crisps, and almond biscotti. All of which were delicious and have since been devoured.

20130424_122719

20130424_12274220130424_122805

Which brings us to what you have all been waiting for… the GIVEAWAY! Your own MaurPowerFoodie PenPal Box, featuring some of my favorite snacks and ingredients and pictured below:

20130523_101715

So, how do you win??? Easy! All you have to do is go to the Giveaway post and follow the simple instructions.

There you have it! It is as easy as that to earn anywhere from 1-8 entries for the MaurPowerFoodie PenPalPackage, and the drawing will be done June 21st at 8:00 PM EST, so be sure to ENTER NOW!!! Winner will be contacted by e-mail to make arrangements to get your address to send your prize to 🙂 Good luck everyone.

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off. Can’t wait to see who the winner is 🙂


Foodie Pen Pal! Ninth Month – April 2013

That’s right! Foodie Pen Pals is back! And it is reveal day once again

This is part of a program called Foodie Pen Pals in which every month I get/send a basket from/to another foodie from around the country. Then, every month, everyone reveals who their pen pal was, what they received, and get to see what everyone else got on the same day :-)

This month I received a fantastic package from Erica Richardson of The Land of Salt.

Erica seems to have pretty varied tastes from her blog so I was so excited to see what she would send me.

20130417_145425
First off she sent me a combination of what you have heard time and time again are some of my favorite two ingredients to combine… quality caramels and quality salt. In her letter to me Erica said this is the only salt she uses now. I can see why. A little bit goes a long way and it is quality. I know most people assume all salt is the same… not so. The crystalization is able to change flavors and textures, the coarseness of the grind changes the way a dish cooks. Quality salt is a must and this one did not disappoint. I think we all know I combined these two to make an awesome salted caramel sauce, but I have a lot of salt leftover that I have been using as I cook.

20130417_145611

Next she sent me some amazing oils, vinegar, and honey, all local to her. I always have a use for great balsamic vinegar and olive oils, so these were a welcome treat. The Balsamic is going to be used for a grilled flank steak and the oils for all sorts of creations. As for the honey, I had a taste, it is superb. Sweet, smooth, and sultry. As for what I am going to use it for… I will let you know when I decide.

20130417_145535

Finally, Erica sent me something I very rarely treat myself to. A gourmet spicy sausage… salami style. I rarely treat myself to these because I am often disappointed at the quality. NOT THE CASE HERE!!! This was my favorite item of the package. A wonderful spicy after kick, great flavor, fantastic texture, not dry at all. I ripped into this as soon as I opened the package and it barely lasted for anyone else to even have a taste. Thank you!

20130417_145459

Thank you so much Erica for a truly wonderful Foodie Pen Pal package. Please check out what she got from her pen pal and her fantastic blog, thelandofsalt.com.

As for what I sent, my pen pal recipient was Judy Thompson. Judy does not currently blog, but I will be doing a special SECOND REVEAL DAY later this week that includes what I sent to Judy 🙂

Why the second reveal day you ask???? Because Judy was so nice and thoughtful that she sent a surprise package back to me! What did she send? Tune in later this week. Also included in that post…

A MAURPOWERFOODIE GIVEAWAY!!!! In order to pay it forward for the kindness of Judy sending me a package back, I am going to giveaway a duplicate of the package I sent her to one lucky follower. Details to come in that post, so pay attention and you too could get a MaurPowerFoodie Penpal Box.

Well, thus ends my ninth Foodie Pen Pal experience, and again it was an extremely positive one. I can not wait till May’s list is revealed and I get to do it all over again, month after month. If you want to take part in this program check it out:

The Lean Green Bean

Be sure to stay tuned for the big reveal each month, the second reveal this week, and the GIVEAWAY! :-) Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” signing off… Thanks for reading.


Foodie Pen Pal! Eighth Month – March 2013

That’s right! Foodie Pen Pals is back! And it is reveal day once again

This is part of a program called Foodie Pen Pals in which every month I get/send a basket from/to another foodie from around the country. Then, every month, everyone reveals who their pen pal was, what they received, and get to see what everyone else got on the same day :-)

This month I received a fantastic package from Victoria Shimmons of Reluctantly Skinny (A problem I would not be reluctant about in the least.)

Victoria may concentrate on healthy recipes, but you would never know it from the absolutely amazing package of treats she sent me!  For those of you who know me, you will know just how well this package fits to tastes. So… What did she send me? Good question.

20130325202104
First off she sent me something I use for A LOT of different purposes… high quality Apricot preserves. Not only is apricot the most commonly used preserve in my house for bagels and toast, I also often use it on my chicken, meatloafs, and pork chops. PLUS, for those of you who have had my BBQ, or saw me on MasterChef, the most popular of my BBQ sauces in my Peach Apricot Habenaro BBQ sauce, which uses none other than a quality Apricot Preserve like this one. Great thing to receive.

