Thursday, December 31, 2009


Not just another night at the restaurant.

For us it's the Super Bowl. By far the busiest night of the year. We'll double what we usually serve on a busy night. On top of that we'll serve a special four course menu. Every customer will get every course. My little band of pirates will serve close to a thousand plates tonight. The best part is I'll be right there next to them savoring every moment. This is why I cook.

Hundreds of people will be storming the castle tonight. They will do their best to crush us. We will stand strong.

Pil Seung!!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Little Yanagis

Mr. Saji, Hitachi Gingami #3 120mm Kai-Saki, 180mm Yanagi, 240mm Yanagi, Ez0-Jeka antler.
(Click for Close-up)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Recent Tasks

(Click for Close-up)

One thing good about the winter. It helps when cooling the sushi rice.

My Big Ass Rice Bowl.

American "Kobe" Beef Brisket
Beautiful fat brisket

Dry Rub Applied

Slow Smoked For 18 Hours

Closer View
In my world it doesn't get any better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sharpening Single Bevel Knife

The video depicts sharpening a knife to "professional use" standards. For most users a fraction of the steps I took are necessary. Although once you get used to a sharp knife it becomes addicting.

If any locals are interested in learning to sharpen or trying out some Japanese knives and wet stones just contact me through this site at the "Contact Salty" link. There are many shapes and styles of knives. Most are designed for a specific task. Many are single bevel (Like the one in the video, kinda flat on one side) but many are double bevel similar to traditional German or French knives and some are considered all purpose.

If you're serious about food you should be serious about your tools.

If I may suggest getting a few like-minded individuals together and do it as a group. It will be fun and educational.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Rolls

(Click for close-ups)

Spicy Tuna Roll

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rolls (click for close-up)

I added a couple rolls to the menu to see how they'd play. This is the shrimp tempura roll.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Chef

I'd like to stress I don't watch the show or any other Chef competition type show. I did watch the last episode replayed later last night. (There was nothing else on)

Earlier in the evening I noticed a ton of traffic on this site from people googleing "Ballentine". Now I've always been amazed how many from the UK google "ballentine" but last night it was from the U.S. I figured people must be researching for Thanksgiving or something. Then I saw the Top Chef episode with the Ballentine. It had been broadcast earlier. Ahhhh, interesting how that works. Saltyskitchen is always high on the list when you google ballentine or gallentine. I did a post on them a ways back. I also have a youtube video cutting a bird in preparation for the dish.

BTW, I'm not a Fan of that Bocuse Door, D'ore, d'or or however the hell you spell it. I appreciate the talent and discipline it takes to do it but to me, that's not real food.

Also the dishes they prepared for that contest weren't much different than what they normally would prepare. They just just gussied up the preparation. And half of them still screwed it up. I'm sorry, four hours? You can't cook lamb properly in four hours?

I've said it again and again. You have to execute! The recipes and menus are like tactics in a war. They're all sexy and wonderful but it's logistics that wins wars. Logistics = execution.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Robert Hall Winery Dinner

Click for close-ups.

Victor making the cherry "dumplings"

Robert (left) and Victor

Brad cutting the chestnuts before roasting.

Sean did a nice job on the lamb. (Sean is the Chef at Shilling's in Downtown Racine, he was kind enough to take me up on my offer to play with some food.)

Amuse, sweet grape stuffed with Carr Valley Billy Bleu with "Blis" Double Solera Elixer.

Day Boat Black Cod, poached in citrus olive oil, white alba truffle, parsley coulis. The coulis came out nice. Opaque like ink.
Sauvignon Blanc

I didn't get a photo of the beet salad.

Day boat scallop, maple accented sweet potato puree, demi-braised slab bacon, tart beurre blanc.

Breast of pheasant, cranberry-pheasant jus, beans ala "portobella".
Rhone de Robles

Garlic, mustard, thyme and panko crusted rack of lamb. Thyme infused demi-glace, roasted chestnuts, truffled mashed potatoes.
Cabernet Sauvignon

The lamb came out almost perfect. Not the easiest thing to do timing wise. Beautiful Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms racks. You order on Monday, they slaughter on Tuesday, package on Wednesday, deliver on Thursday. That's pretty fresh. They're about 40 miles away.

Very happy the way these turned out. Never had done them before.
Orange Muscat

Friday, November 13, 2009

The King

The King of all things culinary, the white Alba truffle. Just got these in for the wine dinner. You're looking at $300.00. The going price is roughly $3000.00 per lb. (Yes that is the correct amount of zeros).

I wanted to put the photo in a post so it's zoom-able. For those into food porn.

