A Word On Food

Saturdays at 8:34 AM

“Before the celebrity chef craze… before the start of Food Network, Norman Van Aken was starting a revolution. He was doing something unheard of at the time, taking local ethnic flavors, merging them together at restaurants where he worked.” --- The Smithsonian

Among his many masteries as a chef, Norman Van Aken is best known for introducing "fusion" into the lexicon of modern cookery and considered to be the founding father of New World Cuisine - a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors.  He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage” and was s a 2016 MenuMasters Hall of Fame inductee along with Jacques Pépin and Wolfgang Puck.

Van Aken is a James Beard semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America” and his namesake restaurant NORMAN’S, was nominated as a finalist for “Best Restaurant in America.”  He has represented the United States proud with international recognitions that include being honored alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller as one of the “Founders of New American Cuisine” at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ (2006) and represented the State of Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano as part of the World’s Fair (2015).

Van Aken has shared his cooking and career, penning more than five cookbooks (Feast of Sunlight; The Exotic Fruit Book; Norman’s New World Cuisine; New World Kitchen; My Key West Kitchen) and a memoir (No Experience Necessary… The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken).   His cookbooks have been hailed by Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck; while his memoir captured the attention of the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award and received a ‘finalist nomination’ along with Michael Pollan, Anne Willan and Luke Barr.

Chef Van Aken opened “1921 by Norman Van Aken” a restaurant in Mount Dora, Florida in September, 2016. The restaurant has 160 seats with indoor and outdoor dining open for lunch and dinner featuring “Modern Florida Cuisine”. It is in alliance with the extraordinary Modernism Museum directly across the street. The restaurant’s design includes many elements from the Museum’s collection of art. Additionally he is partnered with Candace Walsh to open “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken”, a cooking school in Miami in June of 2017. The two are joined by restaurateur Susan Buckley and debuting a new restaurant and roof-deck lounge adjacent to the school due this summer. The restaurant is named “Three”. Chef Norman is the Chef and founder of NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando which opened in 2003 and has many local and national accolades.

Chef Van Aken has appeared on various television shows from CNN’s “Parts Unknown” with Bourdain to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”  He is often cited as a culinary expert in publications such as The New York Times and Saveur.  Additionally, Van Aken is the hosts of “A Word on Food” a radio show that airs twice a week on NPR, in addition to being a staff writer for one of the leading culinary websites, The Daily Meal. There he is featured on his column, “Kitchen Conversations” which have featured chefs, authors, wine-makers, cocktail gurus and restaurant luminaries.

His next book, “Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen” will be out in Fall of 2017 and published by University of Florida Press.

When he is not in the kitchen working up new recipes he can be found spending time with his wife, Janet; son, Justin; daughter-in-law Lourdes; and his pride and joy, his granddaughter, Audrey Quinn Van Aken.

Beer Nuts

Aug 12, 2017

ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

I rarely make this at home. Our memories of them growing up near Chicago were all about going to places that make excellent versions and unlike most homes they have the electric meat slicer that make the nearly paper thin meat part of their pleasure. If you have not had them note that they are served almost soaking wet with au jus. That is the proper way.

Serves 8

1 5-lb beef brisket roast
1 medium onion, sliced    
4 Cups beef stock

Truck Stops

Jul 29, 2017

FORTUNE COOKIES

© 2017 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 cup egg whites (about 6)

1/4 cup hot melted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 Tablespoons ground ginger

Corn

Jul 15, 2017

CHIPOTLE CORN SKILLET BREAD

Norman Van Aken, © Copyright 2001

Yields: 1) 9” cast iron or non-stick skillet

1 chipotle, stem removed seeded and toasted

2 Tablespoons butter

1 ½ Cups raw corn kernels (2 ears of corn, kernels removed)

1 clove garlic

½ Cup yellow cornmeal

½ Cup all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 Cup melted shortening

1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk

1 Cup grated Manchego cheese

Bollos

Jul 8, 2017

BOLLOS or “Black Eye’d Pea Fritters”                                          

© 2012 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken, Excerpted from “My Key West Kitchen”, Kyle Books

Yield: Approximately 60 Fritters

Norman Van Aken, © All Rights Reserved

 

12 ounces dried black eye’d peas

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile stemmed, seeded and minced

1/2 sweet onion, peeled and dices small

Tortillas

Jul 1, 2017

TORTILLA SOUP WITH SUGARCANE CHICKEN

Norman Van Aken, © 2001

This soup takes a hard left as you head south out of North America and presents a Caribbean flavored chicken with one of the classic soups of Mexico.

