Thursday, September 30, 2010

The couscous is almost all gone

I need votes on Challenge #2 - I fed you from Morocco and the couscous is almost all gone - 12 hours left to vote so Please vote for me here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Luxury Dinner Party Challenge #3

This is my menu for Project Food Blog Challenge #3 - for this baby to happen I need votes on Challenge #2 - I fed you from Morocco and now you can Please vote for me here.

Thank You!

(I may tweak the menu a little here and there but this is how it stands now.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Its time to vote for Challenge #2

From 400 we become 200 and it happens because of you. I fed you from Morocco and now you can Please vote for me here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Challenge #2 the Anti-Comfort Zone or Lamb Couscous a Journey to Morocco

From 400 we become 200 and it happens because of you - please vote for me here.

First of all I want to thank everyone who voted for me - this is not something I could do alone because if it was we could dispense of this entire competition and simply declare me the Food Blogger Extraordinaire; in fact if I could I would declare all kinds of things and bestow many accolades upon me, I would give myself the Nobel Prize for blogging if I had things my way. All silliness aside thank - you. Now on to the next challenge.

This second challenge threw me for a loop a little since I dont have anything outside of my comfort zone. I know that sounds grandiose and all encompassing to say the least but it is how I feel. I will try anything and more than likely I have. I struggled hard to think of something that you couldnt find on my blog if you went through my archives. It would have been easy for me to pick something and try and pass it off but if you did a little research you might find that I had made it before so that is where we get to Morocco.

I have not posted nor made a Moroccan dish in my memory - this cuisine is outside of my comfort zone, so to speak. I dont use recipes - I read recipes and learn the ingredients and since I know a lot of technique I pretty much follow my instincts, that is what I did with this dish. I did look at this recipe for basic inspiration and, like the speed limits in Manhattan, this was a guideline.

New York Magazine

Lamb Couscous

Provided by: Chef Olivier Muller
Served at: DB Bistro Moderne

  • Type of Dish: Main Courses
  • Servings: 2
  • Cuisine: North African, Middle Eastern
  • Special Requests: Budget-Friendly
  • Ingredients
4 pieces lamb stew meat, bone in (I used a shank and some assorted pieces)
4 tbsps. olive oil
1 tbsp. za’atar
1 tbsp. harissa
1 onion, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrots sliced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup dry semolina couscous
1 spoon golden raisins, plumped in hot water (I used 6 dates)
2 sprigs mint, chopped (I used mint, cilantro and parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste


Season lamb with salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the lamb over medium heat.

When lightly browned, sprinkle lamb with the za’atar and add the harissa paste. Cook for a minute until the spices are fragrant, then add just enough water to barely cover the lamb. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Let cook approximately 2 hours, adding additional water as necessary, until lamb is tender.

Using a sauté pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the zucchini, onion, carrots and garlic until lightly browned. Transfer the vegetables to the lamb stew pot and continue to cook another 30 minutes. The stew is done when the lamb is tender.

While the stew is cooking, steam the couscous according to the directions. Once it is cooked, fluff it with a fork. Add the raisins(dates), chopped mint, and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the couscous into bowls, ladle on the lamb stew with the vegetables, and top with a sprig of fresh mint. (I used a mint, parsley and cilantro mix) (Published 2008) (this is not the original recipe I have edited it)

There you have it - my little journey to North Africa, the dish was tasty, satisfying and absolutely delightful it is definitely in my comfort zone now!

See having great flavors all in one bowl served family style can be exciting. Voting starts tomorrow on the 27th of September - I will post a link for you. Here we go friends - prepping for challenge #3 - who wants to come to a dinner party?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

albondigas are spanish for meatballs

I had a request a few days ago to make something Mexican. I asked about the basic construction of the dish and I was told its little meatballs with rice in a chiles chipotle sauce, ok sounds easy enough.

Typical of me I had to do it my way. I pretty much understood the concept of this dish and decided that the meat balls - the albondigas - would be much better with a mixture of beef, lamb and pork and some fresh herbs of the season. The store was out of ground lamb so I picked up a couple of loin chops and ground my own and decided that the fresh oregano I had picked earlier in the day was going to be the perfect herb for my dish.

Of course I had to make bite size albondigas and that took a little extra time but it was so worth it with the smokiness of the fresh tomato and chipotle chile sauce that simmered on the stove top while the meatball factory (me) was going to town. I am going to miss the fresh ingredients when there is 4 feet of snow outside but until then I am enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Its Time To Vote - Project Food Blog

Please click HERE and vote -

You can read about me here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Cook with Color - Project Food Blog

I am a contestant in the foodbuzz sponsored event titled Project Food Blog. There will be a series of challenges and I am more than psyched to get in there and get busy, it will require participation on your part in the way of votes - voting starts on September 20th and continues until the 23rd, I will be asking for your vote.

