You Put What in Here?

It’s a question I hear pretty often when I roll out one of my more “unique” recipes.  There’s a small piece of me that loves seeing people’s faces register disgust to amazement (OK… it’s WAY more than a small piece of me. I enjoy it more than I should).  For those unaccustomed, I’m not talking about odd cuisines or things only Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain would try (I love those guys, but I just couldn’t).  I’m talking about how I work beans into one of the more unlikely parts of a meal: dessert.

When I began working at Furmano’s, our esteemed Board of Directors (in case any of them read this) thought it would be a good idea to have the new chef make them lunch when they met bi-monthly. My only instruction was that I was supposed to use Furmano’s products in the meal.  Those instructions were followed with the tongue-in-cheek comment, “We’ll see how you do with dessert.”  I took that as a personal challenge and every two months for 7 ½ years I’ve supplied them with a bean and/or tomato in their dessert dish.  I post a lot of them in my recipe section on our website if you’re ever feeling brave.

Black Bean Chocolate Mousse Recipe

But how do we get to that point?  When formulating any new recipe, how do we decide what direction we want to go?  During my restaurant days, I was tasked with coming up with specials every night and variant special menus for certain nights of the week.  I’d peruse recipe books and magazines for ideas, but often I didn’t have time or resources to make exactly the recipe I loved.  That’s where I found my muse.

In those books (and now the internet) were more than recipes.  There were concepts and techniques that could be used in different circumstances.  I started wandering through walk-ins, freezers, and store rooms, constructing recipes in my head.  Pulling from what was around me and on hand, I found my secret to recipes….the information in my head.  Now don’t get me wrong, I had A LOT of failures.  Experimenting needs to be seen as just that, a practice.  Sometimes you strike gold on the first or second attempt, but there are plenty of times where you have to decide if the idea really has merit or not. 

I think it is very interesting to push ingredients past where your expectations want you to place them.  Not every idea is a good one, but every idea is worth the mental experiment to see if it’s worth pursuing.  We can easily get stuck in our trainings, but remember that someone had to eat that curdled milk in the leather canteen (made from a cow’s stomach) to find out that cheese is freaking amazing!

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them.  They went out and happened to things” –Leonardo Da Vinci

 Mustard Bean Stuffed Pretzel Bread Recipe

Chef Paul, a Certified Research Chef, is a 2002 graduate of Yorktowne Business Institute School of Culinary Arts in York, Pennsylvania. There he was class valedictorian and received the Chef Michael Hostetter Memorial Award for Culinary Excellence. He is a member of the Research Chefs Association and the Refrigerated Foods Association and has over 15 years of experience.

Working in restaurants since the age of 16, Paul has spent most of his life working with food; a love he developed in family style restaurants, honed in school, and practiced in fine dining establishments. Never one to be defining himself with a particular cuisine, Paul explores the world's palate with excitement. "The world is full of people who have made incredible foods with what is in their backyard and we now have access to all those wonderful flavors and combinations," he says. That love and excitement for flavor he now brings to Furmano Foods.

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