Friday, May 8, 2015

A Frenchman and a Mexican walked into a bar.....Creamed Spinach and White Queso Nachos

So it was just Cinco De Mayo and every flipping food blogger is writing up and publishing a recipe about a Mexican dish that will be the new addition to your party table. So that is exactly what this post would have been if I had gotten to it on time. However, I did not so here it is a little late.

So these nachos are really from a restaurant in South Carolina called California Dreaming. At least the idea is. They are the least truly Mexican nacho recipe possible. But they are really dang tasty. So California Dreaming made these nachos pretty well but I will say they were a little on the bland side. So I have taken the idea and souped it up for a new and better Nacho experience.

My idea of the perfect nacho is that there is flavor from the cheese and flavor from the toppings. And somehow if done right they become more than the some of their parts. I also think there should be both cheese sauce and shredded cheese. And as for toppings they should be colorful and fun.

So this recipe uses a queso sauce as well as a creamed spinach sauce shredded jack and romano cheeses and jalapenos, white onion, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, california black olives. Sour cream and Salsa are served on the side. It's kind of amazing. You should try these. Enjoy Ya'll!

Creamed Spinach and White Queso Nachos

1 Bag good quality nacho corn chips ( Chains like Chipotle sell fresh chips by the bag)
Creamed spinach Sauce ( see recipe)
White queso sauce ( see recipe )
1/2 cup grated white cheddar or jack
1/4 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons red onion diced
handful chopped cilantro
4 chopped chopped scallions
1/4 cup canned black olives
Sour Cream
Salsa Fresco

For the spinach ( this makes extra creamed spinach for leftovers)

Creamed Spinach Sauce


1 quart heavy cream
4 ounces of crushed garlic
1 pound frozen spinach thawed and drained really well
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
A pinch or two of nutmeg
A splash of sherry vinegar
2 ounces of butter


Bring the cream to a simmer in a sauce pan over low to medium heat then add the garlic
Reduce cream by half.
Add the spinach, salt and pepper
Heat for approximately 5 mins or so add the butter and the vinegar
Transfer to a blender and blend till smooth
Hold warm

Homemade White Queso Dip


1/2 pound white american cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 4oz can of green chilies
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Place the cheese the milk and the butter in a sauce pan over low heat and cook slowly till melted together stirring frequently to combine
Add in the green chilies, cumin, garlic powder and pepper
Add salt to taste
If it's too thick add a little more milk
Hold warm till serving

To Prepare Nachos

Heat spinach and Queso Sauce separately

On a large platter spread some chips on the bottom then pour some queso over them and spinkle some cheese and olives and scallions over them
repeat layers two more times
Place in oven for till cheese starts to melt
Remove from oven pour some spinach sauce over them
Top with remaining cheese
Broil till the cheese is browned
Remove form the oven and top with remaining toppings
Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Carbonara the Pasta Guilt Left Behind

I can't think of a pasta dish that embodies the essence of round luscious meaty savory goodness more than this pasta dish.  It's a rich dish to be sure and made the traditional way it's probably the epitome of Italian edible decadence. The dish is Roman and was originally what the cooks from the restaurants would make for themselves late night after work and a couple of rounds of wine. An absolute play on the breakfast for dinner theme.

I first had carbonara when I went to Switzerland. It was prepared by one of the local ladies I met there. She was from the Italian part of Switzerland, Tessin. A small but beautiful area comprised mostly of mountain bound lakes and towns bordering Italy proper. The regional dialect there is Italian and the food stems also from the boot of Italy lying just below.

The version she made was a traditional one in which egg yolks are mixed with hot water to keep them from scrambling then tossed with hot pasta, bacon, loads of pecorino romano cheese and finished with a heavy dose of ground black pepper. It's delicious.

The second opportunity I had to try carbonara was at the Magic Pan a restaurant that I worked for during college. They made it in a very American manner using cream instead of egg and adding sauteed onions and mushrooms and some green peas along with the bacon. It actually was more delicious. That's right forgive me my Italian friends but it was.

I have over the years adapted the original Pan recipe to include egg yolks. It's rich it's decadent and it's so good you'll find that no amount of guilt will stop you from wanting to consume the whole plate. So just enjoy and stop feeling badly about eating rich things. If you eat them on occasion there's nothing wrong with it. After all if one is to feel guilty about something they might as well have enjoyed it!

Fettucini Carbonara ala Forrest


4 1/2 ounce Bacon Drippings 
8 tablespoons Mushrooms, quartered/halves
8 tablespoons Sautéed Onions
 8 tablespoons Precooked bacon, 1⁄2" pcs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Chopped
8 Tablespoons Parmesan/Romano Cheese mix
10oz  Whipping Cream, un-whipped
3 egg yolks 
16 oz Fettuccini, cooked 
Salt to taste
loads of Black Pepper freshly ground


In a sauté pan add the onions, mushrooms, bacon pieces, and cheese mix in a hot pan with the bacon drippings. Heat for several minutes. 
In another pot heat cream
In a bowl slowly add 1/4 cup of cream to the egg yolks and gently mix.
Add the cream and fettuccini and blend well with the other ingredients. 
Heat for several minutes.
Add egg mixture
Add chives
Do not allow the cream to cook too hard or hot or to evaporate—only heat the ingredients thoroughly. Pour the fettuccini onto a heated large oval platter. 
Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and serve.