!!!Pickled Green Tomatoes!!!

So winter is coming, and yet there is so many vegetables out on the vine in the garden. That only means one thing PICKLE time! Yup, my favorite thing to do is pickle and jam.  I look at pickling as preserving the greatness that the summer grows, so when the winter come and my cravings for summers produce comes I can get my fix. Your canned goods are also lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas house warming gifts. Plus picking is super easy and flavor combinations are endless. My friend was overloaded with some beautiful green tomatoes, peppers and dill, but the frost was about to come. I had made some great jalapeño raspberry jam, but its time to pickle those green tomatoes.


I am going to use:

.625 Cups Kosher Salt

6 Cups Water, Filtered, Hot

4 Each Bay Leafs (Fresh if available)

9 Cloves Garlic, Smashed

1.5 Teaspoons Fennel Seeds

1 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes

2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar

20 Stalks Dill, Quartered

4 Each Serrano Peppers, Quartered

Green Tomatoes

3 Each Sterilized 1quart Canning Jars, lids and bands, waiting in a hot water bath




First step after sterilizing the canning jars is the combine the kosher salt, bay leafs, garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes with the water in a pot. Place over heat until the salt has devolved, let rest for 5 minutes.


A cool little trick I learned over the years is placing an egg in its shell, raw, in the brine solution (salt and water) and if it floats it has the correct portions of salt and water. If the egg doesn’t float, don’t fret just put a little bit more salt in until it begins to float! Remove the egg from the water and add in the apple cider vinegar and bring to a steady simmer for 3 minutes.



Clean, core and cut the green tomatoes in half or quarters.

Now its time to remove the cans from there hot water bath and divide the: dill, Serrano peppers and green tomatoes equally and pack them into the jars leaving about three quarters of an inch of head room.

Ladle the brine solution over the tomatoes up to the brim of the jars, evenly distributing the bay leaf and garlic.



Place the sterilized lids on the top and twist on the bands. Let the jars cool on a towel to prevent the jars from staining your counter tops!


There you go! You got some delicious spicy fennel-y pickled green tomatoes that you can enjoy all year round…. or share with your loved ones!


Pickle your heart out…


The SAMMIC BasqueStage

So Im back at it again! Crossing my fingers that I will get a chance to use my skills and work under some amazing traditional, respected Basque Chefs while using beautiful and flavorful local products. This is my video demonstrating how I can bestow my Italian upbringing into American Midwest cuisine and how I hope that I will get the chance to work under Martín Berasategui to broaden my culinary knowledge.
Wish Me Luck!

BasqueStage Candidate Post -A Unique Pasta

BasqueStage Candidate Post  -A Unique Pasta

Who doesn’t love pasta and fresh pasta is just the icing on the cake. I want to share with you how to make your own fresh pasta that you can make with your own unique twist. But don’t break out your pasta machine or mixer, we have become accustomed to every-day appliances that help with making things faster and better. After reading “The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners” by Margret Visser I’ve had the urge to become as close to my food as possible. These appliances have just stepped between me and my food, and nobody or anything gets to do that!  Our hands are sensitive to temperatures and textures, so when we humans are touching things a deeper understanding is found through those extra senses. As a child I love to touch everything and helping to make pasta was something I truly enjoyed. We used a wooden table, rolling pins and a knife. The dough would be stuck between fingers and in my hair. I remember pulling the dough off my hands and making shapes and animals with it. Defiantly puts a smile on my face.

So to make the pasta all that is needed is some flour, eggs, and salt, maybe a little water and your secret ingredient. Any of your own favorite pasta recipes will work for me I love yolky pasta so I used a cup of flour, 1 egg and a yolk, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and a few teaspoons of water to bring it all together. So your probably asking were this secret ingredient comes in to play. Well, a little trick I learned at school was putting spices or fresh herbs like basil into pastas. Today I used freshly cracked peppercorns but in the past I have used basil, sorrel and ramp leafs. This gives the all ready amazing fresh pasta a beautiful taste and unique look that can accent the sauce of your choice. Like for instance I made pasta carbonara and instead of putting peppercorns in the sauce I placed them inside the pasta. Basil inside the pasta along with any sugo is a classic pair as well.

