June 22, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I love my job, which now means I use my computer as much as my stove. While I appreciate the learning opportunities gained from delving into areas beyond my expertise, part of me really misses spending more time in my kitchen. I had the chance to cook for a group of people this past weekend, and remember how much I enjoy the creative side of the business.

I decided on a menu of sliders (many of the guests who attended the dinner are late teens, early twenties). Hamburger sliders were a given, but I also wanted to broaden their food horizon a bit, so I did a teriyaki marinated chicken breast slider with grilled pineapple & ginger aioli. Most of the kids looked at me like I had two heads when I suggested they put pineapple on their sandwich, but all who tried it agreed it was yummy.

While I’m very comfortable in commercial kitchens, I’m a bit phobic when it comes to bbq’s and smokers, mostly due to lack of experience & practice. I decided to try it for this dinner, doing a house smoked pork slider with organic slaw (cabbage & carrots grown in my sister’s amazing garden!) The pork turned out nicely, but next time I’ll work on getting a little more smoke into it. Thank goodness practice makes perfect, and a special thanks to the bbq advice from Trey (very talented MG Chef)!

So…what to serve with s? My niece, for whom the party was being thrown, decided it should be mac & cheese, grilled vegetables & fresh fruit. Being a bit immodest, the mac & cheese rocked…those years of practice making a white sauce have most definitely paid off! The veggies were also yummy…hard to beat grilled organic, just picked carrots & green beans! And this time of year, fruit is spectacular…I love to work with it because it looks so beautiful with so little effort (although I’ve said for years fruit is Mother Nature’s little joke on chefs…when it looks great it tastes terrible, and when it looks terrible it tastes great). Oh well, a little fresh mint garnish with all the different colors made for a beautiful display.

The strawberry shortcake finished the meal with a bang…who doesn’t love sweet, freshly baked biscuits with orange scented local strawberries & amaretto whipped cream?!?


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