Thanks a million for making BlueStar's restaurant quality available to home chefs."
Laurie Colton - Walnut Creek, CA
Owner of a Stainless Steel, BlueStar RCS 30" FreeStanding Gas Range
Name: Jose Garces
Location: Philadelphia, PA
BlueStar: 36" RNB Freestanding Range with a Griddle in Royal Blue
With many restaurants to his credit, it is amazing that Jose has time for the numerous TV appearances, books and a farm, where much of the produce for his Philadelphia restaurants grows...oh, did I mention a food truck? (But wait, there's more: Iron Chef, James Beard Award, and the list goes on...) When I spoke to him, he was on his way to deliver the graduation speech at his alma mater.
Born in Chicago, Jose grew up with a Ecuadorian mother cooking meals, and the results are obviously amazing. He is more than a chef, restaurant owner, and Iron Chef...he defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, in a 2008 episode featuring melon, for all you Food Network Fans.
Jose Garces, Full Disclosure
Favorite Ingredient: As a farmer, there are many that Jose likes. (Perhaps we will have to read his new book, available in October, The Latin Road Home and decide.)
Why BlueStar: The power of commercial equipment, right in your home kitchen. Jose is used to the best and most powerful equipment in his establishments, and now the best and the most powerful is in his home: BlueStar.
Jose designed his BlueStar for the comfort of cooking at home - a beautiful, colorful, royal blue 36" RNB model specified with two 22,000 BTU burners and a griddle - perfect for Saturday morning pancakes for the family.
Unusual item in the tool box: Jose combined these two with a description of the unusual and yet perfect intersection of nature in his new home kitchen: granite joining the wood countertop. His favorite tool is the BlueStar range that meets the granite countertop, again, a perfect intersection.
P.S. Can't wait to cook from the new book: The Latin Road Home: Savoring the Foods of Ecuador, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru (Lake Isle Press, $35.00, October 2012) The Latin Road Home is a cookbook, a travelogue and a memoir, offering a fascinating and personal look back at the food traditions that have shaped the life and cooking of Jose Garces, from his family's ancestral home in Ecuador to his ongoing work as an award-winning chef and restaurateur across the USA.
Click here to visit Chef Garces' website
Warm Hominy Salad with Peas, Carrots, and Cilantro
When my mom makes this dish in the springtime, she uses fresh garbanzo and fava beans as well as the English peas. If you spy either or both of these at your local farm market or Latin grocery, snap them up and add them to the mix: shucking, blanching, and peeling them is a bit of a hassle, but they are fine things (cosas finas), for sure. English peas are often available in supermarkets year-round; note that when peas are in season, the pea pods tend to produce more per pod and the peas themselves are often larger, so you may not need to buy the full two pounds called for to end up with two cups of shelled peas. Also, the size of the peas themselves will be larger when they're in season. Canned hominy is stocked in most supermarkets.
To prepare the peas, put a pot of generously salted water on to boil and set up an ice bath in a large bowl. Blanch the peas in the boiling water just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside. Combine the peas, hominy, carrots, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the garlic, olive oil, and lime juice and season to taste with salt. Cover and chill thoroughly before serving.
Ecuadorian Hot Sauce
Here is a recipe for a spicy red aji in the light style of those typically made on the coast (la costena). To turn up the heat, use the whole red Fresno chili. Note that it's important to chop the vegetables finely even though they're going into a food processor, otherwise your sauce will be too watery. Store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.
Makes 1 cup
Combine the chile, tomato, onion, scallion, parsley, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, and the agave nectar and mix well. Remove half of the vegetables and reserve in a separate bowl. Pulse the remaining half of the mixture in a food processor until all of the vegetables are finely chopped: it should not be a smooth sauce. Fold in the reserved chopped vegetables. Season the sauce to taste with salt and chill before using.