JANA MCMAHON’S GRILLED SWEET POTATOES WITH HONEYED HOT SAUCE AND HERBED MACADAMIA NUTS
Photo by Jana Morgan
Course: Side Dish
Author: Jana McMahon
3Orange Sweet Potatoes Or Yams
3 Purple Sweet Potatoes
Smoked Sea Salt (Regular Sea Salt Will Work Too)
Honeyed Hot Sauce
4Tbs.Favorite Local Hot Sauce
Herbed Macadamia Nut Topping
1CupRoasted Unsalted Macadamia Nuts
1tsp.Smoked Sea Salt (Regular Sea Salt Will Work Too)
Prepare Sweet Potatoes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into ½-inch discs. Place potatoes into boiling water as you peel and slice them to prevent oxidation, which can cause the potato to discolor. Parboil potato slices for 5 minutes. The potatoes should be under-done, as they will finish cooking on the grill.
Heat grill. Dry potato slices well, rub with coconut oil, and sprinkle with smoked sea salt. Place sweet potato slices over the fire on the grill. Depending on the amount of heat, be careful not to burn the potato slices before they are cooked through. If the grill fire is too hot, move potatoes away from direct heat and close the grill top until sweet potatoes are done.
Prepare Honeyed Hot Sauce.
Blend all hot sauce ingredients well, adjusting hot sauce to desired heat level.
Prepare Herbed Macadamia Nut Topping.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse mixture to a fluffy, medium-coarse consistency. Avoid a steady grind as you do not want macadamia nut butter. This topping keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator and is great on all kinds of foods: fish, chicken, vegetables, rice, potatoes, even popcorn.
Plate and Serve.
Arrange sweet potatoes on a serving platter and drizzle with honeyed hot sauce.
Sprinkle herbed macadamia nut mixture and serve warm.
JANA MCMAHON’S RADISHES WITH COMPOUND BUTTER AND SALT
Photo by Jana MorganThe French had it right pairing mild spring radishes with good butter and sea salt. This is what spring tastes like! Serving with smoked and citrus salts keeps this simple dish interesting and fresh.
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Author: Jana McMahon
4oz.Butter(Softened; Grass-Fed Or Local Butters Are Best)
1tsp.Thyme Leaves(Fresh, Chopped)
Zest of 1Lemon
1 Bunch ofRadishes(Washed Well And Tops Removed; Keep Just A Bit Of Stem For Dipping)
Prepare Compound Butter.
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until everything is well incorporated. Put the butter into a small dish for dipping.
Presentation and Serving.
Arrange radishes on a large platter or cutting board; serve alongside herbed compound butter and assorted salts for dipping. Each smoked salt has a different flavor unique to the wood it’s smoked over. Same with citrus salts. Enjoy!
1/4CupBaby Heirloom Tomatoes(If tomatoes are too big, slice in half.)
Black Pepper (To Taste)
Shuck corn and cut kernels off the cob. Place the kernels in a large saucepan and cover with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water. Save the cooking liquid and reserve ½ C. of the corn kernels in a separate bowl.
Put cooked corn into a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. Pulse for a few seconds, aiming for a medium smooth texture. Add back some of the cooking liquid a tablespoon at a time so the mixture stays silky and not too dry.
Place the corn purée in a cast iron pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 minutes. This holds beautifully on the back of the grill while you are grilling the rest of the meal.
Fold in the butter, ½ C. of reserved corn kernels, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and cook for 2 more minutes. Top with fresh baby heirloom tomatoes and serve.
Photos by Jana Morgan. President Eisenhower is noted for loving to cook his porterhouse steaks directly on hardwood coals and Julia Child dedicated an episode of her PBS show to cooking “dirty steak.” Adam Perry Lang coined this method “clinching,” after a boxing term for closing the gap between one and an opponent. Placing meat in direct contact with hot coals leaves no room for the fat to ignite into flame, eliminating that greasy black slick that can compromise the best of steaks. The results are astounding, an umami-rich crust and moist meat with a slightly smoky flavor revealing just where that steak has been. I chose macadamia nut for my fire, a hardwood that burns down easily and evenly, imparting a neutral smoke flavor. Kiawe would work, or any hardwood local to your area.
Course: Main Course
Author: Jana McMahon
Hardwood Or Lump Charcoal (No Briquettes)
Fire Starter(No Lighter Fluid)
Cast Iron Pan
Food Processor Or Blender
Jar With Lid
4New York Strip Steaks
Sea Salt(Coarse Crystals)
Lemon Garlic Dressing(See Recipe Below)
Homemade Maui Mustard
1/2CupBlack Mustard Seed
1/2CupYellow Mustard Seed
1Can Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter(12 oz.)
Sea Salt (To Taste)
Lemon Olive Oil
1WholeLemon(Diced, Meyer Lemon Prefered)
Lemon Garlic Dressing
1CupLemon Olive Oil Mixture(See Recipe Below)
Juice of 1Lemon
Prepare Homemade Maui Mustard.
Soak mustard seeds in the beer overnight. The longer the seeds soak, the milder the mustard.
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or Vitamix. Blend less for coarser mustard, blend more for smoother mustard. This recipe is simply a template; feel free to mix up the soaking liquid, vinegar, and sweetener.
