Gentieu’s Pantry’s famous Kiki Sandwich

Kiwi  sandwich from the days at Gentieu’s Pantry. This sandwich was very popular when I introduced it in 1975 at our sandwich shop in Taft. You need a camping sandwich iron , which you can buy by clicking the link here.

Let’s get cookin’!


Method:  lightly butter both insides of the iron. Place a slice of bread on each side. In the center place you chosen fillings.

Just a few Suggest ingredients :
1. Diced ham, bell pepper and cheese.
2. Pepperoni , little red sauce and parm cheese.
3. One raw egg , cooked bacon , cheddar cheese.
4. Cooked sliced roast beef, horseradish, jack cheese.
5. Cheddar cheese, slice tomato and slice red onion.


After preparing the sandwich fold the iron together and trim excess bread from sides . Place the completed sandwich in a heat source. When camping this would be on the edge of the camp fire. Some care has to be taken not to  place in the hottest part of the fire as that causes the bread to burn before fillings are heated. You will need to experiment a little with this. When cooking at home you can place the iron in you Bar B Q fire or coals , again be careful of not to much heat. Also could be cooked over a low gas flame on stove top by flipping iron several times to brown both sides. In Gentieu’s Pantry  I just placed the iron in the French fryer at 350 degrees three to four minutes until done. Have fun with this sandwich and come up with fillings you like. Also can be used for dessert items.

Enjoy,

Chef Len

Looking for another great sandwich recipe? Click here to check out last week’s!

Simple Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is more popular than ever. Early in my career we often made it as a side dish or a hot item on buffet service. It’s preparation began with making a béchamel sauce ( white sauce made with roux and milk) then adding cheddar cheese and seasoning turning it into a cheese sauce to pour over the cooked macaroni. I have simplified the whole preparation and end up with a better end product.

Method:. Cook off the Macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water. During the first few minutes be sure to stir constantly to keep from sticking. After Aprox. 10 minutes of cooking the macaroni should be tender , don’t overcook it will become mushy. Good test is to remove a sample from the pot and bite in half , tender but still holding its shape.Strain off water reserving a cup of the starchy water to add back to the sauce.

Place the cooked Mac In a lightly greased casserole dish big enough to hold it all . Pour in the starchy water and heavy cream to cover the Mac completely, ( heavy cream is a must it adds richness and helps thicken ) Season with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend. Add grated cheeses of your choice. I use the the Costco three blend of Mozzarella, jack , and cheddar . To that I also add a sharp cheddar, Parmesan and 8ozs. of softened  cream cheese. Place a few slices of thin provolone cheese on top . Place in 325 oven until hot and bubbly and browned on top usually half hour.

Chefs note:  any number of other items can be added to this basic recipe. Crisp cooked bacon, shrimp, chicken , lobster are just a few. Get creative and add one of your favorite items. Enjoy. Simple but really tasty!

Chef Len

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Eggplant Parmesan

This week we are going to cook the perfect dish that goes with last week’s Tiramisu! You can find that recipe here. Eggplant Parm is a very simple recipe to prepare. The dish can be served as a side or great as a main course with some pasta.

Begin with the sauce. Most red sauces will will work and there are some very good ones offered in the grocery store. If you want to make yours from scratch and have a favorite that’s great. I begin by reducing a cup of red wine by half in a sauce pan then pour a bottle of red sauce in. Add to that a small ham hock and let simmer on the side (we call this doctoring up a store bought product).

Method:

Slice the eggplant across in about a quarter inch thickness leave the skin on. It should be sliced the last minute before frying as it will darken . Most people like a serving or three or four thin slices rather than a couple thicker ones.

Break 4 or 5 eggs in a bowl and whisk . Take a couple cups of flour and season with salt and pepper and a little oregano. Dip the sliced eggplant in the egg then toss in flour to coat. After breaking place on the side not on top of each other ready to fry. Note: if you like it to have a heavier crust texture do the breeding process twice.

In a large frying pan take vegetable oil and cup of olive oil adding flavor to about a quarter inch deep in pan. Heat to frying temp Aprox. 350 degrees. If it begins to smoke it is to hot. The oil must be up to temp before browning of the breaded eggplant. Toss a bread cube in to check , it should bubble and brown quickly but not jump out of the pan when first placed in. If oil is not hot enough your eggplant will soak up the oil and you will have to start over throwing it away. Oil frying temp VERY IMPORTANT !

