Cocoa & Spice Dusted Port Tenderloin Medallions over Chocolate Risotto with Dried Cranberries & Soubise Sauce

porkMichael Chiarello has written several outstanding cookbooks and has several successful cooking shows over the past decade.  I love his newest cookbook “Fire” which discusses all of the various methods to cook something outdoors.

This dish was inspired from his spice blend called “Cocoa Spice Rub” which he talks about in “Fire”.  Although I have made a few modifications to his original recipe because I love spices like cumin and garlic, his recipe is equally outstanding.

Continue reading

Seared Foie Gras Steak with Cherry Gastrique topped with Mousse de Foie Gras


As soon as chef Sherrie mentioned a dinner with foie gras as the main course I could not wait to make it.

For me pate, mousse de canard, foie gras steaks are worth all the work and calories.

When I was in France a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to stay with a wine maker that also was an awesome cook.  She showed me a special room where she stores all her terrine, country pates and compotes. Since then I do not pass an opportunity to make any of the above items.  Also that same year I had a one-on- one training with a french chef. The training was all about foie gras, duck a l orange and his techniques for making pate.  This was such an opportunity to learn about one of the great cuisines I love to eat and make.

Let us start by buying a frozen or fresh lobe of foie gras .  If you get it frozen let it thaw in the fridge for about two days then take it out and put it in a bowl of cold water to defrost completely before working on it.  For mousse ,terrine and pate you need to devein the lobe. When searing a foie gras steak you can omit this step.


As you see in the picture above the lobe is split and you have to run your fingers gently and feel where the veins are. You can use twizers if it is easier or a pairing knife to pull it out. You will notice a big long vein in the center.  If your foie is a little damaged by working with it, don’t panic ,once put together and covered with fat, or put in a torchon it will reform.

Recipe for the Mousse de Foie Gras

1 1/2 lb of fresh or frozen foie gras, Grade A

2 tsp of fleur de sel

7 juniper berries, crushed

3 tsp of quatre epices a french spice (you can find it in specialty herbs and spice stores)

1/8 c of cognac

1/2 c of heavy cream

2 1/2 c of milk to soak the lobe of foie gras in

A couple of thin white cloths for the torchon(french word for cloth used to wrap the foie gras). I used a fine woven cotton dish towel.

A roll of plastic wrap

A  large pot 3/4 filled with water

A few strings for tying the end of the torchon

As a first step you need to clean the foie as shown above.

As soon as this is done soak it in the milk and let it rest for a couple of hours at least. This helps draw the blood out.

Remove the foie gras and  pat it dry with a clean cotton towel.

Meanwhile prepare the pot of water and let it come to a boil.  Turn the heat off. Roll the foie gras in the plastic just like making compound butter.  It has to be tight. Repeat the process twice so you have two layers of plastic surrounding the foie gras.  Twist the ends tightly and knot.  Then get the white cloth to make a torchon, using the same process you did with the plastic wrap. Tie the ends with the string.  Insert into the hot water.  Leave it there until the water is luke warm to the touch. I left the torchon in the water for around 1 hour.


Take the torchon out of the water and remove all of the wrappings. Place the foie gras and all of the ingredients for the mousse and blend till smooth.  Line a rectangle terrine with a plastic wrap and pack the mousse in it and smooth the top.

The mousse should be packed down like you do when making a meat loaf.

Pour the cognac gelee over it to seal it.  Refrigerate for a few days .  IMG_0840

For the gelatin follow the instruction on the  gelatin box.  In this case I used one envelop of gelatin powder with 1/2 c of cognac and 1 tsp of sugar.  Dissolve and pour over the mousse. Let sit for a couple of days. The unmold and cut into portions.  I cut about 3/4 inch slices then cut each slice in half to top the Foie Gras steaks and potato galettes.

To Prepare the Foie Gras Steaks

I used another 1.5# lobe of Foie Gras.

Cut the Foie Gras into 1/2  – 3/4 inch thick slices, salt and pepper, crisscross with a pairing knife to score a diamond pattern into both sides of the steaks.

Bring a dry saute pan to very high heat. Place the  Foie Gras steaks in the pan and sear each side for 40 seconds.  This is one of those recipe where you can not turn away to attend to anything else. If you leave the steaks in longer the fat in the Foie Gras could completely melt and turn the steaks into a puddle of mush!!!! Not exactly what you probably had in mind after spending upwards of $100 per lobe for Foie Gras!

Remove the seared steaks.  You can keep them warm in a 170 – 200 degree F oven for a short time till serving.


Potato Galettes

5 potatoes

2 eggs

5 tbsp of flour

1/2 onion diced

1 1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

After shredding the potatoes squeeae the water out of them.  In a bowl put together all the other ingredients and add the potatoes.  Make a pattie in the palm of your hand.  Place the potato pattie in a hot skillet with a little melted butter and fry till lightly golden brown in color and potatoes are cooked.  Set aside on paper towels.


Cherry Gastrique

2 c of sugar

1 c of water

1/2 c of cherry juice

1/2 c of white vinegar

1 c of fresh pitted cherries

1/4 of a vanilla bean pod (open and scraped)

In a pot cook the sugar until it turns into a nice caramel  brown color.  You will need to constantly stir your sugar so it does not burn. It should be a pretty amber brown color.


Slowly add the liquid if the sugar consolidated don’t worry.  Keep stirring until it dissolves again.  Add the cherries and cook for half hour until the sauce reduces a little.  You might want to add 1 tbs of corn starch of it is too runny.  Do not add too much starch since it will change the flavor of the sauce and make it grainy. Strain the cherries from the sauce and reserve. Set aside.

