Lifestyle

Team Rudee: father and son cook

My love for collecting recipes began when I was 12 years old. I would visit a girlfriend after school and we would spend hours clipping recipes out of “Women’s Day” magazines, looking for the best dessert recipes and treats. For me, it was all about collecting the perfect recipes. But for Islander Ken Rudee and his son, Joey, it’s all about cooking as a team. Together they embrace their passion, a love of experimenting with flavors and tastes. Ken learned to love cooking from his dad; now he is passing his knowledge on to Joey.

“Some of the earliest memories are of my dad and me sitting in our family room watching Julia Child on PBS,” said the elder Rudee. “We tried to keep up with Julia and write down some of the recipes. My mom and Dad were very good cooks.” He told me that his great-grandfather even owned a restaurant on the beach in San Francisco.

“So cooking came naturally to me,” Rudee said. Now it also comes naturally to his son Joey, an Islander Middle School student.

“Joey is my co-chef,” says Rudee. “It is a way to bond with him, teach him important lessons he can use in other areas of life and just share enjoyment with one of our favorite activities,” he explained. “Plus, it helps me to relax!”

“[Joey] is able to do almost anything after he is shown.” Joey Rudee has had a lot of training over the years, from a cooking class offered at his junior high to working as a cook while in high school. He even participated in competition chili and barbecue teams and professional education classes at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus. “My wish is for Joey to want to continue to learn,” he said.

As a 3-year-old, Joey started helping his grandmother make cookies and soups. He began to really learn how to cook at 5, and by 7, the youngRudee was able to make his own breakfast omelet. “I was allowed to use the stove before my older sister could,” he explained. “I was also allowed to cook when my parents weren’t home. Whenever my mom would cook things at home that I loved to eat, I would make her wait and let me help,”

The love of creating recipes has been passed down through generations in the Rudee family. “It just felt natural for me to help out in the kitchen as it is for my son Joey to do the same thing,” Rudee said. “Joey makes at least four meals a week, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. He is our official cookie dough maker when we have a craving.”

Cooking was one of the ways that Rudee wooed his wife, Stacy. He impressed her with gourmet meals served everywhere from her apartment to the rooftop of his fraternity in college.

Ken Rudee said he feels lucky that his business, Barnes & Watson Fine Teas, allows him the opportunity to be exposed to many professional chefs from all over the world. “It’s a challenge to fit cooking into my life being a small business owner, but I view it as fun and creative activity for me,” he said. A few years ago, Rudee was presenting teas at the National Restaurant Association’s trade show in Chicago where he worked with a chef to create recipes using tea as one of the ingredients. At that event, he had a chef jacket personalized and it was shown on CNN’s coverage of the trade show. “Now I wear my lucky chef’s jacket whenever I have an opportunity to attend or teach a cooking class,” he said. Some family friends gave Joey a jacket as well, and the father-son team now wear their chef’s jackets together, he said.

I asked Joey what is the best part of cooking with his dad and he replied, “Eating all the foods we prepare. He also makes everything we do together so interesting. He explains where some of the ingredients come from and shows them to me in his ‘Visual Cooking Encyclopedia.’”

Joey also said that he admires his dad. “I want to be a home chef who cooks for his family just like my dad does for ours. In fact, I would want to go to the (Culinary Institute of America). My dad and I have also wanted to take a class together there.” One of Ken Rudee’s goals is to write a cookbook for kids. “I think cooking is a great way to learn planning, organization, math and the importance of taking care of our earth as well as respect for it,” said Rudee. “Cooking also helps with creativity and the ability to be able to improvise in a pinch.”

Rudee shared some of his favorite dishes, such as Larb Gai, a Thai chicken dish flavored with fish sauce, mint and lime juice, and avgolemono, a Greek lemon rice soup with some egg in it. He even infused Barnes & Watson tea into the nova lox recipe.

I had the pleasure of learning from both Ken and Joey as they taught how to make Kalbi chicken and orange carrots at Rabbi Rosenbaum’s Herzl Ner-Tamid Family Cooking for Shabbat series in February. The previous year, Rudee made a most delicious Spinach Salad and Tequila Sorbet. These are wonderful recipes that I know you will enjoy.

KEN RUDEE’S LARB GAI

Rudee said that if you choose to use quartered cabbage or lettuce, each person should spoon the mixture and the steamed rice into the center of cabbage or lettuce leaves as if they act as cups for the ingredients. Serves 4.

