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SMOKED WHITEFISH SALAD

What did a girl from Michigan, with family in the Upper Peninsula, have in common with a guy who grew up on Long Island in a mostly Jewish community? Well…smoked whitefish, for one thing!

Growing up in NY, I was introduced to smoked whitefish, herring, and lox at an amazing deli just down the road from my parents’ house. My wife’s family from Michigan, meanwhile, caught the whitefish, herring and salmon and smoked it themselves.

Now we share our mutual love of smoked fish at home in Rhode Island. My Yooper father-in-law showed me how to properly remove the meat cleanly from the smoked whitefish then I took his recipe for smoked whitefish salad and tweaked it.

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

Ingredients:

 

1/2 whole smoked whitefish, meat removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

 

Remove the meat from the smoked whitefish carefully, making sure all the small bones have been removed. Doublecheck to make sure you’ve done this really well. Place all the white fish meat in a bowl.

Combine all other ingredients with the fish thoroughly using a fork. Serve with crackers, or my favorite: a toasted everything bagel from New York!
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Here’s a shot of the real deal straight out of the smoker, at a fish store in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on the way to the in-laws’ house in the Upper Peninsula…
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PORTUGUESE KALE SOUP

My pal, Paula, has a great Portuguese soup recipe that has been passed down from her Mom. Her Mom even adds chicken feet to the stock, which Paula chooses to leave out. Like most Portuguese soup recipes I’ve seen, there’s a ton of carbs: often potatoes with pasta with a lot of beans. As someone that tries to cut their carb intake, I make my soup with a lot less of that stuff.

Here’s Paula’s recipe…

Paula’s Portuguese Soup

Ingredients:

3 cans garbanzo beans

2 cans white cannellini beans

1 can pink beans

1 fennel bulb

Large bunch of kale

5-6 potatoes

1 cabbage

2 sticks hot chourico

Beef ribs

1 cup dry macaroni (elbows)

Red crushed pepper wet-optional

Drain and puree  3 cans of garbanzo beans in food processor .  Put puree in large pot with about  a gallon of water.  Chop chourico , and add it to the puree along with the ribs. Boil for 20 minutes.  Chop fennel bulb in food processor , chop cabbage ( 2 inch squares).  Add fennel and cabbage to soup and boil  for 30 minutes.  Add  chopped kale , boil for 30 minutes. Add cubed potatoes and before the potatoes are done, add the remaining drained cans of beans. Add macaroni and cook for a short time at the end.

My version of the classic Portuguese kale soup.

My version of the classic Portuguese kale soup.

Here’s my version: carb-friendly, but still packs a lot of flavor.

Ingredients:

4 cups home-made chicken or beef stock

4 cups water

1 cup lentils, rinsed in cold water

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, through a press

1 lb chourico, peeled and chopped into small cubes (I use the mild stuff: Mello’s, out of Fall River, Mass.)

1 large bunch organic kale

salt and pepper

Add the stock and water to a large pot. Heat until boiling. Add the lentils.

In a saucepan with a little olive oil, saute the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic for a few minutes. Add the chopped chourico and saute a few minutes more. Add the contents of the saute pan in the pot.

Wash and de-stem the kale, tearing the leaves into smaller pieces. Add the leaves to the pot and stir. Discard the stems.

Cook the soup until the lentils are al dente. Taste and season for salt and pepper before serving.

THE BEST BEEF JERKY IS HOME MADE

Like hot dogs and Slim Jims, jerky is one of those “mystery meats” we love but don’t really know how it’s made or what part of the animal it comes from.
Really excellent beef jerky is a rare treat, and once you have it, you will never go back to that rancid, preservative-filled dog meat you find in a bag at the supermarket. And the best part is: it’s easy to make.
Shop around for a really nice slab of London broil or similar cut. You don’t need to buy an expensive piece of grass-fed beef, but the better the meat, the better the jerky. Remove all the gristle and fat that may be on the meat and then slice it against the grain and on a diagonal, into 1/4″ thick slices. Toss all the meat in a Ziploc bag. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is make the marinade, marinate the beef overnight, and then dry it the next day. Your final product will be a flavorful beef jerky that is so good, you’ll find it very hard to stop eating it…or to share it.
If you use gluten-free soy sauce and teriyaki sauce (La Choy is the brand I use, found in any supermarket), this recipe can be considered gluten-free. Be careful: regular soy sauce, and even some tamari sauces, have wheat in them. Read the label!
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Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh minced peeled ginger
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 cup soy sauce
8 lbs raw, lean beef, like London broil, cut into 1/4″ thick diagonal slices, against the grain of the meat
Mix all ingredients except meat in a large bowl. Place meat in a large Ziploc bag, pour marinade inside, seal, and refrigerate overnight. Squish the bag around once in a while, to make sure all meat surfaces make contact with the marinade. Keep the bag in a bowl to prevent any accidental spillage in your fridge!
The next day, pour off the marinade and discard. Using a food dehydrator or simply an oven at 140 degrees, dry the meat by laying strips on cookie sheets in a single layer. Drying could take several hours to half a day, depending on how dry and chewy you like your jerky.
This recipe makes a lot of jerky, but it stores really well in the freezer. I put small amounts into individual freezer bags, then place all of them in one large freezer bag. Thaw as needed.
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ASIAN SHRIMP WITH SWEET AND SPICY GRAPEFRUIT SAUCE

Shrimp with an orange sauce is something you see on every Chinese restaurant menu. I didn’t have oranges, but wanted a citrus kick to my sweet and spicy sauce. I went with grapefruit and I never looked back!

