Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

This is a huge hit wherever I bring it. I brought it to a dinner party last night to celebrate the 4th of July.

It’s easy to set up the parts at home, then put it together quickly at a party. If you know what a pulled pork sandwich North Carolina-style is all about (pulled pork on a bun with cole slaw right on top of the meat), then imagine taking away the bun and replacing with a deviled egg! It’s messy, it’s delicious, and everyone loves them.

I’ve tried this two ways now: with pulled pork and with chicken…and the big thumbs up goes to the pork. Of course, I will smoke a pork shoulder for 10 hours, pull the meat, and mix it with the barbecue sauce…all for this dish. If you don’t have a smoker, you can simply wrap a smaller piece of pork shoulder in aluminum foil (it’s good if it’s fatty), and bake it in the oven at 250 degrees for a few hours until the meat is juicy and falls apart.

Be sure to make a lot of these…they’ll go faster than the hard-boiled eggs in “Cool Hand Luke!”

 

 

 

For the BBQ sauce:
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Let it cool to room temperature and then store it in the fridge. It will be good for several weeks.

 

For the cole slaw:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage

Combine all the cole slaw ingredients in a bowl, mixing well, and place it in the fridge. Making the cole slaw a day ahead of time is even better.

Always great to have a pretty helper!

 

 

For the deviled eggs:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)

 

Here’s my tip for perfectly hard-boiled eggs every time: place the eggs in a pot, cover them with cold water, and turn the heat on high. Just before the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Perfect hard-boiled eggs every time! Once cooked, keep the eggs in the fridge.

Here’s another tip: the easiest peeling eggs are older eggs! No…that doesn’t mean you let your eggs sit out on the front porch for a week. What that means is: but them from your supermarket rather than the farm stand down the road. Super-fresh eggs still have a membrane attached to the shell that makes them difficult to peel. The membrane detaches in slightly older eggs, making them easier to peel.

Slice the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl with the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix it well and keep it in the fridge.

 

To assemble, take a teaspoon of the mayo/mustard/yolk mixture and place it in the cavity of one of the egg halves. Place a lump of pulled pork on top (I like it warm, to counter the cold of the mayo and cole slaw.) Then place a teaspoon of the cole slaw on top of the chicken.

PICKLING BEETS

Posted: July 2, 2018 in beets, Food, pickling, Recipes
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Growing up in a Lithuanian family, there was a small group of foods that I had to love to survive, since they constantly appeared on the dinner table: potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, herring, and beets. Fortunately for me, I loved them all, despite my Mom’s desire to boil everything to death.

One of the many uses for beets, besides a cold summer soup and a hot winter soup, was pickling. Pickled beets are an excellent side dish for any hearty meat dish. (I love ’em with kielbasa!)  Store-bought pickled beets pack way too much sugar in every jar, so it was time to make my own. The addition of hard-boiled eggs to the mix is a personal one. If you don’t like ’em, leave ’em out and add more beets.

A real time saver is a product called Love Beets, which you can find in any supermarket. If you use them, you can skip the roasting of the beets altogether.

beets

 

4 to 8 beets, scrubbed (your favorite variety)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 red onion, sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (optional)
6 fresh dill sprigs

Pre-heat the oven to 450. Wrap the beets in foil and roast for about an hour, until tender. When they’re cool enough, carefully peel and quarter them.

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, peppercorns and salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let the pickling liquid cool to warm, about 15 minutes.

In a heat-proof glass jar or container, layer the beets, onion, eggs and dill sprigs and then cover with the pickling liquid. Let it stand at room temp for 2 hours, then place it in the fridge overnight.

They stay fresh for a week, but they won’t last that long!

When it comes to grilling, lamb is often overlooked. Some people think the taste of lamb is too gamey. The really good lamb, grass-fed Australian or New Zealand lamb, can have that taste. Most American lamb is a bit milder, so give that a try.

These lamburgers are best when grilled over hardwood charcoal. But they’re just as tasty if you pan-sear them in a cast iron skillet and finish them in the oven.

I  mix one pound of ground lamb meat with one pound of ground grass-fed beef to cut the gaminess of the lamb. The flavor is just right.

 

 

 

1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra Virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each fresh parsley, mint, and dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1 scallion, finely chopped, green part only
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions. Cook them until translucent, about 6 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate and let them cool.

