Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day with a Mediterranean Twist

With every holiday, it seems that many fall into the culinary rut where they make the same recipes again and again, with little imagination or creativity. Sure, we all have our favorite dishes, but it never hurts to mix things up by trying a new recipe or a twist on an old favorite.

If you're still debating about what to serve at your picnic tomorrow, consider trying these Mediterranean turkey burgers to add interest to your buffet.

Mediterranean Turkey Sliders

2 lbs Ground Turkey
½ cup chopped Sundried Tomatoes
1 cup chopped Kalamata olives
½ cup crumbled Feta Cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh Parsley
1 tbsp minced garlic
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly
Scoop into 2oz balls
Form into patties and grill until cooked through.

Yield: 12-2oz sliders

Interested in some other holiday recipes? I will be doing a live cooking demo at 5:30 tomorrow morning on WDIV.

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dream Team

Fortunately, I have the luxury of having an amazing group of people who work for me.
In order to celebrate their efforts and show my appreciation, the Mirepoix Cooking School staff will be having dinner at my house tomorrow night.

When thinking of what to serve for dessert, I remembered a recipe that I used to make frequently while I was an apprentice for Joe Decker, CMPC, at Schoolcraft College. The Coconut Dream Bar was a twist on an Almond Joy candy bar, only, a million times better.

Making the dream bars is a little time consuming, but the nice thing about these bars is that they freeze well, if wrapped tightly.

In order to make the bars, you will need a few supplies:
half sheet pan (commonly known as a 'jelly roll pan'
parchment paper
cooking spray
double boiler
small offset spatula
bench scraper (a rectangular tool used by bakers and cools alike)
food processor

6 cups almonds, toasted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted

3 3/4 cups coconut, toasted
1 1/2 cans Coco Lopez (do NOT substitute coconut milk)
3/4 cup salted butter
15 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped fine

3/4 cup cream
9 Tb. salted butter
6 Tb. corn syrup (light)
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped fine

about 2 oz. finely chopped white chocolate, melted and kept warm (for striping)

Spray a half sheet pan with cooking spray. Lay parchment paper down and press to flatten and release any wrinkles.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, nuts and sugar. Pulse until ground into small pieces, but do not over-process. Pat this mixture into the bottom of the parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350 until golden brown. Watch carefully, as nuts and sugar are prone to burn.

In a sauce pan, bring the Coco Lopez and butter to a boil. Pour this over the finely chopped white chocolate and stir to combine. Add the toasted coconut. Take this mixture and spread it out over the crust after the crust has been removed from the oven. Chill.

While the bars are setting up, make the glaze by taking the cream, corn syrup and butter and boiling them in a medium saucepan. Pour this mixture over the finely chopped dark chocolate. Stir to combine.

When the bars are completely cold, pour the glaze over the top and stripe with the additional white chocolate. This is simply taking the white chocolate, putting it into a small parchment cone or ziplock bag with a hole cut in the corner, and diagonally drawing stripes onto the top of the wet glaze.

Once you've striped the glaze, take a toothpick and run it through the stripes to create a pattern. Chill bars again.

When bars are completely cold, use a bench scraper (or you could use the small offset spatula) and release the bars from the side of the pan. Next, place a piece of parchment paper and place it on top of the glaze. Take another jelly roll pan and place that on top of the parchment paper. Turn the entire thing upside down.

Remove the pan. You should now be looking at the parchment paper you used to line the bottom of the pan the bars were baked in. Peel off the paper and place a cutting board on top of the crust. Flip this over and remove the other pan. Remove the second piece of parchment.

Now the bars should be sitting right on top of the cutting board, parchment-free, and ready to cut into perfect squares. Using a hot, wet knife, cut the edges off of the bars (save them for snacks or throw them away - I will bet you would never want to throw this stuff away!). Now cut the bars with a hot, wet knife into rectangles or squares. Serve at room temperature.

The steps for this can be somewhat complicated without seeing a photo. Tomorrow, check our Mirepoix Cooking School Facebook page to see photos of the process.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Little Taste of Summer - Food, Beer & Short's

This week, I was invited to attend a very cool food and beverage event; the Short's Beer Dinner at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing.

The Short's Dinner was a 4 course meal with several special pairings presented to us by the Short's Brewery's Beer Liberator, Jon Wojtowicz. The dinner was the first in what will eventually become a series of beer and dining events at the Kellogg Center. Wojtowicz, along with State Room General Manager, Jon Trasky, paired Short's beer offerings perfectly with the culinary creations prepared by Chef Matt Wilson. Below is a glimpse of the fabulous menu they prepared for the event.


