Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese & Almond Stuffed Dates

There's Nothing Like Bacon Wrapped Love


With the holiday season fast approaching, we are all looking for finger food which can be shared at parties. We all need something new to add to our list of party fare menu. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against tradition. However some times we need to add or own new tradition to the holiday season. Which is why I have been playing around with new recipes to bring to the table.


This appetizer is packed with tons of decadent flavor. They can be made well in advance and cooked quickly to keep the serving platters filled with them. Try them and I now they will become a favorite with friends and family. The recipe works equally well substituting fresh figs for the dates. Like I always say anything is better wrapped in bacon.


Recipe


Ingredients:

  • 1 container of Medjool dates
  • 2-3 ounces of a soft goat cheese
  • 10-12 Bacon slices (apple wood or maple)
  • Slivered roasted Almonds
  • A good well aged (sweet) Balsamic Vinegar


Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Cut bacon slices into thirds.
  3. Pit dates by making slice across the top and carefully removing pit.
  4. Stuff the dates with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.
  5. Press an almond sliver into the cheese.
  6. Pinch the date back together.
  7. Wrap the bacon around the date.
  8. Secure the bacon to the date with a toothpick.
  9. Place the dates on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  10. Bake them for 12 minutes,
  11. Turn the dates and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes.
  12. Lightly drizzle them with a high quality old balsamic vinegar.
  13. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rosey Cream Sauce

I have been playing with this sauce for use on Cutlets and Paillards; although it could be used as a pasta dressing or on vegetable sides or as an alternate sauce for an Eggs Benedict variation. It is a smooth and creamy sauce which balances the sweetness of the herbs, roasted peppers, onions and sherry with the acidity of the tomatoes and the hint of earthiness from the garlic. The half and half and butter make it silky and bring the flavors together nicely. It plays well when paired with a bitter green salad.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Drained Diced Tomatoes
  • 8oz Diced fire roasted Red Peppers
  • 1 cup diced Yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic (micro-planed)
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup Half and Half
  • 3 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil
  • 2 pats Butter (unsalted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme (fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Marjoram (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Basil (fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Oregano (dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Rosemary (dried)
  • Salt and White Pepper to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes to taste
  • 2 oz Sherry (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat a pan and add the olive oil, wait for the surface to shimmer before proceeding.
  2. Sweat the onions till they begin to brown.
  3. Add the garlic and cook it a couple minutes, do not let it burn.
  4. Add the spices and let them bloom.
  5. Add the roasted peppers, stirr well and cook a couple minutes.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes, stir and let the excess moisture evaporate.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the sherry then add the chicken broth (optional)
  8. or
  9. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth
  10. Simmer the mixture and reduce the liquid by half.
  11. Puree the mixture in a blender till smooth.
  12. Strain the puree to make sure it there are no seeds or large pieces of herbs.
  13. pour the strained puree into sauce pan and when it begins to bubble add the half and half.
  14. Stir till it begins to thicken and the sauce comes together.
  15. Season to taste.
  16. Turn off the heat and whisk the butter into the sauce till it melts and gives the sauce a sheen.
  17. Place the sauce in a gravy pitcher for serving.
  18. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers

I had found some small multi-colored sweet pepper when shopping the other day. They are wonderfully sweet, mild and easy to work with. The seeds are nearly nonexistent and the membranes are easy to remove. I bought more than I should have, but the price was right. I have been using them as omelet filling, pizza topping, in salads, roasting them to make a bright colored pepper sauce for pasta.

Today I decided to make a variation on the old stuffed bell pepper recipe. I grabbed a couple hot Italian sausages, made some bread crumbs, grated some Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and a couple more ingredients to make a filling. I chose the sausage because I had some on hand and it had a good punch of hot pepper, fennel, salt, and garlic making seasoning easier. After cooking the juice from the peppers was perfect as a dressing for spaghetti.

I confess I did not measure when cooking this. The quantity may be different. Like all recipes they are just a starting point. Your interpretation of the dish may be different. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Filling

  • ½ pound Hot Italian sausage loose
  • 4 slices bread for bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Mozzarella grated
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • ¼ cup Ricotta Cheese
  • ⅛ cup Fresh Parsley chopped

Making the Filling

  • Tear the bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor.
  • Combine the bread crumbs, milk and ricotta in a large bowl.
  • Work in the parsley and cheeses.
  • Add the sausage and work the mixture till well mixed.
  • Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator a bit.

Bringing it all Together

  1. Wash and cut the tops off the peppers.
  2. Use a paring knife to remove seeds and membranes.
  3. Rinse the inside of the peppers.
  4. Stuff the peppers with the filling.
  5. Arrange them in a round high side casserole.
  6. Cover the peppers in some vodka sauce.
  7. Add more Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese on top.
  8. Cover and bake in a 325° oven for approximately an hour.
  9. When the cheese is melted and beginning to brown remove from the oven.
  10. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Place the peppers on a platter.
  12. Dress the spaghetti with the sauce in the casserole.
  13. Serve Immediately.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Chorizo Verde Experiment

Chorizo Verde and Quesso Fundito

I am a cooking program addict. When growing up Julia Child was my self adopted third grandmother. I get a lot of inspiration to experiment from food shows. This recipe's origin was from an episode of Rick Bayless Mexico One Plate at a Time. I wrote down rough notes for the recipe so I could play with it later. What we have here is a tweaked out version which tasted good to me. Your mileage may vary. Recipes are just jump points to new culinary discoveries. Experiment and make a recipe your own.

