Chef Michael Feker’s newest culinary endeavor, IL MITO East, is an infusion of rustic Italian tapas with Feker's unique twist on fine dining. Located in the historic Knickerbocker on the Lake, at 1028 E Juneau Ave in Milwaukee, IL MITO East offers healthy Italian/Mediterranean-inspired flavors at an amazing value -- full gluten free menus are available as well as a globally-inspired Brunch with Feker's build-your-own Bloody Mar Bar served Saturday and Sundays from 10 am to ...<< MORE >>
My Dear Fekeroodies,
Holiday meals and get-togethers should not be stressful. By having a focused theme your work will be very easy.
Many of you may say “oh sure” that is easy for Michael Feker to say, but remember, cooking and event planning is not rocket science it is Passion Science. If you are passionate about pleasing and amazing your guests, yet never overlooking your peace and serenity, everything will be great. To achieve this ...<< MORE >>
As a nation last year we spent over $300 billion on prescription drugs while we fill our dinner plates with inexpensive processed ingredients that our bodies cannot process. In order to have a healthy and peaceful life we need to stop and think about what we are nourishing our bodies with. Pure, unprocessed and unaltered ingredients make all the difference in how our minds, bodies and souls feel and act.
The United States is a leading innovator in biotechnology, science and medicine; as well as being one of the unhealthiest nations in the world. Standards have far since improved from the dark days of the industrial revolution; however the basic process of taking fresh, raw ingredients from harvest or butcher to a product with a shelf life remains the same. Within this process pure ingredients are infused with preservatives, artificial colors and sweeteners, then packaged, shipped, stored, purchased and finally consumed. I beg of you to eliminating these unhealthy foods and move towards pure foods that promote health for mind, body and soul. Raw ingredients contain pure vitamins, minerals and nutrients that, if eating on a regular basis as a part of a healthy and balanced diet, can act to prevent sickness and disease.
When I am working on a new dish, nutrition and flavor are the backbone of my creation. LEARN WITH ME LIVE! HERE I have taken a healthy cooking technique, steaming, to create an infusion of flavors with fresh veggies, homemade tomato sauce and an organic breast of chicken. I have complemented this with a medley of couscous and quinoa, along with a lentil and garbanzo salad -- a heart-healthy meal packed with protein and fiber.
Till next time, keep cooking and have a flavorful day. Best always, Chef Michael Feker
Cooking seasonally is the best way to make sure that you have the freshest ingredients on your plate, which means you’re eating healthy, eating local, and eating foods packed with flavor. Cooking seasonally allows you to pick the ingredients and flavors that are in season and work best for the time of year. You’re not going to find fresh corn on the cob in February, and that winter squash isn’t sitting on the shelves in July. By the same token, in the heat of the summer you’re probably not going to want to make a heavy, cream based ...<< MORE >>
*The human body contains about 8 ounces of salt
*There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible
*Roman soldiers were paid with special salt rations, a “salarium argentum”, which is where we get the word “salary”
*Ancient caravans used to cross the deserts trading salt for gold – an ounce for an ounce
*Garlic is a member of the lily family. There are 300 varieties of garlic grown throughout the world.
*Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries
*Each sugar cube contains 725,000 sugar crystals
*If you rinse garlic in ...<< MORE >>
What’s the old saying….sugar and spice make everything nice? Well, in the kitchen it’s totally true! Imagine what your corn on the cob would taste like without salt, your eggs without pepper, your cookies without sugar, your goulash without paprika. It would be a pretty bland, flavorless world. As chefs, we want to enhance the natural flavors of our ingredients, to bring out those amazing and delicious culinary experiences. And that’s what spices do for us! We get to experience different cultures, different cuisines, different flavor explosions all thanks to our friends and partners in the kitchen, SPICES! From Allspice to Star Anise, the variety of spices is amazing – not only can you use them individually, you can combine them into blends, like barbecue rubs, Cajun, Jamaican jerk and taco seasonings, that open up even more wonderful flavor medleys for you and your palate.
Many people are afraid of spices – they tend to under-season, not over season. Learning which spices your palate prefers, and how to use them correctly is crucial to enhancing your culinary experiences each and every day. A sprinkle of this, or a dash of that is the quickest and easiest way to turn a ho-hum boring meal into a flavor explosion.
Now, it’s important to note that herbs and spices are not the same thing. Even though both are used for similar purposes – bringing flavor to our food – they are scientifically different. Herbs come from the leaves of plants, while spices come from the seeds, fruits and barks of specific plants.
It’s also important to remember that spices don’t last forever. Ground spices have an average shelf life of 6 months whereas whole spices can last for up to two years. So whenever you can, buy whole spices and grind them as you need them. You can grind them with a mortar & pestle, a microplane, even a coffee grinder. Your spices should always be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. Don’t keep them above or next to your stove as the heat will zap the flavor out of them even faster.