Artisanal Cheeses with Stone Circle Bakery Hearth Breads
Beers – The Golden Rule & The Curl
Second Course
Wasabi Encrusted Red Snapper
Quinoa Risotto, Meyer Lemon Confit
Beer – Hangin’ Frank IPA
Grilled Duroc Pork Loin
White Bean & Sweet Corn Succotash, Balsamic Cream, Ancho Chili Oil
Beer – Good Samaritan
Kahlua Chocolate Torte
With Michigan Strawberry Mousse
Beer – Woodmaster

"The Liberator" even brought a special surprise which really made the event - Short's Key Lime Pie beer. In high demand and currently only in underground supply, this brew isn't even available until July! I know many of you might be thinking, "Key Lime Pie BEER???!!!" Sound crazy? Impossible? Unimaginable? It's not as crazy as you think!

Craft brew enthusiasts know that the sky really is the limit when creating new and interesting batches. Skeptics might doubt the probability of this beer actually tasting like a slice of Key Lime goodness, and definitely might doubt that it lives up to how Short's describes it - "Made with fresh limes, milk sugar, graham cracker, and marshmallow fluff, we were able to recreate this popular dessert into a heavenly drinkable version. The prominent flavors are immensely sweet, yet tart, with subtle hints of graham cracker coming through in the nose and remain on the back of the palate". After we tasted it, there wasn't a cynic in the house; everyone who enjoyed a glass was convinced, this was INCREDIBLE.

Based on the quality of the food, as well as the generous libations, I can only guess that this is the next big thing for State Room at Kellogg. Currently, The State Room hosts monthly chef dinners, featuring chefs from around the country. This week, the featured chef is Brian Goodman of the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland.

As a chef, it is always really exciting to learn more about food, but it is even more exciting to learn how other industries are celebrating and embracing the principles of flavor profiles from a culinary point of view, and using real ingredients (nothing artificial) to create such flavorful gastronomic brilliance. Discovering these gems is a treasure of its own, but then also experiencing them in a pairing is a chef or foodie's dream-come-true.

As The Liberator explained, some people are referring to the development of these craft beers as a revolution, when it is in fact, a renaissance. As so often happens in the culinary world, many things we have come to love have been done before, but experiencing it with a fresh approach is when renaissance become revelation.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Roots of Flavor - Ginger

Ginger's roots date back to ancient times, over 3,000 years ago. Related to tumeric and cardamom, ginger is native to Southern Asia, which is why it is considered a staple in Asian cuisine.

It isn't just the Asian culture who embrace the subtle spice of this knobby root, many Indian dishes are predicated on the use of ginger as well, such as Tikka Masala, Vindaloo, and hundreds more.

In addition to being a delicious flavoring agent in both sweet and savory recipes, ginger also has healing properties and nutritional value as well. Ginger is excellent for digestion, which is why, many times, people drink ginger ale or ginger beer to calm an upset stomach.

On a chilly and damp day like today, I like to prepare warm, simple to prepare dishes that have complex flavors. Tonight, I'm making all natural chicken, poached in coconut milk, studded with carrots and snap peas. With a side of basmati rice, it's the perfect meal for rainy Sunday afternoons.

Economical and nearly effortless,I hope you'll enjoy this dish as much as I do.

Chicken Poached in Coconut Milk with Fresh Vegetables
1 medium onion, chopped
1 - 2 jalepeno or serrano peppers, diced fine
3 Tb. ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tb. curry powder
2 c. carrots, "roll cut" (or medium dice)
2 c. snap peas, trimmed
2 (15 oz.) cans light coconut milk (*I use light, but you can use regular)
2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 3/4 lbs. chicken breasts, boneless skinless
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1 bunch scallions, cut on the bias

Heat a dutch oven over high heat. When the pot is hot, use some canola oil (enough to coat the bottom of a dutch oven) to saute the onions when the oil is hot, also.
Saute the onions until slightly caramelized. Add the chilies and ginger. Add the spices. Stir occasionally to keep the spices from burning.

Deglaze the pan with chicken broth and then add the coconut milk. Heat the liquid to 180 degrees, and add the carrots. In that same Dutch oven, poach the chicken breasts at 170 degrees and cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Add the snow peas and continue to cook. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and rest on a cutting board.

Season the poaching liquid to add more spice if you'd like a heavier curry flavor and reduce, allowing the peas to finish cooking through.

Slice the chicken on the bias, against the grain, and serve over a bed of basmati rice and thickened coconut milk broth. Garnish with Scallions and Cilantro.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

All Who Wander are Not Lost

A couple weeks ago, some friends from the Oakland Press stopped by Mirepoix for an informal cooking demo. Stephi Hill, the online host of The Community Wanderer, helped me put a delicious impromtu dessert together, perfect for almost any occasion; Bananas Foster. You can watch our demo here.

I hope some of you will also wander over to Mirepoix for a hands-on class soon!

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