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Ingredients:

 

For the rice:

1 cup basmati rice (I use Texmati brown rice)

2 cups seafood stock (I use homemade shrimp and fish stock)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 scallions, finely chopped

splash of peanut oil

 

For the veggies:

1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped

1 lb fresh green beans, washed and cut into 1/4′ pieces

1 teaspoon soy sauce

splash of peanut oil

 

For the shrimp:

2 dozen thawed, peeled and deveined wild caught USA shrimp

2 tablespoons spicy Schezuan sauce

3 tablespoons hoysin sauce

juice and zest of 1 grapefruit

splash of peanut oil

 

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. I substituted seafood stock for water for flavor. Once cooked, toss in the chopped scallions. Set aside.

Add peanut oil to a hot pan and saute the onions until translucent. Add green beans  and cook until al dente. Add the soy sauce, stir, and then pour the contents of the pan into the rice. Mix well.

Using the same pan, add a little more peanut oil and sear the shrimp on both sides. Do not overcook! Push the shrimp to the sides of the pan so that a circle remains in the middle. Add the Schezuan sauce and hoysin sauce and stir them together, then blending in the shrimp until the shrimp are covered with the sauce. Add the grapefruit zest and juice and stir until everything is combined and the sauce has thickened just a bit.

Pour the contents of the pan into the rice mix and combine. Add more soy sauce to the rice, to taste.

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HOLIDAY BRISKET

This is my friend, Lori’s, recipe…and it rocks! It takes a couple of days to cook, and it’s worth it. image

I’ve had barbecued brisket, corned beef and pastrami. But this is the quintessential comfort food version that brings her family home for the holidays.

 

Ingredients:

1 beef brisket, 5 to 7 lbs.

salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 bottle (12 oz.) Heinz chili sauce

1 cup water

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 packet Lipton onion soup mix

 

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Rub brisket with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Place fat side up in a pan.

In a bowl, combine onion, celery, chili sauce, water, parsley, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and soup mix. Pour over meat. Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil to make a tight seal. Cook for 3 hours. (This is the first cook!)

After 3 hours, remove the pan from the oven (leave foil on) and let the meat cool to room temp, then place in fridge. Skim off the fat when the meat has chilled.

While the meat is cool, slice it as thin as you can and place the meat in a glass/Pyrex pan–a 9 x 13 works well–and pour all the gravy/cooked juices on top. If it looks dry, add a little water. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and cook at least one hour at 325. (This is the second cook!)

At this point, you can remove the brisket from the oven and keep it in the pan in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. When it’s time to serve, heat the brisket one more time at 325 until it has warmed all the way through.

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MY BEEF WITH VEGETARIAN/VEGAN LABELING

Do vegetarians and vegans secretly want to be carnivores? Why do so many vegetarian foods need to look, taste and even have names that sound like meat products?
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 Is it because the real name: ” ‘Repulsive cubes of tofu’ salad” wouldn’t sell?
 
What about this one?
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Looks like dog food, with one difference: I wouldn’t give it to my dog.
Or perhaps my favorite:
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“Chick’n?” CHICK’N?! Are you effing kidd’n me?!
My vegetarian and vegan friends have legitimate reasons why they choose their lifestyle. Some don’t like factory farms or the way they treat animals and the environment. I don’t either. I buy grass-fed and pastured meats which come from small farms which use humane practices.

Some find the death of any animal for their food, even it’s done humanely, not acceptable. I feel that my manly omnivore cravings are nothing to be ashamed of, and obtaining animal protein in a sustainable way, whether farming, fishing or hunting, is the way to go. And for me, no plant protein can replace the quality of animal protein.

There are those that don’t eat red meat because of the negative effects on their health. Grass fed beef instead of corn and grain fed beef all but eliminates this problem. And we’re now seeing the negative health effects of meat substitutes like soy, even organic soy. Non-organic soy, which makes up 80% of the world’s crop, is Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready seed that gets oversprayed with herbicides.  Sorry…I’d rather have healthy beef, pork and chicken than GMO Frankenfood in my family’s diet.
If I was a vegetarian or vegan, I would write to the people who make these crappy products. They’re making them look bad. I’d be carrying that organic broccoli stalk high above my head and showing my pride, not hiding behind food disguised as quasi-meat.
Proud carnivores would never allow a piece of meat to be shaped to resemble a vegetable. A dinosaur chicken nugget, maybe. But never a vegetable. Now pardon me while I cook up some bac’n.