Chef Greg named 2016 James Beard Foundation Semi-finalist..again!

So proud of our Chef and owner; Greg Baker, and his entire team of exceptional, dedicated and passionate people for their James Beard Foundation semi-finalist Best Chef: South nomination! We are holding our heads high today! 

Here is a complete list of the James Beard Foundation semi-finalist nominees www.jamesbeard.org.
Congrats to all the nominees but especially the Florida chefs and restaurants! 

RECIPE REDUX: FETA, FIG, AND WALNUT PITA CROSTINI

Figs

Forget everything you thought you knew about figs. Contrary to many American’s beliefs, there’s much more to the fig than the not-so-appetizing Fig Newton. Our foreign friends in Greece and Egypt have appreciated the fig’s perfection since the ancient times. They have a unique texture, somewhere between firm, soft and chewy while little seeds add a bit of crunch. The flavor lends to sweet with a little snap of tart. So, why haven’t these well-rounded fruits caught on stateside?

Now, in the midst of fig season, we encourage you to explore these ancient icons. Select figs that are deep in color, not mushy, and free of bruises. Figs have a pretty short shelf life too; only about 2-3 days, and should be refrigerated.

Our foolproof preparation? These feta, fig, and walnut pita crostini. Try it out. Thank us later.

Feta, Fig and Walnut Pita Crostini
Serves 20 as an appetizer

2” inch round cookie cutter
3 each pita bread pockets
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup toasted walnuts
7 each Black Mission figs, stem removed, halved and diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using cookie cutter, cut as many rounds of pita as will allow. Separate pita layers per round. Brush with olive oil. Using a fork, mix feta, walnuts and figs until well incorporated. Spoon fig mixture over each pita round. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet so that they do not touch. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until pita rounds are crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

RECIPE REDUX: BANANA CREAM PIE

We live in the age of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. We beseech thee: abandon that mentality when it comes to pie. Those mass produced pastries you pick up from the supermarket pale in comparison to Grandma's scratch made version. Trust us.

An easy transition into homemade desserts: our banana cream pie. It's oh so good, and it tastes just like home. We're happy to help you eat it.

Banana Cream Pie
Serves 8

3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and opened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits
4 ripe bananas, peeled, cut crosswise into thin slices
1 premade ready-to-bake piecrust
1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
1 cup vanilla wafers

For the Pie: Bake pre-made pie crust according to package instructions. Allow pie crust to cool while making filling, at least 2 hours.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until yolks are light in color and frothy. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add milk and vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 of the hot milk to the yolk mixture- this will temper the yolks so they won't curdle. Continue to whisk and add remaining milk in a slow stream. Return mixture to saucepan and bring to a boil, while whisking constantly. About 6 minutes. Allow to boil for another 2 minutes, whisking the entire time. Remove from heat and pour through a mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Fold sliced bananas into the custard. Fill a larger metal bowl with ice and water, about half way up. Put the metal bowl with custard inside of the larger bowl, making sure no water is leaking into the custard. Place metal bowl into refrigerator for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

For the Topping: Using an electric hand mixer, whisk heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Place in refrigerator until ready to use. In a ziplock bag, crush vanilla wafers.

To assemble the pie: Pour banana filling into cooled piecrust. Spread out evenly. Using a pastry bag, pipe topping onto pie in desired pattern. Top outer rim of pie with crushed vanilla wafers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

 

RECIPE REDUX: ARTISAN BREAD

We get it. You hate baking. Turns out, we agree that the whole process can be daunting – mixing, rising, knocking down, scaling, baking, blah blah blah. We love fresh bread, but we don't love making it.

That is, until Greg struck up a conversation online with Jeffery Hertzberg, co-author of the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: the Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking”. Jeffery, a physician and bread fanatic, teamed with Zoe Francois, a Culinary Institute of America trained pastry chef, to create a method for creating fresh baked bread with only 5 minutes of actual hands-on time per day.

So, we tried his method, and to our amazement, the base recipe yielded a dense, crisp crust, and custard-like inside – it really only took about 5 minutes of hands-on time.

