Sunday, April 28, 2013

Herb Brined Chicken

Herb Brined Chicken – The Smart Way


Recently, I had the honor of working with Café Tecumseh – Smart Chicken at the Spartan Culinary Classroom.  They treated the classroom to a free demonstration featuring the Organic Smart Chicken, that is air chilled.

For more information please go to:


Susan and Doug supplied us with answers to all of our questions and handed out some nifty give a ways – tote bags and aprons for all of the attendees!


Though I was demonstrating, I did get several of our guests to help me remove the wishbone prior to roasting, and I did get some of them to break down a whole chicken.  After one person got started, well, the others joined right in to find out how easy it can be.  Why remove the wishbone?  It makes it easier to care.  With the Smart Chicken breast side up, use your chef’s knife to “scrape” the wishbone, and then using your thumbs (notice plural, use both of them) as guides remove the bone.  This will make carving the bird much easier.


Our menu for the evening


Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken & wild Rice Soup

Not so Swedish Meatballs

Spatchcock Chicken with tomato cream sauce

Herb Brined Chicken


One of the surprising moments of the evening was taking the chicken out of my cooler!  Yes, I brine chicken in a beverage cooler, it saves space that you may not have in your refrigerator!

Believe it or not, the chicken is in there!

I have to say, it’s hard to stop and take pictures of your products when everybody wants some, but, I did get a picture after we carved into them!  They were wonderful.

Brining is a mixture of salt, sugar and aromatics.  It helps make your chicken (or turkey) juicy and delicious, and it will not become SALTY!


Herbed Brined Chicken

This recipe works equally well when roasting a whole chicken or with chicken breasts and thighs on the grill. Make sure the chicken is covered with brine and refrigerated until ready to cook.

For a
large whole chicken, use the brine recipe as listed. For 4 to 6 pounds of cut up chicken thighs and/or breasts, halve the brine recipe.

2 gallons water
6 ounces kosher salt
6 ounces granulated sugar
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 leeks, whites only, sliced
4 fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried)
1 to 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, washed and whole on stem
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 star anise
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme

Bring the water to the boil in a large stainless steel pot. Add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat and add all remaining ingredients except the chicken. Refrigerate until the brine is cold. Add the chicken, weighing it down with a plate so that it remains submerged in the brine. Refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours.

Cook the chicken until internal temperature reaches 165ºF and juices run clear. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.



After you remove the chicken for roasting, make sure that you pat it dry completely; this will help the chicken brown while baking and not steam.


Try brining some chicken soon!  You’ll enjoy the difference that it makes.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marinated Flank Steak with Green Beans Gremolata

Mustard Marinated Flank Steak w/ Green Beans Gremolata
I love food.  It’s really that simple.  And I love to share my love of food, which can be “simple” food in my eyes, and in the eyes of my guest at the Spartan Culinary Classroom, complex.
Not this last Friday Night.  We had Girls Night Out, The Diva’s of the food network.  I chose Paula, Ina, and Giada.  I know, I know – they’re a lot of additional choices to pick from, but I limited myself to those three. 
Friday nights in the classroom, is all about good friends and food, and this past Friday was no different.  In west Michigan, we are suffering from a flood, and it took time for some of our guest to get form work to the event.  Lots of reroutes on the expressways and side streets, but all arrived safe and sound, and ready to have a bit of fun.
I always like to remind my guests that this is supposed to be fun, and that any mistakes can be fixed.  I usually tell them that if we do “goof up a bit” that it will allow us to create a new and exciting recipe.  I’m proud to say that we had wonderful food, and it was all delicious.
It’s hard to pick favorites, all of my guests did wonderful, but the Mustard Marinated Flank Steak, was cooked to almost perfection.  And after a bit of explaining what “against the grain” meant, we had it sliced and mounded on a wonderful platter.  Served with Green Beans Gremolata – which is a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest, made the perfect finishing touch.  Both of the recipes are compliments of Ina Garten, and I’m sure they will become favorites of yours.

Mustard Marinated Flank Steak

Ina Garten
serves 4
1 flank steak
2  - 2 ½ pounds
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
Extra Kosher Salt, and good EVOO for drizzle at finish
Place the steak flat in a large nonreactive dish.  Using the tip of a sharp knive, lightly score the top of the steak diagonally in a large crisscross pattern to make what looks like 1 inch diamonds across the streak.  This allows the marinade to penetrate into the meat
In a 2 cup measuring cup, whisk together  the wine, olive oil, mustard 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Stir in the shallots and garlic.  Pour the marinade over and under the steak until it’s completely coated.  Scatter the tarragon on top.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight (we’ll only be able to marinate about 1 ½ hours in class – it’ll be fine!)
½ an hour before serving remove the steak and let to come up to room temperature.  Using a grill pan, or a charcoal/gas grill set to medium high, warm the grill.  Sprinkle the steak with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Discard the marinade.
Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Place steak on a clean plate and cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Slice the steak thin, cutting diagonally across the grain.  Finish with a good kosher salt , light drizzle of evoo and serve hot.

 Green Beans Gremolata

Ina Garten
Makes 4 to 6 servings
 •1 pound French green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
•2 Tbsp. pine nuts
•2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
•1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
•3 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
•3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
•2½ Tbsp. good olive oil
•Kosher salt
•Freshly ground black pepper
 Total time: 20 minutes
 Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and blanch 2 to 3 minutes , until tender but still crisp. Drain beans in a colander and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.
 Place pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over low heat and cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Set aside.
 To make gremolata, toss garlic, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan, and pine nuts together in a small bowl and set aside.
 When ready to serve, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drain beans and pat dry. Add beans to skillet and sauté, turning frequently, 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Remove from heat, add gremolata, and toss well. Sprinkle with ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper to taste and serve hot.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Home grown in Michigan

Grown in Michigan &  cooked in Michigan!


