26 July 2010

Chef Spike Monday: Fun Recipes For Pizza, Burger and Salads

*** Check out some fantastic kicked up grilling recipes from famous new chef Spike Mendelsohn and view recipes from his new cookbook.





From Denny: Since the summer is almost over, kids going back to school and Labor Day will soon follow, I thought I'd stuff this blog full of summer grilling recipes. A great place to start is with a burger spot just across from the White House and a favorite with the Obama family. Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., is owned and run by a colorful character chef by the name of Spike Mendelsohn. The eatery opened in 2008.

He has this hip lean and hungry look. This chef specializes in handcrafted hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes. Spike was a Bravo channel Top Chef contestant, and a huge hit as a fan favorite in the fourth season of Top Chef. In this eatery he offers kicked up versions of comfort food, 120 versions on his menu to be exact. He is the author of his new collection from the eatery called "The Good Stuff Cookbook."

Spike's cooking background

Spike has quite the resume to go along with his fan favorite forward personality. He is a graduate of the food version of the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. He was a former chef at the Mai House which was a restaurant named by The New York Times as one of New York City's ten best restaurants. He also worked at Bouchon in Napa Valley, California as well as Les Crayeres in France and also Le Cirque in New York City - which are all highly rated restaurants.

What does he offer? His version of Mac 'n' Cheese is "spiked" with bacon and loads of tasty herbs with gobs of bacon for flavor. One of his burgers is a Vietnamese-style burger employing pickled carrots and the grassy herb cilantro.

Spike's Oreo mint cookie milkshake popular

Spike does an Oreo mint cookie milkshake that calls for one cup of milk, two cups of vanilla ice cream and 20 mint Oreo cookies. He likes to toss his french fries with herbs like fragrant rosemary or serves them with a great cheddar cheese sauce. When it comes to salad creations Spike goes crazy and gets really creative. He takes simple wedges of iceberg lettuce and will top them with anything from poached eggs to orange segments, pomegranate seeds to sliced fennel.

White House customers

Spike's place is located on Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House neighborhood. The Obamas pay him a visit from time to time and so he has honored them with special choices on his menu. There is a Prez Obama Burger made up of a sophisticated blend of top sirloin, bacon and bleu cheese and then topped with a red onion marmalade and horseradish mayonnaise. The First Lady gets her due respect as well in the Michelle's Melt which is a multi-faceted turkey burger layered up with diced green apple and other choice veggie ingredients inspired by her South Lawn Victory garden.

Spike is soon to open his second D.C. eatery, "We, The Pizza." It's here he will be serving up all sorts of delicious creative variations on the all America favorite: pizza!

CBS, The Early Show, featured Spike in a grilling segment where he demonstrates how to put some fun into comfort food favorites and kick it up with some unexpected flavors.


Featured Recipes:

Blazin' Barn Burger
Make Your Own Sriracha Mayonnaise (the "new" ketchup)
Homemade Basic Mayonnaise
Farmhouse Bacon Cheeseburger
Good Stuff Sauce
Mac 'N' Cheese
Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Farm-Fresh Caesar Wedge
Grilled Watermelon, Yuzu, and Feta Salad
Spike’s Village Fries
Milky Way Malt









Farm-Fresh Caesar Wedge

Serves: 4

Caesar Dressing:

2 large egg yolks
3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 salt-packed anchovy fillets
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Croutons:

4 potato rolls
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

1 pound applewood-smoked bacon
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 pound mixed greens
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

To make the dressing, add the yolks, garlic, vinegar, salt, Worcestershire, mustard, pepper, and anchovies to a good processor or blender and blend to combine. With the motor running drizzle in the oil slowly at first, then add in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added. Once thick, add the Parmesan and pulse once. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the rolls into 1/4-inch-thick cubes. In a mixing bowl, combine the cubes with the oil , garlic, garlic salt, Parmesan, oregano, and pepper and toss. Spread on baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make the salad, heat the skillet over medium and heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Line a metal tray with paper towels. Drain the bacon. Cool, crumble, and set aside.

Remove the root end from the lettuce and cut the head into 4 wedges. Place one edge each on the four individual serving dishes. Scatter the mixed greens around each wedge. Dress each wedge with 2 tablespoons of dressing and season with the salt and pepper. Garnish each with the crumbled bacon, Parmesan, and croutons.




Grilled Watermelon, Yuzu, and Feta Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1/4 of a large watermelon
1/2 cup of yuzu juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Preheat the broiler or grill to high heat. If grilling, brush the grill surface with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Cut the watermelon into large squares, remove the rind and broil or grill each piece for about 1 minute on each side. Remove from the heat and chill for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the yazu juice and oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the watermelon feta, onion, and cilantro. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.