In recent times Mexican chefs have turned chorizo on its head. Instead of the ingredients which give it the red color we all know they use green ingredients which give it a new look and taste. The problem is where do you find green chorizo. The answer is simple! Make it yourself. Since most chorizo is cooked mashed up and out of the skin there is no need to go through that step. The recipe is quick and easy. So why not give it a try? There is a new world of sausage making just around the corner.

Chorizo Verde (Green Sausage)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Poblano Peppers fire roasted and chopped
  • ¼ cup Serrano Peppers fire roasted and chopped
  • ¼ cup Cilantro leaves chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic roasted fine chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Lime zest grated
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb chopped pork

Preparation

  1. Put the chopped pork into a food processor.
  2. Add the salt, garlic, and lime zest.
  3. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients.
  4. Add the peppers and cilantro.
  5. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients.
  6. Place the mixture in a sealed container.
  7. Chill and let rest a couple hours minimum.

Quesso Fundito

So now that you have made your Chorizo Verde what can you make with it? You can make Quesso Fundito. This is a great tasting and very healthy dish. It is good when paired with a romaine lettuce salad dressed with lime juice olive oil vinaigrette. Add some good quality olives avocado and tomato slices to the salad to give more flavor and colors to the meal.

Ingredients:

  • Chorizo Verde as per recipe above
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 medium sized Yellow Onion
  • 1½ cup Spinach fresh raw
  • 3 tablespoons beer
  • ½ cup Jack Cheese grated
  • Corn Tortillas warmed

Preparation

  1. Slice the onion.
  2. Chop the raw spinach.
  3. Grate the cheese.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet
  5. Add the green chorizo..
  6. Break up the chorizo a bit while cooking for a couple minutes.
  7. Add the onions and stir well.
  8. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  9. Heat the tortillas while the onions and chorizo cooks.
  10. Place in an insulated container to retain the heat.
  11. Add the beer and spinach to the chorizo and onions.
  12. Cook till the spinach is wilted.
  13. Turn off the heat and add the cheese.
  14. Mix the ingredients well
  15. Spread the chorizo mixture on corn tortillas.
  16. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Italian Fried Zucchini Flowers

Fried Zucchini flowers is a delicious seasonal appetizer that makes use of the male flowers which would go to waste after pollination. The male flower is a bright orange colored blossom and develops only a small thin stem that does not grow into a vegetable. Picked fresh from the garden and prepared immediately is the best method. They can be stuffed or simply battered and fried. It is great appetizer or garnish on a salad your guests will not soon forget.

Ingredients:

  • 16 zucchini flowers
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup cake flour
  • Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoon dry white wine
  • Kosher or Sea Salt and fresh ground White Pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cup vegetable oil for frying

Preparation

  1. Remove pistils (centers of flower), split flowers in halves.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs until they are well mixed and have taken in a bit of air.
  4. Add the wine and water to the eggs and beat to combine the wet ingredients.
  5. Add the wet mix slowly until all of the ingredients have become incorporated.
  6. Beat until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.
  7. Add more flour or water, if necessary.
  8. Let stand 5-20 minutes so the flour can become hydrated.
  9. Heat oil in a large frying pan to aproximatey 335° f.
  10. Stir the batter to make sure it is a uniform consistency.
  11. Add flowers one at a time in batter. let the excess batter drip off.
  12. Fry until crisp and golden brown. on both sides. Do not crowd the pan.
  13. Remove with spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  14. Transfer to dish, sprinkle with salt and serve.
  15. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crispy Noodles (Mee Krob)

I have never been to a Thai restaurant that did not serve Mee Krob. It's as unthinkable as not seeing pad Thai on the menu. If you have never eaten Mee krob it is worth ordering, or making it in your own home.

A good Thai meal should have several courses served together family style. It is all about variety and how the different dishes on the table play together.

Mee Krob is a spicy noodle appetizer which combines the basic flavor profiles in found in Thai cooking: sweet, hot, salty, sour, bitter and savory are all in merged in a delicate balance. The textures liven up a meal. Light crispy noodle cloud, crisp bean sprouts and green onions, tender shrimp all wrapped in a light tangy sauce dance on the tongue.

Ingredients

  • ¼ Pound Rice Vermicelli
  • 1-2 ounces Shrimp raw
  • ½ Cup tamarind paste
  • ½ Cup Green onion, cut into 1" length
  • ½ Cup Bean sprouts
  • 1 to 4 Tablespoon Fish sauce
  • 5 Tablespoons Brown or Palm sugar
  • ½ Cup Warm water
  • 1 Teaspoon Ketchup
  • 4-5 Cups Cooking oil for deep frying
  • 4-5 sprigs Cilantro or Chinese parsley
  • Red Chili, sliced

Mise En Place

  1. Clean, remove the shells and devein the shrimp
  2. Cut the Green onion into 1" lengths.
  3. Combine tamarind with warm water, mix and strain.
  4. Simmer rice vermicelli in water until soft. Drain well.