How much more local can I get for today’s dinner?  Steak from Byron Center Meats (rib eyes), Michigan grown potato’s and Jeff’s Corn, that was grown near Manistee and loving preserved in two portion bags!


Oh, and the grill that I’ve been complaining about and want to replace.!  Why you ask?  Well take a look at these two steaks.  Both on at the same time, both the same size and …….welll you get the idea.
Both in the center of the grill, both with definetly different coloring!  Yowser!  I need a new grill!

I’m searching for my next, and hopefully last grill and there is so much new technology out there, that well I’m frustrated, so I decided to grill dinner.

I want you to notice the steaks.  One is crispy burnt, and the other hasn’t got it’s carmelization yet!  That’s because, even though my grill has new briquettes from last year, it has never, ever had an even heat.  I realize the edges of the grill will be cooler, but come on now, the center of my grill?



Rib Eye Steaks with caramelized onions, baked potato (with crunchy skins, not the soft soggy kind!) and Jeff’s family corn – that’s what dinner is all about!  The corn was bagged and frozen last September and the rule in the Jeffery Rees family, you can’t get into it, unless it snows first, and then it’s fair game.  We tend to grudgingly dole it out, in fact we shared some on Easter Sunday with my sister Sue and her husband Phil! 

Even with the grill issues, dinner was lovely, and even the dogs got a little bite.

Next week, I promise a real recipe. 

Chef Terri Rees



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The art of the omelet

Saturday April 27, 2013 I will be at Rylees Ace Hardware, 1234 Michigan Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI from 10 am to 11 am. 

I'll be demonstrating the "art of the omelet" a skill that I learned while at GRCC's Culinary School.  I got to watch the Guisness Book of world record holder Howard Helmer make omelets.  It was a break for us at school, but actually, I learned how to make omelets. 

You can too!  Come join me for this free demonstration - you might learn a trick or two!


Chef Terri Rees

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Springtime Salads

It’s springtime and my waistline says I’ve been not too good all winter long.  It’s hard (such a cliché I know) I work in a Dining Hall kitchen from 6 am to around 2:30 pm, and it’s all around, plus I have to taste a lot of the food.

As a chef, I have the worst eating habits:  I stand up when I eat:  I eat while walking: I taste constantly: I never eat a balanced and slow meal at work.

Last year I did some healthy classes for Spartan Culinary Classroom and Spectrum Health, and I revisited two of the recipes – Quiona Tabbouleh and salad in a jar.

Quiona Tabbouleh

Quiona (keen-Wa) is one of the “new” ancient seeds that you see in the stores.  It is the seed of a South American plant and used like a grain.  Light in texture, cooks like rice, and the quinoa’s tiny pearls reveal the spiral germ.  Tabbouleh  is a Lebanese dish usually made with Bulghur, which is a wheat product, using the Quiona I make mine gluten free.


 8 servings

8 ounces Keen-wah (1 cup)

½ cup diced onions

2 – 3 green onions sliced on a bias

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

½ cup olive oil

½ cup lemon juice

½ pound tomato concassee*

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup pine nuts toasted**


Cook the Quinoa  according to package directions and set aside to cool slightly.


Mix the onions, green onions, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Mix well with the Quinoa.  Add the tomato  concassee and mix to combine.  Season with salt and pepper. 


Garnish with the toasted pine nuts.



*Procedure for preparing tomato concassee: With a paring knife, mark an X on the bottom of the tomato jut deep enough to penetrate the skin.  Blanch the tomato in boiling water for about 20 seconds; refresh in ice water.  Using a paring knife, cut out the core and peel the tomato.  Cut the tomato in half horizontally and squeeze out the seeds and juice.  Chop or dice the tomato.


**to toast the pine nuts:  heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add pine nuts and swirl until toasted.  This will go fast, so be careful.


Get out your Mason Jars (or any jars that you have) and let your kids (and you) make Salad in a Jar!

It’s easy, and fun, and there really is no recipe, just some ideas to spruce up, lighten up and make creating a lunch time salad, a little more fun.  I’ve been told a couple of my “students” from the class have used this, and made several salads in advance, and pick one for the day.  Here’s a couple that you can try the Greek Pasta Salad and the Greek Chickpea Salad!  Try Caprese, or any other kind that you like!


Greek Pasta Salad

2 tbsp easy lemon vinaigrette (see below)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 cup cucumber, chopped

½ cup feta, crumbled

2 oz rigatoni, cooked

½ cup mixed greens

½ cup fresh mint, chopped



Easy Lemon Vinaigrette

(will make enough for 3-4 mason jars)

Juice from one large lemon

½ cup olive oil

Good pinch of salt

Couple of grinds of black pepper

Shake all ingredients together in a small container.

Speaking of shaking, try to remember to leave room at the top of each jar. Don’t worry if you get a little over zealous (I usually am!) with your ingredients though—just shake the jar like crazy when you’re ready for lunch, eat a few bites, then shake some more once there’s a bit more room!


Greek Chickpea Salad


2 teaspoons olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice (the juice of 1/4 of a small lemon)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Small handful cherry tomatoes, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

8 Kalamata olives, chopped

2 tablespoons red onion, chopped

1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Crumbled feta (optional)

Fills one pint-sized mason jar.