Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pastrami Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs



Deviled Eggs are high on every one's list these days. Caterers, Restaurants, Gastro Pubs and bar menus are all featuring these retro tasty throwbacks to the 1950's and 60's cocktail parties.

I personally love them. They are like all the things I love to eat in one package. They immediately remind me of being 5 or 6 years old again and eating deviled eggs at a church function or at my house when company would come over. I loved them then and I love them now.

For Christmas entertaining this year I made these deviled eggs. They could not have been easier. And they could not have been more delicious. Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) first introduced smoked salmon deviled eggs to me.

But a few years ago when I was introduced to pastrami smoked salmon ( ie. Salmon cured with the spices from Pastrami curing and then smoked) by my friend Fred I thought what madness is this! It's truly beyond delicious.

So I saw it at the local supermarket over Christmas and thought lets use this to make deviled eggs. And wow are they good. So if you want to try something new for your next party, brunch or even just a family dinner or picnic. Try these. You won't be sorry! Yum Ya'll  

The Ultimate Pastrami Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs 

8 eggs hard boiled and peeled
1 heaping spoonful Dukes mayonnaise
4 heaping spoonfuls of chive and onion cream cheese in a small tub
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
6 Tablespoons finely minced pastrami smoked salmon ( or other if using)
16 small slices of salmon for garnish
4 Tablespoons chives chopped finely ( a few cut into batons and reserved for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggs in half. Scoop out the yokes into a bowl you'll have 16 halves
Mix with the other ingredients except salmon
Mash until a smooth paste forms
Add the salmon and mix into the egg mixture
Place the filling in a plastic bag refrigerate for about an hour.
Cut a corner off the bag
Fill the whites
Place a sliver of the salmon on the top to garnish
Garnish further with chive batons

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Steak House Quesadillas - Mexican American at it's Finest


Nachos are some of my favorite things to eat and Quesadillas are a close second. So I had a bunch of stuff leftover from a few dinner nights and some friends were coming over to watch some movie on TV. and I said I'll make us dinner. Well I looked through the fridge and came up with left over flank steak, creamed spinach, shredded cheddar Salsa, Sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions and chives and large flour tortillas. In the cupboard I found refried beans and  Japanese fried onions you know the ones they put on Ramen. I knew I had the makings of Steak House Nachos!

These could not be simpler. Take the Sour cream and add a few dashes of hot sauce. Then you simply mix the beans ad some salsa. You heat that then take it off the heat. Also heat the creamed spinach and also let cool a bit.

Then take one tortilla at a time and start building. First you spread a little bean mixture then you spread a little spinach you add the other ingredients and fold the thing over into a flat taco. Then you cook it in a little vegetable oil till hot and melted. Let it sit a bit so it doesn't all slide out of the tortilla when you are cutting it. When cooled a bit cut it into sections. Place the sections on a baking sheet then repeat till you've used up all your ingredients. Reheat when ready to serve.

Garnish with the sour cream and the crispy onions and chopped chives. Eat!



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Piri Piri Chicken - Portuguese Chicken with a Spinach Sauce and Roasted Tomaotes



Piri Piri Chicken is a Portuguese Preparation for chicken that is mostly grilled out over a hot charcoal grill and is traditionally served with roasted potatoes. I first became familiar with this dish from a show I was watching on HBO in which one of the characters opens a restaurant in San Francisco and served Piri Piri Chicken from a recipe his father had used when was a boy and his dad had had a small take away shop.

This past week when contemplating what to do with a whole roaster I had purchased and needed to use I decided to try and use this bottle of piri piri Sauce made by Wildly Co. that was a Chritmas gift from a friend. So I researched a recipe and found one on Epicurious.com. I decided to adapt it to a roasted version of this bird and boy was I glad I did. I may never go back to the old way I made Roasted Chicken. Well that's till I decide I want to try something else!

I marinated the whole bird for a day and half then roasted it basting the bird with a glaze of more sauce and butter till the bird was a lovely color and the flavor was amazing when we tried it. So here's a little recipe for you. One thing to note the Piri Piri Chile Sauce you can buy is very hot. Even the medium version has quite a bit of heat so that's something to consider when buying the sauce. Enjoy!!
Piri Piri Roasted Whole Chicken with Spinach Sauce and Roasted tomatoes

Ingredients:

For Marinade

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
1 cup piri piri chile sauce
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 cup chopped Cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Couple of dashes of hot sauce if you want it hotter than your Piri Piri Sauce

Mix together and rub all over chicken inside and out and place the chicken in a marinating bag and leave in the fridge overnight turning every few hours.