Caramelized Onions

1 yellow onion, sliced as thin as possible using a mandoline

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

Heat a medium-sized skillet and add the butter and oil and heat on medium heat.  When the butter and oil are hot add the onions and let them sweat.  Stire frequently.  After the onions become transparent add the sugar to help the onions caramelize. This took about 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Remove the onions and place on a plate and set aside.

Cooked Apples

2 Granny Smith Apples, washed, quartered, sliced thin

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup apple juice

Melt the butter in a large skillet until hot. Add the apples and sauté for a 5-10 minutes until the apples begin to slightly soften.  Add the apple juice and continue to cook until the apples are soft but not falling apart.  Remove from the heat and place in a bowl so the apples will not cook any further.  Set aside.

Assembly of Dish


To assemble the dish use a pastry brush to lay a strip of the cherry gastrique on the plate.  Nest place a few slices of the cooked apples.  The place a potato galette on top of the apples.  Next place the seared Foie Gras Steak on top of the potato galette. Then place another potato galette on top of the Foie Gras Steak.  Add the caramelized onions followed by the Mousse de Foie Gras.  Last sprinkle with a few micro greens and a few of the cooked cherries.

I wish I had a plate of this to eat right  now!

Maple Bacon “Pops”


Is there anything on earth better than one bite of bacon deliciousness?  For the life of me, if you put me on a desert island and told me I could only have one thing to eat I would want BACON! Sweet, salt, and fat! Yum, Yum, Yum!

The bacon I cure and smoke (usually on applewood) has a texture similar to canadian bacon.  It is meaty, with a small layer of fat, and has a nice outer smoke layer.

Continue reading

Poultry & Pork Brine


Brining is my favorite way to make sure that both Poultry and Pork dishes stay moist and juicy.  I do this step whether I am roasting, pan frying, or smoking the meat.  The other thing that I pay close attention to is the internal temperature of the meat.

Continue reading

Baked Apples with Golden Raisins, Pecans & Maple Cinnamon Sauce


My mother-in-law, Sarah, used to come for a visit and we would go to an apple orchard a few miles away and pick a bushel of apples. Our favorite dish to prepare  was stuffed, baked apples.  The whole house smelled divine like apple pie when we were baking   At the time I was a student in college and it was such a delight to pull a few of these out of the freezer and heat them up on a cold day after class when I was tired and needed a treat.

Continue reading

Puff Pastry Open Faced “Duck Confit Ravioli” with Manchamanteles Sauce


This recipe has several different parts.  I worked on the presentation of this dish and created the puff pastry base and window pane for the duck confit while Sherrie worked on the Manchamantels fruit mole sauce for the duck confit.

This was truly a France Meets the America’s fusion dish.  The duck confit is a dish that comes from France. The Manchamanteles  Mole Sauce whose nickname is “tablecloth stainer” is from Mexico. The two dishes combined was a real hit at our recent October 4-Course Dinner.

Continue reading

Salvadorian Pulled Chicken Tamals with Mole Verde Sauce


There is a distinct texture and flavor difference between Salvadorian tamal’s and Mexican Tamale’s even though both are made with corn masa.

The Salvadorian tamal’s have a rich brothy savory flavor and the texture is somewhat like a congealed thick rich corn pudding filled with pulled chicken, potatoes and chickpeas and olives. They also have a distinct flavor from the banana leaves. These tamals are almost like a masa souffle-like texture!

The Mexican Tamale’s are prepared from a raw corn dough made of corn treated with lime, lots of delicious pork fat and leavening and are usually wrapped in corn husks, the Salvadorian one’s are prepared with a dough that is pre-cooked, with a type of sofrito called “recaudo”, and  are wrapped in pre-cooked banana leaves.

Continue reading

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Guacamole with Peach Wood Smoked Salmon


Several years ago I went to a plastic manufacturing company and had them cut some molds out of plexi-glass for me so I could create “stacks” like the one above. The were cut from a 2 inch diameter plexi-glass tube in about 4 inch lengths.  They were really inexpensive and I have used them over and over. All I do is pop them in the dish washer and they are ready to be used for the next crazy idea I have!

Visually I love the look of “stacked” food and have used this idea a lot in my career.

I thought that the smoked salmon would look great on top of the guacamole so I got the molds out of storage, dusted them off and went to work on this recipe.

Continue reading

Chili Peanuts & Pumpkin Seeds


I love nuts of all kinds with all types of seasonings!

This is a great tasting, slightly spicy snack to create as the beginning to any Mexican or South America style dinner as well as a great snack to have with cocktails or beer.

It is super easy to make and something you could create with your family and friends. It would also make a great treat to take while hiking or going on a road trip like the one I am leaving on tomorrow morning for Taos and Santa Fe, NM.

I am taking Jocelyne and my friend Mel on this road trip and thought that these Chili Peanuts & Pumpkin Seeds would get us “in the mood” for some great New Mexico cuisine.

I have been researching the best restaurants to eat at in Taos and Santa Fe and have my list prepared!  I am so looking forward to this trip.  I need a break and I need someone to cook for me for awhile!

Continue reading

Curried Chicken Empanadas



I learned this recipe from one of our teachers when we had a wine school in China!  Marcus (our teacher) came for a visit to see our school in Denver.

While he was here he stayed with Claude and I at our house for a month.  Getting to know him was quite interesting.  When he first arrived he told me, before going to bed, that there were two things he “required” while he was visiting! I was shocked!  No one has ever ventured into my home and told me that they “required” something from me! So of course I asked what it might be.  He said “bacons (bacon) and coffee”! Now I was doubly shocked! I asked him if he could get bacon in China.  He said yes but it cost $1 per slice!!! Luckily for Marcus I had just smoked 75 lbs of bacon and had plenty. He ate about 15 lbs in 30 days and assured me he was not going to have a heart attack from it because he was taking the cholesterol lowering drug Lipator!!! I was worried for him!

Continue reading