TGIF….well not quite, but close enough! I think the only thing that has kept me going this week was knowing that the end was in sight….sigh Well Wednesday night the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a train…lol…..and I think I have come to the sad realization that I just can’t work 17 hour days anymore, old age certainly catches up to us all. Thankfully the days of 80 hour weeks are only an occasional occurrence, although when they come at the end of the school year, they are so much harder to take.
But we all know why you’re here today, it’s Guest Post Friday!! And today I have a very special Guest, my friend and Co-Chef from ChefHangout.com, Mario Porreca. You can find both of us at Chef Hangout along with a great line up of Chefs, teaching online cooking classes using Google+ hangouts, they really are a lot of fun! I think by now you know how much I enjoy Google+ and how I have embraced it as The Social Media, so if you haven’t already joined make sure you do so very soon!
But that’s enough of that for now, you came to make a new friend, and see some delicious food, and I promise you won’t be disappointed on either count!
So with out further ado it’s my great pleasure to introduce you to……..
The title is not what you think – allow me to explain…
My name is Mario Porreca and I am a chef, author, and public speaker. I am also very honored and thankful that Chef Dennis is giving me the opportunity to contribute a guest post to his fantastic blog this week! I met Chef Dennis through ChefHangout.com. If you regularly keep yourself abreast with this blog, I am sure you are well informed as to what ChefHangout.com is, I, like Chef Dennis, am also a featured Chef there. All I will tell you is that the site and concept are awesomely wonderful (I’m not sure if it is grammatically correct to describe it that way, but forgive me, I’m a chef and not an English major) and if you are not familiar with it – now is as good a time as any to check it out ! If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to go to my Website and click on the “About Mario” tab and my biography will then magically appear! While you’re there, please explore all of the other fun things posted, such as the videos of all of my TV appearances!
My philosophy on food is very simple: “Make it fun and make it your own!” What do I mean by that? First and foremost I am on a mission to make cooking fun again. Too many people nowadays see cooking as a chore, and I couldn’t disagree with them more! Food and cooking should be all about fun, and inevitably lead to fun that includes family, friends, and loved ones. The more you do something (anything), the better you get at it. The better you get at something the more fun it becomes. The more fun something is the more you want to do or engage in that particular activity. It is a simple, yet true, logical progression. Therefore – the more you cook, the better you will get at cooking, and the more fun cooking will become. Not to mention all the praise and glory you will get from the people on the other end of the fork! Even if their mouths are full when they do it, it is still nice to hear!
The next step in my philosophy is to “Make it your own.” What I mean by this is to STOP using recipes as the end all be all to cooking! To understand this you first have to have a solid understanding of what a recipe actually is. Most people think that recipes are the lovely little pictures they see in books or on their computer screen…WRONG! What they are looking at is a finished dish, not a recipe. A recipe is simply a set of instructions designed to achieve a controlled outcome, of course if they are followed properly. Even if you do get that controlled outcome, it’s still not yours – you don’t own that result. I want you to use recipes more like cliff notes. I didn’t read books in high school; instead I read the cliff notes. By using cliff notes I would get the gist of what the author was trying to say without having to agonize through what I considered insignificant details. This would create time for more entertaining activities for me later (like cooking)! Use recipes to get motivation and direction and then put your own twist and personality into what you are creating. This will give you ownership of that dish and that ownership (knowing that a particular dish is YOURS) is a very exciting and rewarding thing!
Now that you know my philosophy, onto explaining the title of my post! I am extremely lucky to have randomly received this date (May 11, 2012) for my guest post. We all know what this Sunday (May 13, 2012) is: Mother’s Day! I was trying to decide on a recipe to highlight for my post, and then an idea just kind of hit me. So I went with my gut and did what anyone in my position would do, I said “Hey mom, what recipe would you like me to highlight and share with everyone for my guest post?” When she made her decision I was thrilled because the recipe she chose just so happens to be one of my favorites as well! I can’t lie and say this surprises me, because my Momma didn’t raise no fool!
The reason I am so excited about this recipe is because it not only takes me back to my Italian roots, but because it so simple! The title of this post is “KISS for Mom!” The word KISS is fully capitalized because it is actually an acronym for: Keep it simple, Stupid!
Dave Chang is a great and very well known chef and I would like to share a quote from him that when I read it, and fully understood it, really helped shape me as a chef. The quote is was made when he and his team were tailoring menu ideas and it went like this:
“Instead of using 24 crayons, let’s just use 3 or 4 and see how well we can draw.”
The recipe that Mom picked for me to share with you is simple and only requires 3 or 4 crayons to create per say. The recipe is an Open-Faced Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich and what I love the most about it is the fact that you get to let the freshness and pureness of the ingredients speak for themselves. It’s got fantastic contrasting textures and a depth and complexity of flavor that is created from fresh wonderful ingredients. It is a recipe taken from my first cookbook: Isagenix Is Food! Visit my Website to find it! This particular sandwich is even UNDER 600 calories! It’s pretty tough to beat that coupled with the fact that it just tastes so amazing!
- 5 large fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces cherry tomatoes (about 8 small tomatoes), quartered
- 1 ½ ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (about 16)
- ½ ounce red onion, fine julienne
- Sea salt to taste
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 slice sourdough bread (2 ounce slice), toasted
- 2 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
- In a blender, purée the fresh basil and olive oil until smooth.
- In a small mixing bowl toss the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and red onion, with the puréed basil and olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- After marinating, spoon the tomato and cheese mixture onto the toasted sourdough bread.
- Toss the parsley, oregano, and tarragon in the bowl that was used to marinade the tomatoes and cheese to dress with any excess basil oil.
- Place the fresh herbs onto the tomatoes and cheese and drizzle the top of the sandwich with tarragon vinegar.
- Season to taste with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and serve immediately.
In closing, I would just like to thank Chef Dennis once again for this wonderful opportunity of being a guest blogger on his awesome site! I would also like to extend a very happy, healthy, and enjoyable Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there (especially Denise Porreca, my mom)! Make this dish for your Mom on Sunday and throughout the summer months, and don’t forget to Keep it simple, Stupid – and give her a big hug and kiss!
Thank you so much for such a delicious guest post Chef Mario, and thank you for the reminder about Mother’s Day, I do hope everyone can visit with their Mother or if that’s not possible, recreate one of her favorite dishes and share it with your friends or family in her honor
Thanks for stopping by today, and to all the Moms out there Happy Mother’s Day in advance, I hope you have a happy restful special day! To everyone else, get outside and enjoy your weekend! See you all real soon!