Glaze

1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup piri piri chile sauce
1/4 cup chili sauce (Heinz style)
Dash or two of hot sauce (Tabasco or your favorite)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix in a pot on stove then let cool it should be thick to stick to the bird

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees

Remove chicken from the fridge and let sit out for about an hour
Remove form the marinade and discard marinade
Place chicken in a roasting pan or large skillet
Slather with some of the glaze
Roast for 50 mins till done
About 30 mins into the roast slather with more glaze till the 50 mins are up
Slather the chicken with remaining glaze and shut oven door and let sit for 10 mins
Remove from the oven and serve right way

For Spinach sauce

2 lbs. Frozen spinach (not chopped)
Thaw and squeeze out water
In a pot bring 1 cup of whole milk to a boil and then add 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Add 1 cup cream cheese at room temperature stir until melted and combined with the milk
Add the spinach and let simmer in the sauce for about 20 mins
Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed

Roasted Tomatoes

Place Roma Tomatoes into the oven topped with a little olive oil salt and pepper with the chicken when you put it in. Bake until done and juicy about 20-25 mins
Remove and cool

Serve it up in the skillet if you want as shown or you can put it on platters and bowls and serve to pass about the table. Enjoy Ya'll






Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Farratto" Ancient Roman Grains with BCT Toppings



Farro the grain of ancient Rome, the wheat of the Caesars. It been around and used in Italy forever. It's delicious and earthy and hearty and very tasty. And it can be prepared a variety of ways. I mean you can just boil it and then mix in whatever you would like. And there is a very popular recipe move happening in the food media in the last 5 years that uses Farro in the place of rice in making risotto. And why not it's delicious. Farrotto the non rice risotto.

Here I've taken a recipe from Nigella Lawson for mushroom farrotto and added a topping of fresh tomato, Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts as well as browned mushrooms and bacon. This recipe was inspired by a photo and post made by a chef I know from Facebook. So here is my wintry dish with a bit of fresh that makes this dish a great year round food you can make for your family and friends.

Here it is:

Vegetable Farrotto
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini
  • 1/2 cup recently boiled water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large leek (washed and trimmed), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 3/4 cups pearled farro (perlato)
  • 1/4 cup Marsala
  • 5 cups broth, vegetable, chicken, or porcini
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms
  • sliced leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups red and yellow grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup blanched small cauliflower florets also halved
  • 4 brussels sprouts blanched and sliced thin
  • 1 pint mushrooms sliced and browned fat drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped crisped browned bacon and cooled fat drained.  
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Preparation



1. Cover the dried porcini with 1/2 cup of recently boiled water, then fill the kettle and put it on the heat again if you are making up the broth with concentrate, cube, or powder. In a wide, heavy saucepan (that comes with a lid) add 2 tablespoons of the oil and the fine jade tangle of leek, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the leeks are softened.
2. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, then chop them and add them to the pan. Stir well, then add the farro and turn it gently but thoroughly in the pan. Tip in the Marsala and porcini-soaking water and let it bubble up.
3. Make up the broth as wished and add this to the farro pan, stir, bring to a boil, and then clamp on a lid, turn down the heat, and let it cook at a simmer for 30 minutes, until the farro is cooked and all the liquid absorbed.
4. Mix all your vegetables for your toppings except for the cooked mushrooms and bacon then right before serving mix quickly and then season with a bit of salt

5. While the farro is cooking, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium-sized frying pan and cook the sliced crimini mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften (they will first seem alarmingly dry) at which point add the thyme, grate in (or mince and add) the garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are juicy and soft. Remove from the heat if there is still time on the clock for the farro. Once the farro is cooked, take it off the heat, too, and add the cooked mushrooms. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan (they will melt in the heat of the farro) until the farro is creamy, then top with the vegetable topping and then sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lamb Shanks with Gremolata Winter Food with Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts




Lamb Shanks are a delicacy which is often forgotten about by home cooks. Not as common as other stewing meat options they are not to be missed. They were my choice this year for Christmas dinner replacing the rib roast we normally have and everyone agreed it was a good idea!

