Feb 26 2011

strawberry n’cream sandwich

4 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
zest of an orange
4 strawberries, sliced
4 slices of whole wheat bread

Combined cream cheese, honey, mint and orange zest. Spread mixture onto both slices of whole wheat bread (having the mixture on both sides of the bread helps hold the strawberries in place). Add sliced strawberries on top of cream mixture.

Feb 24 2011

seafood curry rundown

Rundown is a classic Caribbean recipe that involves cooking fish and shell fish in coconut milk. The word rundown refers to the simmering down (reduction) of the coconut milk.


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon Alice Shoals Jamaican Curry Powder
3 tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Habañero pepper, minced
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup lobster stock
1 pound lump crabmeat
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
3/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. In a deep, medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, and just starting to turn golden.
  2. Add the bell pepper, garlic and ginger and sir to incorporate.
  3. Stir in the curry powder, and cook, stirring, until it just starts to brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes, habañero and thyme.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the stock to deglaze and bring to a boil.
  7. Add coconut milk.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by one-half, about 10 minutes.
  9. Add the shrimp, and stir into the sauce.
  10. Stir the crab into the sauce and allow to cook until sauce just returns to a simmer.
  11. Remove from heat, adjust seasoning with salt and freshly milled black pepper.
  12. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed white rice and warm Coco flatbread.

Don Messina currently sits on the board of directors for Sandcastle Hospitality, and serves as the Executive Chef for Iguana Isle, an ” Island Inspired” company based in Naples, Florida . He has been inspired by his travels throughout the Caribbean to create his own blend of spices to help the average home cook to bring authentic flavors of the islands to their home.

Feb 12 2011


I was inspired to recreate the flavors of an æbleskiver after returning from a recent trip to Denmark. While shopping at ILLUM, a Scandinavian department store, I found a traditional cast iron æbleskiver pan and was ready to start cooking.

Caramel Core Æbleskivers

1 cup of pecans, toasted
1 cup of flour
1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs, yolk and whites separated
1 cup of milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
jar of caramel sauce

Toast pecans in a non stick skillet until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Add cooled pecans to a food processer and pulse to achieve large crumbs. Add the pecan crumbs to a large bowl. Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of pecan crumbs. Stir to combine.

In another bowl whisk egg yolks, milk, and melted butter. Add this to the pecan and flour mixture. Stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until you form stiff peaks. Fold in half of this mixture into the batter and lightly combine. Add the remaining eggs whites and gently combine.

Add about 1 tablespoon of batter to each well of a pre heated and greased æbleskiver pan. Add a small amount of caramel sauce to the center of each æbleskiver and top with another tablespoon of batter.

Cook until bottoms are lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes). Then flip the æbleskiver until browned on the other side (about 3-4 mintues).

Serve warm and drizzle with additional caramel sauce.

Feb 7 2011

sticky recipe

Brown Sugar Butter

175 g Brown Sugar
110 g Buter
120 g Double Cream

Heat all ingredients to dissolve.

Vanilla Anglaise

2 cup Heavy Cream
2 cup Half and Half
226 g Sugar
175 g Egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean

Scald the heavy cream and half and half with the vanilla bean and half the sugar. Mix the yolks and rest of the sugar together. Temper the yolk mixture with the cream mixture and cook to 180 degrees F. Strain and chill.

Sodium Alginate Bath

750 g Water
3.75 g Sodium Alginate

Mix to combine.

Anglaise Sphere

500 g Anglaise
5.5 g Calcium Lactate

Mix well to combine. Freeze in sphere molds. Place in Alginate bath for 10 to fifteen minutes until a skin is formed. Once the skin is formed the spheres go back into the anglaise until ready to use.

Black Coco Soil

100 g Hazel nuts – toasted
150 g 10x Sugar
50 g Maltodextrin
15 g Black coco powder

Grind ingredients together until “crumbly.”

Hazelnut Sponge Cake

220 g Hazelnut praline
190 g Egg Whites
3 Dates
10 g Coffee extract
5 g Vanilla extract

Pit the dates and puree all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a iSi siphon and charge twice with N2O. Chill. Fill a microwave safe plastic cup a quarter full and microwave for 35-50 seconds depending on the microwave.

To Assemble

  • spoon about an ounce of anglaise in the center of a slightly concave plate (so the sauce doesn’t go everywhere)
  • rest a sphere in the sauce
  • cook the cake at the last second
  • gently rip the sponge cake and lay it over the sphere to hide it for a surprise
  • douse the cake with the brown sugar butter
  • lay tuille branches over the cake like fallen branches
  • spoon small piles of coco soil to “crust” the cake
  • serve right away so the custard is cold, the cake is hot and the soil is crunchy

TARVER KING is definitely ‘king’ of the kitchen at 
The Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Paris, Virginia. Tarver is an extremely creative chef and stands out as one of my favorite chefs in Northern Virginia.

Peering into Chef Tarver King’s background, one would not be surprised to find the title Chef attached to his name. In fact, one might believe it to be a foregone conclusion. Looking back two generations, Tarver’s grandmother was the food editor for Vogue Magazine in the 1960’s. She published multiple cookbooks and contributed to Gourmet Magazine’s cookbook. With a calling to the culinary craft, Chef King began his career at an early age apprenticing for the three-stared chef of La villa Lorraine, Alain Jackmin at his restaurant in Virginia Beach, Le Chambord. Gaining an education in the fundamentals of cuisine under Jackmin, Tarver worked with an outstanding list of acclaimed and accomplished chefs in this country and Europe. His career has included time in the kitchens of Le Bec Fin, The Inn at Little Washington, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck and the Waterside Inn.

Renown of his own came first as the head chef of The Dining Room at The Woodlands Inn & Resort in Sommerville, South Carolina where he and his team achieved the highest recognition from both Mobile and AAA, receiving respectively five stars and five diamonds. He was also named “Grand Chef” by the Relais & Château organization, of which The Woodlands was a recognized member. Esquire Magazine named King as one of its top five chefs to watch. Chef King has been featured and published in numerous periodicals including Wine Spectator, Bon Appetite, and Food & Wine Magazine.