Sunday, January 04, 2009

Chef Bradley Video Cooking Series - Soups Episode 1 - Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Here is the first of the "Soup" series. It's a roasted butternut squash soup that people request every winter holiday season. Very easy and inexpensive to create. When my web site is back online, you can visit it to get the recipe.


1. Use local ingredients whenever possible.
2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel your squash, its safer and you will waste less squash.
3. Cube the squash to about the same size to insure even roasting.
4. When roasting your squash and sweating your mire poix, do not add too much color so that the soup color will be true.
5. Garnish soup with pre-cooked diced butternut squash, toasted butternut squash seeds, and/ or cinnamon sour cream for an extra yum.

Chef Bradley Video Cooking Series - Main Course Episode 1 - Grill/ Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

I've decided to start a video learning series on how to create simple dishes like a chef from your own home. Since I teach a lot of cooking classes, why not take it to the web! When my web site is back up, I will post these there as well along with the recipes.


1. Free Range and Anti-Biotic Free Chicken (local if you can get it).
2. Use a sharp knife! A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one!
3. Pat the bird dry with paper towel to ensure a nice even crust.
4. Use unsalted butter for your herb butter so you can control the salt.
5. Make sure the chicken is cooked to an internal temp. of at least 165F!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Mike's Pastry Shop at the North End, Boston

During a recent visit to Boston this past holiday season, we took a walk up to the North End to check out the famous Hanover Street. There you will find some of the best authentic Italian food in the country. We were told about Mike's Pastry Shop by more than a few people and just HAD to check it out.

Well, as with other famous eateries we've been to, it was PACKED!!! We opened the heavy door to the site of at least a few dozen people just ordering and eating and drinking cappuccinos and eating and, well, generally stuffing themselves, lol. I had my family find a seat while I ordered about four randoms treats. Two kinds of Canolis, a slab of Oreo cake and a yellow custard tartlette. As we all sampled each snack with a fork and napkin, washing them down with Starbucks (which, had I known they served great espresso, I wouldn't have been so stupid and disrespectful by bringing in a chain coffee, but live and learn, eh?). Each bite was better than the last. Everything was made from scratch. The best pastry cream I've had since working for Myers Park Country Club so many years before, lol. Such a great attention to detail, very impressive. And, let's not forget the service, fantastic and very nice people! I guess when you're raking in the money like they were, I'd be very nice too! :)

To quote another blog that I like to frequent,
"Upon entering, anyone with a sweet tooth will feel like a kid in a candy shop—the variety of biscotti, butter cookies, rum cakes, cream puffs, and other Italian pastries boggles the mind.
Mike’s doesn’t do anything in moderation, and the cannoli are no exception—lined up on the top shelf, their flavors start with yellow and chocolate cream, proceeding to chocolate mousse, New York cheesecake, nutty Florentine cannoli, and more. But real pastry skill comes out in the classics, so my order was simple: one ricotta cannolo.
Big and hefty, filled to the brim, Mike’s cannoli are a sight to behold. This one had a substantial crispy shell that was fried to a satisfying crunch, and held its shape until the very last bite. The filling was wonderfully sweet and almost silky in texture. Generously sized as it was, it was nearly impossible not to finish—a pastry that would make any Sicilian proud.

If you're ever in the area, check it out :)

Mom's Mac-N-Cheese

Part of the reason I fell in love with food and, coincidentally, became a chef for a living, is that I was surrounded by great food as a kid. From the best meatballs you could ever imagine to pork pie with gravy to meatloaf, I was a lucky kid. But, the food that sticks out as a personal favorite has GOT to be my moms mac and cheese.

I recently visited my family where I grew up in New Hampshire over the holidays. As with most visits, there's always a request for a childhood favorite and mac and cheese seems to be the most popular. I mean, can you blame anyone? With all the sharp white cheddar goodness one could hope to ask for, why not!?

She starts with cooked macaroni (or, penne if she feels like it) and tosses that in a white cheddar bechamel sauce. Usually there's some ham chunks involved and the whole thing is topped with crumbled Ritz Crackers. It's baked for about an hour and we always eat too much! I had three helpings, ouch.

As much as I try, I just cannot seem to replicate the goodness of the dish. I came close a couple times but, just not enough. She wrote down a detailed recipe so maybe I'll give it a try again. Sounds like a future blog to be, eh?

Kane's Donuts in Saugus, Mass.

