Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas - Thanksgiving Gone South of the Border

So last night two friends came over and brought with them the fixings for Margaritas! So I accommodated them by making my Guacamole and some Turkey Red Sauce Enchiladas. They were very happy and we all found it a fair trade!

Now some people have looked at my winter white enchilada post and have let me know that they think they are really good. In fact I have had at least two people I know of make them and with great success. That recipe came originally from a boy in the cast of one of the shows I did in Wisconsin. It was when I discovered that American casserole style enchiladas are really what I love.

Now enchiladas fall into 3 categories and people fall into three camps about them. First camp is red or green. In other words is your sauce base red or green chilli?  The second camp is corn or flour or what type of tortillas do you use. The last is do you include dairy additions beyond the shredded cheese or none at all. Now I have made and had all of these different types. I tend to go for a red enchilda with maybe a suiza or "swiss" style when I eat out at a restaurant. Mostly thats because I find that alot of enchiladas in restaurants are too dry and the "swiss" or "Suiza" element helps with that. Oh, "Suiza" means that there is a sour cream sauce in addition to the red sauce base.

So my enchilada making experience began in the kitchen of our house in Reston, Virginia when my father's job took us north for a few years. Old El Paso had just come out in the grocery stores in force nationally and my Mom decided to give making Mexican at home a try. We often ate in the kitchen around the breakfast table on Friday nights. It was a family fun night where the foods were likely to be some form of ethnic food ( our attempt at branching out) and the conversation ran the gamut of whatever was happening in our worlds.

Since money was tight sometimes growing up ( navy Family) my Mother and Grandmother would find foods that would be entertaining as well as tasty and filling. My brother and I had taken quite a liking to mexican foods and they began looking at ways to make them at home. We started with tacos and continued with tostadas and burritos but the real challenge was to make really good enchiladas at home. We would buy a lot of cans of enchilada sauce and refried beans and start our meal from there. Mostly these were beef or chicken dishes sauced and cheesy  and while they were really good they mostly provided a lot of fun in both the making and the eating departments.

As my culinary horizons widened over time I became aware that while ground beef and chicken was fun, there were other even dare I say, other options, that could satisfy even the most hard core beefy meaty cheesy savory seeker! So I developed a recipe for enchiladas that brought in major savory action but left out the beef. Believe me these are so "meaty" the way they come out you won't miss the beef.

Turkey Enchiladas in a Red Sauce Swiss Style


2 cups chopped turkey meat (leftovers)
1 package Flour Tortillas ( 16 count)
1 medium onion
2 cups sour cream ( extra for garnish)
2 cup yellow cheddar cheese grated
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 cup salsa
1 tablespoon diced pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
2 cans red enchilada sauce
1 small can sliced black California olives
1 small bunch sliced scallions ( 1/2 reserved for garnish)
1 small tomato diced
1 head of iceberg lettuce finely shredded


In a bowl mix together 1 cup cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream with turkey, spices salsa, peppers, and 1/2 can red sauce

Pour 1/2 can of the red sauce into the bottom of a baking dish spread out

Warm the Tortillas in a microwave to make them bendable

Fill each with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mix till full but still rollable

Place them tightly into the baking dish in a row the last two may have to be tucked on the side

Pour the remaining sauce over the top and let fill in the pan

Spread 1 cup sour cream over the top

Top with cheddar, 1/2 of the black olives and some scallions

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 mins till top is starting to brown nicely.

Serve on a plate and garnish with lettuce tomato black olives and scallions. Place sour cream in a squeeze bottle and pipe all over the dish. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Korean Chicken Fried Rice - The best fried rice I have ever made

Korean Food is hot, and I don't just mean spicy!

These days Korean food is coming into it's own as a major player in the Asian food arena. It's not only pretty new to most Americans but also strangely familiar. One of the reasons for this is that Koreans eat a lot of meat. Unlike Japan which has a strong association with the sea, Korea has a strong agricultural base in animal husbandry which finds root in it's cuisine as well.

Also the most well known Korean foods in this country are well...pretty all American. Foods like fried chicken, beef BBQ, cabbage dishes, and pickled dishes. All slightly off from the typical American versions but none the less familiar. I mean no one would confuse spicy Kim Chee with Spicy hot pickles, but they are somewhat akin. Korean Fried chicken is double fried for crunch and then sauced with spicy gochujang sauce but they are similar in many ways to our everyday interchange with the Buffalo chicken wing.

