Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dishin' It with Chef Marco!

Good Morning Lovely People!
Today is the first installment of something new I wanted to share with you every month.   I have a feeling after reading and seeing this new feature, you'll look forward to it each and every month!
Dishin' It with Chef Marco"

Hi! I’m Marquito McCusker, but everyone calls me Marco. I started my cooking career in 1995 at a small café that specialized in gourmet cheeses and sandwiches in Silver Lake, California. In the beginning it was just making lattés & cappuccinos, but when things happen – they happen!

One day the regular cook called out sick and there wasn’t anybody to cook for the day. My supervisor asked me if I would be willing to cook for the day. I was so nervous! (really wanting to say no because I was scared), but I told him,”Sure, I can!”. After half the day cooking and receiving so many compliments on the food, I fell in love - hard.

I always had a natural ability and passion to cook. I didn’t go to culinary school but was taken under the wing of a Master Chef from the Culinary Institute of America. I met this chef in 2000 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California where I took on my first roll as a Sous Chef. This is when my career took off! I have worked with some really great chefs and at great establishments since.

I get my inspiration from working with fresh ingredients that are grown from the very earth we walk on…and the feeling I get by make people happy with the simplicity of food, of course! There is nothing like using fresh fruits, vegetables, prime meats, and seafood to put at the family table. The rewards are astonishing. I believe it is critical for us to eat at home and to cook using only fresh ingredients. Cooking at home brings a healthy life style to our families...

Remember: Eat fresh and live a healthy life!!! I hope you enjoy this dish from my kitchen to yours!

Turkey, Spinach & Eggplant Ragout
{with whole-grain rotini}
Serves 6
1.5 lbs fresh lean ground turkey
1- 12 oz box whole grain rotini pasta
1 large Italian eggplant ½ inch dice
½ large or 1 small brown onion medium dice
4 garlic cloves rough chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed & hand torn
½ bunch Italian parsley course chopped (save sprigs for garnish)
3 Tbls olive oil
24 fl oz or 1 quart home made Alfredo sauce / or store bought
For Pasta:
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil.
Add pasta & cook for 8-10 minutes or to desired state
Poor pasta in a strainer and run cold water over to stop cooking process
NOTE: Always salt you’re water if cooking pasta or blanching vegetables.
If you want the sauce to stick nicely to pasta, do not oil pasta water & be sure to drain pasta well, excess water will thin out sauce.
For Ragout:
In a large hot soup pot, add oil & cook garlic, onions & eggplant until translucent 2-3 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add Alfredo sauce and cook on med – low heat for 5-7 minutes until thick. Fold in hand torn spinach, & parsley. Adjust flavor with salt & pepper.
Mix well finished ragout with pasta or plate pasta first & ladle ragout over pasta.Top with fresh shredded parmesan cheese and garlic bread. I wouldn’t recommend cheese & bread if you’re dieting.
This is a light & earthy dish…
Bon Appétit!
Thanks so much, Marco, for sharing your culinary talents with us!  I see great things for you - and I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for next time!

Happy Eating!
~ Nay ~


Kristine @ JandMs Eye Candy said...

Oh yum!! What a fun series!! Found you thru the Soleil Selene blog hop! Looking forward to following your adventures :)

LD Masterson said...

Saving this post to come back to. Yum.

Sporadically Yours said...

Yummy! I am printing this off for a friend that likes to cook. I'll bring the red wine when she makes it! ;-)