Chefs’ home cook­ing

What do pro­fes­sion­als whip up to eat af­ter long day at work?

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - SEAN CLANCY

It has been a long day at work and here you are, starv­ing and star­ing at the fridge, won­der­ing what to have for sup­per.

Now imag­ine that you’re a top­notch food pro­fes­sional and your seem­ingly end­less work­day in­volves pre­par­ing meals for other peo­ple. Would you feel like cook­ing once you fi­nally made it home? And if so, what would you cook?

With these ques­tions in mind, we asked a group of Arkansas chefs and restau­ra­teurs for their go-to, quick recipes that make the thought of pre­par­ing a home-cooked meal a lit­tle less daunt­ing af­ter a hard day on the job.

Amanda Ivy is the ex­ec­u­tive chef at Old Mill Bread in Lit­tle Rock and a pri­vate caterer.

“My hus­band and I are to­tally a team,” she says, “so I never dread cook­ing for us af­ter a long day, but I’m def­i­nitely less en­thu­si­as­tic some days.”

She serves up a twist on a clas­sic sand­wich that she has kept in her quiver since her stu­dent days.

“This recipe has evolved a lot since col­lege, but it was def­i­nitely a prod­uct of be­ing a starv­ing col­lege stu­dent.”

Call her an “eggspert,” too, be­cause she says it’s her love for eggs that makes this sand­wich spe­cial. And it’s also per­fect for a sim­ple, hearty sup­per.

“Ad­mit­tedly this sand­wich is so

easy that I would say it makes my ta­ble a few times a week,” she notes.

My Take on a Ba­con, Egg and Cheese Sand­wich

2 slices rye (Ivy uses Old Mill Dark Rye)

3 slices ba­con (Ivy uses Pe­tit Jean Black Pep­per Ba­con) 2 eggs

2 ta­ble­spoons cream

¼ cup shred­ded parme­san

¼ tea­spoon kosher salt

¼ tea­spoon ground black pep­per

2 ta­ble­spoons Dal­ma­tia fig jam

Heat oven to 425 de­grees.

Toast the bread and set it aside. Cook the ba­con in oven un­til crispy, 8 to 10 min­utes.

In a very hot skil­let, add eggs, cream, salt and pep­per. Cut the heat off the pan and be­gin whisk­ing vig­or­ously. Add the parme­san and with a rub­ber spat­ula, fin­ish scram­bling the eggs.

Spread the jam on your bot­tom piece of toast.

Pile the eggs on the fig toast, stack the ba­con on top and en­joy.

Makes 1 sand­wich

Capi Peck, ex­ec­u­tive chef and owner of Trio’s in Lit­tle Rock, has a soft spot for a good, retro, wilted salad and this one comes with a rice twist.

Peck says she cooks out­side of work “more so in the win­ter. Af­ter

the crazy, busy hol­i­days are over, I seem to cook a lot in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary.”

One of her home sta­ples she likes to cook for her­self and part­ner, Trio’s co-owner Brent Peter­son, is this quick salad.

“I love to cook easy things at home and I’ve been cook­ing this recipe since just shortly af­ter col­lege,” she says. “It’s fast and I love it. It’s nos­tal­gic more than any­thing else, and I’ve never re­ally had any­thing quite like it. I like a wilted salad. In fact, we do a sea­sonal menu change and we’re get­ting ready to do a warm, wilted spinach salad with a warm ba­con vinai­grette at the restau­rant.”

Ro­maine & Wild Rice Salad With Ba­con

1 (6-ounce) box wild rice and

long grain rice blend 6 pieces ba­con

1 ta­ble­spoon flour

Salt, to taste

1 ta­ble­spoon sugar

¾ cup wa­ter

¼ cup red wine vine­gar

1 large head Ro­maine, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

1 small red onion, sliced

1 cup sliced cu­cum­ber

1 cup sliced radishes

1 cup sliced cel­ery, sliced 1 pint grape toma­toes, cut in


Pre­pare the rice ac­cord­ing to pack­age di­rec­tions. (While the rice is cook­ing, wash and prep the veg­eta­bles for the salad.)

Fry ba­con in a large skil­let. Drain ba­con on pa­per tow­els. Set ba­con aside.

Pour off all but 3 ta­ble­spoons of the ba­con drip­pings. Save or dis­card the ex­cess drip­pings. Blend the flour, salt and sugar in the

ba­con grease over medium heat. Whisk un­til smooth. Now add the wa­ter and vine­gar. Lower heat to low and cook un­til very smooth. Re­move from heat and im­me­di­ately add the cooked rice. Make sure you have all of the salad com­po­nents ready so that the rice and dress­ing mix­ture is warm when you add it to the greens and veg­eta­bles.

Place all of the salad in­gre­di­ents in a large mix­ing bowl. Pour the warm rice and dress­ing mix­ture over and toss well to com­bine. Plate and top with the re­served ba­con.

