Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

[VIDEO] [RECIPE] Our Latest Vice: Getting the Late Night Miami Munchies

Miami specializes in shady characters!

Up to no good!

Today VICE “soft opens” its new food channel, yet another indication of pop culture’s obsession with all things culinary, and we are full of giggles.  Fittingly, the debut coincides with the release of another episode of its fun-loving, if not slightly raunchy series “Munchies: Chef’s Night Out.”  The subject? Miami and these three stooges above.  Yes, it’s Michael Schwartz’s turn for a night on the town, and he has chosen a motley crew in Bar Lab’s Elad Zvi (The Broken Shaker) and TGHG’s Eric Larkee (The Genuine Hospitality Group) with some surprising cameos along the way from Tap Tap to The Cypress Room.  Watch how this recipe for innocent disaster unfolds in the episode below, and if you must try this at home, we have the closing meal’s sweet and decadent ending in fisherman George Figueroa’s Spiny Lobster Ceviche below.  Substitute sweet Florida key west shrimp or rock shrimp when not Florida lobster season. Cheers to good friends and good times!

Spiny Lobster Ceviche

Serves 4

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 cup good-quality soy sauce
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 pound spiny lobster meat, removed from tail sliced thin
1 tablespoon of masago
1/4 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1 teaspoon thinly sliced jalapeños (to taste)

Combine the lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce and cayenne in a medium mixing bowl. Toss in lobster meat and make sure it is completely submerged. Let soak for thirty minutes.

Serve the lobster meat over freshly sliced cucumbers, adding jalapeños and masago in top.

[RECIPE] Wake-Up Call: Capturing the Hidden Creativity of Our Morning Persons

At 8:00 a.m. last Thursday morning, busser, porter and now receiver Chris Caballero was commanding his new post as deliveries trickled in.  He paused for a coffee break — a hospitable one, to cue up two cappuccinos for photographer Catalina Ayubi and I.  It was an early morning for us, but not for Chris nor the pastry department. Hours aren’t the most forgiving in this business, and it’s no more apparent than the hours bakers keep.  The 6:00 a.m. call time is just the morning routine, and on some days, part of the allure of this line of work. It’s when Kelly Russell, executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s assistant at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, puts together her prep list for the day.

Kelly and our beloved workhorse, the Hobart mixer.

Kelly and our beloved workhorse, the Hobart mixer.

“Monday is ice cream and sorbet day, a big day for prep,” Kelly says. “The weekend is busy, especially with Sunday brunch. We place our orders then. Chocolate and nuts that we buy in bulk. We can buy produce any day of the week except Sunday.  Orders come every Monday and Thursday. Two people come in every morning, with one pastry plater for dinner service and two at night on the weekends.”   Is your head spinning yet?

My caffeine hadn’t kicked in, and but the team was trucking, staffed up, in the throws of two recipes already, and simultaneously explaining all of this to me.  We were at the flagship to capture its creativity in these now not so wee hours.  Chef de cuisine Niven Patel and his crew were there, foraging for spices, mise’ing the country pate and marinating pork for patties on the day’s lunch special salad.  But our sites were set on the Hobart and the Doyon, oft doubling for savory applications such as roasting porchetta, but at this particular moment sweet.

Kelly giggles at Niven in his happy place, the spice corner.

Kelly giggles at Niven in his happy place, the spice corner.

Kelly was making sheet pans of sour cream coffee cake, a classic layered breakfast pasty that hits all the right notes — nutty, sweet and just-a-touch-salty in the streusel crumble. The occasion is CreativeMornings, which I like to say are the TEDx talks of the creative world, a morning speaker series on a new topic each month simultaneously presented in each of the organization’s myriad chapters across the globe by a special guest.  It attracts intellectuals, cultural subversives, curious cats, social entrepreneurs, artists, designers both in the audience and on stage and is the best exercise for the mind that I’ve ever encountered pre-10:00 a.m.  Doors open at 8:30 a.m., you eat (where Hedy’s coffee cake comes in,) you listen (where Camila Ramos of Panther Coffee comes in,) and you are in the office in a timely fashion ready to claim the day.