There is nothing quite like that burst of truffle when you open up that Fed-Ex box.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hattori Kd 210 Gyuto #2

The tomato isn't the prettiest (that's why I used it) relatively soft and a challenge for a knife. This particular knife is from a very prestigious series of knives. It's relatively small and not my first choice for this task but does the job. It is obviously very sharp.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hattori kD 210 Gyuto

This task is more difficult than cutting a tomato. The skin is an obstacle and the sticky nature of the flesh of the fruit makes it difficult to chop, you have to slice the apple rather than cut it in an up and down manner. I could have taken this a step further and made another cut or two horizontally then diced it.

Thoughts on Wine Dinner Menu

Autumn Wine Dinner
November 16th 2009
Robert Hall Winery, Paso Robles, CA

In general I wanted to keep the menu relatively straight forward. It's a wine dinner. I think overly complex dishes tend to lose focus when pairing with a wine.

Pacific Northwest Black Cod
Poached in citrus olive oil, white truffles, parsley coulis
Robert Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2008
I was looking for an ultra fresh fish and the black cod has been consistant. When planning a menu this far out you have to be cautious with wild fish. The sauv blanc is citrusy, hence the citrus in the olive oil. The green fruit in the olive oil should be fine with the wine and the truffles need some fat to highlight them.

Roasted Beats and Artisinal Cheese
Humboldt Fog goat cheese, petite frilly green mustard,
“Blis” Double Solera aged sherry vinegar.
I'm going to roast the beets for a long time to give them that "roasted corn" flavor. I simply love Humboldt Fog and the mildly bitter greens should be a nice contrast. The "Blis" vinegar is unbelievable. Better than any aged balsamic I've ever had.

Day Boat Sea Scallop
Pan seared, chicken demi braised slab bacon, maple accented
sweet potato puree and piquant beurre blanc.
Robert Hall Chardonnay 2007
I set out to do this dish no matter what. I did it for the Hope Safe House dinner and was just killer. The chard isn't as big as I would have liked but I noticed it gets better as it warms. We'll have to be careful to serve it at the right temp.

Breast of Pheasant
Foie gras infused cranberry pheasant jus, haricot vert.
Robert Hall Rhone de Robles 2006
This dish should be perfect for this wine. I mean what else can you say? This wine is the best of the bunch and deserves the hassle of making this time consuming dish.

Local Rack of Lamb
(Pinn-Oak Farms, Whitewater, WI)
Panko and mustard crusted, roasted chestnuts,
apricot and thyme infused demi-glace.
Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
OMG. I just recieved my first case of Pinn-Oak farms lamb. Absolutely gorgeous. They take orders on Monday, slaughter on Tuesday, package on Wednesday and deliver on Thursday. This lamb is being added to the new menu. I dare anyone to beat it. Anyone, anywhere.

Montmorency Cherry Dumpling
Candied orange peel, chocolate truffle, vanilla custard.
Robert Hall Orange Muscat 2007
I'll be picking up the cherries in Door County on my next trip up. The area is known for it's tart Montmorency cherries. Got to have some chocolate and the orange peel will pair with the wine, which isn't overly sweet by the way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn Wine Dinner

Autumn Wine Dinner
November 16th 2009
Robert Hall Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Pacific Northwest Black Cod
Poached in citrus olive oil, white truffles, parsley coulis
Robert Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Roasted Beats and Artisinal Cheese
Humboldt Fog goat cheese, petite frilly green mustard,
“Blis” Double Solera aged sherry vinegar.

Day Boat Sea Scallop
Pan seared, chicken demi braised slab bacon, maple accented
sweet potato puree and piquant beurre blanc.
Robert Hall Chardonnay 2007

Breast of Pheasant
Foie gras infused cranberry pheasant jus, haricot vert.
Robert Hall Rhone de Robles 2006

Local Rack of Lamb
(Pinn-Oak Farms, Whitewater, WI)
Panko and mustard crusted, roasted chestnuts,
apricot and thyme infused demi-glace.
Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Montmorency Cherry Dumpling
Candied orange peel, chocolate truffle, vanilla custard.
Robert Hall Orange Muscat 2007

Pre-tasting 6:00 p.m.
Seating 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $85.00 all inclusive
(Includes service and tax)
Reservations: 262.681.5465


Constantly re-designing the tuna.

Tuna, lime, avocado, poblano, radish spirully on fried plantain.