1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breast (diced), or ground chicken

5 cloves garlic (minced)

1 cup red onion (chopped)

3/4 bunch cilantro (chopped)

1 teaspoon chili paste, Sriracha hot chili sauce or dried crushed chili flakes

2 green onions (minced)

3/4 bunch fresh mint leaves (chopped) or 1 TABLESPOONS. dried mint

Juice of 3 limes

3 tablespoons nampla (Thai fish sauce)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cabbage or iceberg lettuce leaves (quartered or shredded)

Put the oil into a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the red onion and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. Add the chicken and brown.

While the chicken is browning, combine the lime juice, nampla, chili paste, green onions, mint and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.

When the chicken is fully cooked, drain and add the meat mixture to the ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir together.

On a large platter, pour the larb gai over a bed of shredded cabbage or lettuce, or place it on the middle of the platter and arrange the quartered cabbage or lettuce around it. Serve with steamed rice.

KEN RUDEE’S AVGOLEMENO (GREEK LEMON RICE SOUP)

Rudee says that this dish serves 4 as a meal or serves 8 or more as a starter.

1 (49 oz.) can chicken broth

3 egg yolks

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your preference —1/3 cup is lemony)

21/2 cups cooked white rice

Generous1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice, then add a few tablespoons hot broth. Drizzle yolk mixture slowly into hot broth; add rice and coriander. Mix thoroughly. Heat through and serve. Sprinkle additional coriander on top for presentation.

KEN RUDEE’S LOX INFUSED WITH GREEN JASMINE TEA

A most creative way to flavor Nova lox. Great for brunch.

8 oz. Nova lox

1/4 cup green jasmine tea (such as Barnes & Watson Fine Teas)

Separate the lox and place on a non-reactive flat bottomed container. Pulverize the green jasmine tea with a mortar and pestle, mini food processor or with a rolling pin.

Sprinkle the lox with the pulverized tea and cover with wax paper or plastic wrap. Place a flat, heavy object (book, plate with canned goods on top, etc.) on top of the covered lox and keep refrigerated for 12 hours.

After the lox has been refrigerated, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Arrange on a platter and serve with bagels, cream cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions and capers.

KEN’S KALBI MARINATED CHICKEN

Makes 6 to 8 servings of the most incredibly flavorful chicken!

16 chicken thighs (skinless if baking)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted and crushed

1 cup finely chopped green onions

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 cups soy sauce (can use less sodium or light sauce)

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

Place chicken in a large Ziploc plastic bag. In a bowl, whisk together garlic, crushed sesame seeds, green onions, pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and oil. Pour over chicken in Ziploc bag. Close bag, removing as much air as possible. Let stand at room temperature for two hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Turn bag over three times at regular intervals so that all the chicken absorbs the marinade.

If you barbecue: Grill over medium heat (coals or gas) for approximately 12 to 15 minutes per side.

To bake it: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a large Pyrex baking dish or roasting pan in one layer. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until the juices run clear when poked with a fork.

Serve with vegetables and brown rice.

Variation: 4 to 5 pounds Korean cross cut beef short ribs to replace the chicken. Barbecue or broil.

KEN RUDEE’S HONEY GINGER CARROTS

Makes 8 side dish servings.

10 large carrots, peeled and sliced at an angle to make ovals

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a skillet, cook carrots in a small amount of water until almost tender. Drain water and return to skillet. Melt butter/margarine in skillet with carrots over medium/low heat. Add honey and ginger while stirring until carrots are warm and coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

KEN RUDEE’S GREEN BEAN, SPINACH AND BEET SALAD

“Very authentic,” says Ken. Called Ensalada de Ejote, Espinaca, y Betabel!

Serves 6.

DRESSING

2 fresh poblano chilies

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste

SALAD

2 small beets

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

11/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

3 cups baby spinach leaves

1 small white onion, sliced paper-thin

5 large radishes, sliced paper-thin

for DRESSING

Char chilies directly over gas flames or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Peel, seed and coarsely chop chilies.

Combine chilies, orange juice, oil, vinegar, and garlic in blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and thick. Season dressing to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until dressing is cold, at least one hour or up to one day.

for SALAD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap each beet tightly in foil, then place directly on oven rack. Roast beets until tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. Unwrap beets and cool completely, then peel. Coarsely grate beets into a medium bowl. Toss with lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least one hour.

Cook green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about three minutes. Drain, then transfer to large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and pat dry.

Toss green beans, spinach, onion and radishes in large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates; top with beets.

KEN RUDEE’S TEQUILA-LIME SORBET

A refreshing dessert for 6.

11/2 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons grated lime rind

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)

2 tablespoons tequila

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook one minute or until sugar dissolves. Cool completely.

Combine sugar syrup, rind, juice and tequila. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer: freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for one hour or until firm.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by e-mail at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by phone at 232-1984.

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