Black Bean Soup

Jun 24, 2017

black bean soup with roasted squash

Norman Van Aken, © 2011

Yield: 12 Cups

 

6 ounces smoky bacon, diced

2 Tablespoons pure olive oil

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 large Spanish onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2 Tablespoons toasted and ground cumin seeds (see page 9)

2 bay leaves, broken in half

1 Cup Spanish dry sherry

VIETNAMESE SYLED MEATBALLS, (NINH HOA)

Norman Van Aken, © 2007

Yield: 3 pounds of meat to make into variously sized meatballs. (about 66 medium balls)

2 pounds ground pork, (we used pork tenderloin)

9 ounces of ground fatty bacon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 Tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced

1 ½ Tablespoons sugar

2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon Nuoc Cham, (see recipe below)

Escargot

Jun 10, 2017

Banana Leaves

Jun 3, 2017

BUTTERED SNAPPER BAKED IN A BANANA LEAF

with a "Steam" of Clams, Boniato, "Bonnets" Saffron and Garlic

Norman Van Aken, COPYRIGHT ©1998

Yield: Serves 4 entrees

For the fish:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil

4 Tablespoons butter

2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced

cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

4)    7‑8 ounce fillets of snapper, skinned and totally trimmed

4 thin slices of lemon, cut in half

Chipotle Chilies

May 27, 2017

CHIPOTLE TOMATO SALSA

Norman Van Aken © Copyright 2014

This is fairly involved salsa but deeply flavored. It can dress grilled seafoods, pork and chicken.

Yield: About 2 Cups

1 ounce smoked bacon, diced

1 Tablespoon pure olive oil

1 Tablespoons butter

1 Chipotle pepper, toasted, seeds removed, and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 red onion, peeled and diced medium

1 teaspoon sugar

1 large stalks celery, cleaned and diced medium

The Saucier

May 20, 2017

SAUCE CREOLE

Norman Van Aken, © 2001

The Brazilian influences of cuisine have invigorated several others. Here we have a sauce that is indelibly linked with the glorious flavors of New Orleans but it knew a prior home in Brazil and, of course, Africa in various guises and permutations.

Yield: 3 Cups

1 ounces bacon, diced

1 Tablespoon pure olive oil

1 Tablespoons butter

1 scotch bonnet chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced

2 cloves of raw garlic, minced

Batidos

May 13, 2017

MAMEY BATIDO MILKSHAKE

Norman Van Aken, 2012 Copyright ©

Yield: Serves 2-3 depending on how thirsty you are

1 Cup fresh, ripe mamey cubed, (peel and pit discarded)

1 Cup milk

1/4 Cup buttermilk

¼ Cup sugar or honey

1 dash vanilla extract, (optional)

½ Cup ice cubes

Blend all of the above together very well. Serve.

Note: Frozen mamey pulp can be found in many Latin and Caribbean grocery stores. The flavor is pretty good though not as exquisite as the ripe, fresh one.

Artichokes

May 6, 2017

ARTICHOKE FRITTERS WITH OLI

©2008 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 30-36

For the Fritters:
5 Cups cooked and drained artichoke hearts, chopped 1 Tablespoon thyme leaves,
1 egg
1/3 Cup milk
1 Cup, (or slightly more if needed) sifted flour
1 1⁄4 Tablespoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 Cups red onion, minced
3 Tablespoons beer
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
~
Canola or peanut oil for deep-frying (as needed)

Pages