Poorni Mutha­ian serves up creative and tasty In­dian food Mon­day-Friday at her al­ways busy lunchtime spot, Ba­nana Leaf, in down­town Lit­tle Rock’s Sim­mons Tower. But just be­cause she’s only open at lunch doesn’t mean she’s not work­ing a full day.

Mutha­ian likes mak­ing this quick, baked fish, which she serves with brown rice and steamed broc­coli, for her hus­band and two chil­dren.

Baked Fish

1 ta­ble­spoon minced gar­lic 2 tea­spoons kosher salt 1 tea­spoon black pep­per 1 tea­spoon pa­prika 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil ½ lime, juiced

4 pieces fish (any kind of fish

will work)

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. Com­bine sea­son­ings, olive oil and lime juice. Coat each side of fish (an­other method is to com­bine sea­son­ings, olive oil and lime juice in a Zi­plock bag. Put fish in bag and coat with other in­gre­di­ents). Place fish on bak­ing sheet and bake at 350 de­grees for 15 min­utes, turn over and cook ad­di­tional 5 min­utes. Keep­ing the kitchen well­stocked goes a long way to make a quick meal eas­ier says Justin Pat­ter­son, owner/ chef at South­ern Gour­masian restau­rant and food truck in Lit­tle Rock.

“I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, so we keep enough stuff on hand to make piz­zas real quick. We’re not re­ally a plan-the-meal-out fam­ily. It’s more keep the pantry stocked and we can do what­ever we need to do.”

He uses a pack­aged dough and his own home­made mari­nara, usu­ally mak­ing pep­per­oni for the kid­dos while he and his wife, who doesn’t cook, will top theirs with good stuff on hand like olives or veg­eta­bles. He also pre­pares his dough on a peel, which he uses to slide the pie on and off a pizza stone he keeps in the oven.



1 pack­age pizza dough Mari­nara, prefer­ably from

farm­ers mar­ket De­sired top­pings such as pep­per­oni, moz­zarella cheese, veg­eta­bles

Heat oven to tem­per­a­ture stated on dough pack­age.

Sprin­kle a lit­tle corn­meal on work sur­face such as peel or bak­ing sheet. Pre­pare dough ac­cord­ing to pack­age di­rec­tions. Top with mari­nara, cheese and other top­pings. Bake ac­cord­ing to dough pack­age (Pat­ter­son says he cooks his a lit­tle longer than in­structed for a crispier crust).

Af­ter all these meals, there must come dessert. Car­men Por­tillo, CEO and choco­latier at Co­coa Belle Choco­lates, Bryant, shares a deca­dent bread pud­ding with, what else? Choco­late.

“I came across this recipe years ago when I was look­ing for a dish to bring dur­ing a dessert cook-off Christ­mas party,” she says. “I’m highly com­pet­i­tive and I knew I had to knock it out the park. This recipe comes through ev­ery sin­gle time. Friends and fam­ily ask me to bring this dish ev­ery year.”

And even af­ter mak­ing desserts all day for a liv­ing, she’s happy to make them at home as well.

“Although I make choco­late con­fec­tions ev­ery day, this recipe is my com­fort dessert. It’s a great curl-upon-the-couch dessert or even great for a ‘cheat’ break­fast in the morn­ing with a cup of cof­fee.”

Dark Choco­late and Dried Cherry Crois­sant Bread Pud­ding

4 large but­ter crois­sants, stale

is fine (see note)

2 cups milk or half-and-half or a com­bi­na­tion (don’t use skim)

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

1 cup dried cherries

½ cup mini dark choco­late


Fresh whipped cream


Tear crois­sants into pieces and soak in milk for 30 min­utes.

Mean­while, heat oven to 325 de­grees.

But­ter an 8-inch square bak­ing dish.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla un­til well com­bined.

Stir cherries and choco­late chips into bread/milk mix­ture.

Add egg mix­ture and com­bine thor­oughly.

Bake 1 hour at 325 de­grees. De­li­cious warm with freshly whipped cream.

Makes 9 to 12 serv­ings de­pend­ing on how big you cut the pieces!

Note: No crois­sants? Use choco­late cherry bread, chal­lah bread, baguette or brioche in­stead.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Baked Fish

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

My Take on a Ba­con, Egg and Cheese Sand­wich

Justin Pat­ter­son

owner/chef at South­ern Gour­masian restau­rant and food truck

Car­men Por­tillo

CEO and choco­latier of Co­coa Belle Choco­lates

Poorni Mutha­ian owner of Ba­nana Leaf

Capi Peck is the ex­ec­u­tive chef and owner of Trio’s

Amanda Ivy is the ex­ec­u­tive chef at Old Mill Bread

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Dark Choco­late and Dried Cherry Crois­sant Bread Pud­ding

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