I've placed his cookbook, Good Stuff! in Dennys Food and Recipes Amazon book store, go here.



Mac 'N' Cheese

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Butter for the baking dish
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Cheddar Cheese Sauce*
10 slices bacon
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish with butter, and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the macaroni and salt. Reduce to medium heat, and stir to prevent ticking. Cook for 7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with the oil.

Heat the cheese sauce in a sauce pan over medium heat. In skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Line a metal tray with paper towels. Drain the bacon. Chop the bacon into bits.

In a bowl, combine the bacon, Parmesan, 1 cup of the breadcrumbs mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Place baking dish on top of baking pan to catch spills if the cheese bubbles over. Bake for 40 minutes, or until crispy and brown on top.



Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until you see bubbles forming on top. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Add the warm milk whisking constantly to combine. Season with the cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps before serving.







Blazin' Barn Burger

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Picked Carrots and Daikon
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
1 large daikon, peeled and julienned
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar

Burgers

30 ounces ground sirloin
6 potato buns, cut in half
Canola oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup Sriracha Mayonnaise*
1/2 cup sriracha hot sauce (the "new" ketchup)
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

To pickle the carrots and daikon, put each of them into two separate bowls. Add the vinegar, sugar and 1.2 cup water to a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Pour evenly over the carrots and daikon and cool to room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week if covered-they will become more flavorful over time.

To make the patties, roll six 5 ounce sirloin balls and form each ball into a patty. Arrange on a tray, cover, and refrigerate.

Toast the patties, roll six 5 ounce sirloin balls and form each ball into a patty. Arrange on a tray, cover, and refrigerate.

Toast the buns

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to cover the entire bottom. When the oil begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and place the patties into the skillet. Season the patties with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, and cook on the other side 3 minutes more for medium-rare doneness.
To assemble the burgers, mix together the basil and cilantro. Place 1 patty on 1 toasted bun bottom. Top the patty with some of each of the picked carrots, daikon, and the basil-cilantro mix.

Spread some of the mayonnaise on the bun top and cover. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Don't forget to wrap the sandwiches in wax paper. Let rest for 2 to 3 minutes.



Make Your Own Sriracha Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

2 cups Homemade Basic Mayonnaise (recipe below)
1/2 cup sriarcha hot sauce
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

Add the mayonnaise, sriracha, and condensed milk to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Homemade Basic Mayonnaise

2 large eggs
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups grapeseed oil

Directions:

Add the eggs, mustard, vinegar, and salt to a food processor or blender. Process for 30 seconds in the food processor, or for 10 seconds in the blender. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil slowly at first then add in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added and the mixture is smooth. Stop the motor and taste. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little hot water. If too thin, process a little longer. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.







Farmhouse Bacon Cheeseburger

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

30 ounces ground sirloin
6 potato buns, cut in half
Canola oil
1 pound applewood-smoked bacon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices American cheese
6 leaves iceberg lettuce
6 ruby red tomato slices
6 red onion slices
12 pickle slices
About 1 cup Good Stuff Sauce (see recipe below)

Directions:

To make the patties, roll six 5-ounce sirloin balls, and form each ball into a patty. Arrange on a tray, cover, and refrigerate. Line a plate with paper towels.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add just enough oil to cover the entire bottom. When the oil begins to smoke, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Drain off the fat from the skillet but do not wipe clean.

Reduce the heat to medium and place the patties into the same skillet. Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Place 3 strips of bacon and 1 slice of the cheese on each patty and continue to cook 2 minutes more for medium-rare doneness. Cover with a lid for the last 30 seconds to melt the cheese.

Toast the buns. Set aside.

To assemble the burgers, place 1 patty on 1 toasted bun bottom. Top the patty with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice, and 2 pickle slices. Dress with some of the sauce. Cover with the bun top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Don’t forget to wrap the sandwiches in wax paper. Let rest for 2 to 3 minutes and serve.

Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown: Double the amount of ground sirloin, make double the number of burgers, and layer two patties in each sandwich.



Good Stuff Sauce

Makes: about 2 cups

From Spike: After reading several books and articles on Americans and the hamburgers they love, my mother found that people’s favorite sauces were different takes on Thousand Island dressing (ketchup and mayo). At one of our family tastings, Mike Colletti, a chef I met at Le Cirque, and I came up with our twist on it — we locked ourselves in the kitchen and added a little something to the sauce to give it a real kick.

