Chef Geoff

Culinary Calamities

No matter how skillful or experienced a cook, everyone has experienced a gastronomic guffaw, a culinary calamity or a dinner downfall. These events can be a simple as burning the bagels, or as complex as shriveled soufflés, but they all have a number of things, besides being left hungry, in common. In my experience, there are three principle causes of these potentially embarrassing episodes.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 08.03 PM / 18th September 2005.

The Breakfast Mystique

Of the three daily meals, somehow breakfast always seems to get more attention and notice than its counterparts, lunch and dinner. We hear people talk about "meeting for lunch" or "dinner and the theatre" but there just isn't the same emotional reaction we attach to breakfast. Perhaps the cause of our focus on breakfast has to do with morning hunger and "breaking the fast". Perhaps it is due to our ability to rationalize that a sticky, gooey Danish or cinnamon bun that would be a decadent dessert in any other context, is a reasonable breakfast. It could be that our attachment stems from the fact that for most of us, "making our own breakfast" was our first passage into the world of cooking. When our parents deemed us responsible enough, on Saturday morning we could get our own cereal and watch the cartoons while mom and dad got a few extra minutes of sleep. While it may have only been pouring some chocolate-coated sugar bombs into a bowl and adding milk, we could feel a small sense of self-sufficiency. If I was the cynical type (and I am) I might venture that it may even be related to caffeine addiction and getting that morning fix.
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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 04.19 AM / 09th September 2005.


As August works its way into September, we find ourselves rounding third and headed for the end of summer. The kids are (or soon will be) back in school, and lazy days spent at the beach or pool will soon become faint memory. But, each season brings with it unique opportunities for recreation, relaxation and culinary possibilities. Fall, more then any other season, presents us with an abundance of choices. The garden is still producing veggies we have enjoyed all summer, but now, the late arrivals are ripening. Squashes and brussel sprouts, apples and peaches. It's time to begin packing away the fruits of our summer labors, storing and freezing for the winter months on the horizon. But, even as the first frost chases us inside, we still have glorious fall weekends with crisp air, Indian summer, bright blue skies and FOOTBALL. Nothing can be better then melding a love of great food, a relaxing afternoon spent with friends and rooting on the home team under a sunny fall Cleveland sky. Football season has begun, so, let's talk about tailgating. Tailgating: A parking lot picnic before a pigskin program. Everyone has his or her own unique style, and favorite foods. Brats, Westside Market Sausages, dogs and burgers. Chips, beer and a jumbo sub sandwich. Bring a grill or eat it cold- whatever suits your taste. After too many years of working on tailgates, my friends and I have abandoned the traditional approach, going for novel "events". So, instead of burgers and dogs, why not set up a full taco bar (Margaritas anyone?). It's easy and fun, with all prep done at home. Guacamole, salsa, olives, tomatoes, onions and cheese can be packed in disposable storage containers. Sliced flank steak or chicken can be marinated in advance and prepped at home, grilled at home and kept warm for serving or cooked at the tailgate. Or, how about an herb encrusted roasted beef tenderloin, served cold, and thinly sliced on croissants with a horseradish sauce. One of the all time favorites is Italian sausage, slow cooked with onions and peppers, served on hard rolls with shredded aged provolone cheese. Again, all prepared at home and brought to the stadium, ready to serve. By taking care of the cooking and prep at home, all you need to do once you get to the game is set out the food, open the cooler, and enjoy one of the rites of fall.
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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 07.51 AM / 24th August 2005.

Pizza Party Time!

The United States is a country of immigrants, a great melting pot, with a culinary history that borrows, recreates and reinvents foods and cooking techniques from its many component parts. Notable chefs have taken unique foreign styles, combined them with European techniques and American ingredients to produce menus that defy classification. But, if there were a single favorite American menu staple, it would have to be pizza. Pizza is as American as apple pie.
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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 06.14 AM / 09th August 2005.

Grating and Grinding

Sometimes it just isn't possible to cook from scratch. We all use shortcuts, from Bisquick to mixes for sauces and salad dressings. While many of the mixes and prepared items are quite good, the fresher your food, the better. You are able to control what goes in as well as maintain a degree of flexibility with regard to what happens to be seasonally fresh at the moment or substitutions from your pantry. While one can certainly make an acceptable pasta sauce with a can of tomatoes, some dried basil and powdered garlic, it won't compare to fresh picked Roma tomatoes, sauteed with freshly picked minced basil.
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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 07.49 PM / 18th August 2005.

Smoked Barbequed Brisket

With the summer season comes the time to move our kitchens outside, and enjoy the wonderful scents and tastes that only grilling can produce. Almost everyone knows that a handful of wood chips tossed on a charcoal or gas burner can add a new dimension to the flavors of grilling. But let's take the issue of smoke a bit further.
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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 09.03 PM / 05th June 2005.