Prepare Lemon Olive Oil.
In a Vitamix or high-powered blender, purée one whole lemon, diced — yes, skin, seeds, pulp, and all — with oil. Meyer lemon is preferred due to its thin skin for this recipe, but any lemon will work. Use this flavorful, citrusy wonder as a base for all kinds of concoctions, marinades, or bastes.
Prepare Lemon Garlic Dressing.
Shake all dressing ingredients together in a jar.
Prepare Fire and Steaks.
Get your fire started. Make sure there is enough wood to create a 4 to 6-inch bed of red-hot coals.
While fire cooks down, bring steaks to room temperature.
Slightly wet hands and rub both sides of the steak with generous amounts of salt. Don’t hold back, really get the salt rubbed into the muscle fiber, it helps form the crust.
When wood has cooked down and the coals are glowing red with a cover of white ash, the fire is ready. It should be so hot that you are not able to hold your hand over the coals for more than a second or two. Flatten the surface of the coals to a uniform height of about 5 inches (I use a cast iron pan.) Fan away the grey ash from the top of the coals using a sheet pan or similar.
Place steaks directly on the coals. A 1¼ lb. steak will take about 9 minutes to cook. Time the steak for 4 minutes. Turn and baste the cooked side with lemon garlic olive oil mixture. Time second side of the steak for another 4-5 minutes. Turn and baste again with olive oil mixture.
Serve And Enjoy.
Rest steaks and serve with homemade Maui mustard. Enjoy!
JANA MCMAHON’S FARMSTAND CRUDITÉS WITH TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE
Photo by Jana MorganCrudités refer to assorted raw vegetables that are usually served with a dipping sauce. Be flexible and let seasonal availability create the dish. Be conscious of getting a wide assortment of colors and textures: red radishes, purple sugar snap peas, green beans or asparagus, orange heirloom baby carrots, white jicama. This sauce is versatile and so darned delicious, I want to drink it. It’s also great on salads, drizzled on fish or chicken, paired with a grilled steak, or partnered with roasted vegetables. This umami-rich sauce will have you making a weekly batch.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Author: Jana McMahon
Food Processor Or Blender
Tahini Dipping Sauce
Prepare Tahini Dipping Sauce.
Mix all ingredients well in a food processor or blender.
Enjoy with your favorite vegetables or drizzle on your meal for extra flavor!
Story by Sara Smith Photos by Jana Morgan Styling by Melissa Padilla of Opihi Love Florals by Christina Hartman of Wildheart
Chef Jana McMahon makes a living cooking in other people’s homes, so we grilled her on how best to cook in ours. Here are her tips for summer entertaining.
When it’s too hot to cook indoors, take the party outside. For advice on cooking an effortless and downright delicious summer barbecue, we couldn’t think of anyone better to turn to for help than a private chef. Jana McMahon, owner of Chef Jana McMahon has spent the last 10 years cooking for world leaders, movie stars, tech stars and many others. With her quick wit and vivacious humor, it’s possible she’s never met a stranger. Her approach to food, however, is decidedly more austere. She insists: simple, seasonal, approachable.
A private chef brings in raw ingredients and cooks in a home, providing an interaction that is unique (not to mention a valuable tie to the local food scene for the client.). Here at a private home, Jana prepares a fiery summer feast for friends. Her menu is shopped from local farm stands and largely inspired by what she finds, a process she calls “riffing the market.” From there, the ingredients just need to be “dressed with a light hand.”
“Start with quality, fresh local ingredients and don’t set a menu until you see what’s available,” Jana says. “I had asparagus in mind, but found gorgeous purple peas at the farmers market instead. They inspired my entire crudités platter.”
Cooking around a fire provides a main event, Jana says, because it’s “primal and molecular, it just resonates with us.” Jana fearlessly slaps her steaks directly on hot coals, a method called clinching that she tells us more about in the recipe. She serves it up with homemade mustard, of all things. Sound complicated? It’s not.
“Whipping up sauces and condiments is my forte. They define a dish, elevate it, brighten and compliment,” she tells us. It’s this extra effort with the details that sets her food apart.
Another thing that sets Jana apart is the heart she pours into her work. In addition to her business on Maui, she serves as the culinary and ag consultant for TERI (Training, Education, Research and Innovation), a North County San Diego nonprofit agency that advocates, teaches and houses people touched by autism and developmental disabilities. Jana got the job through cooking for a client on Maui, the agency’s CEO. “I was bringing down organic veggies I’d grown on the farm and I’d just happened to make cheese that day, so I looked like a real freak,” she recalls. She was a keeper, the CEO decided.
Jana spends three to four months a year in California, and in five years she’s helped blossom a seed-to-table program, install organic kitchen gardens at group homes, and turn lawns into urban farms. Under her guidance and insistence upon clean, fresh food, the client obesity rate has dropped from 85% to 15%. The TERI gardens just received USDA organic certification, no easy feat and an amazing commitment to quality for their clients.
A can-do attitude and unfussy approach to cooking infuse Jana’s entertaining style both as a chef and hostess. She shares her secrets with us in the Summer 2014 issue of the magazine.