Sunday, July 30, 2006

Where I'm teaching this fall.

Yep, I'm teaching cooking classes again this fall. I'm going to be at a couple of different places, so here is the list of places and Classes:

The Bronze Frog
call 692-4707 to register

These are all demonstration style cooking classes...kinda like you see Emeril and Rachael Ray doing on FOODTV.

Did Someone Say Party? Call some friends, throw some deck chairs around, grab the CD player and get the outdoor parties going before the snow starts flying!! Let’s whip up some Sun Dried Tomato Hummus, Baja Pickled Shrimp, Cajun Party Mix, Buffaloed Meatballs, Crab & Artichoke Dip and some Tandoori Style Ribs. All wonderful foods to serve outside on your deck or porch with paper plates so after party clean-up is a breeze!
August 29

Chicken Around the World 1. Looking for some new recipes for using boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Stuck in a rut cooking them the same way? Tonight Kevin is going to throw some ethnic flair at one of America’s most cooked item. Poulet Champignon (Chicken with Mushrooms – Classic French), Pollo Ala Jerez (Chicken with Ham & Sherry – Spain), Chicken Breast New Hampshire (NE United States), Pollo Sicily (a version of chicken Parmesan) and Paprika Chicken (Germany) September 12

Chicken Around the World 2 If Chicken Around the World 1 wasn’t enough, Kevin is going to cover several more regions of the world in this class. These recipes are from the more tropical regions of the world: Join him for Moroccan Chicken with Peppers, Thai Barbequed Chicken, Chicken with Green Chiles (Mexico), Lemon-Rosemary Chicken (Greece) and “Chick”adillo (a chicken version of the Caribbean Picadillo). September 26

Ocktoberfest Chef Kevin loves to cook (and eat!) German food as this is his heritage. Grab your lederhosen or dirndl and join Kevin for some of his favorite German foods. Beer Braised Roulden, Pork Schnitzel ala Wilhelm, Sour Cream Spaetzle, Schwabisch Bread Pudding and of course, no German menu would be complete without Bratwurst with Apple Braised Sauerkraut. October 2

An Autumn Dinner Party. I have done this class at several different places and have catered it to a private party. It is one of my all time favorite dinner party themes. Please join me for: Romaine and Apple Salad with Blue Cheese\ Port Wine Vinaigrette, Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes, Autumn Squashes with Dried Cranberries & Pecans, Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushrooms & Zinfandel Sauce and Pumpkin Bread Pudding for dessert. October 30

Shrimply Delicious. Almost everyone’s favorite crustacean!! There are so many way to cook these gems from the sea and we are going to feast on some tonight. “Smokin’” Shrimp Cocktail with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce, Shrimp Scampi with Scallions and Tomatoes, Tybee Island Fried Shrimp, Sweet & Sour Stir Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas & Cashews, and Shrimp Duvernois. November 14


From The Field

From The Field is a new cooking SCHOOL in Morton, IL, in the Field Shopping Center. They offer demonstration type as well as hands on classes. You can register for classes at 263-6020. I will be doing all hands on classes this time around so you get to cook with me :) Here is my schedule for them:

September 27 - Eggs: Several different methods of cooking eggs with be explored in this class. Traditional French Rolled Omelet (with various fillings), Spanish Frittata, Poached Eggs Forestiere (a twist on Eggs Benedict), Eggs Baked in Puff Pastry Shells with Creamed Ham and a Bacon, Spinach and Swiss Cheese Quiche.

October 26 - Seafood Cookery: Several different methods of cooking seafood with be explored in this class. Perfect Shrimp Cocktail, Pan Roasted Salmon with Mushrooms and Pinot Noir, Pan Fried Trout, Saute of Sea Scallops with Spinach & Prosciutto and Shallow Poach of Sole Bercy.

November 29- Chicken Cookery: Several different methods of cooking seafood with be explored in this class. Saute of Chicken Breast Champignon, Braised Chicken with Ham & Sherry, Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry, Fried Chicken Tenders and Whole Roasted Chicken.