In a bowl, mix the onions, mustard, parsley, mint, dill, oregano, cumin, garlic, scallions, breadcrumbs, egg, and salt and pepper.

In another bowl, combine the lamb with the beef. Then add the onion mix bowl to the meat and make sure all the ingredients are combined.

Form the meat into slider-sized patties. Place them on a baking sheet covered with non-stick foil, and place the baking sheet in the fridge.

Don’t let the lamburgers get too cold in the fridge…just enough to firm the meat up a bit. If it gets too cold, give it a few minutes at room temp to warm up again.  Grill the burgers until cooked to medium.

If you’re cooking indoors, heat some lard or avocado oil in an oven-proof pan, preferably cast iron. Sear the burgers well on both sides, then place the pan in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.

Place the burgers on slider buns with lettuce and tomato, and smear the bun with the feta cheese dressing.

 

 

My recipe for feta cheese dressing works really well with lamburgers. But it’s also great on a salad.

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1  cup mayo
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4–5 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. If you can wait a day, it’s even better.

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DIY TACO SEASONING

Posted: June 20, 2018 in beets, Food, morocco, Recipes, taco
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It’s so easy to make taco seasoning at home. So why would you buy the spice factory floor sweepings they use for packaged taco seasoning sold in supermarkets? I’m not a huge fan of Mexican cuisine, but every once in a while, I crave a good taco. My tacos don’t resemble most, but that’s OK. It’s all about making it your own.

 

1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
olive oil
2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef

Combine all the spice ingredients in a bowl.

Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add the beef and saute until cooked, mixing in the spice mixture a little at a time until you’ve used it all.

You can also mix the spices with 1 cup of flour and use it to season chicken before frying…or mix the seasoning with strips of chicken breast or beef for fajitas.

My tacos are a bit unusual. Although I use a soft flour tortilla and my seasoned and cooked ground beef, I spread a little Thousand Island dressing and chop some roasted golden beets.

But this taco meat goes great with the standard beans, shredded lettuce, guac, and salsa as well.

 

Tacos with roasted golden beets, baby Romaine salad mix, and Awesomesauce

Tacos with roasted golden beets, baby Romaine salad mix, and Thousand Island dressing.

For the beets: I wash the beets and quarter them, cutting the top and bottom off but leaving the skin. I place them in a sheet of aluminum foil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. I combine the ingredients to coat the beets, wrap the foil tightly into a package, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 1 hour. After roasting and the beets have cooled a bit, I slice them into smaller pieces for the tacos.

Slices of avocado go really well with this, too!

It’s Father’s Day and it’s a hot one here in New England. Time to make a delicious cold soup that always reminds me of my Dad…

It’s interesting that an Eastern European country that is as far north as Newfoundland has one of the most refreshing cold summer soups of any country in Europe. It’s a cold beet soup called Šaltibarščiai (pronounced shul-tih barsh-chay) and it’s classic Lithuanian cooking at its best.

No summer was complete without my Mom’s Šaltibarščiai on the table, and my Dad always insisted on eating it with boiled potatoes on the side. Now residing in an assisted living facility, my Mom has not had this soup in many years, so I made her a batch when she came to visit recently.

There are many different variations of this soup. For example, many Lithuanians today use keffir instead of buttermilk. My Mom insists buttermilk tastes better, and I have to agree.

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1 quart buttermilk
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
8 beets, cooked, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 scallion, finely chopped, greens only
salt
a pile of boiled potatoes (optional)

 

Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl. If it’s very thick, you can dilute it a bit with fresh water.

Peel and chop the eggs and toss them in the bowl. Peel, seed and chop the cukes…then into the bowl.

I love Love Beets, hermetically sealed cooked and peeled beets, ready to use, available in most supermarkets. (In the old days, my Mom would simply use canned beets.) I open a couple of packs of Love Beets, pouring the beet juice into the bowl. I chop the beets and add them as well.

Grab some fresh dill and chop it finely. Add it to the bowl. Finely chop the greens of one or two scallions and sprinkle some salt on them. Rub the salt into the scallions, mashing them a bit, softening them. Then add the to the bowl.

Stir everything together, put a lid on the bowl, and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Remove from fridge, stir, and season with more salt if needed.