Ingredients:

2 cups Homemade Basic Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Add the mayonnaise, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, and salt to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.







Spike’s Village Fries

Serves: 4

From Spike: One of my favorite things is walking through a farmers’ market and smelling all the wonderful fruits, herbs, and spices of local farmers. I love going to that part of the market where you find fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, and oregano—it’s a feast for your nose! These fries came out of the passion of fresh herbs and the perfect french fry.

Ingredients:

5 pounds Red Bliss potatoes
Canola oil for deep-frying
1 cup chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup chopped fresh thyme
1\4 cup sea salt

Directions:

Wash and scrub potatoes under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut in half lengthwise, then into long strips about 1⁄4-inch thick.

In a deep pot or deep-fat fryer, heat about 3 inches of oil until a thermometer reads 250°F. Line a metal tray or baking sheet with paper towels.

Add one handful of the potatoes to the pot. Fry until tender but have no color. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Repeat the procedure until all the strips are cooked. Refrigerate until cool.

Reheat the oil to 350°F. Line the metal tray with fresh paper towels.

Add the cooled potatoes a few handfuls at a time and fry until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on the paper towels. Toss with the rosemary, thyme, and salt while the slices are still hot. Serve immediately.







Milky Way Malt

Serves: 4

From Spike: We grew up in Montreal, so hockey’s what we lived for. Forget baseball and football, we woke up at 5 A.M., put on a thousand pounds of uniform, and hit the rink. I was the goalie in our peewee club. The only problem was my way to stop the puck was to just fall on it; I figured this was the best approach. Well, it turned out to be a kinda smart move because most kids couldn’t hit the puck too high, but when I left I was seriously bruised up. The recovery: a Milky Way bar after each game.

Ingredients:

1\4 cup hot fudge sauce
1\4 cup butterscotch sauce
1 1\2 cups malt balls
2 cups creamy vanilla ice cream
whipped cream

Direcctions:

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the hot fudge sauce with 1 tablespoon of the butterscotch sauce and drizzle them down the sides of an 8-ounce glass. Twirl the glass around to coat the inside. Repeat with three more glasses.

Add the malt balls to a blender and pulse until they are crushed but not powdery. Alternatively, place them in a plastic bag and pound with a mallet just enough to crush them. Set aside 4 teaspoons for garnish.

Add the ice cream to the crushed malt balls in the blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into the prepared glasses. Garnish each with a dollop of whipped cream and 1 teaspoon of the reserved crushed malt balls.






And here's a fun short interview of Chef Rachel Ray talking with Chef Spike - from Amazon books where Spike is promoting his new cookbook Good Stuff:

Spike Mendelsohn: I’m a huge fan of cranking up the music when I’m in the kitchen. It gives me a great vibe, rhythm and beat while I’m chopping, basting and putting together a meal. I listen to everything from The Beatles to Vampire Weekend, reggae, hip-hop and some rock. It really depends what kind of food I’m making and the mood I’m in. What kind of music do you listen to when cooking?

Rachael Ray: We listen to a wide range of music when we are making dinner. We love the Foo Fighters, U2, The Hold Steady and the Kings of Leon. Recently, we have been listening to this new band out of Baltimore called J Roddy Walston and The Business.

Spike Mendelsohn: And while you’re cooking… if you could invite anyone to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Rachael Ray: Living or dead? Living I would have to say I’d love to meet Dave Ghrol from the Foo Fighters. Dead would have to be my grandfather.

Spike Mendelsohn: My grandfather was a huge influence growing up as well. I’d love to have the opportunity to just sit with him and crack some jokes and then grill him about what I’m doing in the business and what I can do better. He ran so many restaurants during his time and that knowledge, his candid attitude and amazing sense of humor is something I really miss.

My restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery, was named after a saying he used so many times. When he loved something he’d do that hockey goal fist pump up and down in the air and say “GOOOOOOD STUUUUFFF.” So we named our restaurant after that, and burgers were what we decided to feature since my best food memory is with him in his backyard, in the Laurentian Mountains, grilling some burgers. He used to wrap them in wax paper so the juices stay in and the buns got steamed a bit. It was the best meal, the best memory, and that’s how we serve the burgers at my restaurant.

Rachel Ray: My best food memory, again deals with my grandfather. When I was growing up, I ate like a 60-year-old Italian man because my grandfather would make me my lunch. Sardine sandwiches and roasted vegetables—no one would sit near me in the lunchroom since my food didn't look or smell like theirs. But I loved it.





I've placed his cookbook, Good Stuff! in Dennys Food and Recipes Amazon book store, go here.


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