They need some time and attention and are not a really super meaty but they are very tasty and make a stunning visual impact on the table. In this recipe I paired them with simply pan fried or roasted Brussel sprouts.  Simply place the brussel sprouts cut in half and seasoning with salt pepper and garlic powder, face down in a oiled frying pan. Cook over med heat till browned and caramelized. They will still have a little crunch.

The lamb shanks are stewed then the sauce is reduced and thickened. The shanks are placed back in the pot and when ready to serve a parsley and lemon zest gremolata is sprinkled over the shanks giving some citrus and herbal freshness to the dish and cutting the rich sauce.

Make these while the weather still makes you crave some rich comforting food to fill your belly and warm up your spirits.

Lamb Shanks with Gremolata

4 to 6 shanks from your butcher
1 cup each of finely chopped onion, celery and carrots
1 cup red wine
3-4 cups of beef broth just till the shanks are almost completly covered
1 Tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped sage leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2
10 cloves garlic whole
2 bay leaves
1 small can tomato paste
3 Tablespoons of flour
Zest of one lemon
3/4 cup coarsely chopped parley leaves
Sea Salt

Method:

Place some oil in a large heavy bottomed stew pot and bring the temperature up. Salt and pepper the shanks well and then brown all over in the oil. You might have to do this in batches.

Remove from the pot and add a bit more oil and then the vegetables. Cook them stirring constantly till soft but not browned. With the flat of your knife smash the garlic till it cracks open then add whole chunks into the pot. Cook for about 2 or 3 mins. or until the garlic blooms. Add the spices and herbs and stir a minute or so.

Add the wine and the tomato paste and stir is up till the tomato paste is disolved. Now add the shanks back to the pot and nestle in the vegetables,  then add the stock just till it almost completely covers the meat.

Cook over medium heat at a slow simmer for about 1 and half to 2 hours. When the meat is tender remove from the sauce carefully. Fish out the bay leaves and then bring to a boil till reduced by a third. Combine the flour and remaining stock or some water in a small bowl and stir till smooth. Slowly stir into the sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened. Place the meat back in the pot and gently rewarm the meat till ready to serve. Place on a platter or on plates and sprinkle with the parsley and lemon rind and then season with sea salt.










  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The California Dreaming Salad - Holiday Eats redone at home



I read someone recently write that they could not seem to eat a salad that did not have as many calories and as much fat as a Cheeseburger and thus salads were never really a healthy alternative for them. This seems to be my burden as well. Try as I might I have to make things taste good or I just don't like them.

Now that's not to say I haven't eaten my fair share of awfully healthy meals when trying to improve my diet or lose weight in the past. But I have come to a place in my life where life itself seems a little more fleeting in the wake of my brothers illness and all. In fact, right before this happened to him, we were having a discussion about how one really needs to enjoy one's time here. Because let's face it, we never know when we will no longer have the chance to enjoy life and the ones we love.

As such and in that vein I offer up to you a recipe to remake maybe my favorite restaurant entree salad of all time. I mean, I love a Brown Derby Cobb Salad, and to say that the Hillstone Thai Steak and Noodle Salad would not also find itself at the top of that list would be silly (See Food and Wine Magazine article online for the restaurant's own recipe printed up in an article celebrating my favorite restaurant chain and favorite go to eatery in NYC.)

But the California Dreaming Salad stands on it's own as a miracle in modern American restaurant recipes. It's beautiful and it's served with a freshly baked croissant slathered with honey butter. It's dressed with a hot sweet and sour bacon dressing and topped with everything an old fashioned chef's salad should be. It is an a word perfection. Doubt it? Visit any California Dreaming restaurant and try this salad and write me back it it isn't De#uckingliscious! Sorry about the swearing but I am that passionate about this salad.

Of course you don't have to travel from where ever you are to make this salad because I am about to give you the golden ticket to make this on your own. Now I've done my research and I have supposedly gotten all the scoop on the ingredients. If I'm wrong please let me know but don't write nasty things about my research and how I don't know what I'm talking about. Just make the salad and then shut your mouth cause, it's that good! Try this and be the hero. Feed your loved ones and friends some salad tonight. You can feel "kinda" good about it. But they will just love it. I promise.