Fry the eggplant until a golden brown on both sides. Happens very quickly , less than five minutes. When cooked place on tray with paper towels. To finish arrange eggplant on service plate in fan shape with slight overlap ( 3 or so slices depending upon size of eggplant)  or on a tray ( presented family style at table)  then top with ladle of sauce as needed. Grate fresh parmesan cheese on top as you like ( don’t be skimpy here) . I also like to place a couple thin slices of provolone cheese on top . Place in a hot oven or under the broiler to lightly brown then serve immediately.

Yum !

Chef Len 

Gentieu’s West

August of 1978 Gentieu’s West was opened in the Safeway shopping center in the former Tims Steak house location. It was quite the expansion from the Pantry on third st. From the start it was a huge success. We actually opened on Thursday and had to close on Sunday to restock food due to the volume of business.

The ice cream creations were introduced and named after the local school mascots. Our ice cream sales were so great Dryers out of Fresno delivered two upright freezers at no charge to store the large inventory of ice cream needed to satisfy demand . Close to the high school and college sports venues we were always busy after local sporting events and football games. Those were the days we would have lines out the door with a waiting list durning dinner and again at 10:00 pm after a game. Our staff was remarkable rising to the occasion everyday to serve the people of Taft and surrounding area. Many have commented to me years later that working at the restaurant was a great experience and it taught them how to work, preparing them for work experiences later in life.

It was a big financial investment for me borrowing close to $200,000 by the time we added the two spaces next to us expanding our square footage to almost 6000 sq ft. Our first years sales projection summited to the bank to help secure the loan was $750,000 we closed the first full years sales at $785,000 and the following years sales eclipsed $1.1 million. With the highest priced item on the menu a T-bone steak at $9.95 these sales were incredible, securing our place as the top restaurant in town .

A look back for me and sharing this with you, I realize what a special time that was within a wonderful town filled with great customers and friends. I will always remember, cherish and appreciate that wonderful group of people that comprised the staff at Gentieus. Truly a place in time that cannot be duplicated but can always be remembered with fondness and warm feelings.

Thank you all for being part of those memories.

Chef Len

Fruit platter | Go Big or Go Home

Summertime is a great time for bar BBQ’s and outdoor entertaining. Fresh fruit always a favorite and the quality and availability is much better this time of year. Rather than place the typical  platter of cut melons, grapes, strawberries and pineapple etc. I decided to make a display the focal point of the buffet.

This display was for a fundraiser being held at the Biddel House in SLO (Biddle House pictured above). Owned by Adrian Lena, it is a beautiful Victorian home located just off the business district. Adrian was such a gracious host sharing her home for an event for Gods Haven for Children (foster family agency) . The kitchen island topped with granite was spectacular and I decided (with her approval) to create the display on one end of it, no platters. I began by placing large leaves of romaine down to create a base for the fruit to rest on. On top of that placing watermelon basket filled with strawberries then adding  apple birds, citrus crowns, grape clusters, pineapple tops and assorted other fruits displaying some in their packing boxes.

photo courtesy Jim Davis

The colors and shapes can’t help but be pleasing to the eye. The point here is not how good you might be at fruit carving but rather to create a WOW! factor when the guest step up to the buffet to begin service. People also eat with their eyes! Have fun with it , when complete you can step back to view it and be proud of what you created.

So when time permits and good quality fruit is in season leave your platter in the pantry and set up right on the counter or table top. Use my photo for ideas. This display was the hit of the party and will be at yours too.

Let’s get cookin!

Chef Len

Check out my abalone recipe to go well with this display!

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Fresh Boiled Shrimp | 2 Sauces

I had the Papagallo hauled out in Ventura for inspection. A fishing boat came to the yard with some mechanical issues and they still had some of the catch onboard. The captain handed me a container of shrimp and asked if I might prepare them for some of the yard workers. I told him of course I would be glad to. There is no comparison between freshly caught shrimp and frozen. These were going to be good eating.

Method:

In a large pot bring water to a boil with slices of fresh onion and celery , couple cans of beer and some pickling spice or old bay seasoning. Place the shrimp in when pot reaches a boil. Do not over cook! They will take five or so minutes depending upon their size. They are done when turning red in color and flesh is firm and white when you cut a sample in half. Undercooked the flesh is translucent and not real firm. After the cooking time is reached always cut one in half to check for doneness. Can be served warm or after cooled in ice water. Boil with shell on ! On this day I boiled them off right at lunch time so the guys could enjoy them hot and steamy for lunch. What a hit and a real treat they talked about during my stay in the boatyard.

Sauces:

I prepared two that day.

-Melted butter with squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 10 cloves of chopped fresh garlic.