You can check out Jeff and Zoe’s baking secrets and buy their book here. While you’re waiting for it in the mail, try out the master recipe:

Master Bread Recipe from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”
Makes four 1-pound loaves

Ingredients
1½ tablespoons granulated yeast
3 cups (1.5lbs) lukewarm water, about 100º F
1½ tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (can decrease to 1 tablespoon to taste)
6½ cups (2lbs) unbleached all-purpose white flour—no need to sift
Cornmeal for the pizza peel

  1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt.  Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist.  This will produce a loose and very wet dough.
  2. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.
  3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (do not store in an airtight container) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.
  4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven (or use parchment paper).  Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives or kitchen shears are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl (covered with plastic wrap) and refrigerate for baking at another time.
  5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.
  6. Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.
  7. Twenty to thirty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone.  Preheat oven to 450 F.
  8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes (or longer for a more “open” crumb), dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.
  9. Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is deeply browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

(Adapted from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François’ "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,")

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: NICOLE BRATTON

Welcome to Staff Spotlight, wherein we get to know one of our bad ass staff members a little better.

The Vitals

Name: Nicole Bratton
Position: Server
Age: 41

The Fun Stuff

What is one thing people may not know about you? That I WILL own and operate a small farm before I die, and it will be awesome.

What's the best meal you've ever had? Every morsel I had while in Europe - every buttery, herby, creamy, cheesy, duck-and-pear-and-chocolate-filled bite that I could cram in my gullet!

What's the worst meal you've ever had? Well, we’ve all had crappy meals, but the worst I’ve ever had was the last portions of my Grandmother's cooking that we saved in our freezer. It was sad because we knew we’d never have it again.

If you could choose any three people, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would they be? Samuel Beam (Iron and Wine), Teddy Roosevelt, and my Grandmother, one more time.

When not working, where are your favorite spots to hang out? Indian Lookout in Spruce Creek, PA; any establishment that wishes to serve me excellent food; and anywhere involving mountains, endless trees, and solitude.

What's your favorite Refinery dish? That is SO hard to choose! It's a toss-up between the brekfus’ and the potatoes with vinegar caramel.

What's the last concert you went to? Railroad Earth & Green Sky Bluegrass at Red Rocks in Colorado.

RECIPE REDUX: KERBEY LANE'S SCRAMBLED EGGS

Kerbey-Lane-Eggs-Francisco.jpg

We say, "Breakfast," you say, "scrambled eggs!" Don't try to tell us they don't go hand in hand. Our love for this morning time (heck, noon and night, too) standard runs deep - and we're constantly trying new ways to get our fix.

A restaurant that we frequented when living in Austin, Texas, Kerbey Lane Cafe, inspired this dish. Scrambled eggs, chile con queso, sausage, and avocado on top of an English muffin make for a great start for a lazy Sunday – or mend the poor decisions of the previous evening.

The Kerby Lane Scramble
Serves 4

Ingredients
For the Chile con Queso

4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
salt and pepper

For the eggs
8 large eggs – preferably fresh organic
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon canola oil
salt and pepper

To finish
4 English muffins, toasted
1 cup country sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 avocado, sliced

Directions
To make the Chile con Queso:
Heat the butter in a sauce pan over low heat, until melted. Whisk in the flour, a little at a time, until the mixture resembles wet sand. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly until the flour/butter mixture is fully dissolved. Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, to eliminate the floury taste. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeno, season with salt, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomato and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the vegetables to the sauce and whisk in the cheddar cheese, stirring all the while. Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while the eggs cook.

For the eggs:
Heat the canola oil over high heat for about 1 minute. Whisk the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the eggs (they should ride on the surface of the oil) and scramble with a rubber spatula.

To finish:
Top each English muffin ½ with the scrambled eggs. Top the eggs with the crumbled sausage. Top the eggs and sausage with the chile con queso. Finally, top all of this with the sliced avocado.

 

RECIPE REDUX: SPATCHCOCKED WHOLE CHICKEN ON THE GRILL

The quickest way to go from zero to cooked: spatchcocking. It's fun to say, isn't it? Plus, it's the easiest way to cook a whole chicken or turkey to perfection. Simply split and flatten the chicken and grill it whole. Forget the rotisserie - cook that flat piece of chicken in 30 to 45 minutes with very little effort!

So, this weekend, fire up the grill, and spatchcock some foul – your stomach will thank you. 

Ancho Chile and Spice Rubbed Grilled Whole Chicken

1 whole chicken
1 ancho chile
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Prepare the chicken for grilling by removing the backbone with a knife or poultry shears (or have your butcher do this), tucking the thin part of the wings behind the thicker parts, and spreading the chicken flat. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or a silicone rubber band to help keep the chicken flat while cooking.

Place the ancho chile, cloves, cumin, and coriander in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and grind into a powder. Rub the chicken well on all sides with the spice mix and season well with salt and pepper.

Heat and lightly oil the grill and place the chicken, skin side down, on the hottest part of the grill for 4-5 minutes to sear the skin.

Turn the chicken over and sear the other side.