There is also an upcoming event that is currently in the planning stages that I am giving a hand for which to raise funds.

Of course, there is the "I never quite know when" schedule of when I will be cooking at Panache. You can always be alerted to when by e-mailing me your name to be put on the "when & where is Kevin cooking" e-mail alert list at chefkevincaters@hotmail.com.


See you from the kitchen....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Donnelly's

I've never been a huge "let's go to Donnelly's" person. I don't know why. I love their food.

I recently popped in and had the Waterford Chicken Sandwich, which is one of my favorite sandwiches in Peoria. Ranks right up there with a Gebby Burger and the New Yorker from Fedora's. A nice size chicken breast that is basted or marinated in Teriyaki sauce, topped with sauteed mushrooms, bacon and cheese. It is served with a side of Chipotle mayo. Kind of a strange combo so I dip the fries in the mayo with a kick. Two Sam Adams later, I'm out the door for about $15 plus tip. YUM!

My only "complaint" about Donnelly's is I really miss Ryan Donnelly behind the bar. If you went in there 5 times a day or you were holding up the joint, Ryan was always outgoingly friendly to all those who came in....and I don't think it was an "act" for business. The barkeeps now are friendly, but Ryan they are not. But hey, if THAT is the Worst thing, well, it's pretty flippin' petty on my part.

See you around the table.....

Sushigawa

Believe it or not, I've never been here. Between Sushi Popo being somewhat close to work and having a friend who is fairly gifted at rolling the maki version (even though I'm no slouch), why drive across town?

So, off my DA & I go. Quaint little place in Westlake Shopping center. I order the spicy tuna rolls, the eel rolls and a squid sashimi. Oh, and a beer.

In short time, the food was upon us. The spicy tuna roll definitely had some kick to it and didn't need any wasabi to make me take note. The eel was kinda lost with the other ingredients rolled with it and the sauce that came with it. But the flavors all worked well together. The squid kinda caught me off guard...there was just one piece of it. Not much to squid. It isn't the most flavorful thing in the first place, it was stuffed with rice (more non descript flavor) and chewy. Well, I expected that. A dash of soy and a hint of wasabi later, I'm happy.

With the 22 ounce beer, I spent about $22. If you have a group that wants sushi\sashimi, but some are squeamish, Sushigawa offers quite a few "cooked seafood" varieties of sushi rolls. However, their cooked food menu is not nearly as expansive as Sushi Popo.

There were several more things I wanted to try, so I'm definitely not going to wait (how many flippin' years have they been open?) to go back.

See you around the table....

T n' T Sports Bar

On my travels across the mighty Illinois River to visit my parents, I stopped in at this place for a quick bite to eat. Ages ago, it existed for Ages as Weinsteins Tavern.

Typical neighborhood bar. Fairly clean, not too smoky. I ordered a beer and the Dynamite burger with pepperjack cheese and bacon. It came with fries and slaw. The place was jumping for a weekday lunch, but heck, maybe that's their normal business, dunno, don't hang out in EP too much anymore.

My burger was well seasoned, but a little dry. There was a good amount of cheese and bacon. A little ketchup helped (as did the beer). Fries were seasoned with seasoned salt which is a nice, and slightly different, touch that I liked. The slaw was run of the mill "free side" slaw.

The menu was your usual bar apps, sandwiches and a few dinner looking items. If you can eat a pound of their hottest wings, you can get your name on a plaque in the joint. 'Nother time. I've put down the hottest thing Buffalo Wild Wings makes (albeit I was sweating worse than if I were in a wool suit hitchhiking across the Sahara and my eyes were watering so much they had to get the "Wet Floor" sign out, but the waitress now "has respect" for me. Oh, woopee), so, I'm not overly concerned. (Can't be worse than this fresh pepper paste one of my friend's mother makes. For the love of God!!)

Anyway, if I'm back in my parent's "hood" anytime soon and mom isn't feeding me or sending home a week's worth of leftover with me, I'll probably go back. However, with Schooners and Crusen's down the road, I'm not making a special trip.