Preparation

  1. Fry noodles, a little at a time, in a wok on high heat until they puff up.
  2. Set aside in the paper towels to drain.
  3. In a saucepan, stir fry shrimp in 3 Tablespoon of oil; combine tamarind water, fish sauce, sugar and ketchup.
  4. Bring to boil and simmer on a low heat until sugar becomes sticky.
  5. Combine fried noodles and toss lightly to mix.
  6. Garnish with cilantro or Chinese parsley, and red chili.
  7. Serve with bean sprouts. and green onion.
Yields 2 servings

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Useful Kitchen Tools

And Why You Need Them

I wanted to do a list of some of the smaller kitchen tools I find handy. The list is far from comprehensive and I did not include some of the tools which I consider basics which all cooks will have in their kitchen. For the most part I am excluding knives, pots pans, and appliances. I also excluded tools which take up large amounts of counter space. I wanted the list to reflect the need for multiple use simple tools instead of dedicated single purpose ones.

  1. Cast Iron Grill Pan

    A cast iron grill an works great no matter what the season. I find they make some of the best grill marks. Cast Iron has the ability to retain heat so you do not get an intense temperature drop making the meat steam instead of sear. I do not like nonstick pans. Once it is well seasoned cast iron is forever. I also use it as a roaster in the oven so the meat stays out of the fat.

  2. Melon Baller

    Even is you do not eat a lot of melons it is a great multi-tasking tool. It works well for coring fruits and vegetables. Is is great for making small uniform sized potato balls for deep frying. The thin wall edge makes seed removal from squash easier. I also like it as a scoop for portioning small meatballs, cookie dough or dumplings. Look for one with two different sized scoops and a comfortable but sturdy handle.

  3. Micro-plane

    The idea for this kitchen essential was the sure form rasp made for wood work. I had used the carpentry version long before a kitchen version was made. Micro-planes come in different grades which correspond to the size of the gratings made. It works great for citrus zest, garlic, or hard cheese, such as Parmesan. A micro plane is much easier to use and clean than the old box style graters. and you are less liable to sustain a knuckle shredding accident.

  4. Mandolin

    When you have to make thin uniform slices quickly the Mandolin is the tool I go to every time. Regardless of your knife skills when you are faced with prepping pounds of vegetables , a mandolin will dramatically reduce the time needed. Many people have a fear of a mandolin, however if you use it wisely with the safety guards it can be your best kitchen friend. You d not need an expensive one, yes I have drooled over an 18" bed stainless steel machine covered in adjustment knobs; However I use an inexpensive simple model as my day to day workhorse.

  5. Egg Slicer

    I can hear you ask the question: "Why do I need an egg slicer?". I'm glad you asked. Besides doing a great job slicing those hard-boiled eggs, it work well for slicing fresh mozzarella and Mushrooms. Any food that is small and tender can be sliced quickly.

  6. Pizza Cutter

    A pizza cuter is not just the best way to slice a pizza. It is a versatile cutting tool. I use mine for noodle cutting and ravioli making, cutting any kind of dough from puff pastry to pie crust. I particularly like it when I am using a metal ruler. The blade runs along the edge and does not make you run the risk of ruining a good knife of greater value.

  7. Food Scale

    I find a food scale to be an essential tool. It has many benefits: 1. Measuring by volume is the most inaccurate method even though we know the old rhyme a pint is a pound the world around. Bakers measure ingredients by weight with good reason, baking is an exact discipline. 2 It makes translating recipes from someone using metric units easy, and writing your own recipes easier to repeat when fine tuning it for publication. 3. When living in a nation that is obsessed with diets it is a good to know how much of what is in a portion. 4. Information is power enough said.

  8. Stainless Steel Colander

    The humble colander has many uses besides draining liquid off of food. It can be used as an improvised steamer, pepper roaster or smoker for the more adventurous. It is also good for shaking off flour and small bits of dough when preparing fresh made pasta. I have even pressed one into service as a spaetzle maker.

  9. Parchment Paper

    I know that these days new products like Silplat are all the rage. It is great stuff, however the price makes me catatonic from sticker shock. I can be a bit retro, so I still love the original non-stick baking surface, Parchment! Parchment paper is something I cant live without. When making Sunday brunch for a large number of people who in their right mind would fry bacon or sausage? Sheet pans lined with parchment works great. crispy bacon without the popping, splattering and time consuming hovering over a pan, priceless. It is the baker's friend, especially when making cookies or anything with sugars that will caramelize making them stick to the cookie sheet. There are also recipes where you make a parchment package of fish or fowl, aromatics, and a splash of wine. You roll and crimp the edges till you have a sealed packet. Bake them and serve still sealed, it is dramatic, keeps the food warm and juicy

  10. Propane Torch

    I know you think I am kidding, but a propane torch can take your cooking style to a new level. Many impressive entrees and desserts can be made with the aid of a torch. It gives you pin-point control of surface browning. It makes exotic fare such as Baked Alaska simple and easy. It can also save a dish from blandness. Ever have a bread crumb topping on a casserole refuse to brown? If so torch it to get that golden brown and delicious look we all love.

Lad Na

Almost every Thai restaurant I have eaten in has a variation of this savory noodle dish. You may see it spelled many different ways ranging from Lard Na to Lad Nah, however it is spelled it is good eats. Lad Na is another Thai dish that echos the Chinese influence on their cuisine.