Besides offering all kinds of amazing flavors, many spices provide other benefits – like medicinal, household cleaning, pest control, air freshener, antioxidants and more. So they taste good and they’re good for you – that’s a win-win culinary experience for sure!
Now for a quick crash course on spices:
Allspice – it’s called Allspice because its flavor resembles a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It is native to South America and the West Indies, with Jamaica being the world’s main supplier. Allspice is a must for Jamaican jerk seasoning. Use for pot roast, stuffing, baked goods.
Caraway seed – this very fragrant seed is most commonly found in rye breads and German and Hungarian cuisines. They have a nutty, licorice-like flavor and are a member of the parsley family. In addition to breads caraway seed can be used with cheese, pork, sausage and more.
Cardamom – comes from the seeds of a ginger-like plant. It is an ancient and very expensive spice. It can be used on veggies, fruits, cakes, patries, sweet potatoes.
Cayenne – also called red pepper, cayenne is a hot, spicy powder made of ground red chilies. It adds spicy heat to a variety of foods including chili, curry, and grilling rubs. Its flavor intensifies as it cooks, so start by adding a little and go from there.
Chili Powder – a powdered seasoning mixture of chilies, oregano, garlic, cumin, coriander, cloves and salt. It runs the gambit of mild to fiery hot. A staple of Mexican and Southwest cuisines.
Cinnamon – the bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka, sold in sticks or ground. Most often used to flavor desserts and sweets, but sometimes added to savory dishes.
Cloves – the unopened flower bud of an evergreen tree. Cloves have a very distinctive, strong flavor and should be used sparingly. Used to flavor a variety of dishes and condiments including ham, cookies, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Cloves may be purchased whole or ground.
Coriander – the seeds of the cilantro plant. Even though coriander and cilantro come from the same plant, they have very different tastes. Coriander has a lemony-sage flavor. Use with lamb, pork , fish, chili, soups and stews.
Cumin – cumin is similar to caraway seed, and the two are often confused with each other. Cumin has a strong, nutty, musty flavor and is most often used in Mid-Eastern, Mexican, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. Cumin comes in three colors – amber, white and black. The amber and white can be used interchangeably, but the black has a much different flavor and should not be substituted for the amber or white varieties. Use cumin with chicken, pork, sausage, curry, potatoes and more.
Ginger – ginger comes fresh or ground. Fresh is in the form of a root that you peel then grate or chop before using. Fresh and ground ginger have very different flavors, and ground ginger should never be used as a substitute if a recipe calls for fresh ginger. In addition to its use in baked goods, ginger can be used to flavor carrots, meat, poultry, fish and so much more. It’s a main-stay of Asian, Indian and African cuisines.
Licorice root – a mainstay in some of the Tuscan flavors, licorice root is the root of the licorice plant, which is part of the pea family. The flavor of real licorice is super-sweet, totally unlike the hard, black candies we usually associate as licorice. It’s mostly used for cooking sweets and flavoring candies though it can also be used in savory dishes.
Mace – is the husk of a nutmeg shell. Not surprisingly, mace is similar to nutmeg, but its flavor is stronger, more intense and slightly sweeter than nutmeg. It’s great with custards and cream sauces, chicken, seafood and baked goods.
Nutmeg – can be purchased whole or ground, but to get the best flavor buy it whole and grind it yourself. Whole nutmegs have an almost indefinite shelf life, so you can grind it as you need it. Nutmeg is spicy and sweet and is most often used for baked goods, puddings, and don’t forget the eggnog! It’s also a great addition to cream sauces and soups.
Paprika – paprika is made by grinding dried red peppers into a powder. It can range from mild to hot and spicy. It’s essential for Hungarian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Pepper – pepper is the world’s most popular spice and at one time, long, long ago, it was used as currency. Most common is the black peppercorn, but it also comes in white and green. Pepper can be bought pre-ground, but is best when bought whole and ground in a peppermill right when you’re ready to use it.
Saffron – the world’s most expensive spice, used to flavor food and tint it a pretty yellow color. Used for bouillabaisse, paella, rice, chicken and fish dishes, as well as some baked goods. Saffron is sold whole and ground, but you should buy it whole, as the flavor and shelf life are much better.
Star Anise – this is really a beautiful spice, which gets its name from its star shape and has a strong licorice taste. Star Anise is a staple of Chinese cuisine and is one of the spices included in the Five-Spice blend. Star Anise is used as a digestive aid in traditional Chinese medicine.
Tumeric – also referred to as yellow ginger; brings the flavors of India and the Middle East to the party. It’s bright yellow color makes it a perfect, and powerful, coloring agent for food and fabrics.
Vanilla – is one of the three most expensive spices, along with saffron and cardamom. This is because vanilla comes from a variety of orchid and cannot be mass produced. Vanilla can be purchased as a bean, or as an extract, and is most often used for enhancing bakery, confections and sweets.