Saturday, January 16, 2010

A cooking trip to Mexico with Chef Mark Smith

I know this is really short notice, but if you are interested in learning authentic Mexican Cooking & getting out of the frigid winter weather this February 21-28 why not sneak away for seven days of authentic Mexican cooking with myself & Chef Ana Garcia at La Villa Bonita, her specially designed hotel & cooking school in the beautiful mountain village of Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Click here for a typical weeks schedule with Chef Ana.

Chef Ana was able to offer us an incredible deal for the week $1150 per person + tax for double occupancy & $1550 + tax for single occupancy. There are 6 rooms available. You will need to secure your own transportation to Mexico City for arrival on Sunday Febuary 21. This will be small be a small, hands on learning experience with lots of good food & warm weather. I have until the January 22nd to reserve the hotel, so if you are interested please contact me asap @

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mac & Cheese Segment From Fox

Here's a rundown of the Macaroni & Cheeses that the Chef's put together for the show. I really appreciate all their work, especially delivering it to the restaurant. I'll be getting your dishes & casseroles back to you all soon. I think that Chef Jim from blueplate & I we're the only ones to actually taste all 11 dishes, but remember, everyone can this Monday night at Tortilla Press Cantina 7716 Maple Ave, Pennsauken 08109. Call 856-356-2050 for reservations. $10 per adult $4 for kids & the bar will be open.

The Tortilla Press
Chef Mark Smith
Key ingredient: the five cheeses! Cheddar, monteray jack, Chihuahua, queso anejo, cotija; Crumbled home made tortilla chips on top give it extra crunch.

Chef Jim Malaby
Key ingredient: one is gluten free (lobster and goat cheese)
Second one is “regular” BLT mac and cheese – bacon and oven dried tomatoes with greens.

Chef Alex Capasso
Key ingredient: Riviera style macaroni and cheese with Fregola eggless pasta, mascarpone and truffle oil and fresh truffle.

La Campagne
Chef Rich Benussi
Key ingredient: Our mac and cheese key ingredient is trois lait or three milks (cow, goat, sheep). To represent them we will be using three French cheeses. Brie (cow's milk), Chevre (goat's milk) and Petit Basque (sheep's milk). A hint of truffle and an almond crunch topping should also be noted.

Mirabella Café
Chef Joe Palombo
Key ingredient: lobster with several Italian cheeses. Chef Joe’s mac and cheese demonstrates how this homey dish can be dressed up.

Viennese Cafe
Chef Richard Marsh
Short rib mac n cheese with pine nut crust topping

Bistro di Marino
Chef Jim Marino
Key ingredient: penne pasta & gorgonzola make this extra creamy.

Chef Vipul
Key Ingredient: a combination of the spices that are used in many Indian dishes including ginger, cumin, coriander powder and tumeric. (It was nice & spicy) my note!

Kuzina by Sofia
Chef Sofia Khoury
Key ingredient: a secret! Let’s just say it’s chef Sofia’s TLC

Norma’s Mediterranean Café/ Cous Cous
Chef Elias

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homestyle classic menu Jan25 thru Jan28

Well, the holidays are over & The Cantina is re-opened & I'm done testing margarita & mojito recipes for a little while at least. I've just finished tweeking my recipe for the first annual (I hope) Mighty Mac Battle of the Chefs. I call it the "Mac Off" much to my wife's dismay. The event is to be held at Tortilla Press Cantina on Monday Jan 18th at 6:30, and will be featuring the mac & cheese of at least 10 of the areas chefs. Please make your reservations soon at 856-356-2050. The cost is $10 for adults & $4 for kids. Part of the proceeds will go to The South Jersey Food Bank. We will also have a cash bar available with great drink specials.

My blog this year will be a place to check out upcoming events at The Tortilla Press, Tortilla Press Cantina, South Jersey Culinary Events & SJ Green Dining. But, mainly it will be the musings of an independent restaurateur/chef running two restaurants & the daily triumphs and challenges that arise. Of course, this will be the place to see all special event menus & changes to either restaurants' menu before the rest of the public, so check back often & feel free to comment anytime with suggestions, ideas or ways to improve The Tortilla Press or The Cantina.

Our second annual Homestyle Classics is the first event for South Jersey Culinary Events in 2010 & it will run from Jan 25 thru Jan 28. The event is $30 for 4 courses & it will feature all of the chefs' unique twist on the classics we grew up with. Here is the first draft of the menu to be served at Tortilla Press & The Cantina. Remember, feedback is always welcome here.

Homestyle classics

Choose 1

Fried Cheese Sticks

Breaded chihuahua cheese lightly fried & served with tijauna marinara sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Our award winning chipotle peanut bbq pork served on a toasted mini brioche roll with a side of spicy slaw

Hot Wings

Our twist on the classic buffalo wings served with honey cholula sauce & avocado ranch

Choose 1

Cesar Salad

Romaine lettuce, Aztec salad dressing queso cotija, garlic chile croutons,

roasted red pepper rajas & twin fire-grilled shrimp

Skyline Style Chile

A cup of an Ohio favorite served 5 ways with beef, black beans,

onion & grated cheddar over spaghetti

Vegetable Soup

A rich vegetable, tomato & chile stock with hominy & mixed vegetables

with a tostada, shredded lettuce, diced onion, lime & sliced radish garnish

Choose 1

Friday Night Fish Fry

My mom’s special breading on mild white fish filets

served with french fries, cole slaw & 3 dipping sauces

Mac & Cheese

Cheddar, monteray jack, queso fresco, chihuahua & cotija in a creamy guajillo chile sauce

with crunchy tortilla chip topping. Served with corn mexicana

Chicken & Dumplings

Roasted chicken pulled & simmered in a yellow mole

with masa dumplings served with green beans & carrots

Steak & Potatoes

Carne Asada grilled to your liking with achiote roasted Yukon gold potatoes

& a spicy lime chile dipping sauce

Choose 1

Rice Pudding

Slow cooked till creamy with mexican cinnamon then served

chilled with goat milk caramel sauce & whipped cream

Cream Puffs

Classic shell filled with coffee ice cream & finished with a

Patron XO enhanced coffee sauce & whipped cream

Bread Pudding

Mexican chocolate & challah baked into a rich egg custard with mexican cinnamon & vanilla

served with a spoonful of mixed berry salsa & whipped cream