So let's talk fried rice. I mean it's sometimes amazing and it's sometimes kinda dull. I mean your local chinese place either hits it out of the park on this or like most in my experience hits it into the rough. Even my favorite fried rices like the ones you get at Japanese Steak houses are good but somehow need a little kick from added those sauces they give you on the side. Why? Because I find fried rice is often just dry.

Now I have had some amazingly good homemade fried rice for example at my friend George's house. But he's Chinese and his dad was a chef so if better be good. But in general I am more of a risotto guy than a fried rice guy. I like succulent saucy gooey yummy stuff. So that's why this fried rice is so darn good. It's the secret Korean Sauce recipe that makes it.

This is a great way to use up leftover chinese chicken or even buy frozen General Tso's chicken in a bag from the store and cook and chop it up. I'll give you a recipe for my homemade version. You could also use just plain cooked chicken thighs chopped up but it's not as good. In any event youll need about a pound of chicken.

So give this a try at home. Serve it up with some cucumber sesame salad and some Kim Chee on the side.

Korean Chicken Fried Rice:

Make 5 cups cooked white rice and let sit in the fridge for a day

Forrest's Wok Fried Chicken and Asian Sauce: 

(or use General Tso's either leftovers or from the grocery prepared as on package and cooled and chopped, or just cooked chopped chicken)

1 pound boneless chicken thighs cut up into 1/2 inch pieces
peanut oil
Dust the chicken pieces in the cornstarch and fry till almost done remove from wok and hold on the side.
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 teaspoons peanut, vegetable, or canola oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about one 1-inch piece)
2 teaspoons minced scallion bottoms (about 1 scallion), plus 6 to 8 scallions, white parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
8 small dried red Chinese or Arbol chilies (see note above)

For the Sauce: 

Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, chicken stock, sugar, sesame seed oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. Set aside. Combine oil, garlic, ginger, minced scallions, and red chilies in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add in cornstarch mixture and cook till thick then add the chicken and coat stir fry till sticky and done. Hold on the side in a bowl and cool, then rough chop the chicken into small pieces

Wipe out the wok and get it very hot to fry the rice

To make the Fried Rice:

4 Tablespoons of butter to the wok
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of minced ginger
Add 3/4 cup plus extra if desired Red Korean Super Sauce
1/2 pound Brocolli rough chopped
1 medium onion finely diced
1/2 cup chopped Scallions (2 Tablespoon reserved for garnish)
2 Thai chilis thinly sliced 


Heat Wok
Add two tablespoons butter, melt
Add garlic
Cook till garlic blooms about 1 minute
Add ginger then add onion and cook stiring constantly till soft 
Add brocolli
Add the rest of the butter then the rice and stir till the rice is coated with the butter and veggies
Add 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Let rice cook getting crusty and golden and then stir to keep it from sticking
Repeat this till rice is crunchy and veggies soft
Add the chicken
Add the Korean Sauce
Stir fry till all combined and heated through
Add more sauce if too dry for your taste
Serve hot.

Red Korean Super Sauce (This stuff is no joke)

It stays good for months in the fridge

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups Mirin 
1/2 cup gochujong 
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup pureed ginger
1/8 cup garlic puree

Puree all this together in a blender then bring to simmer in a pot till sugar is melted
Store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Braised Beef Brisket in Spiced Wine Marinade and Cauliflower Steak

This is a very Scandinavian take on a classic American dish, pot roast or brisket. Normally cooked in a wine or tomato based broth and served with mashed potatoes this recipe substitutes the regular wine for Glogg or Scandinavian style mulled wine and cauliflower for the potatoes. It's a low carb and simply delicious way to change up what you normally associate with this particular cooking method.

The marinade is used as the cooking liquid and then reduced to form a sweet and sticky sauce which really helps to cut through the richness of the meat and the hearty earthy flavor of the cauliflower.

Simple herbs and an absence of garlic in this dish make for a subtle and muted flavor but the hints of spice from the wine really help to give it a familiar yet different taste. The pickled vegetable garnish helps to wake up the dish and adds pepper and acid.