-Cocktail sauce : mix : 4 cups of catsup , juice from 2 lemons, few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and 1 cup of prepared horseradish. Chefs note: I find good horseradish at the Smart and Final store. With the large amount of horseradish it will give the sauce a more orange color than a deeper red you see in most restaurants. This recipe also has a wonderful kick to it which most people like. If too hot add more catsup.

Good quality catsup and good quality horseradish are keys to getting good results.

Yum!

Chef Len

Check out last week’s recipe here!

Flaming Coffee A’la Gentieu

Ready to WOW your guests?! This Flaming Coffee recipe is sure to do the trick!

To begin, you will need glassware that can withstand the heat of burning rum. I use a 17.5 ounce Libbey 8418 Bolla Grade wine glass that has worked well for me over the years. You can find them, here.

Ingredients: 

Brewed Coffee
Kahlua
Bacardi 151 Rum
Baileys Irish Cream
Ground Cinnamon
1 Fresh Orange
Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream

You will also need a flame, preferably from a candle. Start by quartering the orange and using one piece and rim the edge of each glass with it’s juice. Dip each orange-rimmed glass into sugar placed on a small plate as if you were rimming a margarita glass with salt. Next, pour a scant ounce of rum into a one-ounce ladle. I prefer Bacardi 151 Rum, a highly flammable variety that’s 75.5 percent alcohol.

Holding the ladle in one hand and the glass in the other, run the ladle under the open flame to ignite it. Place the burning ladle of rum halfway into the glass. Carefully lift and tilt the ladle upward and out of the glass, catching the burning rum in the glass. When the ladle empties, blow out any remaining fire in the ladle. Swirl the glass with the burning rum as if it were a red wine. Sprinkle some ground cinnamon into the fire to create a colorful sparkling effect.

The rum should burn for several seconds, but don’t let it burn too long as the glass will become too hot. Pour the coffee into the glass by resting the edge of the coffee pot or container on the edge of the glass. When you begin pouring, move the glass in a downward motion and the coffee container in an upward motion. this causes a stream of coffee to flow through the air to half fill the glass and extinguish the flame.

Add shots of Kahlüa and Baileys, a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and sprinkle with cinnamon. When handing the drink to the guests, caution them about how hot it is. This dish exists in many versions using a broad range of ingredients. Once you’re comfortable making it, experiment with coffee syrups, other liqueurs and chocolate.

This coffee service is even more spectacular performed in the dark. The rum burns with a beautiful blue flame and sprinkled cinnamon adds a “Fourth of July” effect. Just be sure there’s enough light to let you see what you’re doing!

Enjoy!

Chef Len 

Check out last week’s recipe!

Chicken Piccata | A Savory Summer Favorite

This week’s recipe is a perfect Summer recipe. Whether you pair it with pasta, a fresh salad or something a little more savory, the blend of  flavors are refreshing and a perfect dish for Summer!

Ingredients: 
1.  4 - 6oz skinless/boneless chic breast
2.  Seasoned flour S/P for dredging 
3.  1/3 cup drawn butter for sautéing 
4 .  Juice from one lemon
5.  1/4 cup capers
6.  1/2 cup Chardonnay wine
7.  4 TB. Heavy cream 
8. Chopped parsley to finish


Method:


Place chic breast between cling film and lightly tenderize with mallet
Dredge in seasoned flour. Heat butter and sauté breast until brown on both sides, remove from pan place in 325 degree oven for 5 to 10 min. Until done. 


To make sauce deglaze sauté pan with wine, add the cream and capers and reduce by half. Finish with lemon juice and parsley. Serve chicken with ladle of sauce over top.

Chefs note:

Most recipes do not call for heavy cream , I like to add it for a little extra richness, you don’t need much. Also if you sauté pan is large enough it’s nice to return the cooked chicken to the pan with sauce and let simmer a minute or so before serving, then ladle sauce over top, giving the dish a little more flavor.

Enjoy !

Chef Len

Ps. Looking for some more inspiration in the kitchen? Check out last week’s recipe for another culinary treat!

Rack of Lamb | Garlic/Tomato Reduction & Date-Fig Mint Jam

Nothing elevates the simplest of get together’s like a rack of lamb. Let’s get right to it as this is a lengthy one, but well worth the detailed instruction. Your next get together will be a hit!