See you around the table.....

Sunday, July 23, 2006

thanhLINH

Recently ate at thanhLIHN, the little Vietnamese restaurant on Main Street (1223 W. Main), next door to the Asian grocery store down a half block from One World.

The decor is pretty plain: some pictures hanging around, tile floor, a few booths and some tables, thusly not a feast for the eyes, but I'm not a reviewer for "Cool Restaurant Decor" Magazine.

We started off with No.5, springs rolls with shrimp, pork and veggies. It was four rolls of pretty good size with two nice sized shrimp in each one, some very thinly sliced BBQ pork and an assortment of julienned veggies. It came with a dipping sauce that strongly resembled Hoisin Sauce garnished with chopped peanuts and carrots.

For entrees, I had the No. 55. (Lord knows I can't pronounce it or my computer able to add all the special punctuation marks.) It is Egg noodle soup with shrimp, crabmeat, fried fish cake and BBQ pork. A very large bowl came out with a good amount of each aforementioned ingredient floating around in a very tasty broth with a healthy portion of thin, yellow noodles all tightly wound in the bottom and some lightly cooked veggies. It was served with a side of bean sprouts, sliced, fresh jalapenos and basil leaves. I took one bunch of the basil leaves and all the peppers and put them in the hot liquid. After a few minutes, I could taste the basil and the heat of the peppers. I shouldn't have been surprised that the crab meat was of the artificial variety and that the last of the fried fish cakes absorbed a lot of liquid and was fairly soggy. Guess I should eat faster so that doesn't happen? A very tasty, filling dish for $6.95.

My DA had the No. 32, which was the Spicy Stir Fried Chicken with Lemongrass. So there is no confusion if you go and order this, this stir fry had no, to very few, veggies; strictly chicken in a flavorful sauce served over rice. I wouldn't have said it was spicy, but then again, I'm a heat freak. I still didn't get a good "burn". Tasty nonetheless.

The waitress\hostess was always smiling, checked on us just enough to feel her presence, but never intrusive and brought us refills on our beverages.

We took part of our dinners home and I thought I was hungry. I had a soft drink and our bill was right around $20 before tip. This is about the third time I have been here in the last 18 months and I can't say I've ever had a meal there that was mediocre or below.

See you around the table.....

Red Wine


Here is a heads up. If you have gone to Friar Tucks or UFS of late, you've probably seen this stacked to the rafters: 2004 Panarroz from the Jumilla region of Spain.

I've been drinking a lot of this and thought I would "go public" with this great find. I know, I kinda thought "$7.99..how good could it be?" (It was $7.99 at UFS, I didn't notice at Friar Tuck because I already have a stash and I was looking for something else.)

Let me tell ya. This would be a pretty darn good wine if you paid $20 for it. Hell, I've paid far more for that for wine that fail in comparison to this little $8 wonder. It is a deep dark purple-ish colored wine with explosive black raspberry, black cherry, chocolate and a hint of licorice in a medium to heavy bodied wine. The amazing thing about this wine is it sees NO OAK! That's right, it is stainless steel tank fermented....kinda like the Beaujolais Nouveau that comes out every November. But this wine kicks the shit out of B.N. So, those of you hating red wine because it is bitter, makes your mouth pucker, too dry, well, try this wine...it has very little of those things. This is a blend of the same grapes used in the Rhone region of France (Mouvedre, Syrah & Grenache) which was made more popular by the Australians (of course the Aussies call Syrah shiraz). The Spanish are using THEIR native names for the grapes, Monstarell (Mouvedre), Granacha (Grenache) & Syrah (Shiraz for you Aussie pronouncing peeps) just to confuse you more.

Ok, it might not be a summer wine (unless you are sitting out on your porch tonight as the mercury is to drop into the high 50s), but it would be hard not to deny it a place next to the BBQ ribs or grilled chops\steaks on your picnic table. Even though this is supposed to be served at about 65 degrees, a quick chill (about 10-15 minutes) in the 'fridge will make it a bit more refreshing on a warmer day without affection it's goodness.