Some of you might be new to my blog so here is a little background and an introduction of sorts. I have been blogging for five (5) years, the same blog, the same URL, its always been a little bit of christo but the blog name was called What? for a long time until I decided that in order for me to really let people get to know me then I should show them what I do best and that is cook. So three (3) years ago I changed the name to ChezWhat? to play on the French phrase for house of what, since a lot of French restaurants are called Chez something or other, and thus the food blog was born. I believe learning recipes is great but learning technique is grand. ChezWhat? is a virtual bistro with an ever-changing menu based on the freshest most unique ingredients of the season that I present in an artful way showcasing their natural beauty typically with out a recipe.

Fast forward and here we are now. So what makes me the number one food blogger, I will tell you what - I am prolific, I maintain my focus before and long after the job is done, I am a lover who never tires, I blog because it means I can do it over and over again, I am a champ who never quits and its hard to keep me down, I only see opportunities and challenges make me happy. I have drive. I have been passionate about cooking since I was a kid I would jump off the school bus and race inside to catch the last 15 minutes of Julia Child. I have been passionate about keeping a diary for just as long - blogging affords me the opportunity to do both and to reach a much larger audience than simply carrying around my notebooks and by some oft chance letting someone have a look. I completely enjoy what I do and I get even greater enjoyment from sharing it with others, and the beauty of it all is I am still learning.

I am from New Mexico, my family has lived there for hundreds of years and many things have been passed down from generation to generation, I grew up on a small farm with milk goats and cows, chickens, pigs and sheep. I moved to New York City after college and this giant melting pot has taught me to experiment with flavors, colors, textures, methods and I top it all off with a flower. I believe everything benefits from a cherry on top.

This is a poached egg on an english muffin with sauteed wild oyster mushrooms and hollandaise surrounded by glazed baby carrots with marigold honey a baby cucumber and wild flowers sprinkled with New Mexico red chile powder. Simple things simply made beautifully arranged. Simplicity at its finest, cooking with colors.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Culinary Smackdown -Battle Chocolate

Anette over at Krakilette is hosting this months culinary smackdown and she chose chocolate and while that might sound simple enough sometimes the easy sounding things are the most difficult.

I thought about all kinds of complicated chocolate goodies I could make. I was molecularly gastronimizing myself all over the culinary planet and when it all boiled right down I went for simple.

I made vanilla mousse and chocolate mouse and layered it in a nice little trifle with blackberries and a generous amount of chocolate syrup, it got the job done. This is my entry for the Culinary Smackdown - battle chocolate.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

when life gives you lobsters - make bisque!

Bisque is soups royal cousin! Lobster bisque with faux tomalley.

Who doesnt like a good bisque? Bisque, the word itself conjures up all kinds of quasi sophisticatedness, it isnt a stew, or a soup or a broth - no it is a bisque and as a bisque it gets to stand at the front of the line. Bisques have clout. Having finished a big job over the weekend I was left with 40 lobster bodies to do with what I may and I decided I may want to make a bisque, so I did.

Since these "torsos" had all the little legs attached and since they all have little bits of succulent lobster meat inside I took on the tedious chore of extracting it from each and every one, if you are nice I will tell you the secret to removing the meat with little effort.

With almost a half a pound of "little leg meat" and another half pound of random claw meat I was all set, plus there was the 12 ounces or so of tomalley and roe and tail trimmings that I was able to salvage thereby making the bisque really start to fall into shape, after all I am making about a gallon of this lustful nectar.

Follow your favorite bisque recipe, add in the tomalley, roe and tail trimmings blend with an immersion blender add cream and enjoy with some crusty bread.

I decided to make a little avocado sour cream (two ripe avocados and a 16 ounce container of sour cream mixed) to emulate the look of the tomalley and to give my bisque a little more character. Waste not want not, I walk the walk and I talk the talk!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

wild mushroom parmigiana

This is looking to be a great season for wild mushrooms in the Northeast, I went out last week and there were fungi all over the place.

I cant wait to find my very favorite - the Maitake or Hen of the Woods, this mushroom is one mushroom I never grow weary of, another mushroom that makes its debut this time of year is the Giant Puffball.

I found quite a few of these soccer ball sized wonderments and decided to make a parmigiana, that is a huge cucumber, over 12 inches, so as to give you some perspective.

I sliced them and battered them and fried them.

I layered them in a pan with a nice and spicy fresh marinara I made with garden fresh tomatoes, basil and one tasty red chile with a ricotta, mozzarella, romano cheese mixture and I baked it until it was bubbly and delicious.

I sliced it into perfect serving sizes and shared it with my friends.

The mushrooms gave this a nice light earthy flavor that was so perfect with the ricotta, mozzarella, romano cheeses.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

New Mexico in Pictures

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