The second we heard of this brilliant event from Michael’s new assistant and my partner in crime Jessica Gross, it was time to take Miami host Malik Benjamin out to a proper Michael’s Genuine lunch. We were hungry for more and wanted to get involved, in ways more than making sure folks left belly full.  The light bulb eventually went off.  Panther Coffee was the missing link.  I pitched, and they bit.  It was a no-brainer brainer, and thanks to the support of owners Joel and Leticia Pollock, we secured the lovely and talented head barista and store manager Camila Ramos to present her Hidden Sources, not only of beans but of her passion for them.  [Look for her her complete and utterly mesmerizing  talk which took place this past Friday to be posted here, shortly!]

The recipe below, straight from the pages of Hedy’s Baking Out Loud cookbook, takes the classic sour cream coffee cake we make last week to the next level with coffee and chocolate in the topping.   Have a creative morning at home and bake one fresh for yourself, to share with friends, or as the happiest wake-up call I can think of… baking smells! Wait, where is that iPhone App, because I want it?!  A set of Cat’s images from our own creative morning at HQ are accessible at this link. Follow Creative Mornings @creativemorningsmia on Instagram and Twitter for the latest talks and links to sign up to attend.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Recipe from Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith

Serves 12

For the streusel
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraïbe 66%), chopped into ½-inch pieces
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (preferably Saigon, see note below)
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans
For the cake
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1. To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, walnuts, chocolate, cinnamon, and ground espresso in a small bowl, and stir until well blended.

2. T o make the cake, position an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F (325°F if using a convection oven). Line the bottom and sides of a 10-cup loaf pan with foil and grease it lightly (preferably with Pam).

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about
3 minutes, until soft and smooth. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

5. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Evenly distribute half of the streusel mixture over the batter. Then spoon the remaining batter evenly over the streusel, and spread it evenly. Scatter the remaining streusel evenly over the top.

6. Bake for 68 to 70 minutes (50 to 60 minutes if using a convection oven), until the topping is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lift the cake and the foil liner from the pan, peel away the foil, and return the cake to the rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, cut the coffee cake into 1-inch-thick slices.
Note: Saigon cinnamon contains the highest percentage of essential oil of all the varieties of ground cinnamon. It packs the most flavor, making this one the finest and most exotic of all cinnamon types.

Knife Work: Turning Japanese

photo 3-10

A Japanese knife primer, from Roel’s line-up (top to bottom): Boning, Petty, Suntuko, Deba, Demascus Gyuto and Carbon Steel Gyuto

Chefs and their knives. Certainly a topic taken seriously. A knife is a tool. It’s an appendage, an extension of a cook’s body and, as such, an expression of his or her personality.  A knife individuates.  This essential element pretty much dictates a cook’s ability to perform their job.  Knives are so ubiquitous in the kitchen, it often disappears into the daily fabric of life in the restaurant business. Focus your attention and you can’t go one second in our world without encountering a blade or two, even in our corporate office.

This isn’t not the first time we’ve wielded the “Chef Toys” category on the blog but it certainly deserves more attention.  On a recent rare morning visit to The Cypress Room, I happened upon chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia sharpening his set of Japanese knives.  There are different knives for different tasks.  There are brand and style preferences. But perhaps the most telling of all traits is their care.  A cook can have a great collection of carbon and stainless steel, but if not properly maintained they will quickly fail, from rust to uneven wear, and equally fail the ingredient meant for batonnet or brunoise, and ultimately the final product at the table.  Once a day, Roel works the soft side of his Togiharu sharpening stone. Once a month on the hard side. It’s a time to reset.

“I think about almost everything relevant in my life.  Paying bills, knocking out prep lists, menu ideas… It’s not unlike rolling out pasta. My mind just wanders.”

Take care of and protect your investments, the Korin website says.  Roel reminds me the honing blade is for just that and that alone – straightening the blade; it can dangerously wear down a knife if improperly (usually too frequently) used.

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In addition to their hardness, Japanese knives are in large part distinctive for their single bevel and its cutting performance suitable to traditional Japanese cuisine and its ingredients. “Yanagiba” is well designed for slicing and preparing the raw sashimi without loosing shape and freshness. The “Usuba” is suitable design for cutting, peeling, also thin and precise cutting for vegetables.  But it’s not so black and white.  As western culture and foods were brought to Japan beginning in the Meiji Period (late 1800s to early 1900s,) western-style European knives featuring the double bevel blade were brought to Japan to handle the cutting of meats. With increasing demand, Japanese knife makers have started to make western-style knives with the experience and techniques of Japanese sword-making and Japanese traditional-style knife-making. So where will our knife exploration lead next, with the chefs of Genuineland as our guides? We shall see, right Michael?!