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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Smarter chefs, better food – start reading

It seems an eternity since I was a high school teacher. While I still hold many fond memories of teaching at that level, I much prefer being at the college level, where more of my students are further-intrigued about the craft of cooking. Plainly put, I can get some of them to actually read a book.
I recommend books as they are invaluable tools in the expansion of our tiny minds, and while we do have the luxury of computer-assisted information gathering, it is much better to develop critical thinking skills that separate us from beast.
There are so many exciting things happening in food and I look forward to reading, picking people’s brains and otherwise never stopping my own education. When I was helping with the AGH Gala for Liquid Assets last week, I was fortunate enough to cook with Nino and Toby (LA and Gilbert’s Provisions, respectively). It was refreshing to work with chefs again who most likely have their nose buried in a book at least a few times a month as was evident from our many conversations over the two-day period.
I was neither reader nor scholastic in any measure throughout my first two years of college. It wasn’t until I was in my 11th month in the Marines that I realized that reading could be a good thing to do, so I read “War and Peace,” followed by “Les Misérables,” and I haven’t stopped since.
Fast-forward 10 years, when I stumbled upon an exercise that helps any anti-readers to immerse themself into a topic of interest. The idea is to read 15 minutes a day, no more and no less, topic-specific for two months. It is stunning to see the difference. Needless to say, I have walls covered with books about this stuff and I’m always buying new ones.
One such book is “The Perfectionist,” a story about Bernard Louiseau, a critically-acclaimed French chef who was considered the father of Nouvelle Cuisine. As I read the book as a high school teacher, I found a tip for making garlic puree that is absolutely stunning.
When lunch-hour approached, I made the garlic puree to check the book’s verity. The description was spot-on and eating the garlic was like eating candy. It was sweet and delicious, and I ate spoons-full. I ate so much that no one would come near me for the rest of the day. Garlic oozed out of my pores until the morning.
Which brings me to my next point: Perhaps I am no smarter than I was in high school. Or maybe that’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Either way, I know how to make this garlicky nectar, and no one can take that away from me.  
Summer Luncheon Platter
enough for 20 sliders
Shrimp Salad
Makes 3 pounds
2 pounds large shrimp
1 cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. (or more) Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup finely minced celery
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice

1. Steam or boil shrimp until just barely cooked through (but make sure they’re cooked … I just don’t want them rubbery)
2. Chill shrimp and then combine everything. Adjust seasonings and keep refrigerated until go-time
3. Serve with grilled veggies, some brioche and some raspberry-limeade, iced tea or lemonade
Grilled & Chilled Veggies
Makes a good bunch
3 Portobello mushrooms
1 Yellow squash
1 Zucchini
1 pint Grape tomatoes
3 complete onion slices (think rings)
1/4 cup Garlic puree (recipe follows)
1/2 cup EV Olive oil
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Remove stem from mushrooms and using a spoon, scrape out the dark gills
2. Slice in one-inch wide strips
3. Cut the ends off the squash and zucchini and slice lengthwise
4. Heat a sauté pan on the stove top with one tablespoon of the olive oil and heat a grill
5. While the pan is heating up, toss the vegetables except the tomatoes in the remaining oil
6. When the pan is smoking hot, add the tomatoes and blister for about a minute and a half. Remove and refrigerate immediately
7. When the grill is hot, grill the vegetables until they are al dente, or until they still have a little bite to them
8. Remove immediately and refrigerate. The carryover cooking will finish the job for you
9. When everything is cooled, toss in the balsamic vinegar and season to taste. This is such a simple recipe but it is guaranteed to satisfy!
Garlic Puree
makes about 2 cups
2 cups Peeled garlic cloves
water, as needed
Milk, as needed
Salt, to taste

1. Place the garlic cloves in a saucepan so that the garlic is in at least a couple layers, so a one-quart pan should be fine
2. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil
3. Immediately drain and repeat step two
4. Do this a total of six times, or until the garlic is incredibly soft, and then strain one last time
5. Place in a blender and add just enough milk to create a puree
6. Salt to taste and enjoy … but not too much
Brioche Rolls
Enough for 30 sliders
1. And here’s the cheat. Find a local baker who can make these for you, or shop around at existing places. Just find one that’s high quality and whose sweetness would complement the salty shrimp salad