20130325202223

Next she sent me Biscotti. While I have yet to find a biscotti to rival my Mom’s homemade recipe, this was a fantastic flavor and great quality. Chocolate and caramel (which in my humble opinion, one can never go wrong with), this bag of crunchy goodness was gone in only 2 days! I just could not help myself…. SOOOOO GOOD!

20130325202208

Finally, Victoria took a trip to a local chocolatier and sent me two amazing finds. First, as I have said many a time when I receive these, one of my absolute favorite bites, salted caramels. From the label on the box, I had a great feeling about these. I was able to contain myself to indulging in only 1 per day till they were gone, but that was a difficult challenge. As for the next item, it was something I had not experienced before… “Tiger Bark”.  Similar to a peanut butter fudge (which I love), this had a slightly different texture. It wasn’t quite the same melt in your mouth as fudge, instead it was somewhere between a dissolve and a melt, which I actually did not mind at all. Plus, the flavor was out of this world. Put a small chunk of this on a cracker, or a pretzel, or an apple…. **drools**. Two absolutely fantastic gifts to complete a truly MaurPowerFoodie tailored package, perfect for tantalizing my taste buds.

2013032520231920130325202309

2013032520233220130325202340

Thank you so much Victoria for a truly wonderful Foodie Pen Pal package. Please check out what she got from her pen pal and her fantastic blog, ReluctantlySkinny.com.

As for what I sent, my pen pal recipient was Emily Dicks. This package was quite possibly one of my favorite I have sent, so I hope she enjoyed it. Be sure to check out her blog to see what I sent her at “It Bakes Me Happy” 🙂

Well, thus ends my eighth Foodie Pen Pal experience, and again it was an extremely positive one. I can not wait till April’s list is revealed and I get to do it all over again, month after month. If you want to take part in this program check it out:

The Lean Green Bean

Be sure to stay tuned for the big reveal each month! :-) Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” signing off… Thanks for reading.


A MaurPowerFoodie Challenge: July/August 2012

Last month I announced my first ever MaurPowerFoodie Challenge and you got to pick 5 mandatory ingredients! The ingredients picked were Brown Rice, Garlic Chives (Thank you Michael Chen, fellow MasterChef Season 3 competitor), Cantaloupe, Buttermilk (Thanks to Ben Starr of MasterChef Season 2), and Pickled Whitefish from Ikea (Thanks a lot Abe… from law school). Another subscriber, Dave Miller, of MasterChef Season 1, did not get his ingredient of miso in before the other 5, but I went ahead and decided to use it anyways. So here I am, with an odd combination of ingredients to say the least, but I came out with a killer dish in the end! This month I made a Buttermilk Battered Fried Pickled Whitefish, over a garlic chive and lemongrass infused buttered brown rice, served with a cantaloupe miso broth. Anyhow, I am sure you are dying to know how I made it, so let’s go step by step.
First, the broth:

I started with a whole cantaloupe, which I juiced. Take a look at this melon. Ripe, fresh, and delicious:

I then sauteed some garlic in a bit of olive oil. I added a little bit about three stalks of chopped green onion. I also put the stems in there to get some more flavor out of them, but remember to remove them at the end. Next, add the cantaloupe juice (I used 3/4 of the melon’s worth and then poured myself a glass of the rest of the refreshing nectar). Bring this to a boil and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Then add just a little bit of hot pepper sesame oil. Remember, a little bit of this goes a long way, so no need to be heavy handed. So it looks like this:

Now, remove from the heat (VERY IMPORTANT! YOU DO NOT WANT TO BOIL THE MISO). Add 1 1/2 tsp of white miso paste and stir allowing the miso to dissolve completely in the broth. Set aside and simply reheat when ready to use!

Next we have the Brown Rice. This is pretty simple. Take 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cut up stalk of lemon grass (big chunks are better because you are removing it after cooking), some finely chopped garlic chives, 2 cups of water, and 1 tbs of butter and put it all in a pot. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 50 minutes.  Remove top, remove lemongrass chunks, and stir.

Next is the buttermilk batter. Again, really easy. First take 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tbs of garlic powder. Sift the dry ingredients and put in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and then add 1 cup of buttermilk to the egg and mix together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until you have formed a smooth, liquid batter… like this:

Finally comes the roughest part of this challenge. Doing something with pickled whitefish from Ikea. And yes Abe, I even went and got it from Ikea… See:

This stuff is extremely salty and slimy, so I wanted to do something to get some of the moisture and salt out of it so it did not simply fall apart while it was frying. I simply took the pieces of fish out of the pickling juice and let a paper towel sponge out some of the moisture and salt along with it.

