About Me

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I have recently developed this huge passion for cooking, even though I've been cooking since i was 15 and have been a chef for the last 10 years. I think I am addicted to it. Or am I addicted to eating my cooking? Either way, I want to share my experiences with whom ever is interested. That is why I started this blog. Currently I am self employed as a private/personal chef and a stay at home dad. I am very thankful to have ended my restaurant career not so long ago! It's a hard life, especially when your trying to raise a family! I live in Naples, Florida where I met my beautiful wife while working at a yacht club about 3 years ago. We now have a little 6 month old daughter and life as we know it has changed forever ( for the better)! There is something going on in the food world that is very exciting! People are starting to open their eyes a little. We're going back in time, back to the farm, back to the dinner table. Something that has to be done in my opinion. I spent a lot of time at the dinner table as a child and thought is was very beneficial in how I ended up. The thing I like best about being a chef is that I will never learn it all. Ever!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ratatouille Revealed

Not only is it fun to say but it's also fun to make and if you haven't seen the movie yet, it's a must see.  The best part about making Ratatouille is that you don't have to be exact.  It's more or less a rustic vegetable stew and you can use it many different ways.  It can be served hot or cold or at room temperature.  It can be served next to an omelet at breakfast or under a piece of fish during lunch.  And if you really wanna jazz up your guests, serve it next to braised beef short ribs with some buttery mashed potatoes and top it off with some cornmeal fried onions.  I always start this stew the same way.  I start by heating a large sauce pot over medium high heat, then I add olive oil and butter, the best of both worlds.  The next thing I add to the pot is sliced garlic and shallots.  I cook them in the butter and oil gently until they both melt and become translucent and very fragrant.  There are a few vegetables that I consider standard and those are eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, and  tomatoes, but the last time I made it I added radish, celery and spinach.  I dice all the vegetable so that they are the same size, about a 1/4 inch.  I add them to the pot all at the same time with a little kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and a shot of Tabasco and stir gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Then I add some tomato paste.  You can leave this out but I like the depth and richness it adds.  I cook this mixture, uncovered, over medium heat until the vegetables become somewhat al dente, about 45 minutes.  If you like your vegetables less crunchy, by all means continue to cook the vegetables until they are done the way you like them.  You can turn this into a soup or a sauce by adding vegetable stock or chicken stock.  You can also puree it for a velvety texture.  The most important part of making this phenomenal is the addition of fresh herbs.  I like to use fresh thyme, basil, a little bit of rosemary and parsley.  It is important to add these at the very end when you take it off the heat.  If your using dried herbs you can add those in the beginning.  To finish this dish, sprinkle with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.  If you like spicy foods, add a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce.  Remember, there are no rules in cooking.  Everybody's tastes differ.  If your the type of person that must follow a recipe, go to the library and check out The New Professional Chef's recipe.

To your health,

Chef Don Paleno

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