So lets get started…
Make a mound of flour and salt then hollow out the middle of the mound placing the eggs inside.
 Then with a fork began to beat the eggs and mix in a little flour at a time until it becomes manageable with your hands. A little water may need to be added to help bind everything together.
 A little water might be need to help bind the dough together, but be careful not to make it to wet. Knead the dough with your hands for about 3 minutes. Then wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for about a hour before you began rolling it out.
 The dough once rested should be cut into manageable pieces as needed. Then on a flour dusted table roll out a piece of dough about a 1/4 of an inch.
 Now its time for your own special ingredient! I placed what looks like a lot of freshly cracked peppercorns on one half of the dough. In reality once you began to roll that dough out with a rolling pin the dough will become bigger and distribute the peppercorns throughout. The same with fresh herbs place them close together on half of the dough and once you roll the dough out to the desired thinness the dough will have pieces of torn herbs. Its a really beautiful sight to see!
 Once the dough is rolled out paper thin it is time to cut or shape your past. I chose to make Maltagliati pasta, its like a rough cut of pasta, shaped like a triangle or a diamond with no waste.
 Using a pizza cutter I ran it across the dough in half, from the right side i rolled the cutter at a diagonal from the bottom with a slight angle to the left up to the top of the dough, then straight down to the bottom of the dough. Then repeated to the end, making ruff triangles. Leave them out to dry and there ready for some salted boiling water and your favorite sauce.

Now its time to go out there and kick your pasta up a notch, get creative and get back in “touch” with your food!



I made it to the second round of the Sammic Scholarship for the Basque Stage! The second stage consists of 30 applicants that will be narrowed down to two. Keep an eye out for our videos that are due on the 10th!

New Adventure

I can’t wait to start my new adventure this Tuesday in Puerto Rico. I can’t wait to learn about their cuisine and experience the fruit of the land! As for now I am back home after finally graduating Kendall College with a bachelors in Culinary Arts! It has been a long, joyful experience. Now its time to “shift” into a new chapter of my life. The “Working Chapter”. Although I have been working since I could walk it still seams strange to me. The strangeness is most likely coming from not having to go to school any more. But needless to say I’m excited and ready for the experience. 

New Adventure…



Golden Beet Terrine, Leek tops, Agar Agar, Ver Ju and Veg Stock, Melted Goat Cheese, Garnished with Aragon Oil, Sea Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper and Micro Sorrell






Rabbit Ballantine with rabbit meat and offals mousseline, seasoned with chives and savory. Pommes Anna with Rosemary and Garlic Browned Butter, Swiss Chard Puree, Sautéed Golden Chanterelles, Bacon Cream, Apple Cider and Rabbit Jus with a salad of Apple, Claytonia, Celery Leaf, Fennel Fronds, Dijon Mustard and Grapeseed oil


Missing pictures of one of my dishes but over all but Jacob and I had overall great comments on the food, but like always there is always room for improvement! We had lots of thought and preparation that went into this and it all paid off in the end. 

Chaine Des Rotisseurs

Last night was the Chaine Des Rotisseurs Kendall Scholarship “Magnificent Wine Dinner”. Prestigious Chef’s, Manager’s, Sommelier’s and Restaurant Owner’s from all over Chicago attended the dinner. Select students were asked to prepare a four course meal for this dinner. I honorably got selected to create the entree for the evening. There was a lot of practicing and tweaking of my dish before I got it to pair well with the wine. My dish was Duck breast, a Duck Confit Potato Cake, Sautéed Dandelion Greens, Quince, Duck Cracklings, Spiced Duck Sauce and a Claytonia Salad. I had glued two duck breasts together and wrapped them in plastic making cylinders so I could get even portions from the breasts along with giving the dish some hight. I sous vide the duck breast at 147 for 45 minutes then pan seared them in duck fat to get some caramelization, sliced and finished with black pepper. For the duck confit potato cake I confit the duck with fresh bay leafs, coriander, black pepper, garlic, savory and juniper berries. After the duck legs were tender I shredded them and mixed them with blanched leek tops and ver jus. I freshly graded potatoes and mixed them with potato starch and leek bottoms, pressed a thin layer of potatoes in a ring mold followed by a thick layer of duck confit and finished with another thin layer of potatoes. the cakes were finished by pan frying them in the duck confit oil, yumm. This technique took some time to get right but it was well worth it. The quince was poached in a simple syrup and brightened with a little lemon juice and salt. On top the quince was duck cracklings I made from the skin of the duck breast, cutting it into strips and rendering out of the fat until crispy and seasoned it with popcorn salt.  The spiced duck sauce was made with toasted, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, juniper berry’s, bay leaf and black pepper, deglazed with honey and red wine, reduced with duck stock and beautiful caramelized mirepoix, at the end mounted with butter. The claytonia was added for freshness and dressed with freshly cracked paper, salt, ver jus and the duck confit oil. The plate was finished with a little chive oil to brighten it up.  It was a great experience coming together and working with my peers to collaborate in creating a grand dinner for these hospitalitarians we all had a great time!


Us lovely Teachers Assistance!


Duck breast, Duck Confit and Potato Cake, Sautéed Dandelion Greens, Quince, Duck Cracklings, Spiced Duck Sauce and a Claytonia Salad


The Team!





Before Friday 7am. It had felt like I packed my entire life into one container, but it was just my mise en place (a French word for everything in its place) for capstoneA solid prep sheet and proper mise en place set me up for success.


After 3pm on Friday. After a long day in the kitchen, all went great, lots of great comments and always room for improvement! More pictures of the food to come.