Beef Brisket in Spiced Wine and Cauliflower Steaks

3 cups of Glogg wine
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
3.5 to 4 pounds of beef brisket or ox cheek
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 large onions peeled and cut into quarters and then again into halves to make chunks
1 large head Cauliflower
3 tablespoons salted butter
Pickled cauliflower or chopped cornichons (small french pickles) for garnish

Place the brisket in a bag pour in wine and strip the thyme leaves off and put then in with the beef. Close the bag and rub the meat with the wine and thyme let sit overnight in the refrigerator
Next day remove and reserve the wine.
Season the beef well with salt and pepper and sear the beef on all sides making sure you get it nice and brown
Place the onions on the bottom of a baking dish and place the brisket fat cap up and pour the marinade over the beef.
Place in a roasting pot and cover tightly with foil.
Bake at 350 for 3 to 3 1/2 hours checking after two hours and if too dry add 10 oz of water
In the meantime place a whole head of cauliflower in a pot with a small amount of boiling water and steam till almost soft. Keep adding water if it boils off.
Cool and slice into 4 steaks fry the steaks in 2 Tablespoons of the butter before serving and reserve in the oven to keep warm.
Remove the beef from the roasting liquid and drain fat. Bring to a boil and then simmer till reduced by 2/3's then stir in 1 Tablespoon of butter.
Taste and season if necessary.
To serve shred the beef into hunks and serve on top of a cauliflower steak with some sauce under it on the plate as a base. if desire garnish with thin slices of picked cauliflower of chop up some cornichons and sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Scallops, Porridge and Radish

This dish is a good transitional dish from the generally hot weather dishes of Summer to the cooler and more satisfying warming dishes of the fall. I also love that these ingredients while simple are surprisingly complex and delicious together.

Scallops are quite possibly my favorite seafood. They were the favorite of mine growing up and I am always seeking out ideas to prepare them in a variety of ways.

Here we use salty ham and shallots and a touch of thai chillies to enhance the earthy flavors of the rolled spelt flakes. Crunch and freshness comes through from the radish and the scallops fried in butter are a wonderful accompaniment to the overall dish.

Make this as the cooler evenings start to creep into the months ahead and you want something satisfying but still a reminder of the memories of warm Summer seaside nights. Cause who couldn't use a few of those? Right?

Scallops, Porridge and Radish

4 Tablespoons olive oil
6 oz prosciutto or speck or country ham thinly chopped
1 large shallot very finely chopped
1 thai chili very finely chopped and seeds removed
4 cups fish stock (commercially sold is fine)
1 cup rolled spelt flecks
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
12 large scallops
1 1/2 Tablespoon chopped dill
4 radishes julienned and kept in cold water
Some flaky sea salt to finish the dish.

In a pot bring the fish stock to a boil and add the spelt
Cook until it becomes a wet thick porridge consistency
Stir in the vinegar and adjust the seasoning add salt and pepper to taste
In a frying pan add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the shallots till soft add the chilies and cook till you smell the heat coming off of them. Place in a bowl hold.
Pour the remaining oil in a pan and fry the ham till crisp. Drain and reserve.
Clean the pan and melt the butter and cook the scallops till fried on both sides and golden about 3-4 minutes a side. Hold warm
To assemble add the shallots and chili and ham and dill to the porridge and stir well to combine.
Place in the bottom of a serving bowl top with the scallops and garnish with the radish.
Finish with so.e flaky sea salt.
Serve right away.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tomato and Olive Salad with Ricotta and Pesto in Roasted Red Peppers

Again for summer eating outdoors season comes this recipe from Food and Wine magazine. Now I am not one to normally post recipes out of cooking magazines but I saw these in an article and thought that for a no carb and gluten free recipe it sounded really very tasty.

So I made it and it was good. However, I found the peppers on their own a little under dressed and underwhelming. So the second time I made these I dressed the peppers, tomatoes and olives with a basil based vinaigrette first and that helped to perk them up and amp up the luxe taste of this dish. We learned all about how a dressing can make everything better with the "Crack Dressing recipe"

They could not be simpler to make. You roast red pepper halves till softish. Then make a tomato and olive salad that you dress heavily with a simple oil and vinaigrette made from olive oil, dried basil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. This you spoon into cooled red peppers and top with fresh ricotta cheese and pesto that I actually purchased in the pasta case of my store cause it was easier than buying everything to make pesto. Well and I was in a hurry. Just like a lot of you guys out there.

So here's what you need to make these:

3 good sized red peppers rubbed with a little olive oil and placed in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until roasted and soft but not overdone. You need the peppers to still hold their shape.
16-18 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
10-12 Kalamata olives sliced in half
1/2 tsp dried basil mixed with about 4 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard and some salt and pepper to taste. Then dress the tomatoes and olives with this.
Then once peppers come out of the oven and cool, divide the salad amongst the peppers
Spoon and big dollop of the ricotta cheese on and dress with pesto to taste.

That's it. So easy and it's very impressive. You'll seem very fancy if you serve these which is why I did it. Cause who wants a plain Jane dinner right.

