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.

TV Dinners

Oct 22, 2016

Alligator

Oct 15, 2016

ALLIGATOR SCALOPPINE WITH TORN GREENS

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Yield: 2-4 as a light salad

4 alligator tenderloins, about 3 ounces each

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 small chile, stem discarded, seeds left in if you like it hotter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 Cup AP flour

1 egg

1/4 Cup Half & Half

canola oil or other

Foie Gras En Terrine

Oct 8, 2016

Pan Con Minuta

Oct 1, 2016

Gumbo

Sep 24, 2016

SEAFOOD GUMBO WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE

Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 1999. All rights reserved.

Yield: 8 Cups

For the Soup Base: 

1/3 Cup flour

1/3 Cup butter

2 ounces bacon, diced medium, about 1/2 cup

2 Tablespoons butter

1 red onion, diced medium

2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds discarded, diced medium small 2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced medium small

2 jalapeños, stem and seeds discarded and minced

6 cloves garlic, minced

32 Clams scrubbed clean

Reuben Sandwiches

Sep 17, 2016

REUBEN SANDWICH

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Yield: 2 sandwiches

6 ounces of corned beef, (or more as desired). If you prefer pastrami this sandwich becomes a “Rachel”.

melted (or clarified butter), as needed

butter, softened, amount as needed

4 slices Jewish rye bread or pumpernickle

8 thin slices Emmenthaler Swiss cheese

6 Tablespoons good sauerkraut, drained

1/4 Cup Thousand Island Dressing, (recipe below)

Figs

Sep 10, 2016

FIGS ON A PLATE

Meringue

Sep 3, 2016

MERINGUE

Norman & Janet Van Aken © 2016

Meringue is not very hard to make but you will need a ‘candy thermometer’ to accurately measure the heat of the syrup you will be making first. A blowtorch is handy too…

Makes enough for 1) 9-inch pie of your choosing.

For the Meringue

1 Cup white sugar

4 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil.   Cook over moderate heat until the syrup reaches 243 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Lemongrass

Aug 27, 2016

FRIED CHICKEN with a lemongrass soy marinade

© 2016 All rights reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

This is a fairly complex recipe but the results are well worth it. It calls for two steps to create deep flavor before you ever reach for the buttermilk. Note that you make a Lemongrass-Soy-Syrup. A portion of that goes into a marinade. But the remainder is free to be used to drizzle on your hot fried chicken like one might do with honey if in that mood. But this one will be a lot more exotic.

Yield: Serves 2-4

Please Don't Tell

Aug 20, 2016

Gazpacho

Aug 13, 2016

STONE CRAB GAZPACHO

Norman & Justin Van Aken © Excerpted from, “MY KEY WEST KITCHEN”, Kyle Books    

What soup could be more perfect in the late afternoon of a hot day to fuel a young cook, (that I once was)? It is descended from the Romans and its construction originally could not have originally involved tomatoes at all. Columbus changed that and, to my belly, all for the better. It is one of the few soups that contain a vinegar. Buy a high quality one and your work will shine. Of course with the Stone Crab you are going “Sunday Best”.

Clams

Aug 6, 2016

CLAMS CASINO

© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 60 Pieces

60 littleneck clams, well scrubbed and shucked, clam ‘liquor’ reserved

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil

3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and minced

1 red onion, peeled and diced small

½ bulb fennel, finely diced

Heat a heavy pan. Add the Olive Oil.

Now sauté the jalapeños, onion and fennel in a skillet over high heat in the olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl to cool.

Leg of Lamb

Jul 30, 2016

“SILK ROAD” GRILL/ROASTED LAMB RACK

© 2016. All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

This marinade works on a variety of meats; veal, pork and chicken for instance.

Silk Road Marinade:

Yield: 3/4 Quarts

6 peeled and minced garlic cloves

1 1/3 Tablespoons minced ginger

2 Tablespoons minced shallots

3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1/2 Cup sherry wine vinegar

1/4 Cup hoisin

1/3 Cup soy

1/3 Cup dark roasted sesame oil

1/3 Cup plum sauce

Onion Rings

Jul 23, 2016

Manchego Crusted Onion Rings

© 2016 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken
 

These egg battered onions have a nice sweetness to them that marries with even delicate foods.

2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced

2 eggs, beaten

6 Tablespoons finely grated Manchego cheese

Canola or corn oil for deep-frying

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Ice Cream

Jul 16, 2016

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