It is pretty well known that authors find Bedford County a place of inspiration. U.S. Army Veteran Dave Rogers has been inspired since moving here a little over a year ago from New York to write his …
It is pretty well known that authors find Bedford County a place of inspiration. U.S. Army Veteran Dave Rogers has been inspired since moving here a little over a year ago from New York to write his first cookbook. Actually, this is something that has been on Dave’s mind for a long time.
A lot of his inspiration comes from spending Sundays with his grandmother in Queens, N.Y. He’s been blessed to also have a lot of friends in the publishing industry and those who own restaurants. But the veteran’s first edition cookbook is dedicated to fellow military veterans.
As he looks at his service dog, “Grunt” by his side, Dave says he understands many of the difficulties associated with returning to civilian life. He’s been there. Dave served in Desert Storm, Bosnia, had a tour in Korea and served at the World Trade Center.
He had to leave the Army in 2005, due to a neck injury he received while serving at the World Trade Center in Manhattan. When he left military service, he says he felt like he had nowhere to turn. Then, he found the VFW. Or rather, the VFW found him.
For that, he will be forever grateful, he says. The VFW literally saved his life. “
The VFW helped me find my way,” the author says in hindsight.
“Part of my goal . . . pay it forward.” Dave wants to make sure no veteran ever feels “alone” or “unwanted.”
So for the last 10 years, he’s dedicated himself to taking care of veterans and their families. He is greatly concerned about food insecurities among the veteran population.
Dave says he plans to give 30% of the proceeds from his book sales to veterans in need. And anyone who’s ever tried to self-publish a book realizes that’s a great gift.
The 119 page cookbook can be ordered at Amazon.com or by contacting Dave via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $19.69. (By the way, this happens to be the year Dave was born.)
The dedication page reads: “This cookbook is dedicated to all the men and women who have served this country. They have written a blank check to offer all they have in service of a greater cause.”
In remembrance of their sacrifice, 30% of proceeds for this book will be donated to the VFW’s Unmet Needs Program—one which assists with any expenses that are classified as “basic life needs,” including everything from insurance to childcare.
The 2022 cookbook is self-published and Dave’s done a lot of the work to see “Cooking With A Veteran” finally in print.
He admits that self-publishing can be difficult for the novice; he’s dealt with everything from bleed marks to design. But now, with his first cookbook in his hand, he smiles and says he’s pretty proud of how it turned out.
As for illustrations, Dave gets credit for all the color photos, which features some of his VFW buddies.
He’s also included original artwork as illustrations. His painting of a cabbage—that which was displayed in 2019 in the Korea Art Fair —is among his works featured. Dave says over the years, he’s traveled the world, sampling a lot of exotic dishes.
He’s learned “flavorful food” is not about lots of seasonings but rather comes from the cooking process which thereby allows food flavors to stand out. Still, like any good soldier, he goes back to his main goal of helping veterans.
As someone who suffers with post traumatic stress, he hopes that stirring a batch of dump lings or even creating a new pie flavor might be the key to helping turn any food insecurities of his fellow servicemen and their families.
Dave is still on a mission; he’s now working on his second cookbook. Proceeds from cookbook two, he says, will go to the VFW National Home for Children.
While we’re keeping recipes for his new cookbook under wraps for a while, Dave hints that it will be about stretching food dollars. Example might be like taking that Sunday leftover meatloaf and turning it into something grand for Monday night’s dinner. Stay tuned. Hoorah!
In the meantime, pull up an easy chair and enjoy some recipes from Dave’s latest cookbook, “Cooking With A Veteran.”
Sichuan Pork Belly
Dave says while this might not be the healthiest dish, it sure is good served with a bowl of rice. He notes that the pork belly can be baked in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the meat is a golden, reddish brown.
1 1/2 pork belly, sliced thin
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. of Gochujang (Korean chili paste or Chinese chili oil will work)
1/2 Asian pear (optional)
1/2 shallot, chopped
3 Tbsp. ginger and minced garlic
Soy sauce to taste
3 Tbsp. ginger and garlic minced
Soy sauce to taste
3 Tbsp. dried chili flakes
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Mix pork belly with the chili paste or oil and let sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
In a large pre-heated cast iron skillet, add sesame oil and start searing the pork belly. When the meat is almost cooked, add onion, garlic and ginger to the middle and mix together.
Add soy sauce and chili flakes, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and brown sugar. Mix well, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 20 minutes.
Be sure to stir occasionally so as not to let them burn. Remove from heat and serve.
Dave says he wasn’t a fan of mushrooms as a kid, despite growing up in the Pizza Capital of New York. So, the mushrooms can be optional, he says.
1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or thighs
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour salt, black pepper, white pepper and Adobo to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 (8 oz.) pkg. pre-sliced bella or button mushrooms (optional)
3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 C. chicken broth
2/3 C. dry Marsala wine (brand fortified wine)
2/3 C. heavy cream
2 tsp. chopped, fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Start by brining chicken and flouring. Place the flour, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a ziplock bag. Add the chicken to the bag. Seal tightly and shake to coat chicken, evenly. Set aside.
Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and cook, turning once, until the chicken is golden and just barely cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes total.
Remove chicken from pan. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan.
Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the shallots, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
Add the broth, Marsala, heavy cream, thyme, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. of pepper.
Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the pan into the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by about half, slightly thickened and darkened in color, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the chicken back to the pan, along with any juices on the plate. Reduce the heat to low and summer until chicken is warmed through and the sauce thickens a bit more, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Note: If you’re going for a thin, cream sauce, it won’t start to thicken until the very end of the cooking time. If it is too thin, add more flour. If too thick, add a little extra heavy cream.
Some Pasta tips from a New Yorker
Use a big enough pot. During cooking time, pasta can expand in volume up to three times its original size, so be sure you leave plenty of cooking room.
Reserve pasta water. This way, you will have starchy cooking water within reach for adjusting the consistency of the pasta sauce—once everything is mixed together.
Don’t rely on cooking time on pasta packages. Test for doneness early and often.
Pasta With White Wine Crab Sauce
Dave first tasted this dish in Italy. He says any type of shellfish or even squid is often used. He prefers fresh seafood. He highly recommends the black truffle oil because of how it imparts a special flavor to the pasta.
1 lb. linguini pasta
1/2 C. crab meat
2 Tbsp. black truffle oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 shallot, finely diced
1 green onion, chopped
1 tsp. ginger French fries(optional)
1 C. white wine salt, pepper, smoked paprika, Adobo fresh parsley, thyme
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Once the pasta is prepared (don’t overcook!) then add the truffle oil.
Throw in, Dave says, onion, garlic, ginger (optional) and the white stalk of green onion. Sauté until translucent. Season with salt, pepper, smoked Adobo, parsley and thyme.
If using any type of mussels, clams, or octopus, add in at this time, as they will take longer to cook, Dave says. If using crab or other shellfish, add the pasta.
Add in wine and let simmer for a minute. Once the white wine has heated, add in pasta and crab meat, mixing them together in the sauce. Let cook for a minute then remove from heat and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes for the sauce to really absorb into the pasta and crab meat.
Top with the green part of the green onion and shaved Parmesan to serve.
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