Move to a cooler spot of the grill and allow to cook slowly until the temperature of the thickest part of the leg reaches 150 degrees (about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Move the chicken to the hottest part of the grill and turn skin side down for 4-5 minutes, to crisp the skin. Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

 

RECIPE REDUX: SPINACH AND POTATO SALAD

SPINACHANDPOTATOSALAD

We all know the scenario.

You’re at someone’s house for a dinner party or a cookout. Your friend offers a scoop of their "Aunt/Grandma/you name it’s special potato salad recipe.” Polite as ever, with a smile and a hard swallow, you take down those chunks of potato. MMMMMM.

*Cringe*

We get it.

We don’t know why, but apparently it’s hard for people to make an edible potato salad. So many make the classic mistake of making a season-less, mayonnaise-lacquered salad with potatoes so under-cooked they could break teeth, egg shells, and an extreme abuse of mustard.

But don’t worry—we’re here to help: abandon the mayo, celery and eggs and try a no-fail potato salad bursting with Dijon, lemon and shallots that you can truly claim to be “secret.”

Follow Michelle’s Aunt Carolyn’s recipe, and help us start to change the reputation, and face, of potato salad everywhere.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Potato Salad
erves 4

2 lbs red potatoes
1/4 pound bacon
1 each lemon, zested and juiced
2 small shallots, minced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes whole in a large pot of generously salted water. Place over medium high heat and simmer until they are easily pierced with a knife. (We cook these whole to prevent the potatoes from getting beaten up, mushy, and starchy during the cooking process). Drain and allow them to cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, until crisp. Remove from the pan, allow to cool, and chop. While the bacon is cooking, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, shallots and Dijon in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil, a little at a time to the bowl, whisking the whole time, until the oil is incorporated. Season this dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, cut them into bite-sized pieces (for smaller potatoes, cut them into 1/4’s, larger potatoes 1/6’s or 1/8’s). Place the potatoes in a bowl, add the spinach leaves and bacon, and toss with the dressing while the potatoes are still warm. This will allow them to soak up as much flavor as possible, and will wilt the spinach leaves a bit. Let the salad cool to room temperature and serve.

 

RECIPE REDUX: FRIED CHICKEN

fried chicken

A Deep Fried Southern Tradition: Chicken Style

Oh, fried chicken - as good cold as it is hot. 

Just think about it: the crispy coating of flour and spices hiding the juicy, tender chicken inside, crackling with every bite. Heaven. An unhealthy heaven, to be sure, but our heaven is free of mirrors and cholesterol and all fatty foods instantly turn into ripped abs and firm butts. 

Hundred percent worth it. We promise.

I mean, let's just talk about how flexible fried chicken is. It can be served as breakfast (chicken and waffles, anyone?), lunch (the perfect picnic), dinner (hot and steamy), and late night snacks (straight from the fridge). 

There are hundreds of fried chicken recipes out there, but we like using our buttermilk and cayenne base the most. Whether you use a vinegar and salt brine, like Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans, or a flour and egg batter, like many in the Northern States-- make it your own and start your own tradition. 

Greg’s Beer at Noon Fried Chicken
Serves 4

8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 qt. Buttermilk
3 eggs - scrambled
1 Tbsp. Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried mustard
2 tsp. ground cayenne
½ gallon canola or peanut oil
3 beers, your favorite brand.
Place the chicken in a glass, plastic, or ceramic bowl. (Never, ever in a metal bowl – enzymes, baby. Enzymes.) Cover the chicken with the buttermilk.

Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Open first beer and enjoy.

Place the canola or peanut oil in a large (2 gallon), heavy duty pot and heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees. Check this with the $8 candy thermometer that’s been stuck in the back of your kitchen junk drawer for the last few years.

Mix the flour with the salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, and thyme. Probably time for beer number two.

Mix the hot sauce with the eggs.

Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and pat dry with a paper towel.

Coat each piece of chicken with the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then back to the flour, and finally, set aside until all of your chicken is breaded.

Using a pair of tongs, drop each piece of chicken into the hot oil, being careful not to make the pot over flow. (Never start this process with “here, hold my beer”. We don’t want any 911 calls)

Cook the chicken for 10-14 minutes, depending on the thickness, until the temperature at the thickest part of the chicken thigh reaches 160 degrees. (Use the meat thermometer that’s been sitting in the drawer next to your candy thermometer)

Remove the chicken from the oil, drain on a paper towel, and let it sit for 5 minutes before eating. Crack beer number three and enjoy your masterpiece. 

 

RECIPE REDUX: STRAWBERRY CAKE

strawberry_cake

Eat local. It’s the new thing. Well, kind of.