Protein and vegetables in a silky sauce merged with thick dumpling style rice noodles. The textures are important. Crisp vegetables, and stir-fried noodles that are crispy on the outside but succulent and chewy on the inside. The noodles should have a slightly smokey flavor complimenting the sweetness of the oyster flavored sauce. It is a good choice for people who fear the fiery side of Thai cooking.

As with many recipes there is much flexibility in ingredients. You can make the dish with almost any protein choice, including pre-fried extra firm tofu making it a dish vegetarians can eat. The same goes for the mushrooms, I have eaten it made with Shitake, Crimini, or common white button mushrooms.

Preparation is simple and the cooking time is short. Just remember to do your mise en place so you can cook the dish in a timely manner and not juggle preparing ingredients for you need to add quickly. Stir-frying is a very time sensitive technique, so good prep work is critical.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup thick Rice Noodles (soaked in water)
  • ½ Pound of your choice of Protein choice, Boneless Chicken, Beef, or Pork works best
  • ¼ lb Sliced broccoli
  • ¼ lb fresh mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
  • 1 Teaspoons Oyster sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Thin soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Fish sauce
  • 1½ Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Minced garlic
  • 4 Tablespoon Peanut oil
  • ½ Cup Water
  • ½Teaspoon Pickled chili for garnish

Mise En Place

  1. Soak rice noodle in a warm water for 15 minutes. Drain. Set aside
  2. Break the broccoli into individual branches and slice the broccoli stalks into thin pieces.
  3. Soak them in cold water for 15 minutes
  4. Slice the mushrooms thinly
  5. Slice the protein thinly into 1" strips.
  6. Combine the corn starch with the water and make a slurry, stir well to get rid of any lumps

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoon of oil and brown minced garlic to light brown.
  2. Add soak rice noodle and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Remove and reserve them for later.
  3. Heat the remaining amount of oil.
  4. Add the sliced protein, broccoli and mushrooms.
  5. Stir-fry for approximately 3 minutes.
  6. Add cornstarch slurry and bring it to a gentle boil.
  7. Add oyster sauce and fish sauce, sugar, stir until the sauce thickens.
  8. Add the rice noodles and toss to warm and coat them in the sauce.
  9. Transfer the Lad Na to a serving plate.
  10. Garnish with the pickled chili. (optional)
  11. Serve Immediately
Yields 2 servings

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazinni is a retro baked casserole. Spaghetti chicken and mushrooms with a delicious creamy wine sauce, what's not to love. It is one of my favorite chicken recipes, and will please kids and adults alike. Give your family a little love on a plate tonight.

Tetrazzini is an American dish possibly named after the Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini. It is widely believed to have been invented between1908-1910 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California by Chef Ernest Arbogast. Tetrazzini was a long-time resident at the Palace Hotel, which may add credence to the claim. However, other sources claim that the dish originated at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City.

  • Yield 6 to 8 servings
  • Prep 35 min
  • Cook 1 hr
  • Total 1 hr 35 min

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thyme leaves
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces linguine
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup grated
  • ¼ cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Preparations

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 " by 9" by 2" baking dish.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly.
  7. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl.
  8. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan.
  9. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes.
  10. Add the onion, garlic, and Thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
  11. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes.
  12. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.
  13. Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat.
  14. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes.
  15. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
  16. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil.
  17. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.
  18. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  19. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes.
  20. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture.
  21. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.
  22. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  23. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend.
  24. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta.
  25. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.
  26. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Smoked Salmon Spread

This is a quick and easy recipe for party food. It is easy to scale up for large gathering. I like the mix of smoke, dill, citrus and chives melded with the creaminess of cream cheese. It has always been a hit every time I have served it.

Ingredients

  • ½ Lb Smoked Salmon without skin (Copper River is best)
  • ½ Lb Cream Cheese softened
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill Weed dried
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives fresh chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest finely grated
  • ½ Teaspoon White Pepper fresh round
  • ½ Teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
  1. Place the cream cheese in a bowl and whip till it is loose.
  2. Add the dry ingredients including the lemon zest and chives, mix well.
  3. Flake the salmon and combine with the cheese mixture. Be careful to not lose the texture of the salmon.
  4. Cover the spread and refrigerate it for at least an hour, overnight is best.
  5. Serve with small slices of rye bread or your favorite crackers.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Thai Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken (Kai Pad Med Ma Muang)

Cashew Chicken is a simple dish which shows the influence of Chinese culture on Thai cuisine. It is a quick, simple and very tasty dish that balances the elements of sweet, savory, and hot. It has a wide range of textures, making it interesting eating. We all are looking for a new way to cook chicken and this one will be a hit with family and friends. For those who are not chili addicts just reduce the number of peppers used.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ Pound Boneless chicken
  • ¼ Cup Cooking oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 ounce Sliced water chestnuts
  • 6 to 8 Green onions, 2" length
  • 3 to 5 Whole dried red chili peppers
  • 2 Tablespoon Oyster sauce
  • ¾ Pound Unsalted roasted cashew nuts

Preparation

  1. Thinly slice chicken into 2" length.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic until it is a light brown color.
  3. Add the chicken and oyster sauce, stir fry it for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the water chestnuts, green onions, red chili peppers & roasted cashews.
  5. Stir until the ingredients are mixed well.
  6. Serve hot over Jasmine rice.
Yields 2 servings

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stuffed Poblano Peppers and Black Beans

I was out on Saturday for my morning walk to get the juices flowing. On the way back home I stopped by the local farmer's market. The Autumn harvest is in full swing, so I found some great deals on produce. Among the many bargains I found were huge lovely Poblano peppers. They looked perfect for stuffing, so it was time to take them home to play.

