Sassafras Bitters

I love how certain smells instantly transport you to a distant time. Your olfactory glands are like magical teleportation devices. The smell of sassafras takes me back to the time when I was younger running around in Georgetown Delaware, playing in the woods of with my younger brothers in the spring and summer. A tree would snap and the air would be perfumed with the woody root beer smell. I loved it! I would try to find as much of the red hued wood and roots as possible to carve and make tea.

My good friend Nathan Tanner is now digging the roots for me, with his kids. I was looking for a way to utilize the fragrant, bitter, sweet quality of it. I knew would pair perfectly with bourbon, so I created this powerful elixir.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

SASSAFRAS BITTERS

Ingredients

750 ml. bottle of neutral grain spirit (I used a white corn whiskey)

2 vanilla Beans split

2 star anise pods

1 t. fennel seeds

4 clove

2 black cardamon

2 t. wormwood

1 pound sassafras root

1 t. shredded oak

1 t. dry caramel

.5 oz sassafras root extract. (not needed, but really Boost flavor!)

Method

Toast all spices until fragrant. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Let macerate for 2 weeks, agitating once per week.  Strain and enjoy!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

 

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one plate at a time.

I am honored to report that I have recently been nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Of The Year Award. I am one of twenty eight semifinalists. On March 18th they will announce the finalist. I am excited to find out the outcome! I want to thank the person or people who submitted my name to the James Beard Foundation. I was truly in shock when I read my name on their website. I am proud of our accomplishments at restaurant a(MUSE.). This nomination may have my name on it, but it is a tribute to the hard work of all our dedicated staff.

When I was a young cook, I once told my mentor at the time, Kevin Reading, that I aspired to one day be a regionally great chef. He was very encouraging and stated that anything was possible through hard work. To me, regionally great meant a chef who was known in the mid atlantic for creating an excellent product and developing a style of cuisine that guests would come from surrounding areas and beyond to enjoy. At this point I feel that I am on my way.

With cooking I have never been in competition with anyone but myself. It would be great to be a James Beard Finalist. No matter what happens I will still keep cooking, doing my best  to cook a high level of cuisine one plate at a time.

A look at recent plates at at restaurant a(MUSE.)

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

foie gras

Hudson Valley foie gras with carrots and pine (CS Photo)

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In the kitchen (CS Photo)


Nantucket Bay scallops - trout Roe - lardo - potato - fennel

Nantucket Bay scallops – trout Roe – lardo – potato – fennel (CS Photo)

flatiron steak - onion - turnip - hedgehog mushrooms

flatiron steak – onion – turnip – hedgehog mushrooms (CS Photo)

house cured coppa - Cheseapeake gold oyster - oyster mushroom - cedar - sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side.

house cured coppa – Cheseapeake gold oyster – oyster mushroom – cedar – sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side. (instagram picture)

oak creme brûlée -orange curd - bourbon -molasses - shattered caramelized honey gummy - smoked almond

oak creme brûlée -orange curd – bourbon -molasses – shattered caramelized honey gummy – smoked almond (instagram picture)

razor clam - foraged sumac - wintered acorn - spice bush gel

razor clam – foraged sumac – wintered acorn – spice bush gel (instagram)

beach bonfire our version of smores

beach bonfire our version of smores (instagram)

Lobster - beets - horseradish - rose hip vinaigrette

Lobster – beets – horseradish – rose hip vinaigrette. A plate created for a tasting menu. (instagram)

Thanks again for everybody’s love and support.


HEALTHY EATING WITH THE STUDENTS

“Every day you have the opportunity to learn and experience some-thing and some-one new. Seize the opportunity. Learn and experience everything you can, and use it to change the world.”         Rodney Williams

I recently had the pleasure of cooking for some Cape Henlopen High School students and their family members. The dinner was an award ceremony for the completion of their wellness course. I gave a quick healthy cooking demonstration and then dinner was served. I served food that was healthy and tasty! Everybody really had a great time. Congrats triple ten challenge students. They all were winners!

Healthy spinach salad with apples, hazelnuts, goat cheese, and red wine vin.

Cous cous loaded with fresh veggies and topped with dried aporicots

Cornbread, nothing wrong with that!

grilled scrimp

Ginger oatmeal cookies. Stay tuned for the recipe!

Doing great things with food.

 

The other night I had a great meal at The Stone Balloon Winehouse in Newark Delaware.

DR. S, Renee, my wife Stephanie and myself were on our way to watch Anthony Bourdain at the Dupont theater (more on that later).
The staff was excellent in accommodating our need to dine and dash to make the show. Not my favorite thing to do, but I will be back soon. Great menu choices, excellent presentation, and exquisite flavors made it a memorable occasion. Chef Jason and his team are doing some great things with food.