Enjoy making these for your family and friends and enjoy a little vegetable magic with your summer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Artichoke Squash Relish and Walnut Tomato Pesto Sauce

OK it's Summer Grilling and chilling time. I have a recipe for you that will make you very fancy the next time you entertain or just want to get dinner onto the table for your family.

Summer time is a time for grilling and relaxing and using the vegetables that are around. Yellow squash is one of my favorites and it can really add color and flavor.

The nice thing about this meal is it can be served room temperature as well as warm. You also have the choice of roasting the chicken in the oven if you don't want to make it on the grill so it's a dish that could be changed up with various seasonal ingredients and customized all year long.

Here we go. Chicken thighs, yes thighs, better taste and so much more forgiving than their white meat counterparts. And they still are cheaper.

Next vegetables are on the order. Here we are using frozen artichoke hearts and fresh yellow squash cut up into triangles. These were roasted and then used to top the dish. During the year you could use any vegetables mushrooms, brussel spouts or pearl onions and peas. Vary it up.

Then there's the base. Roasted Tomato Walnut pesto sauce. This is the stuff. Walnuts, basil, cheese, tomatoes garlic, and olive oil. Whipped into a fantastic pesto it really makes the flavor of this dish over the top.

Tomato and Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 pint summer fresh grape tomatoes
1 cup bunch of fresh basil
1 cup of oven roasted walnuts
3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
Italian Herb salt
Good quality Olive Oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place tomatoes on a baking tray toss with olive oil and Italian herb salt and roast for 30 mins in a 350 degree oven,
Place cheese, the tomatoes, walnuts,  basil leaves, two big shakes of worcestershire, garlic, and lemon juice in a small food processor and process adding oil slowly about 1/2 cup till a thick paste forms, add water a bit at a time till the sauce is loose and spoonable.  Taste and add salt till it's nicely salted.


12 Chicken thighs

Place chicken in a zip lock bag and add olive oil Italian herbs salt and lemon pepper. Allow to marinate about 3 to 4 hours.

Place on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 mins or grill till done,


Take vegetables of your choice. Here I used 1 bag of frozen artichokes and 2 small yellow squash chopped into wedges. one small red onion chopped into wedges. Toss with olive oil and
Italian season salt and roast for 350 till soft and caramelized. Remove from oven toss with chives


Spoon the pesto onto the bottom of a large serving platter. Shingle chicken onto the platter on top of the sauce. Mound vegetables over the chicken and dress with the parsley.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Buccatini With Walnut Tomato Pesto, Blistered Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Summer Pastas are a really joy to eat. They are lighter than their Winter counterparts and given the gorgeous produce available at this time of year any number of ingredients can be pulled into the mix.

This dish is a riff on a pasta dish which is well known in Italy.  It relies on very traditional flavors mixed in with the richness of nuts, cheese and oil. Walnut pesto is a rich different sauce compared to regular pesto which is made with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic and olive oil.

My walnut pesto includes California black walnuts instead of pine nuts and oven roasted grape tomatoes in addition to a smaller amount of basil, Parmesan and olive oil.

The pasta is tossed right into the sauce along with oven roasted grape tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. and served up hot and fresh. It's actually kind of a decadent taste treat with a creamy depth of flavor yet including no dairy at all. I crave this pasta now that I've made it. It's that good.

So if you like pesto and walnuts give this a try. You won't be sorry.

Buccatini With Walnut Tomato Pesto, Blistered Tomatoes and Fresh Basil
Serves 6  

1 package Buccatini pasta
2 pints summer fresh grape tomatoes
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1 cup of oven roasted walnuts
3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
20 picked basil leaves
Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
Italian Herb salt
Good quality Olive Oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
More basil leaves picked for the dish
cold water
Parmesan for garnish

Place tomatoes on a baking tray toss with olive oil and Italian herb salt and roast for 30 mins in a 350 degree oven,
Place cheese, 1/2 of the tomatoes, walnuts, 20 basil leaves, two big shakes of worcestershire, garlic, and lemon juice in a small food processor and process adding oil slowly about 1/2 cup till a thick paste forms, add water a bit at a time till the sauce is loose and spoonable.  Taste and add salt till it's almost too salted. On the pasta it won't taste so salty.
Cook pasta 7 mins till just al dente reserve a cup of pasta water
Toss with the sauce in a large bowl adding enough pasta water to make sure the sauce coats the pasta and is creamy.
Divide between 6 bowls and top with the remaining tomatoes and some basil leaves
Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately