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.


  • 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


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


  • 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!



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


  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


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,


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


  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 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.


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


  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.


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.


  • 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


  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


  • 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


  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