Had to use my back-up camera on these shots. I was reminded how much I like it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Click the photo for a close-up

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Captain Robert Paul

Another Fireman Story

I was sound asleep at Engine 23's when we got a run for a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) with injuries just down the street. As we boarded the rig the night watchmen said he heard a car racing down the street just before the alarm came in. "This is going to be bad", he said.

We were on the scene in less than a minute. A car had been traveling down the road the road at a high rate of speed, lost control, went airborne, struck a huge oak tree, split the car in half spewing it's contents in every direction. We found four victims over a 40 yard radius. All were high school kids, All were critical. Very critical.

The boss that day was Capt. Bob Paul. As we approached the scene he immediately called for additional units including every Paramedic unit available and Flight for Life. It was a daunting scene. It was late night and raining, the car was in two pieces with many smaller pieces scattered about the front lawns where it landed. The kids were all over the place so we had to split up and share one med kit. Captain Paul kept us calm and organized as we triaged the patients. It was a few minutes before we got additional help. It seemed like hours. The scene soon became controlled chaos as we treated the kids, loaded some into ambulances and others in the the helicopter.

Kids are the hardest, as you treat the trauma you can't help but think of your own children and subconsciously work that much harder and faster. Bob Paul was a family man and perhaps was thinking of his kids when he was directing us at the scene that night. I know I was thinking of mine.

As usual an hour after the run it was as if it never happened.

Captain Paul was an unassuming man, not the swashbuckling firefighter type. He looked more like a math teacher than a firefighter. Yet he was a very competent fire fighter and an excellent boss. I liked working with him alot. He was good on runs and in the fire house. He was a good man.

I relayed this story to his teen age daughters shortly after his funeral. Bob died too young as many firefighters do. I explained to his kids that on that rainy night their dad took control of that scene and probably was the main reason those four kids are walking around today, most likely with kids of their own. I explained you don't have to run into burning buildings to save lives. Coming to work every day and doing the job to the best of your abilities will save lives. Bob Paul never earned any headlines in his career but I'm sure he was responsible for saving many lives.

Those four kids will never know of the man that saved them that night but I wanted Captain Paul's kids to know of that man. A fireman's fireman.

I developed a habit of saying a prayer when I was working on patients that were either dead or were about to be. I've said this prayer hundreds of times. This one is for Bob Paul.

May God embrace your soul and welcome you into his kingdom of heaven.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hope Safe House Auction Dinner

Hope Safe House is an animal rescue organization here in Racine. One of my favorite causes. We donated the seven course dinner as part of a fund raiser.

I've included a couple photos from the dinner.
(Click on photos for close-ups)

U12 Gulf shrimp, ruby grapefruit, orange and lime supremes, cilantro, poblano, golden pea shoots, red kaiwaire shoots.

Tuna and beef rolls tataki.

U10 dry sea scallop, lardon steeped in in chicken demi, maple accented sweet potato.
(Ah, killer.)

Olympic Bay Steel Head, pearl onion supreme, caramelized fennel, roasted wild rice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Depth of Knowledge

It's very common these days to see young chefs with glowing resumes. It's typical to see: graduate high school, go to culinary school, stage in impressive high-end, preferably famous restaurants then land a job cooking and cheffing in top notch, high-end restaurants. It seems like a logical progression. Upon viewing one chef's resume I mentioned, "you've only worked in fancy restaurants?" He proudly said, "yes, nothing wrong about that." I replied, "it's about depth of knowledge", it's useful to experience different types of food-service establishments, how things are done outside the foodie world. You can't help picking up some useful tools for the future. Not everyone lands a job in New York or Chicago and understanding the preferences of a broader range of customers will pay off. Not to mention the capabilities of the available staff.

As a result young chefs tend to be inflexible in their idealistic beliefs and frown upon methods that are perceived as less than the way they've been taught. It reminds me of the saying, "young chefs know the rules, old chefs know the exceptions to the rules." These young turks may not understand the value of a diverse food-service background now but if they are still in the biz 20 years from now they will. I've tried to explain this over and over again to the noobies and they all look at me like I'm crazy.

Give me a guy who started flipping burgers, found he loved this crazy business and then worked his way up the culinary chain. He will be more open to alternative methods and products, be more tolerant and will most likely last longer in the business.

