Molly Pitcher Inn GingerBread House


I know that I have a few weeks to go before the big Christmas Eve dinner. In my house it seems like we just finished the last load of dishes from Thanksgiving. I used to always cook a very nice dinner on this night, but I haven’t done it in a few years. Im starting to get the itch and  I think I am going to have to start-up the tradition again. (Maybe on a different night, I will be working at the hotel this year on X-mas Eve) I used to make a tasting menu of several fish and seafood courses. The guests would change from year to year. Maybe one year my sister would spend it with us the next year her husband’s family. There was always a constant though, Mom, Dad and great seafood. I think I enjoyed it more than anyone else at the table, except my cousin Jon who is a great guy and a huge foodie. It is so much fun cooking for people like this! I like to see their reactions when I serve them or when they are amazed about how beautiful a plate looks. It was a place were I could spread my wings and show off a little, there were no boundaries. I don’t tell them what I’m serving, they basically come to the table with the trust that I am  going to make them happy. This was always tough for my mom, she is an amazing woman but not a very adventurous eater, but Mom was a champ and always took it in stride and ate everything. I’m still trying to figure out if she ate it cause I’m her son or she really loved it. I know the truth Mom, it will be our secret!  I would call up my fish purveyors and gather up the freshest fish and grab my legal pad just like I was at work and start scratching down ideas. I would make a couple of very familiar courses and then a few ones where I got to be creative. Ok, now I know what I want to make.  I bought some lobster bodies for a lobster cappuccino for a first course,(that won’t scare away mom). Second course a seared diver scallop with a butternut squash-sage hash with a brown butter vinaigrette. Third course I made a salt cod ravioli with shaved artichoke hearts and braised fennel. I also made a grilled octopus with a warm salad of frisee, lardons and Gaeta olives. Finally a dessert course and maybe some cheese. It was a fun night, a night where I could get away from the daily work scene and once again concentrate on why I became a cook. Which is making me  think about doing it again this year. I will look into it in the next few days and see what I come up with. We are not an Italian family, it is their tradition to eat seven courses or more of fish on Christmas Eve night. I never really cook Italian food and I think most people only think of southern Italian red sauce, especially all of us Jersey guys. Don’t get me wrong, I love those classics. The day you see me turn my nose up at a Chicken parmesan sandwich, knock me out!

I hate food snobs, you know those foodies. The ones who blog and write about which restaurants don’t serve Normandy butter with their crusty fennel and golden raisin bread.  Or when they aren’t happy because the restaurant doesn’t offer five different types of sparkling water. All they do all night is talk about if they were the chef, tonight’s striped bass would of been served with fiddlehead ferns and fava beans. I will in another blog go into more detail. This should definately get some noses out of joint, GOOD! Just keeping it real and honest. Please leave a comment below.


QUESTION OF THE DAY (QOTD) In your mind what’s the difference between a chef and a cook, my answer may surprise you. Trust me, your not going to guess where I take this one!!

Take a look at this site. http://blog.wineenthusiast…. ( LOOK AT THE YOUTUBE CLIP  AND THEN COME BACK ) I think it is really cool! There have been so many times when I have walked out of a restaurant and tried to remember what exact wine I enjoyed. Maybe there is another underlying problem that I need to address. Was it an Alexander Valley  Cabernet Sauvignon or an excellent Malbec from Cahors? Damn it! I then stumble around for a couple days looking for the restaurant’s website and trying  to email the sommelier. If I kiss enough ass and tell them how amazing the chef is and how the front of the house is the best in the world, I may get an email response back. Hopefully I will be lucky enough for them to tell me what we had, and not be told how they only buy from small boutique wineries and I would never be able to find it. They clearly don’t know where I shop for vino. lol. Does it sound like I have had this problem before?  And yes even Four Star restaurants in NYC don’t always care after your out the door. This can all be avoided, with one simple step! Imagine the server  who overheard you talking to your wife about  how you guys loved that special bottle and how it would be memorable to have it every year on your Anniversary. If the restaurant seized  the opportunity to  go the extra mile and brought you a copy of the exact  label over to you when you got handed your check and just said something nice like,” I hope you enjoyed your Anniversary dinner with us at  our restaurant . It sure beats quickly whipping out your iPhone and taking a picture of the label before the captain gives you the evil eye or your wife kicks you under the table because you are embarrassing her. It  also shows that  the restaurant has gone the extra step in caring, and that is priceless!! There is another great MasterCard commercial brewing in my head. These are little details that I believe most businesses and restaurants are missing out on, and with these economic times it is just stupid to let these details slide by. It is so easy to win, you just have to care more than the next guy!  And I do!