The California Dreaming Salad- A T&T Home Version
(makes 4 servings of entree sized salads)

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce shredded
1/2 head of Romaine chopped
1/2 small red onion finely diced
3 eggs boiled and finely chopped
12 oz. of Armour 1877 Ham cubed and then chopped in the food processor to shred
12 oz Smithfield Smoked Turkey chopped into thin thin strips
8 oz of Armour Smoked Bacon cooked crisp and finely chopped (Grease held in a dish)
2 Medium tomatoes seeded and diced
6 oz of finely shredded cheddar cheese

Frozen Croissants baked and slathered with honey butter.

Hot Bacon Dressing (This is the good stuff, but it's not necessarily good for you...but eh..life's short)

1/2 cup warmed bacon drippings
1 large or two small shallots very finely minced
3/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon or brown mustard
1 tablespoon mayo
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix everything really well except the bacon drippings
The right before serving mix together and dress salads

To make the salad

Dress greens with dressing till wet. Portion out to into 4 bowls.  (Put extra dressing in a bowl on the side)

Layer on the toppings artistically starting with the cheese or mix and mound on the top leaving a few pieces to use as garnish, like tomato pieces and ham and maybe some egg.

Serve this salad with the croissants. Enjoy!!






Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Fondue, it's a Retro-Family thing



Fondue, it's a very Winter Holiday, Ski Lodge, Group Meal kinda thing. I think when we think of fondue generally nowadays it's got a sort of "Retro" feel to it. 

It's a dish I first really experienced at the homes of family friends while growing up. It was one of those dishes that people would make for open house parties in the 70's and 80's when large groups of friends from work or the neighborhood would pass by for a drink, a nosh, and a chat.  Fondue was simple because it could be prepared and then placed in a big fondue pot or crock pot and left warming for guests to help themselves. As a kid I loved it because it was unlimited melted cheese goodness on crusty bread cubes. I mean what's better?

My first experience with real Swiss Fondue as an adult came through the invitation to dinner at a Swiss family's house in the town where I was working. The wonderful thing about Fondue in Switzerland is has none of the intimate romantic notions that surround it here in the US. Somehow,  here in the states fondue and fondue restaurants created the cache for Fondue as a "lovers mealtime". It was proffered in restaurants and nightclubs as  a sexy way for two people to share a meal. 

Not so in the land where cheese was born. It is a communal meal meant for simply for sharing and creating yummy convivial times with family and friends. The rules traditionally are simple, if the lady drops the bread in she had to wash the pot which she used to prepared the fondue, if the gentleman drops the bread in he has to wash the pot and kiss the lady! Kinda fun and I guess somewhat romantic but when it's a family around the table it's just fun good eats and if Mama doesn't have to do dishes and gets a kiss out of it so much the better.

So Fondue, is according to Wikipedia SwissFrench, and Italian dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s but its origins stem from an area that covers Switzerland, France (Rhone Alps) and Italy (Piedmont and Aosta valley).

Since the 1950s, the name "fondue" has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of hot liquid: chocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.
Konrad Egli of the Chalet Swiss Restaurant is credited with introducing it as a mainstay in New York in the 1950's. He also is credited with the introduction of beef Fondue at Chalet Swiss and the  invention of chocolate Fondue which made it's appearance in the 1960's. 

Throughout the 50's 60's and 70's home cooks entertained with Fondue pots and other cookware that could make them the champions of table side cooking for their dining guests. Such meals like the famous "Steak Diane" made the guests feel like they were part of the "action" and certainly Fondue was one of those meals. 



So here is a simple Swiss recipe I have from my host family in Switzerland I have carried around all these years. As you entertain this holiday season think about Fondue as a wonderful way to share a meal with friends and loved ones. 

Easy and Authentic Swiss Fondue (serves 2 to 4)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Emmentaler cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Gruyère cheese
  • 4 triangles double cream (laughing cow) cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy (Kirsch)
  • Cubed French bread, ham and vegetables 
Method:

  1. Rub garlic clove into the inside of the fondue pot. Bring wine and lemon juice to a low boil in a heavy saucepan; add cheeses, pepper, and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melts.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch and cherry brandy. Stir mixture into cheese; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a fondue pot, and keep warm. Serve with cubed bread, cubed ham, raw mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and steamed brussel sprout halves.
  3. Enjoy Ya'll!!