These days, people eat locally-produced goods to support farmers and merchants and help the environment (sure, we love asparagus from Chile, but shipping it across the world is not so good for Mother Nature). Florida’s geography proves challenging to that practice, since everything is so spread out!

Many states have huge farmer’s markets and farm delivery co-ops stocked with everything local, from produce to meats, that sells like hot cakes. Tampa? We’ve got a little organic farm and a budding farmer’s market that seems to be more for hacky-sack competitions. Our state’s farms are predominantly in Central, inland Florida; just a quick hour and a half drive northeast. It’s a noble idea. But are you gonna drive to those farms? Aren’t you then doing harm to the environment by doing all of that driving?

The farmer’s markets (like the Tampa Downtown Market and the Hillsborough Ave Market) seems to be our only way to eat locally grown foods and actually know what farm it came from – in every month other than January and February. Summer is the time to buy locally in every Florida supermarket chain. Thanks to our backward growing season, you can find Ruskin tomatoes (so good they only need a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt), citrus from all over the state, and Plant City strawberries.

Go take an adventure and buy some strawberries. Go support your local farmers and markets. Oh, and make a cake while you’re at it. This one is one of our summer favorites.

We hope you enjoy!

Farmer’s Strawberry Cake

Serves 10

For the Cake
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, dried, and sliced

For the Butter Cream Frosting
2 cups shortening
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract
6 fluid ounces heavy cream
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned, dried and sliced for garnish

Directions

For the cake:
Set rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Butter the bottom of two 9-inch round or one 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add strawberries and mix well. Scrape the bowl and beater often.

Pour the batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth top. Bake cake(s) about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.

Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, remove paper and let cool completely. Using a medium cookie cutter, cut circles from cake.

For the frosting:
Cream shortening until fluffy. Add confectioner's sugar and continue creaming until well blended.

Add salt, vanilla, and whipping cream blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional whipping cream if necessary (up to 2 ounces). Beat at high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.

To assemble:
Place one cake round on plate. Using a pastry-piping bag, make a ring of frosting on top of cake. The frosting will act as the “glue” to hold the cake up right. Fan strawberries in preferred design on top of frosting. Pipe another ring of frosting on top of strawberries. Fan more strawberries. Pipe another ring of frosting. Place another circle of cake on top of strawberries. Pipe frosting on top of cake circle and garnish with more strawberries.

RECIPE REDUX: SUMMER COCKTAIL

SUMMERWATERMELONCOCKTAIL

It's definitely summer. Not sure about you, but there isn't a day we walk outside without sweating. So, when we get the occasional opportunity to take a day off and hang out by the pool, we love having a cold cocktail in tow.

Some of us here at The Refinery are lucky enough to know a few former bartenders, like our friend Summer. She created these little beauties for a lazy, poolside afternoon. They remind us of aqua fresca with a little kick - and they're a whole lot easier to make. Add a fresh fruit garnish, and you've got lunch take care of, too! 

Stay cool, folks, and happy day-drinking!

Summer’s Cocktail
Created by Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins
Makes four 16 ounce glasses

1 fresh Pineapple, skin and core removed 
8 ounces premium Vodka 
48 oz Crystal Light Pomegranate Cherry drink mix, prepared
Crushed Ice  
¼ fresh Watermelon, sliced into small triangles 

Cut cleaned pineapple into medium chunks. Using a hand held potato masher, mash pineapple until well crushed. Add Vodka. Stir well. Add prepared Crystal Light drink mix. Stir well. Place in fridge for minimum one hour.

Fill 16 ounce glasses half way with crushed ice. Pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with watermelon slices.

RECIPE REDUX: BURGER MAGIC

Fourth of July is this weekend, and the excitement of barbecues, flags, and fireworks fills the air. Many of you will attend or host BBQ's in celebration of this wonderful holiday. 

You can count on the fact that, at this BBQ, there will be all kinds of outdoor-sey foods - like juicy and perfectly seasoned burgers.

Hopefully at your BBQ, there will be someone like Greg - someone who takes his time with fine meat, instead of "that guy" at the grill. Crushing your perfect-burger dreams. You know, that guy who you can see using a spatula as if it were a panini press. Grinding all of the robust beef juices straight into the flickering fire that “they” call a grill.

But let's think positive thoughts, here. It's going to be a "Greg"-like BBQ this year. On behalf of everyone here at The Refinery, we wish you the best of luck with grilling this weekend at your BBQs. God Bless America and have a happy, fun, safe, and yummy Fourth of July!

