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“I have had a passion for cooking as long as I can remember and I was lucky enough to have a mother who allowed me to be creative in her kitchen from a very young age,” says Emmele Herrold, the executive chef/owner of the Black Eagle restaurant inside the Bosco in Ferndale.

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“My mother entertained a lot and by the time I was 10, she let me be in charge of making hors d’oeuvres. I have so many fond memories of working alongside her helping, watching, learning and honing my own skills,” says Herrold.

After graduating from Ferndale High School, Herrold spent a couple of years studying photography at Central Michigan University. And while there, she also worked at a pizza restaurant called the Pizza Planet.

“That taught me a lot,” she says.

In 2002 Herrold decided to move to Nederland, Colorado, and got a job working in a Jamaican restaurant.

“It turned into a career,” she says. “I did a little bit of everything there and learned a lot about Jamaican food. I had to do a lot of hands-on learning because the owner was frequently absent. And at the age of 23, I ended up buying the restaurant from him,” she says.

In 2005, Herrold moved back to the Detroit area and ended up getting a liberal arts degree from WSU. At the same time, she did a lot of catering for friends and family and also got a job with a management company in downtown Detroit “before our city was cool again,” she says

“But I hated being in an office. It was very boring,” she says.

The chef, now 36, says that her professional career has been a bit unorthodox.

“Unlike most chefs, I did not go to culinary school and I did not start out as a line chef and work my way through the ranks like so many people have done,” Herrold says. “Instead, I have been lucky enough to have developed friendships with several people in my profession who saw my talent and allowed me to run a kitchen even without a lengthy resume.”

One such person was Beth Hussey, who conceptualized One-Eyed Betty’s restaurant in Ferndale, along with Brian Kramer.

“She knew that cooking was my passion and offered me the position of executive chef there,” Herrold says.

And in 2016, Herrold became executive chef of Beth and Brian’s newest restaurant, Pop’s for Italian, is also in Ferndale. But after working there for six months, she took “a little me time” before ending up in September at the Black Eagle.

The chef says she became familiar with cilantro sauce when she was living in Colorado.

“The owner used it a lot and one night we ran out of it,” Herrold says. “I didn’t have his recipe, so I created my own. I still don’t know if it was the same as his, but it tastes similar,”

And she also notes that cilantro sauce is not solely a salad dressing.

“It’s also a great condiment for fish and seafood,” she says. “And crab dip is definitely something we had at every party when I was growing up. My recipe is not exactly the same as my mom’s, but it definitely reminds me of hers. It turns out her recipe calls for powdered sugar, but I still can’t get my head around that.”

Adds the chef: “I chose to use the tri-colored fingerling potatoes for the salad because they are pretty and really creamy and they don’t take long to cook. Making food with well thought-out ingredients such as these potatoes is all I have ever wanted to do. And food does not have to be fussy to be good.”

judybham@aol.com

Red Curry Mussels

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces Thai red curry paste

2 cans coconut milk

1/2 bottle dry white wine

1 tablespoon fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 stalk lemongrass

3 pounds mussels, cleaned

Salt, pepper to taste

A few sprigs of basil leaves, torn

4 to 6 lemon wedges

Some good crusty bread (enough for 4 people)

Heat oil in the bottom of a large stockpot. Add chopped onions and cook on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until they begin to become translucent. Add a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add minced garlic to pot. Then add curry paste to garlic and onions and stir to break up and coat. Allow the curry paste mixture to cook for about 2 minutes. Add both cans of coconut milk, white wine, fish sauce and soy sauce to the pot. Take the lemongrass and pound it with a mallet or rolling pin to break it open a bit and then add the whole stalk to the pot (this will be removed before serving) Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce for 5 minutes, turn heat to low and let it simmer for 20 more minutes. Then taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Place mussels in the sauce and cover. The mussels are cooked when they are all open.

Please note: If a mussel is open before you cook it, it is dead and you should discard it. And if a mussel is closed after you cook it, it should also be discarded. Cooking the mussels is a quick process. It takes about 5 minutes. It is okay to open the lid and check on them.

Once the mussels are open, taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, find your favorite large serving bowl and pour the mussels and sauce it. Top with the torn basil leaves, the lemon wedges and chunks of crusty garlic bread. Trust me, you will go through a lot of bread! Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 776 calories; 34 g fat (21 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 57 g carbohydrates;11 g sugar; 63 mg cholesterol; 3857 mg sodium; 45 g protein; 4 g fiber.

Crab Dip

1 pound canned crab

3/4 cup mayonnaise

8 ounces softened cream cheese

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients until just combined. (Over-mixing will not hurt the flavor, but the less you mix the less chance you have of breaking up the crab too much.) Place the mixture in a casserole dish. Bake until it is golden and bubbly on top, about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite cracker. Serves 4.

Per serving: 692 calories; 59 g fat (20 g saturated fat; 77 percent calories from fat); 7 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 214 mg cholesterol; 2592 mg sodium; 32 g protein; 0.2 g fiber.

Roasted Potato Salad with Cilantro Sauce

For the salad

2 pounds fingerling potatoes

4 ounces olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

8 ounces arugula

4 ounces cilantro sauce (see recipe below)

Zest of half a lemon salt and pepper to taste

For the cilantro sauce

4 bunches cilantro

4 cloves garlic

6 ounces plain Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup olive oil

To prepare: For the potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut potatoes in half. Place potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes until potatoes are golden brown and fork tender.

For the cilantro sauce, break off the leafy ends of the cilantro and discard the large stems (the small stems are okay to use). Put the cilantro, garlic and yogurt into the bowl of your food processor

Turn on the processor and mix until the garlic is minced and the ingredients are well combined. Add salt. While food processor is still running, slowly drizzle olive oil from the top until it is combined. Taste for seasoning.

To assemble the salad: Put arugula in bottom of serving bowl. Top it with the hot potatoes. Then toss with 4 ounces of the cilantro sauce. Add zest of half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

Note: The extra sauce will keep in your refrigerator for up to 7 days. And besides being a unique salad dressing, it is also a superb accompaniment for fish and seafood. Yields about 1 quart.

Per serving (with 2 tablespoons of sauce): 534 calories; 39 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 66 percent calories from fat); 44 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 267 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber.

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