Ingredients:

  • Frenched rack of lamp.
  • Garlic, chopped
  • All-purpose meat rub spice
  • Butter
  • Roma tomatoes, diced
  • White Wine
  • Dried Dates
  • Mint Sprigs
  • Red chili peppers, dried
  • Mint jelly
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary

Instruction:

Remove any excess fat at the base of the rub bones of the Frenched rack or on the rib eye itself. Don’t remove all the fat, as it’s an important part of the cooking process; supplying flavor to the finished dish. Season with a dry all – purpose spice rub, or add salt and black pepper with a little rosemary. Rub the seasoning over the entire rack up to three the bones have been Frenched. If the rack is to be charbroiled, wrap the exposed bones in foil to protect them from blackening. If the lamb is to be roasted in the over, the foil is not necessary. If broiling outside on he BBQ grill, start the seasoned rack on the hot part of the fire and brown quickly on both sides. Then move it to a cooler part of the fire to finish cooking, which could take up to 40 minutes depending on the BBQ. Ideal doneness is achieved at an internal temp of 125 to 130 degrees for medium rare. Like most steak – cut meats, the rack should not be cooked to the well-done stage, which greatly reduces the dish’s quality.

If roasting, place the seasoned rack in a hot oven at 425 degrees for the first five to ten minutes, until the meat browns. Reducte the temp to 375 degrees to finish cooking, which will take approximately 20 minutes, or when the internal temp reaches 125 – 130 degrees on a meat thermometer half way to the center of the thickest part of the eye to get an accurate reading. The reading should climb the scale steadily, and slow when reaching the desired level. If it climbs too fast, you’ll likely over cook the lamb. Remember the lamb will continue to cook a little after removing it from the oven or broiler.  Paying close attention to the lamb’s temp and how it rises can make all the difference.

When the rack reaches the desired temp range, remove it from the heat and let it rest a couple of minutes before carving. To serve, cut four two-rib portions by running a sharp French knife between the bones and completely through the eye, creating beautiful medium-rare two-bone chops. Crisscross each two-bone pair in the center of the dinner plate to serve with your choice of side items.

In years past, lamp was always served with a small portion of mint jelly, a practice some restaurants still follow, but many more creative sauces and garnishes are available to enhance the flavor of this dish, including two of my favorites –  a garlic and roma tomato reduction and date-fig mint jam.

Prepare the garlic and tomato reduction by warming half of a stick of butter in a saucepan. Add eight cloves of chopped garlic and two dices roma tomatoes, also known as plum or Italian plum tomatoes. Cook down slightly, then add half a cup of white wine and reduct by half. Season with a little salt and pepper, and serve as a reduction or pureed to a velvety smoothness and ladled under the chops.

For the date-fig mint jam, place half a cup each of dried figs and dates in a food processor. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint and a teaspoon of fried red chilies, and blend into a paste. Stir in half a jar of mint jelly until the mixture acquires the consistency of jam. Thin, if necessary, with a little warm water, and serve on the side.

Bon Appetite!

Chef Len

WHERE’S  THE  BEEF? | Serrano’s Chili Verde

Forget the beef, let’s do pork — Serrano’s Chili Verde
     Easy as Uno, Dos, Tres!

I first tasted Serrano’s Chili Verde over 20 years ago at the Bakersfield Country Club, where I was the General Manager.  It was one of the club’s main dishes and often served as a lunch special.  Fidencio Serranc, the first cook at the club, learned the recipe, an authentic Mexican version, from his mother.  We all looked forward to it.  How simple it is to prepare is the most surprising thing about the recipe.  Whenever he made it, the other cooks tossed tortillas on the open fire to heat, and then spooned in helpings of the Chili Verde, rolling up the tortillas for quick, flavorful snacks.  It happened every time a pot showed up on the stove.

 

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pork butt, cubed
1 large yellow onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, minced
20 tomatillos, outer skins removed
4 large jalapeno chili peppers, roasted and diced
5 Tbs. cumin, ground
2 cans green enchilada sauce
1/3 cup lard
chicken stock, optional
salt & pepper to taste
flour tortillas for service

Method:
Melt the lard in a heavy roast pan or skillet. Add the onion, garlic and pork, browning over medium heat.  Brown the tomatillos in a hot oven.  When the pork browns, add the tomatillos, jalapenos, cumin and the enchilada sauce to cover the sauce to cover the meat, then stir.  If necessary, add enough chicken stock to fully cover the meat. Season and slow cook covered in the oven until meat is tender.

Chef’s note:

Depending upon desired taste, a little more cumin and jalapeno pepper can be added to increase the flavor and heat of the dish.

Serving suggestions:

Serve with flour tortillas and Spanish rice.  This is a very versatile dish and can be used in breakfast omelets, tacos, burritos, enchiladas and meat quesadillas.

YUM!

Chef Len