As promised, today’s post features a guest blogger who will be writing for Mind Your Bees and Trees every Tuesday. I couldn’t be more excited for our new weekly series because it features a good friend of ours, and an amazing cook. So without further ado, drum roll please……MYBT is proud to introduce Tuesdays with Tommy.
Before I met Tommy, I heard about him. My husband came home from work one day and told me someone had made lunch for everyone at work that day and it was amazing. My husband does not usually get that excited about food so I knew it must have been good—I also knew I had to meet this guy. I met Tommy a couple of weeks later at a BBQ where I got to taste some of his delicious creations and I too was hooked.
Tommy is not only a wonderful cook, but a great guy too. Everything that I have ever had that Tommy made was absolutely phenomenal. He has that unique ability to make the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted without using any recipes! I really admire him not only for his amazing cooking skills, but also for the fact that everything he makes is made from the heart. I love Tommy’s philosophy on food and cooking, but I’ll let him tell you all about it J.
I am honored that Tommy asked to be a part of this blog. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I know I will!
And now I’ll turn it over to Tommy.
So let me preface this post with…here goes nothing.
First of all, the job I work in (we’ll just say US Air Force for now) has given my family and me many chances to make new friends worldwide. While in Okinawa, Japan, I met two guys that I think so highly of I’d like to adopt one of them and make them my little brother. Chris and Giff. For this post’s sake, let’s just say that Giff Bloom is the winner (sorry Chris). So how does this have anything to do with food you ask? Well through my friend I was also able to meet his lovely wife Kristen. We immediately had one driving interest in common….Our love for food. So there is the connection I was hoping to make with my lengthy lead in statement.
Now here is a little about myself as it relates to food in hopes to give some sort of credit to myself so that Kristen’s blog indeed gets taken seriously. I grew up in a family dominated by food. I would actually go as far as to say that I can easily describe what my family stands for in 3 words…Italian, loud, and food—not necessarily in that order. We do indeed cook and eat more than any other family I’ve ever met though.
My mother is my true inspiration. In the city of Colorado Springs, CO, she is a well renowned chef. And although she had no formal training and never held the official title of chef (which I think is a crock by the way, I am more impressed with her being self taught and all) she still found herself working in a catering company that was a feeder for the most luxurious resort in Colorado. So, since the age of, let’s just call it very young, I was always in the kitchen, by her side learning what I could whether I wanted to or not. By the time I was in high school, I began cooking for events—even my own homecoming and prom as I remember! But since then, I have lent my services to friends, family and occasionally the Air Force (even though that gig pays terrible…well actually nothing).
Most importantly though (and if Kristen lets me post again after this rant) I would like to drive home the most important aspect of my cooking and what it stands for. Even after my mother worked all day in a kitchen, we had dinner together, prepared by her, as a family. I am not just talking about 2-3 times a week. I mean Sunday night through Thursday night we had to be at the table at 6:00 for dinner. I thought it was a drag back then when all my friends were going to McDonalds and we were stuck at home with Mom and Dad. That quickly changed however when my house became one of the most popular places to hang out because of its food.
So now that I have a family of my own…most beautiful wife Jamie, rambunctious son Sam and full of attitude daughter Jessie, I have kept up that tradition. And this statement is not to brag but it is something I am very proud of—in the 6 years we have been married, I have made dinner every night I was home and able. I know that someday my kids will also appreciate what I had…or so I only hope.
Ok so a recipe…Finally! Little food gems are tucked away in every community. In Okinawa, the obvious is seafood. Although I do love sushi, I tend to enjoy bringing out the more progressive American style with this ingredient. So today the fam and I went down to Awase fish market and scored some Japanese little neck clams. With them I prepared steamed little neck clams in beer, ginger, cilantro and lime and for dessert we made a coconut panna cotta with mango sticky rice and papaya coulees.
If anybody does read this novel, I hope you do one thing…Get out, buy some fresh food, make it with your family, sit down together to eat, drink, listen to some Frank Sinatra, and enjoy life together…ok then, until the next post (my wife just informed me I have written too much).
Steamed Little Neck Clams with Beer, Ginger, Cilantro and Lime
*Prep Time 1 hr 30 min
1 pound Little Neck Clams
3 cloves Garlic
1 piece Ginger
1 Cup Chopped Cilantro
1 cup all purpose flour
Dark Amber Beer
Red Chili Flakes
1st scrub and wash clams in fresh water. Then put clams in a bowl of cold water (completely covered), and mix in 1 cup of flour. Stir several times then place in fridge for 1 hour. Remove and rinse before use.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté shallot in medium size pot on med/high heat. Add ginger (peeled and cut into matchstick size pieces) and garlic that has been minced. Then add clams, one bottle of beer (dark amber preferred). Cover and steam until all clams are open (6-10 min). Remove from heat, squeeze two limes over the clams, add cilantro and red chili flakes to taste. Stir thoroughly, and seve in a large bowl with French bread.
Best paired with a Sauvignon Blanc (I like Nobilo or Starborough) or Dark Amber Beer. (Side Note from Kristen—I love that Tommy includes suggestions for wine pairings!)
Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sticky Rice and Papaya Coulis
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1 (15-ounce) can coconut cream (recommended: Coco Loco)
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Assorted tropical fruits, such as: kiwi, mango, and papaya, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice, for garnish (about 1 1/2 cups total)
Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over 3 tablespoons of cool water in a small bowl. Set aside to soften.
In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut cream and coconut milk over medium heat until the sides begin to bubble. Lower the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin, stirring to make sure it is completely dissolved.
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Strain the coconut mixture into a bowl that will fit easily into the bowl of water. Set into the bowl of water to cool, stirring every few minutes with a rubber spatula until the mixture starts to thicken. If the mixture starts to set, remove it immediately.
Remove the bowl of coconut mixture from the bowl of water. Empty out the water and wipe the bowl dry. In the dry bowl, stir the cream and confectioners’ sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir into the coconut mixture. Divide the coconut mixture evenly among 6 (7 to 8-ounce) custard cups or ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
To serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the molds and invert each panna cotta onto a serving plate. Spoon some of the diced fruit over each, allowing the fruit to spill onto the plate.
Mango Sticky Rice and Papaya Coulis
The mango sticky rice is very easy—just make normal sushi style rice, add diced mango (1-2 Mangos) and 3 tablespoons honey.
The papaya coulis is 2 papayas and 1 cup Asti Spumanti champagne blended together.
Question: Where did you learn how to cook? Who or what is your cooking inspiration?