I wanted to make a tasty, satisfying, healthy main dish that fit into my current diet plan as either a dinner or lunch selection. The following recipe gives me plenty of room to add more carbohydrates to the meal. It also gives me a meat portion size that is in-line with a heart healthy diet. This dish freezes well so you can prepare them for a quick meal when you are short on time or energy.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 Poblano peppers, raw (150 g each)
  • Filling
    • 8 oz. 96% extra lean Ground Beef, raw (224 g)
    • 4 oz Mozzarella Cheese, part skimmed shredded (112 g)
    • 1/4 cup (42 g) Brown Rice raw
    • Onions, raw, minced (100 g)
    • Garlic 4 clove, crushed and finely minced or microplaned (48 g)
    • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
    • 1 tbsp Fresh Marjoram
    • 1 tbsp Fresh Thyme
    • 1tbsp Dried Oregano
    • 2 tbsp Cumen
  • Sauce
    • 2 cups low fat low sodium Chicken Broth
    • Tomatoes, raw, diced (640 g)
    • 1 can Black Beans rinsed and drained (242 g)

Preparation

  1. Remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the filling well
  3. Stuff the peppers with the filling.
  4. Mix the beans, tomatoes, and chicken broth in a casserole with a lid.
  5. Place the peppers into the casserole.
  6. Cover the casserole and place in an oven preheated to 350 f.
  7. Bake until the peppers are soft and the rice is plump and tender.
  8. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
Per Serving: 39 g Carbohydrates, 5.75 g Fiber, 25 g Protein, 27.5 mg Cholesterol, 9 g Fat, 304 Calories

And Now for Something Completly Different

As someone told me long ago, life is change. You learn to adapt or you go the way of the dinosaur or the dodo. Well life has changed, and I plan on not letting it drive over me without a fight.

It was a shock to find out that I had become a type 2 diabetic. The doctor gave me a blood glucose meter, showed me how to load it, but not much else. I was clueless and needed to be armed with some facts. Frustrated I began searching for the information I required to begin managing my diabetes. It made me reexamine my diet and lifestyle. I needed to get a handle on my intake of carbohydrates and calories.

I found the resources to monitor what was in the food I ate. At first I tried to keep track of my intake in my head, which lead to some problems. I was unable to see the shape of my eating patterns. I had information going to waste, and I needed to harness it.

For me the best way to do this was starting a diary of what I ate each day. It has been a learning process, and the process has been a bit time consuming. The results have been worth the effort. I now have my glucose levels back to normal again.

My focus on food will be changing here. I will be posting recipes that fit into a more healthy lifestyle. I hope they will help others to eat well but wisely.

Tips for Diabetic Cooking

Measurements

Measuring by volume is good for liquids or powders; but for anything else I recommend using a digital food scale set for grams instead of measuring by volume. Your measurements will be more accurate, allowing you greater control of your carbohydrate, fiber, fat and calorie intake.

If you are preparing fresh vegetables you know not all are the same size or weight, forcing you to guess at the real numbers for your meal. Using the nutritional information you can calculate the values for any amount of food item. Simply find the information for a food, divide the number of grams of carbohydrates, fiber, fat by the gram weight of the example. Next you take that number and multiply it by the gram weight of the food you want to eat.

The Formula is:

Grams Carbs (example)/Grams of Food (example)*Grams of Food (real)=Grams of Carbohydrates (real).

Here is an example:

Let's say you want to know the amount of calories in a 80 gram carrot, but you can only find numbers of a 50 gram one.

1 small carrot (50g)
  • Calories 52
  • Calories from Fat 3
  • Total Carbohydrates 12.3g
  • Dietary Fiber 3.6g
  • Sugars 6.1g
  • Protein 1.2g

You find that there are 52 calories in the example. Divide 52 by 50, you get 1.04 calories per gram. Multiply that by 80 and you get 83.2 calories in the carrot. It is just that simple.

Until we meet again, live life with all you got.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

Today's recipe was inspired by a trip to the local Mexican Grocery store. I was in search for some basic exotic ingredients. I needed some fresh chorizo, cilantro, guajillo powder, some dried powdered shrimp, some achiote paste, tamarind paste, cumin seeds, and dried peppers. It got me thinking about reworking some of my favorite recipes.