Clinking & Drinking around the table....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

And You Wonder Why...

I stumbled across this blog. You wonder why I and probably a lot of other people get out of the restaurant business. Here is a pretty good reason:
Springs 1

It makes me wonder what this woman does for a living except for putting a stopwatch on waitpeople and complaining about everything. There isn't any way she could POSSIBLY enjoy her dinner.

Sheeez.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm Smoking...

No, no, no. I'm not smoking as in cigarettes (maybe an occasional cigar). Nor am I smoking a nice pork butt. And my house isn't on fire. I'm starting to become smoking mad. What am I mad about? Something I just recently posted: the proposed smoking ban in Peoria.

As you have read, or if you know me, I don't smoke. But, I think it is WRONG to tell a business owner, who has put their blood, sweat, tears, time, effort and probably a friggin' busload of money into his\her business what they can and can not offer within their establishment as long as it is legal and isn't in violation of any code. Smoking is still legal whether some people like it or not. Restaurants and bars, contrary to belief, are NOT public places: they are privately owned (well, something like Chili's may be publicly traded) establishments that are open for business. If you don't like what they offer, then take your business elsewhere. Being able to smoke in their establishment is what they offer. I think the majority of people who are for this ban are a group of people who think it's their God given right to be able to force their will on private enterprise at the business owners expense. I don't think so. Why should a restaurant or bar owner be subjected to risking his clientele and business just because you, who might not even go to his\her establishment, want it to be smoke free on some odd chance you may frequent it?

Ah, that's the next argument: If the whole city is smoke free.... and the one I personally love: Studies have proven that there is no loss of income in cities that have instituted the ban. Really? What if Peoria Heights, Bartonville, Dunlap, West Peoria, East Peoria, Pekin, Washington still allow smoking? These places aren't that far of a drive. It's one thing to say "no lost revenue" in Los Angeles, where it might take you two hours drive to find a smoking establishment. It's a bit different in Peoria because from where I live, if I smoked, I'm 2 miles or 5 minutes from having a cig in one hand, a Sam Adams in another, and Peoria just lost some my drinking money. It is a very well known fact that smokers spend more money at a bar than non-smokers. I'm sure places like the penguin Tap and The Silver Dollar in the Heights and Norwood Tap in West Peoria\Norwood are just drooling at the extra cash that will be flowing into their coffers if Peoria institutes a ban. Now before you think I'm full of shit about that, I've heard conversations from smokers that support those statements that if Peoria goes smokeless, that is where they are headed. If the whole Peoria County institutes a ban, Tazewell County is just a pop across the pond. Smokers want to smoke especially if they drink and they will find a place that will let them.

The next argument is people working in a smoke filled environment. Oh, please; only someone ignorant of the restaurant & bar business would say that. I would like to see one statistic that would prove that there is an industry that has more smokers than the restaurant\bar business. The people who are crying for the employees of these "smoking allowed" places are crying for people who probably smoke (drink and a few other things) more than anyone!! They are trying to protect people who don't give a shit about trying to protect themselves! And if employees don't want to work in that environment, no one is forcing them to work there. The list
of places to work in Peoria ranges from fast food to fine dining.

I've asked the question on other bloggers website on question that has NEVER been answered. I would like one good reason, and "because I can go there if I want to" (or the like) doesn't count to why some place like the Red Barn should be no smoking. There are about 4 things to do there: drink, smoke, BS, play video games and occasionally catch a local band. That is what this place is for, it attracts that type of clientele who support it and that environment is what makes that business owner successful. As I've asked before: What good does it do to\for whom to ban smoking there? Are you going to drag your kids here for the Butch's pizza, chips and beef jerky (which is about the extent of their food offerings)? Do you think your kids want to sit in a tiny little bar? Even if they did ban smoking there, the joint is so permeated with the stuff, you'd probably smell like a Marlboro years after, anyway. If I was the owner of this place, Peoria went smoke free and I started losing money, I'd find the best lawyer I could afford.