With that being said I have lost my tolerance for arrogant hot shot chefs who were born after I got my first chef's job. I actually had one start explaining to me how to cost meat portions. I was like, "you must really think I'm an idiot, do you think I'd be operating a profitable restaurant for 15 years and not know how to cost meat? Tell about me something I haven't been practicing for 35 years kid." I've also been cutting meat for 35 years, do you think he'd be open to suggestions on how to utilize more product and cut more efficiently? Hell no, he knows everything already.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mashed Potatoes

A few weeks ago Mat asked for a new chinoise to replace our old handle-less one. It seemed a reasonable request so the next time I'm at the "Depot" I pick one up. The new version. A plastic one. Great, I wonder how long this will last. Anyway, I've noticed Mat using it for the mashed potatoes. He's running the mashed potatoes through the chinoise to produce a very fine creamy texture. (A chinoise is a very fine sieve shaped like a "China-man's hat used for straining soups, stocks, sauces, etc.) It's a bitch to pass mashed potatoes through it. It got me thinking about how Mat and I approach cheffing. There is no freaking way I will ever put mashed potatoes through a chinoise. No freaking way. I appreciate the effort and the final product but it's an example of how our styles differ. Not only how we approach food but the job as well. Mat loves to cook. He gets to work early every day because he just likes to be cooking. He has the passion and energy and loves the work and the food. I don't anymore. After 35 years it's extremely difficult to keep that edge. Even in my personal tastes I have come full circle and prefer a simple straight forward "comfortable" dinner to the multi course extravaganza. They almost seem silly to me now. 20 years ago I might have gotten satisfaction of putting potatoes through a sieve but now that seems silly to me too. Is it because I'm burned out after 35 years years of an intimate relationship with food? Or because of that long time relationship I've become so familiar with food that I've grown to recognize the essentials in good food and dining and realize it's not about awards, fame, money and the latest trends. Much like life, as you age you understand that it's not about the short term satisfactions you get along the way, it's about the core principles of love, family and peace. You can apply those same basics to cooking and dining and you'll recognize the final product and most of the people you cook for will too. It's old school but I think old school is the next new school.

As a kid we ate alot of boxed "mashed potatoes". Mom was busy and had six mouths to feed. We always knew if the potatoes were lumpy mom made real mashed potatoes. She took the time to make them, not perfectly but she made real mashed potatoes because she loved us. After many years of mashing potatoes she would cut a corner or two and leave some lumps. You may find a lump in my potatoes but that's ok because after mashing my share of potatoes I've grown to love the lumps.

I also give that new plastic chinoise three months. A fifty dollar plastic sieve. Sheesh!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recent Shots

House made Frozen Custard, Fried to Order Doughnuts

Grasshopper Shooters

Papaya Grilled Shrimp

Miso Grilled Salmon

Twin Filets with U12 Gulf Shrimp

Saturday, October 3, 2009


In an effort to bolster Friday night business in this dismal economy (16% unemployment locally) we have been running three course specials on Friday nights. I've post ed some photos of the pasta being prepared for one of last Friday's specials. It was made Friday afternoon and served with a ragu of beef tenderloin tips, the last of the garden peppers and tomatoes, pearl onions and fennel. Topped with shaved Parmesan.

Included are soup or tossed salad, a starch, vegetable and dessert. Below is a partial list of some of the things we've done on Friday. The price is $19.95.

Broiled Algoma Whitefish with fresh tarragon beurre blanc and pearl onions.
Broiled Algoma Whitefish ala Grenoble.
Grilled Mahi Mahi Kabayaki
Skate wing with lemon beurre monte and 10 YO balsamic.
Lobster Chapchae
Lobster risotto.
Traditionally broiled lobster (Every Friday, 6 oz. Maine)
Texas style prime rib.
Smoked beef brisket.
Roast tenderloin of beef with smoked mushroom jus.
Garlic and tomato braised 12 count gulf shrimp.
Foie gras and truffled meatloaf.
Hanger steak with demi, bearnaise and pomme frites.
Flank steak au poivre.
Cedar roasted salmon with garden fresh chive butter
salmon sous vide
Beef short ribs sous vide
Braised short ribs
Barbeque Beef ribs, Korean style.
Apricot and goat cheese stuffed loin of pork with apricot demi.
Apple and cornbread stuffed loin of pork with apple demi.
Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with apple-maple jus.

Those are just some off the top of my head. Although we've done pretty well with it, (The specials account for 70% of dinners served on Fridays.) people should be lined up to get in. I don't know of a better deal anywhere. We use good quality products, often from our garden and everything is made from scratch. Three courses for $19.95!

Dough ball before kneading. I use Marcella Hazan's (Sp?) recipe for pasta. She says two ingredients only unless you're coloring it. Eggs and flour.

Roll out very thin.

Dust with flour so it doesn't stick together.

Cut your pasta. I like a fettuccine size. I don't worry if it's not perfect. I like the rustic look. Plus the customer will recognize it's handmade.

A little space is good. I like long pasta.