Tips to creating some burger magic:

1. The perfect burger starts with the perfect meat. We use a blend a 50/50 blend of beef rib eye and tenderloin at The Refinery, ensuring a perfect ratio of fat and meat. This makes it super juicy.

2. Patties should be about 2 inches thick and seasoned well with salt. Make sure your grill is super, super hot but has no flames.

3. Flames are bad. Do not cover the grill. Cook each side for about 8 minutes to reach medium rare (Note: all grills are different. Use a thermometer to test temperature. Medium rare is 135 degrees). And remember, while the burgers are cooking, leave them alone! 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: DAN HEBEIN

dan_hebein

Welcome to Staff Spotlight, wherein we get to know one of our bad ass staff members a little better.

The Vitals

NameDan Hebein

Position: Line Cook

Age: 28

The Fun Stuff

What is one thing people may not know about you? I’m scared of snakes.

What's the best meal you've ever had? Forever and always, deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago.

What's the worst meal you've ever had? Denny’s - anywhere and anytime I make the awful decision to go there.

If you could choose any three people, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would they be? Tom Waits, George Best, and John Stamos.

When not working, where are your favorite spots to hang out? I like Independent, or my front porch. I’m still new here.

What's your favorite Refinery dish?  The squash gratin with smoked zucchini steak - such a fun dish.

What's the last concert you went to? I saw Slayer at Bonnaroo this year.  I met their guitarist, Kerry King, who called it “Hippie Fest”, and I blushed like a little girl.

RECIPE REDUX: GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH BLUEBERRY AND GINGER GASTRIQUE

Summer is officially here. In Tampa, we don’t remember a time when the temperature was less than 80 degrees, but for the rest of the country, Sunday’s summer solstice marked the beginning of pool days and meals cooked on the grill. For the latter, we suggest replacing the frozen burgers with this easy (but complicated sounding) pork tenderloin recipe.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry and Ginger Gastrique
Gastrique is a fancy French term for “sweet and sour sauce”.
Serves 4

2 lbs pork tenderloin
½ cup champagne or white wine vinegar (NOT the distilled stuff – that’s only suitable for cleaning windows.)
½ cup beef or chicken stock (or water, if you don’t have any)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 small shallot (sliced)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil

For the pork:

We’re going to assume that you have an already hot grill. Season the pork tenderloin well with salt and pepper and lightly oil the grill with some of the canola oil. Place the pork tenderloin on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, getting the outside nice and brown. Move the pork tenderloin to the cooler side of the grill and continue cooking for 10-12 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove the pork from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before you even think about touching it.

For the gastrique:

Place the shallot and the ginger in a sauté pan over medium heat with a bit of the canola oil; sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the shallot and ginger are really fragrant. Add the sugar and mix well. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add the blueberries, tarragon, vinegar, and the stock and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced by ½, about 10-12 minutes. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer to remove the chunky stuff, and season with salt and pepper.

Carve the pork tenderloin and serve the gastrique over, under, next to, or somewhere near the pork.

 

RECIPE REDUX: GOAT CHEESE, SHRIMP, AND CHORIZO CHILE RELLENOS

Don't sacrifice a good meal just because you're only cooking for two. Try this worth-every-minute-it-takes-to-make chile relleno recipe instead. Because you're worth it. 

Goat Cheese, Shrimp, and Chorizo Chile Rellenos
Serves 2 

4 large Poblano chiles
½ pound shrimp; peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
2 dried Chorizo sausages; diced
2 oz. Chèvre cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup walnuts; toasted and chopped
4 large tomatoes; chopped
1 small onion; diced
2 garlic cloves; minced
½ cup chicken stock
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. olive oil
sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic with 1 tsp of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, cumin, and cocoa powder and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
  3. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.

For the chiles:

  1. Coat the chiles well with the canola oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the skins are brown and lifting away from the flesh of the chiles.
  2. Remove the chiles from the oven and place in a bowl to cool.

Putting it all together: 

  1. While the chiles cool, heat the remaining tsp of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the chorizo for 3-4 minutes to extract the fats.
  2. Add the shrimp to the chorizo, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp are just translucent.
  3. Place the shrimp and chorizo in a bowl, add the Chèvre, cream cheese and walnuts, and mix well.
  4. When the chiles are cool, gently remove the skins and open one side of the chile to remove the seeds, leaving the stem on and trying not to rip the rest of the chile.
  5. Gently place ¼ of the shrimp and cheese mixture inside each of the chiles through the slit that you removed the seeds from.
  6. Place the chiles on a baking sheet, cover each with a couple of spoons full of the sauce, and place in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, just until the cheese is nice and creamy.