Personally, I would be happy if all places where smoke free. But what if every group started hammering the restaurant & bar business? What if area vegetarians\vegans prove to the city council that red meat, especially beef, is bad for you? I mean it's documented fact. And if not that, undercooked beef is notorious for E-coli. Let's ban beef in Peoria because it's bad for you. (As much as I love my family, friends, and house, I'd move.) Maybe all artificial sweeteners should be removed from these establishments because it is documented fact that these items cause cancer.

I used to think there should be a compromise that if you were deemed a restaurant, you should be smoke free. I'm stepping back from that stance and every business owner should do as they please.

I hope the city council tells these Smoke Free Peoria supporters to move to Bloomington.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chef Kevin's Culinary Hotline

As suggested by Eyebrows McGee, I need to start an Ask The Chef Section. So, I've created a new blog page called: Chef Kevin's Culinary Hotline

I know as soon as I allow just anyone to post on the blogsite itself, I will be inundated with all sorts of crap. Thusly, if you have a question, send it to chefkevinculinaryhotline@hotmail.com. I'll post your question and the answer on the above blogsite.

Please allow me about 24 hours. I'm not always at the computer.

Answering your questions around the WWW....

In a rut

Yeah, I haven't posted a review in a while. I've had people come up and ask me "When are you going to post some more reviews?".

The biggest reason is there has been a lot of free food at work of late. Free, already cooked, ready to eat food. Why go out and spend $ when you can get free food? And for some reason, I've been cooking at home a lot.

I have eaten at several places I've already posted on: 2 Chez, Copperworks, Schooners, Po Boys to name a few.

I did have breakfast at the Hotel Pere Marquette at their breakfast buffett. My mother always said if you couldn't say anything nice.....

So, I will make every attempt to try something new this weekend and report on my findings.

See you around the table.....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Local Restaurant Issues

Two local restaurant issues have popped up of late. To read about them more fully, check out the godfather of Peoria bloggers, Billy Dennis's, posts:

Billy Dennis's Illegal Grilling In Peoria


Billy Dennis's Anti Smokers Blowing Smoke

The first issue is that the Peoria County Health Department (PCHD) has issued all food service license holders a cease and desist order on grilling food outdoors. "Please note, the current food ordinance does not address outdoor grilling, and therefore, this department is requiring facilities that grill outdoors to cease conducting such activities after July 16, 2006.”
Apparently, there are some food service establishments grilling food outside and bringing it indoors. I can see where the health department would get their little sanitation wipes all knotted up on this one. I can see where a lot of health code violations could occur not to mention that I don't believe that the permit hanging on your kitchen wall covers cooking outside. Your parking lot, etc. is not inspected (except the PCHD is supposed to check the dumpsters) as a acceptable place to cook food. The trouble is it has been going on for years. Many years. Why all of a sudden? Someone complained, someone got sick, some yahoo did something stupid in front of a health inspector. Who knows. And now it's ruined it for everyone. It's the equivalent of one kid breaking a lamp and all the kids have to weed the garden until someone confesses or squeals (Hmm..wonder where I got this analogy??) My take is that if all sanitary guidelines are being followed, the food is covered to and from the outdoor grill, etc., I don't see the problem. But I do see problems. I can see the cook touching a dirty door with a bare hand and then putting your chicken breast on the grill that is sitting 2 feet from the dumpster and walking away leaving the grill uncovered. The grill is a 1972 Weber with rust crusted grates that haven't been cleaned off and enough leftover burned on cheese to make Wisconsin jealous (before you say I'm making this up, I've seen it). This isn't the case everywhere, but I'd bet one shiny nickel this is what brought it on. I doubt there are a lot of $3000 grilling units like you see at Lowe's being used with handwashing facilities. One can apply for a temporary outdoor events permit and the PCHD will come out, inspect and issue the permit. One may argue that this is pretty stupid but it isn't any less wacko than not allowing people to eat outside if you have a liquor license...unless you PAY EXTRA for that "add on" to your liquor license.