After I had sponged out some of that moisture came the easy part. I heated peanut oil up to 350 degrees, battered the fish, and fried it in the oil.

This leads us to the assembly of the plating. First a nice circle of rice in a bowl, leaving enough room around the sides for the broth.

Next a few pieces of the fried whitefish on top of the rice.

Then add broth around the sides of the rice, pouring a little bit on top of the fish (we don’t want to soak the batter and get rid of that amazing crispy outer shell).

Finally, I topped it off with a little bit of caviar and there we have it!

In my first MaurPowerFoodie challenge I think the score definitely goes MaurPowerFoodie: 1; Challenge: 0. While I am very happy with how this whole dish turned out, the best part was that broth. It was killer! I will most definitely be using that broth on a regular basis. Rich in flavor and color, definitely make yourself a nice cup of cantaloupe miso soup, maybe with some shrimp.

Which leads us to the next month’s challenge! Remember my 5 mandatory ingredients are up to you and based on the first 5 comments to this post (provided they are available to me at a somewhat reasonable price). You must follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post for me to use your ingredient suggestion. One ingredient per person. Then I will take the ingredients and in September make my dish and do a post about it. Then, on that post, I will take suggestions for the next month’s challenge ingredients. Be creative but also be thoughtful, because as fun as it would be to watch me squirm with some odd ingredient combo’s, it would also be great to give you all new recipes you can use at home when looking for something delicious. Remember, for me to use your ingredient, you must BOTH follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post. I will definitely use the first 5 ingredients and then as many of the others as I can.

The creative juices are flowing, so let’s get this party started. Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.

 


Table 26 – West Palm Beach, FL: A MUST For Anyone in the Area

Well, here I am back in CT after a fabulously relaxing and enjoyable vacation with my family down in West Palm Beach. While I was down there, in addition to relaxing, I made sure to meet up with a couple of my friends from my MasterChef family. After paying a visit with Penny Suzuki and Drew Rosenthal, it reminded me of what an amazing experience being on the show really was. Alright, I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with Table 26, the answer… Everything. When Drew and I met up he told me of one of his new favorite restaurants in the area, and naturally, 2 nights later, I made my reservation and had to try it. And I am beyond happy I did, not only was it the best meal I had while I was down in Florida, but it was simply an all around great meal. The food, the presentation, the atmosphere, the service, everything was phenomenal. Located at 1700 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL, Table 26 is a must visit if you are anywhere near the area. It will be worth the trip. Let’s start with the atmosphere and service:

This intimate restaurant is definitely the kind of place where you NEED to make a reservation. It has about 15 tables and a bar inside (with great specialty drinks and an extensive wine list. I had a wonderful glass of Malbec), as well as a few tables out on a patio. I meant to ask if there were a total of 26 tables, but completely forgot to. Either way, each table is lit with a beautiful sand anchored candle (pictured above) to remind you that you are in Florida and by the beach. Beautifully simple artwork lines the walls. Also, despite the fact that the restaurant is smaller, it is still spacious. Wisely so, Table 26 does not try to pack too many tables into their space, even though I am sure they would be filled if they did. Instead there is plenty of room for your party to enjoy the meal and conversation without being elbow to elbow with your dining neighbor. That being said, as described before, the setting is intimate. So the dining room, while constantly abuzz with talk of the amazing food, also still allows for easy conversation. As for the service, I was beyond impressed. This restaurant is just barely 2 months in. I have worked in restaurants for 12 years, including being a part of the opening staff for a few. Usually, it takes some time for the machine to start running smoothly. This was not the case at Table 26. The service staff was attentive and knowledgeable without being overbearing. My water was never empty, we were checked on with each course to make sure everything was cooked to our liking, and whenever I had a question for my server about the food or the restaurant, she was ready with the answer. The food came out a steady pace, and always fresh. This machine runs smoothly at two months, I can’t wait to see where they will be in a year. I know one of the goals for the near future is opening for lunch, and I have no doubts that they can do that without losing a step. Ok… Now onto the most important part, the food!

We were started off with two different types of freshly baked a bread: A cheddar bread (on the left) and a wheat bread (on the right), both of which were warm, fluffy, and delicious. In addition to butter, you also see above a dish of eggplant “caviar” (basically an herb and seasoned eggplant puree). Most of you who know me, know that eggplant and I usually do not gel because of the texture, but in this puree, that issues was eliminated and it was fabulous. The we moved on to our appetizers, a Maryland Style Lump Crab Cake and Blackened Shrimp over Sweet Corn Grits with a Tomato Confit.