I love black bean soup, but many recipes I have used leave you feeling very heavy. I decided to play a bit and came up with the following recipe. It is a flavorful, hearty but light soup. The taste balances the savory richness of the beans, corn chips and chorizo, with the heat of the peppers, the tartness of the limes and the freshness of the herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. The soup has many textures and colors making it appealing to the mouth and the eye.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups canned Black beans
  • 1 cup Red Onion chopped
  • 1 cup Green Peppers, Raw, Chopped
  • 1 cup Jalapeno Peppers seeded, finely chopped
  • 6 oz Chorizo
  • 4 cups fat free Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Tomatoes diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tbs fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 tbs fresh Marjoram
  • 1 tbs Cumin ground
  • 1 tsp fresh Oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf dry
  • 1 tbs Guajilo Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Garnish

  • ½ cup Tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup Lettuce finely shredded
  • 1 cup Tortilla Chips crumbled
  • ½ cup Cilantro chopped
  • Lime wedges

Preparation

  • Heat a heavy 4 quart pan, add the olive oil to the pan.
  • Add the onions and peppers to the oil.
  • Sweat them until the onions begin to become translucent.
  • Add the garlic to the onions and peppers.
  • Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Add the chorizo and cook until the chorizo begins to release it's fat.
  • Add the drained beans and stir well.
  • Add the guajillo powder and cumin, cook a couple minutes.
  • Add the bay leaf, oregano, thyme and marjoram, cook a couple minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, cook a couple minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, simmer 10 minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Remove the bay leaf.
  • Ladle into bowls and begin garnishing.
  • Add some cilantro onto the soup.
  • Add some lettuce onto the cilantro.
  • Add some corn chips onto the lettuce,
  • Add the fresh diced tomato onto the lettuce
  • Squeeze some lime juice onto the soup
  • Place a lime wedge on top for a garnish.
Yield: 6 servings

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is one of Italy’s most famous pasta recipes. It is a dish that speaks of simplicity, elegance a touch of decadence. This wonderful pairing of rich, creamy sauce and pasta that works equally well as an entree or as a side dish. Make someone you love happy, serve them some Fettuccine Alfredo tonight!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound. fettuccine, cooked, drained
  • Approximately 2/3 cup pasta water
  • 11/2 sticks butter, cut in small cubes
  • 3 cups grated Parmesan Cheese

Preparation

  1. Bring 6 quarts salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Add fettuccine and cook until it is just al dente.
  3. Drain pasta, reserving about a cup of the pasta water.
  4. Bring 2/3 cup pasta water and butter to a boil in a large skillet.
  5. Add pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Toss about 2 minutes until a rich creamy sauce is formed, adding more water if necessary.
  7. Serve Immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Gastrique

Let's get a little old-school and look at an oldie but goodies that seems to neglected these days. Here is a word that might draw the deer in the headlights look from many people. The word is gastrique.

A gastrique is nothing more than a fancy French culinary term for a sweet and sour sauce. Basically it's just some sugar or fruit reduced with a vinegar. The procedure is extremely easy, but the results are very tasty. Feel free to play with different fruits and vinegars. Always remember cooking should be fun!

A gastrique plays well with any type of meat or game. In fact the original purpose of a gastrique, was a sauce that would cut through the richness of wild game. Give gastriques a try, I think you will find it an elegant saucing tool for many dishes,

Ingredients

  • ½ cup blackberry preserves
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 small sliced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preparations

  1. Sweat the shallots in the oil.
  2. Cook over medium heat until they get a little brown color on them
  3. Add a pinch of salt to bring out a little bit of the liquid.
  4. Add the black pepper and give it a little swirl in the oil.
  5. Pour in the water and the balsamic vinegar, and add the fruit preserves
  6. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat until reduced by about one-third.
  7. Use a bamboo skewer to measure the level, it makes the task easier.
  8. Strain the sauce using the back of a wooden spoon to work it in the strainer.
  9. Adjust the seasoning with a little salt if needed..
  10. Let the sauce cool a bit.
  11. Drizzle around whatever you're going to serve it with.
Yields about ¾ cup

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Caribbean Coconut Chicken

I love coconut milk and just about any dish that uses it as an ingredient. Caribbean Coconut Chicken is a fragrant and slightly spicy dish that pairs well with yellow rice. The ancho pepper adds a mild heat that plays well with the sweetness of the onion and coconut milk.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1frac12; yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Ancho Peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped roasted garlic
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C).
  2. In a large skillet, fry chicken breast in vegetable oil until the chicken just begins to brown.
  3. Stir onions, ancho peppers and red bell peppers into the skillet with the chicken.
  4. Sauté the onions until they are translucent.
  5. Stir in the roasted garlic and coconut milk.
  6. Cook the mixture 5 to 8 minutes then remove the skillet from the heat.
  7. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13 inch baking dish .
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables cook down and the chicken is tender.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille recipes vary according to the cook the region, or the season. This dish is great year-round. During the summer months, I like to use fresh vegetables picked from my own garden. Ratatouille can be served either hot or cold as a light, easy dinner. Ratatouille may be topped with grated Parmesan cheese at the table. The ingredients are traditionally sautéed in olive oil and can be served over rice or potatoes, preferably with a crusty French bread.

The following recipe is a vegan dish, containing no animal products. This is a great dish to serve at a dinner party where both omnivores and vegans are invited.