With our recent trip to NH to see friends and family for the holidays, we decided to take a road trip down to Saugus Massachusetts to have donuts and coffee and the "World Famous Kane's Donuts". Man, were we in for a treat!

We had heard about them on a TV show featuring the top 10 best fried foods on the Travel Channel and agreed that we HAD to go the next time we were in the area.

What a great atmosphere. The place is pretty small inside with about 4 tables and 6 bar stools at the counter. To say that the place was busy would be an understatement. Here is was mid-morning on a Monday and it was standing room only. We were lucky enough to grab a seat at the counter! We were there about 30 minutes and it was non-stop donut and coffee selling. Everyone had a huge smile on there face (the customers and the workers). It was just a nice friendly place to be while we gorged ourselves on donuts. Their prices are decent too. All around, a great deal.

They kept passing fresh donuts through the window and brewing fresh New England brand Sumatran whole bean coffee. You should have smelled the place!

So, we find our seat and order a donut each. My sister and I ordered Boston cream donuts, my son ordered a chocolate honey glazed and my wife got a chocolate frosted. As we took a bite of our poofy morsels, we said nothing and looked over at each other with an agreeing nod of approval thinking one thing, "YUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMM!!!". DAMN was that good!

I sipped my coffee and was very surprised at how great it was. I'm a bit of a coffee snob and never have very high expectations when it comes to coffee, especially at a donut shop. But, yeah, it was amazing man. I looked around to investigate the coffee situation and noticed that they were using New England Sumatran whole bean coffee and grinding them to order. No pot stayed on the machine longer than about 2 minutes so we knew the coffee was fresh.

We chatted with the folks behind the counter and they were all very friendly. Apparently its run by the Kane family, and everyone that worked there (except the Latino girl in the back) were related some how.

We planned to take the train into Boston to find more good munchies to chew on. This man next to me, Jim was his name, drew out a very detailed map to the train station on a napkin for me and we had a great conversation about the place and the area. He told me that they make everything fresh every day and are famous for this huuuuge coffee roll (he pointed to a fresh basket of them as they walked by in one of the owners arms). I think they weighed like 2.5 pounds or something!

We got to the train and headed into Boston. We were in for a few more great treats! More on that later.

Hey look, it's Miss Massachusetts 2007! Cool, eh? :) She works for a donut shop, who knew?

A match made in heaven :)

Porn? Oh, yea.

Happy faces, soon to be bloated, lol

My visit with Family in NH

So, we just got back from our yearly trip to visit family in sunny New Hampshire. When we've been up in the past we've been met by bitter cold weather followed by snow and/ or ice. But, I guess we took some nice weather with us because the temp stayed between 40 and 60 about every day! But, as soon as we left, they had a snow storm which dumped over 6 inches, lol. Wow, we lucked out.

We got to see close family and old friends, visit some very cool places and eat some AWESOME food. I'll post more later, just teasing right now, lol.

The gang!

My son and his 95 year old great grand mother.

My crazy sister who's been through a lot with me. It was great to see her after almost 3 years!


Been a little while since I blogged last. I apologize to the 2 people that are currently reading my blog on a regular basis :)

Back on December 12th, I helped Family Catering Service in Huntersville, NC with a catering in Fort Mill, SC. After fighting with my GPS and getting there an hour later than expected, we pulled off a decent event. There were like 150 people there and enough food to feed 300 plus, lol. It was a cold night but everyone was warm inside with the cases of wine and beer they consumed.

An ex-chef-turned-food-salesman and I ran the pasta station which consisted of spinach and cheese filled ravioli, a choice of marinara or Alfredo sauces and 5 toppings heated to order. There was a mishap with the burner fuel and we barely had enough butane to make it but, through some sort of miracle, we made it to the last plate with no problems.

They also had a carving station, a fondue station and a dessert table. I must say, they are doing some mean business. Looks like they could use a professional chef to work out the kinks, but over all, they do good stuff.

They stay very busy every day out of there basement professional kitchen. I've never seen anything like it in my life! The home-owners gutted out their basement and installed a fully functional, health department approved kitchen fully equipped with a 6 burner range, two double decker ovens, hot boxes, coolers, freezers and a huge hood system which they picked up at an auction for only a few hundred bucks. Very impressive man.

I wasn't able to click too many pictures but, you can check out what I did get:

The crowd was rockin'!

This portly little dude has a bit of an ego. He tried to throw me under the bus with the caterer, but whatever. If that's what it takes to make yourself feel honorable and hide the fact that you cant cook, have at it. :)