First off, just look at the plating (something we all found out is not my specialty). The dishes look beautiful. And they tasted even better. I make it well known that I very rarely order “Maryland Style Crab Cakes” outside of Maryland because having lived in Baltimore for 4 years, usually it simply does not live up to its name. That was not the case here. Notice the huge chunks of crab held together by basically nothing else. Most crab cakes end up using so much bread and filling that you lose the natural buttery sweetness of the crab… Not at Table 26. This crab cake is just what it is supposed to be, CRAB! With a lemongrass butter sauce and a bit of Cajun seasoning, it is not Baltimore “Style” it is straight up out of Baltimore. Then we get to what was possibly my favorite part of the meal, the blackened shrimp appetizer. Not only were the shrimp flavorful and perfectly cooked, but this is one of those dishes where while each component is delicious on its own, when you get that perfect bite of everything together, it is simply magic. The spice and char of the shrimp, combined with the creamy sweetness of the corn grits, finished with the rich decadence and acidity of the tomato confit… the flavors just play off each other so well. To be fair, I am yet to find anything confit that I do not like, but that is besides the point. The point is, this dish was well thought out, well executed, and enjoyed thoroughly, leading perfectly into out entrees: a Double Cut Pork Chop served with warm applesauce and a chorizo & jicama potato salad, and a Beef Short Rib Stroganoff.

Starting with the pork chop, which was perfectly cooked with a wonderful sear and glaze on the outside. The chop itself was juicy and well seasoned, the applesauce rivaled (but did not top) my mom’s homemade applesauce (There really is nothing better than my mom’s applesauce), the asparagus was crisp, fresh, and flavorful, but the star of this dish in my opinion are the potatoes. The first thing I tasted when the entrees came was the potato, and it was also the last thing I tasted. In my opinion, the potatoes are the pure representation of what the entire menu at Table 26 accomplishes: taking rustic classics and using fresh and different ingredients, herbs, and spices to make it something special. Not only did everything pair well together, but they also transported you back to the rustic family meals of childhood. That is what these potatoes and the applesauce did for me, bring me back to wonderful memories of family dinners growing up while still intriguing and satisfying my much more adult and complicated palate. Onto the Stroganoff. This dish was my wild card pick for the evening, not knowing what to expect, and I would recommend it anyone. The egg noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente, the gravy was thick, rich, and flavorful without being overpowering (something that is often overlooked, but like any pasta dish, the sauce can make or break it, and this one makes it), and most importantly, the short rib, in addition to allowing the flavor of the beef to speak for itself, was so tender it fell apart at the touch of my fork. This was the dish my friend Drew told me I would not be disappointed in, and he was right. I will be back, and I will be ordering this again. Another item I will be ordering again, is dessert! This time around we got the Strawberry Shortcake.

There is a saying when it comes to cooking that we oh so often forget and take for granted… “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!” That is because there is something to be said for the simple elegance of letting ingredients speak for themselves. This dessert does just that. It is simple: Nothing more than a wonderfully fresh baked shortbread, glazed strawberries, and vanilla ice cream with a leaf of fresh mint, but it does not need anything more. The salty, sweet buttery shortbread, combined with ripe glazed fresh strawberries, and that smooth vanilla cream creates a refreshing and simple end to a fantastic meal. Instead of feeling weighed down after such a hearty, rustic meal, this dessert is weightless (although I am sure enough of it would still add a few pounds to your waist line). I can not wait to try the other house-made desserts Table 26 has to offer. Speaking of house-made desserts, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful people who prepared this meal.

First up, Executive Chef Steven Polowy (pictured with me above). Steven was nice enough to come out after the meal to talk with me about the restaurant, the food, his background, and the background of how Table 26 came to be. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Steven definitely showed me that he and his wife know how to prepare fantastic, innovative food. That’s right, I said, “and his wife”! Steven’s wife Jo Polowy, also a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, is the Pastry Chef at Table 26 and the mastermind behind the delicately flavorful shortcake I am now so fond of (Jo, I will be asking for the recipe at some point… Hopefully, after you’ve been open for a bit, you will allow me the secrets of at least that one). Plus, since they both went to school and lived up in New England, we were able to talk about the transition down to Florida (something that I must admit, I would be open to, even though I love the cold and Winter and Autumn) Thank you both once again for sharing the restaurant, your food, and your stories with me. Be sure to check out the entirety of the Table 26 menu for a taste of what they have to offer. Then… CALL TO MAKE A RESERVATION!!! (561)855-2660. In addition to their website you can also find Table 26 and like them on facebook or follow them on twitter @table26palmbch for their latest news.

So if I were to leave you with one thought about Table 26 it would be this: Great food can have a magical quality that transports you to another place, another time, a memory, or a fantasy… If you want to share in that experience, go out and try Table 26… then try it again. Thank you again to Steven, Jo, and the entire team at Table 26 for an evening I will not be forgetting.

Table 26 Palm Beach on Urbanspoon

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.