Preserving Wine Labels: How Do You Do It?         –http://blog.wineenthusiast….

As I left work and headed home tonight  I called my wife and asked her  what she wanted for dinner. To my surprise, she didn’t care! She said,” nothing is really pulled out of the freezer and the fridge looks like the entire football team stayed over last night.” Ok, we could go in a couple directions here, pizza, nah had that last night. Pancakes, nah, and FYI they are called “flapjacks”in our house and we eat them more often at night then we ever do for breakfast. So maybe I go back to one of the house favorites,”Nacho Mama’s Nacho Bake.”This is always a winner when you wanna get food on the table quick, and my twin 4 year olds girls love the name of it. It is basically a  meat lasagna, but I switch out the pasta sheets for  flour tortillas and mozzarella cheese  is switched for a mix of cheddar and pepper jack cheese. I also add salsa to the tomato sauce. Just layer it all up just like you would for a lasagna and bake it in the oven until everything is hot and bubbling. Ok, this is a variation of the original that I made when I was in charge of making staff meal for many, many years in the restaurant. All that was ever handed to me was the end cuts and pieces left  from trimmed  up  strip loins and filets. It was my job to #1 make it taste good, #2 make it look good, #3 make sure I had enough of it, #4 make sure it was up in time when all those ungrateful maintenance men, secretaries and servers who came in to the kitchen to take a peek over at staff meal. You have to understand that making staff meal in the restaurant is not fun, it isn’t like cooking for love ones or vip’s. There is no foie, truffles, and killer seafood allowed. You are lucky if the other line cooks even give you their day old chopped herbs or chicken stock to make rice. This is usually the job of a younger cook in the kitchen, not usually the greenest guy in the kitchen, but usually someone who is trusted. God forbid if  “pink in the middle” chicken francaise gets sent up for staff meal. You will never hear the end of it, and you will never show your face in the dining room to eat with the servers if it happens more than once. They have an awful lot to say for their free meal!  You will never hear a cook  complain, they are grateful for two scoops of rice, a chicken wing, quick smoke and a text to their girlfriend before service. Now, how did I get this silly name? One day  I put up some really great tacos at the restaurant, they were banging! I roasted my poblanos, I made a really great salsa and  grated up some queso fresco. I made tons of really good authentic toppings on the side so the servers could make up  their own. To tell you the truth I made it cause I wanted my dishwashers to enjoy them. I was so proud until one server came and asked,” what the hell was this?” I was behind the line and I told her  “tacos”, she told me where to stick them. I quickly explained to her what it was until she continued to talk under her breathe. I told her that they were F… tacos again, and that this is they way real Mexican food was made, and not what her Mama called Mexican food. She wanted those horrible  hard shell tacos that come packed with the stupid mexican spice. Wow, did I lay it into her, I told her that my idea of a taco wasnt the same as her wonder bread eating ass and her and her mama need to try something other than Ortega taco shells. So now I  encourage my little girls to eat whatever I put in front of them, and if you give it a silly name they won’t ever mind the sauteed mushrooms, roasted poblanos and cumin spiked sour cream I slide into their daddy’s nacho bake.





Ok, I hope that you all have your turkeys by now. I’m sure everyone still has  to make one more run out to the grocery store to grab a couple loaves of crusty baguette and a handful of  limes for that perfect gin tonic. If your not feeling the whole hard alcohol or wine thing for Thanksgiving why not pop open a beer. Don’t forget the lonely beer!! HELLO EVERYONE, take a look around, football is on and what goes better with a Giants win and an absolute ass beating of the Dallas Cowgirls than a cold beer. I don’t care if you are drinking a Miller Lite or a fancy  Pumpkin Ale from your favorite micro brewery, just relax and enjoy the company. Beer shouldn’t be an afterthought or looked down on because your Uncle tells everyone that he only drinks expensive right bank Bordeaux. Trust me nobody else at the table knows, understands or cares what the hell he is talking about when he describes the floral notes and hints of black pepper. He doesn’t know anymore than you, he just read the back of the label and scratched the $9.99 price tag off when he walked up the steps coming into your house. So now that we are clear on all that, it’s time to kick back and enjoy some great conversations with family and friends. Go GIANTS!!!