Ratatouille as prepared here is a relatively low-fat dish. The only fat in it comes from the olive oil. This dish is also fairly low-sodium. Since the dish is made from delicious, fresh vegetables, reducing the amount of salt fairly easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized Red Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Eggplant, diced
  • 5 Roma Tomatoes seeded and diced.
  • 2 medium Zucchini, diced into diced
  • 1 Bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes De Provence
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Parsley ,minced
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

Preparations

  1. Sauté the onion and Garlic until tender
  2. Add Eggplant and Tomatoes, bring to simmer
  3. Add the Bell pepper
  4. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes
  5. Add the Zucchini and stir.
  6. Cover and simmer for 10-15 more minutes until vegetables soft
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Stir in the Herbes De Provence.
  9. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste
  10. Garnish with chopped Parsley

Serve over:

  • Rice
  • Egg noodles
  • Pasta
  • Boiled, cubed Potatoes
  • Couscous
Yields 4 servings

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cubano Sandwich

There are many variations on the Cubano Sandwich. A traditional Cubano does not be nave any mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers or lettuce on it. You can can use leftover meats for a Cubano, but I recommend using the freshest cuts you can find. When making a Cubano sandwich, the quality of the Roast Pork is what will make or break the sandwich.

Ingredients:

  • 3 thin slices of ham
  • 3 thin slices roast pork hot or cold
  • 3 thin slices of Swiss cheese
  • 3 or 4 slices of dill pickles
  • mustard
  • 1/3 cut Cuban hard crust bread or French baguette

Preparation

  1. Slice the bread open face so that both halves are still barely connected.
  2. Spread mustard on both halves of ther bread.
  3. Add the slices of ham, and roasted pork.
  4. Add the Swiss cheese.
  5. Add the pickle slices.
  6. Brush some softened butter on the outside of the bread.
  7. Place the sandwich in a Cuban sandwich press
  8. Press down until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly hard to the touch.
  9. When finished, slice the sandwich diagonally across the middle so that you have two triangle shaped wedges.

Notes

Never use a panini grill, they don't heat sandwiches evenly and a real Cubano doesn't have grill lines on it. For people without a press there is a simple fix. You can place the sandwich between 2 hot skillets weighted down with a heavy object, such as a foil-wrapped paving brick as the weight.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is Italian comfort food. It is a garden in a bowl, filled with colorful fresh vegetables and herbs. It makes a great as a summer meal served with crusty bread, a salad and a good bottle of Merlot.You can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth if you are cooking for vegans.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 5 carrots, sliced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes not drained
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
  • 2 green zucchinis, diced
  • 2 yellow zucchinis, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry mini farfalle pasta
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation

  1. Place a large stock pot or enamaled dutch oven, over medium-low heat.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil heat until it shimmers.
  3. Saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, do not burn the garlic.
  4. Add the onions and saute for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add celery, fennel and carrots to the onions.
  6. Saute the vegetables for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan.
  8. Add chicken broth, and the diced tomatoes.
  9. Bring to boil, stirring frequently.
  10. Reduce the heat to low.
  11. Add the beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil
  12. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Fill a 4 quart pan with water, salt and bring it to a boil.
  15. Add pasta and cook until it is al dente.
  16. Drain the pasta and shock in cold water to stop the cooking.
  17. Drain the shocked pasta and set it aside.
  18. Place 4 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls.
  19. Ladle soup on top of pasta .
  20. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of the soup.
  21. Garnish with finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  22. Drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Rainbow Lemon Herb Couscous

Couscous is a fine grain wheat pasta from Morocco. I love it because it is tasty, quick and easy to prepare. This recipe is a great side with a ratatouille, roasted herb lemon chicken, or seafood. The turmeric gives the dish a golden glow that enhances the green of the herbs, the red of the tomatoes, and purples of the Kalamata olives

I recommend fresh herbs for this dish. Everyone needs an herb garden. I love the time I spend cultivating it, and the peaceful moments when I am harvesting my daily ingredients. You can substitute some parsley or cilantro for some of the basil and mint. Experiment with them, mix and match as you see fit

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 cup Couscous
  • 1 cup Roma Tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Basil, chopped
  • zest and juice of 2 Lemons
  • 3 tablespoons Chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Mint , chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Get a large bowl to hold and mix the following ingredients:
  2. Prepare the herb vegetables to flavor the Couscous.
    1. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds and dice
    2. Grate the lemon zest
    3. Cut the lemon in half and juice it, making sure you keep the seeds out of the juice.
    4. Remove the Basil leaves from the stems, roll into a cigar shape and slice thin.
    5. Remove the Mint leaves from the stems, roll into a cigar shape and slice thin.
    6. Chop the Olives.
    7. Chop the Chives.
    8. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil
  3. Mix well and set the mixture aside.
  4. Mix the turmeric into the chicken broth and bring it to a boil, turn off the burner.
  5. Add the Couscous to the broth and stir well.
  6. Add the herb and vegetable mixture to the Couscous and broth and stir well.
  7. Cover the pot and let stand for 5 minutes.
  8. Fluff the Couscous with a fork and place it in a serving bowl or on a platter.
  9. Serve immediately.
Yields 6 servings

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Home made cream of mushroom soup is a favorite around my household. I especially like it when wild mushrooms are in season. The flavors of Maitake and Chantalle mushrooms can take the soup over the top.