This is also a catch 22. As I said, I believe outdoor grilling is in violation of PCHD "law", yet it has gone on for years. I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like food cooked on a grill. Actually, I think it may be considered un-American. And no one would complain about getting a burger, shrimp, etc. grilled over some nice Kingsford or hickory chips...until they got sick. Then, of course, the health department isn't doing their job. So now, they are putting an end to uninspected cooking equipment and procedures and people are complaining (read the comments on Mr. Dennis's blog)that PCHD is overstepping its bounds. Really? Ensuring public safety\health is overstepping its bounds? Don't call them when you get sick from eating out.

I don't have much of a problem with the PCHD. I've always worked with the inspectors and have been polite and respectful. I hope the feeling is mutual and I would like to think it is. I don't fight and argue with them. They know me by name and reputation. I do my best to follow the regs as well as I can remember (all of) them. I've received two 100 (perfect) scores from PCHD. Countless 95-98. Personally, I think the two 98s were bullshit and I should have got 100s, especially the one where I was written up for a dusty knife rack. Puh-LESE, if EVERY establishment would be written up for every little thing like that, more temporary closures would be happening. Whatever. The point is if you aren't sure of a regulation, pick up the phone. Just because there is no regulation for it doesn't mean it's OK or within the best interest of public health. When developers built Grand Prairie Mall do you think they said "Well, there isn't a reg regarding this, Yee-Haw, lets get to building" or do you think they called the city? I hope they called the city. I know I sound pro health department on this issue. Not really. I think it screws the little guy trying to make a buck and the lack of opportunity to give his customer something different. A call to say "Hey, send (I'm leaving her name out here, because I'm not sure she is the person responsible for things like this anymore)over here I got something I need to go over with her" and she may have come up with a workable solution.


On to the smoking issue. I don't smoke, never really have. Maybe a good cigar 2-3 times a year. But this is a stupid law. If you don't like strip clubs, you don't go to Big Als. If you don't like baseball, you don't go to Chiefs games, if you don't like fast food, you don't go to McDonalds. If you hate Chevrolets you aren't going to Jim McComb for a new car. So, if you don't like smoky restaurants or bars, don't go. Send your "message" to these heathen owners by not going. Yes, this is sarcasm. As I said on Mr. Dennis's blog: I know if I go to the Red Barn on Glen, I don't wear good clothes because I will have to burn them when I get home. It's a smoky joint, albeit not as bad as it used to be. What good does it do to\for whom to ban smoking there? Are you going to drag your kids here for the Butch's pizza, chips and beef jerky (which is about the extent of their food offerings)? Do you think your kids want to sit in a tiny little bar? If you do, I think you suffer from some sort of reality disorder or mental heath issue and need help. Personally, I think these anti smoking coalition people are a bunch of sniveling whiners who want to go to a place like Kellehers, feel their rights are violated, that their choices are limited that they "can't" eat there because of smoke and want to kick people like Pat Sullivan in the shins. Hey, anti smoking coalition people: Take all the money you are spending trying to get this law to fly, withdraw your 401's and IRA and start their own smoke free restaurant.

I think things should be left alone. If it is forced into changing, I hope and will express my opinion quite loudly is this: If you have 51% food sales, you are a restaurant and the smoking ban goes into effect unless you have 1. separate rooms, not a separate section. OR 2. A well ventilated bar area separate from the dining area. If your alcohol receipts outweigh your food receipts, you are a bar and you can do as you wish. You can apply for a variance on this that would be if you serve more alcohol volume-wise, but since a burger is more expensive than a beer, your food revenue is higher. If you prove you serve 10 beers but only 7 burgers (ie $27.50 in beer and $42.00 in burgers) you can get an exemption.

I'm tired of typing now and think I need a beer, a burger cooked outside on my rusty Weber and I'll inhale a few wood chip fumes while I'm at it.