Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day menu

On Monday, the residents partake in their normal activities as American honor its fallen veterans. Since treatment groups and counseling sessions occupy their time, I've put a Memorial Day menu together so they can celebrate. Even though families aren't able to join the ladies, they'll enjoy a holiday cookout on the patio.


Chef Steven's Triple 'B' Burger

All-beef patty grilled on BBQ, garnished with 2 bacon strips & bleu cheese crumbles
Swiss or American cheese for non-bleu cheese eaters

Corn on the cob

Grilled to perfection with chili butter

Roast potato and asparagus salad

Red potatoes and asparagus roasted in oven until golden
Tossed with sweet rosemary balsamic vinaigrette

All the fixin's

Sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion, Romain lettuce leaves
Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise

Bowl of strawberries

Sliced fresh California strawberries, tossed in lemon juice, mint & vanilla

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Culinary specilist trains with Royal Navy

This article should bring a smile to my professional colleagues. Their passion for food drives them to prepare most meal components from scratch. It has become second nature. These chefs transform the word 'cook' into an action verb by cooking full meals, all from scratch.

As a chef for more that 40 years in residential programs, I learned my love for cooking in the U.S. Navy, a career that's focused on the Navy, health care, corrections and camps. When I graduated from U.S. Navy Commissaryman Class 'A' School in March 1971, scratch cooking dominated the Navy's enlisted galleys. We prepared the whole meal from scratch during my eight and one-half years of active duty.

The Navy slowly shifted the emphasis away from scratch cooking in the intervening years. Now, according to this Navy Supply press release, the Navy is slowly reintroducing scratch cooking into its ships and shore stations. Initial goals call for scratch cooking 40 percent of the menu on aircraft carriers.

Maybe the Navy needs to recall some of it retired chief petty officers, like CS1 Cherry's father. We could teach our younger shipmates how to cook. A short cruise on a Navy man of war would be fun for old-times sake. And we could pass our knowledge into the younger generation.

Enjoy the article ...

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) John Cherry completed a three-month culinary training course with the United Kingdom Royal Navy's Defence Maritime Logistics School, and returned to Fort Lee, Va. Jan. 3.

Currently serving as an instructor at the Culinary Specialist Class "A" School at Fort Lee, Va., Cherry began instructing a new class today, and will incorporate some of the "hands on" cooking he has learned to help Sailors better understand the Navy's incentive for scratch cooking.

"The training provided by the Royal Navy gives their sailors the knowledge to be able to cook a product from scratch, and not rely solely on pre-prepared items all the time," he explained. This will enable Cherry to better instruct his students in scratch cooking, and supports the U.S. Navy's efforts in increasing scratch cooking and baking aboard carriers to near 40 percent of total output.

The Navy has set three goals to help improve culinary specialists' quality of work. These include slight changes to the menu to incorporate more scratch cooking and bakery products, increasing training and ensuring appropriate staffing levels.

The training Cherry received will certainly help him meet these goals. He was selected by the school's leadership to attend a three-month culinary training regiment, conducted from mid-September through December 2011, including a five-day transit aboard a Royal Navy ship.

"The biggest impact is with the length of the course with the Royal Navy," he emphasized. "The UK training allows students to get in-depth training and allows them to function in a galley onboard ship with a lot of autonomy. It gives that Sailor the knowledge to be able to cook and produce from scratch. It also encourages them to apply what they learned during training to menu planning aboard ships, and use their skills to explore different dishes within the ship's menu," Cherry added.

His efforts coincide with Naval Supply Systems Command ongoing work with Type Commands to increase scratch cooking on carrier menus to 40 percent, which will help guarantee Sailors receive nourishing, high-quality food prepared fresh every day by culinary specialists who take seriously their impact on Sailors' health, morale, and fleet readiness.

"The training CS1 Cherry received will help him provide the over the shoulder training that our junior culinary specialists deserve, to increase their scratch cooking skills," said Cmdr. Danny King, Naval Supply Systems Command Navy Food Service director. "As an example of our commitment, the Navy has increased scratch cooking on carrier menus to 40 percent in just the past two months to bring our Sailors exceptional meals they can enjoy away from home."

King said that the UK Food Allowance per Sailor is not as high as the U.S. Navy's, which requires onboard chefs to prepare many of the meals using raw ingredients, vice using the pre-prepared items.

"In the U.S. Navy, we have focused on making Navy food service as economical and efficient as possible for the last several years," King said. "We are now working to match those efficiencies by helping the fleet balance their menus and return to more scratch cooking."

Cherry served as culinary specialist at the White House for President George W. Bush and later for Adm. Robert Willard, former vice chief of Naval Operations. He said the training he received will help him meet and exceed his career goals. "My next goal is to serve as a chief petty officer, and to run my own food service establishment, either aboard ship or in a flag community."

Having a father who retired as a chief mess management specialist (forerunner of the culinary specialist rating) and having grown up in the Navy-centric community of Norfolk, Va., Cherry knew as a very young man that he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.

Culinary specialists provide more than 92 million wholesome and nutritious meals per year, helping ensure the Navy's fighting forces operate at peak performance, and are ready to respond to threats and humanitarian operations worldwide. With even more advanced training on the way, Sailors, serving both afloat and ashore, can look forward to even healthier and better-tasting meals.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dutch oven pizza (take 'n bake)

I purchased two take and bake pizzas from Gularte's Pizza & Deli in Diamond Springs, Calif., last night. My usual practice is to call home and ask my son to preheat the home oven to 450 degrees. He set the oven as directed. When I arrived home 15 minutes later, I learned the oven wasn't working.