But if you don't hunt mushrooms, or are lucky enough to have friends who do, here is a recipe for you. The ingredients for today's recipe are easier to find. If you can't get Crimini mushrooms at the store use the standard white button mushroom. It is a quick recipe that makes a wonderful satisfying soup that is ideal for a chilly Autumn day. The recipe makes enough for a large family, or you can share some with a friend or two.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 pound White Mushroons, chopped
  • 1 medium size Leek cleaned and chopped
  • 1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • !/2 cup White Wine
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream

Preparations

  1. Prepare the Mushrooms.
    • Clean the mushrooms and remove the tough ends of the stems
    • Slice them, I use an egg slicer which is fast and gives me uniform pieces .
  2. Prepare the Leeks
    • Trim away the tough green portions of the leek .
    • Cut the white part of the leek in half lengthwise.
    • Rinse the leeks well under cold running water to remove any sand.
    • Lay the halves flat side down, slice thinly crosswise and set aside.
  3. Prepare the Celery
    • Clean and trim off the tough ends of the celery.
    • Slice the stalk lengthwise into long thin strips.
    • Dice the celery strips and set aside
  4. Prepare the Garlic
    • Smash the cloves of garlic with the flat side of the knife.
    • Remove the husks from the cloves.
    • Finely mince the garlic, set aside.
  5. Creating your Soup base
    • Place a heavy 6 quart pot or dutch oven on a medium flame.
    • Add the olive oil and wait till you see movement in the oil.
    • Add the butter waiting for it to melt and stop sizzling from the water cooking off.
    • Add the celery and leeks to the pot, season with some salt and pepper, and stir.
    • Add the garlic and mushrooms, stir frequently till the mushrooms begin to go limp.
  6. Create a quick light Roux
    • Add the flour to the sautéed vegetables.
    • Stir continuously till the flour has absorbed the butter and oil
    • Cook till the flour starts to turn color.
  7. Bringing the liquids into the mix.
    • Pour in the wine and stir.
    • Pour in the chicken broth and add the thyme leaves. Stir frequently.
    • Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or till it thickens.
    • Add the cream and stir well, heat the mixture, test for seasoning and correct .
  8. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lentil Soup

Autumn is here and I am in a soup making frame of mind. Today's recipe is an old family favorite of mine. Classic lentil soup is quick and easy to make. It is tasty, nutritious and a healthy, low fat dish. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber. They also cook faster than any other legume.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 smoked Turkey wings or 1 smoked Turkey leg
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 large Onion peeled diced
  • 2 large Carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks Celery thin sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 pound Lentils
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3 cups Chicken broth
  • 3 cups Vegetable broth
  • Sea Salt and fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Preparations

  1. Simmer the smoked turkey and bay leaves in the chicken, vegetable broth mix in a covered 6 quart pot.
  2. Cook till tender and the broth has become infused with the smokey flavor.
  3. Inspect the lentils while waiting, remove any foreign matter, and wash thoroughly.
  4. Remove the turkey and bay leaves from the broth, and add the lentils to the pot.
  5. Cool the Turkey and then pick the meat off the bone.
  6. Reserve the meat for later. Discard the bay leaves.
  7. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium flame, add the olive oil .
  8. Add the onions, celery, garlic and carrots, season with some salt to draw out the moisture.
  9. Sweat the vegetables in the pan until the onions are transparent.
  10. Add the Vegetables to the pot with the lentils.
  11. Simmer till the Lentils are tender but not mushy.
  12. Add the reserved turkey till warm.
  13. Season with Salt and Pepper.
  14. Serve hot.

Leek Potato Soup

The world turns and seasons change again. Harvest time is here and with it all the bounty of the summer season fill the pantry. The cool weather of Autumn is arriving, bringing with it thoughts of bowls of hot soup to take the chill off my bones.

When I think about leek and potato soup, hearty, healthy, flavorful are a few words that come to mind when I think about this classic soup. I have always loved leeks. They are the most mild mannered member of the onion family. This soup is serious comfort food, and I think it will become one of your family favorites.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 large leeks, about 1 1/2 pound
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives

Preparations

  1. Trim away the tough green portions of the leek .
  2. Cut the white part of the leek in half lengthwise.
  3. Rinse the leeks well under cold running water to remove any sand.
  4. Lay the halves flat side down, slice thinly crosswise and set aside.
  5. In a 6 quart pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon.
  6. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat.
  7. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the, chicken stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 minutes.
  10. When the potatoes begin falling apart, turn off the heat.
  11. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender. in batches. (or if you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.)
  12. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning, as needed.
  13. Ladle the soup into serving bowls.
  14. Garnish the top of each bowl with some of the snipped chives
  15. Serve immediately .

Friday, July 25, 2008

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is a pinkish sauce made from a red sauce, vodka, cream, cheese and butter. The vodka added to the sauce brings out flavor in the tomato in a basic red sauce was first used in the 80's. At the time it was all the rage.The taste the alcohol evaporates in cooking, but gives the sauce a peppery taste that tickles the tongue. Most recipes pair it with penne pasta. Personally I love it with the addition of either Italian sausage or meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce, or store-bought marinara sauce, blended until smooth
  • 1 cup vodka
  • ½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened butter

Preparation

  1. Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by ¼, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce.
  3. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through.
  4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter until melted and well blended.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 8 to10 minutes.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce.
  7. Toss to coat.