To bake the pizzas -- 16-inch large and 12-inch medium -- I inverted a 14-inch regular camp Dutch oven and set it on a lid rack. After lighting a chimney of lump charcoal, I piled burning coals on the top (normally the bottom) of the oven. A number of coals were stuffed under the oven as well. To lift the oven off of the lid, I wore heavy welder's gloves.
The 16-inch pizza had to be trimmed to fit inside the Dutch oven. I folded the dough over into a braid, trimmed the cardboard tray and set the pizza in the inverted lid. I set the on the lid and loaded it with coals. Since mesquite lump charcoal (I use Lazzari brand) burns very hot, I was confident I had sufficient heat to bake both pizzas. Each pizza took around 25 minutes to bake.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Military recipe committee meets to explore healthy options

By Kathy Adams
Naval Supply Systems Command Corporate Communications

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Members of the Joint Services Recipe Committee met April 25 at Naval Supply Systems Command headquarters to collaborate on new recipes and suggest new food products that provide healthy options for the 21st Century Sailor and Marine.

PERTH, Australia (April 26, 2012) -- Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Darrius Thomas, left, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Bunker Hill (DDG 52), and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Roosevelt Roberts, right, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), prepare vegetables at the Incontro Restaurant in Perth during a chef exchange visit. The visit is part of the Cooks and Chefs Exchange Program, which allows U.S. Navy culinary specialists and restaurant chefs to meet and exchange information. Carl Vinson was anchored in Perth for a port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dean M. Cates.)
The Joint Services Recipe Committee is comprised of Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy dietitians, and Army Public Health Command personnel. The committee meets quarterly to review recipes and determine new products to be tested at the Armed Forces Recipe Service testing site in Natick, Mass.

"It all starts with a great recipe," said Cmdr. Danny King, director of food service for the Navy. "Our recipes bring quality ingredients together creating the base for our menus. By choosing healthy ingredients, we make healthy recipes that create healthy menus."

The recipe committee's efforts contribute toward the goal of producing healthy, nutritious meals that taste great, sustain the warfighter and support a one-catalog concept that can be supportable worldwide by Defense Logistics Agency-Troop Support for all services (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard).

"Taking a fresh look at recipes is an important part of incorporating healthy alternatives in food prepared for all services," King said.

"The Joint Services Recipe Committee is the backbone of nutrition for Sailors and Marines," said Jennifer Person-Whippo, Navy nutrition program manager and registered dietician. "The committee ensures that quality ingredients are available for use by food service personnel around the world.

"Ethnic flavors and food trends are considered during recipe development and revision," said Person-Whippo. "Feedback from service members who prepare the food is key to determining what works and what food items are well-liked in the field. When new recipes are proposed, dietitians prepare the recipes and scale them to quantities of 100 portions for all services to use.

"From a Navy perspective, food is the biggest factor affecting morale on the ship," said King. "Nothing impacts Sailors more on a daily basis than meals. Trained culinary specialists prepare top quality, fresh, and nutritious foods, contributing to the quality of life for Sailors and Marines who are deployed as well as those stationed ashore."

The Navy's more than 7,300 culinary specialists, deployed around the globe feed on average more than 92.5 million wholesome and nutritious meals per year, ensuring the Navy's fighting forces operate at peak performance and are ready to respond to threats worldwide.

Navy commanding officers agree that nothing impacts Sailors on a day-to-day basis more than the food culinary specialists prepare for them; they believe these top quality meals contribute directly to Sailor quality of life and morale.

Today's culinary specialists have greater culinary instruction than ever before. With even more advanced training on the way, Sailors, both afloat and ashore, can look forward to even healthier and better-tasting meals in the near future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spinach and chickpea soup

Here's recipe that I tried out on the residents at work this week. This is one of those soups that was born out of necessity. With one quart of leftover spinach in the refrigerator, I needed a creative way to use it. I quickly ruled out cream of spinach soup. With the heat, I didn't think the residents would care for it.

 This recipe is adapted from a similar recipe at Kalyn's Kitchen. The combination of chickpeas, spinach and tomatoes appealed to me. I soon realized that spinach and chickpea soup is a multi-season pleaser. Dried basil and frozen spinach stand in for when fresh spinach and basil are in short supply in the winter. Once fresh products appear at the market in the spring, you'll enjoy the as it's written.


Four cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, may be used in place of dried peas. Use 1-1/2 pounds frozen spinach, thawed, in place of fresh in of the fresh.

1 pound dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-1/2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) diced tomatoes
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 quarts fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Soak chickpeas overnight in cold water. Drain and discard water. Place peas in heavy stockpot and cover with cold water. Simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until tender; Drain and set aside.

In a 10- to 12-quart stockpot, heat olive oil. Add onions and sweat until translucent. Add garlic and stir, cooking for a minute or two. Do not brown or burn garlic.

Add stock or broth, tomatoes and peppers. Simmer for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Add chickpeas and spinach. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Add basil, vinegar and cheese. Cook 5 minutes to wilt basil and blend flavors.

If desired, puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender or food processor. Return pure to soup and stir. This will give soup additional body. Adjust seasoning; serve with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese if desired. Prepares 1 gallon of soup.