 

This is a great side dish for any special occasion. And you can substitute to suit your needs. Goat cheese not your speed? Try Gruyère or smoked gouda. Need it to be gluten-free? Use GF breadcrumbs. Don’t like mushrooms? Okay…I can’t help you there…

 

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1 package large white mushrooms
olive oil
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, through a press
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
fresh goat cheese
bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

 

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the mushrooms in cold water to clean them. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and set them aside. Rub the mushroom caps with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet, open side-down, in a 400-degree oven for a few minutes.

In a pan, sauté the shallot and garlic in a little olive oil. Chop the mushroom stems finely and add them to the pan. Add the thyme and pepper flakes.

Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees after removing the mushroom caps. Flip the mushroom caps over so that they look like little bowls. Break off a small piece of goat cheese and place it in each mushroom. Top each with the sautéed shallot mixture. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and sprinkle parsley over that.

Return the baking sheet to the oven, cooking the mushrooms until they are lightly golden in color, and the cheese has melted.

 

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Mushroom myth: Soaking mushrooms in cold water makes them mushy. Not true! Alton Brown, on an old episode of “Good Eats” on the Food Network, showed that mushrooms do not soak up any water when left to soak for even 30 minutes. So use your mushroom brush…use your kitchen towel…whatever you like. But I prefer to get them clean simply with cold water.

 

 

One of the most incredible dishes I’ve had on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece, is lobster with pasta. It’s one of those dishes that takes time to prepare, because the pasta lobster sauce they make is a labor of love…time consuming, but so spectacular.

Cooked lobster LTL

I often have friends over for dinner, but when I prepared this dish for them recently, it was the first time they all licked their plates clean!

To try to copy that lobster sauce we had in Santorini, I started with a kick-ass lobster stock. It’s simple but flavorful:

 

clean, empty claws, tails and bodies from two 1-1/2 lb. lobsters (use the legs, too)
12 cups water
1/2 onion
3 celery stalks
1 carrot

Place all the ingredients in a large pot and set it on high heat. Crush the lobster shells (I use a potato masher!) Cook until the stock is reduced by half.

Strain the stock, discarding the lobster shells and veggies. Bring the stock back to the heat and reduce it until all you have left is 1 cup of intense stock.

 

 

Pasta with lobster sauce

Now that you have the stock, you can make the sauce!

 

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of Italian red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon parsley
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lobster stock
1/4 cup San Marzano tomato sauce (see below)
splash of white wine (I use Alice white Chardonnay)
salt and pepper
1/2 lb. cooked pasta

Add some olive oil to a pan and saute the onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and parsley.

Add 1/4 cup of the lobster stock and let it cook, reducing by half. Add the other 1/4 cup of lobster stock and then the tomato sauce. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and add the white wine. Cook for a few minutes more.

Cook the pasta and drain it even before it reaches the al dente stage. Place the pasta in the pan with the sauce, heating and coating it thoroughly. Serve immediately, with or without the lobster meat.

 

For the San Marzano tomato sauce: I pour a can of San Marzano tomatoes  into a food processor or Vita-Mix and blend until I get sauce. Pour into a pan and reduce over medium heat by half, until sauce has thickened.

Bulgogi is the name given to the most common form of Korean barbecue. Unlike the daeji bulgogi that I cooked in a previous blog, this one is not based on a chili sauce that can take the roof of your mouth right off.

I used chicken, though this would work with pork as well, and for the best flavor, it’s best to marinate the meat in the fridge overnight.

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2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped scallions
6 tablespoons sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
5 tablespoons fresh garlic, grated or through a garlic press
5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 lbs. chicken pieces (skin-on thighs work best)

 

Combine all the ingredients except for the chicken in a bowl and mix well.

Place the chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade in. Seal the bag well and squish it around to make sure the marinade makes contact with the chicken. Place the bag in a bowl (to prevent accidental leakage) and keep it in the fridge overnight. Squish the bag around every few hours to make sure the marinade does its job.

When ready to cook the next day, pre-heat the oven to 350 and remove the bag from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Place the chicken on a sheet pan (discard the remaining marinade) and bake for an hour.

Light a hot grill and push the coals to one side of the grill. Place the chicken pieces on the cool side of the grill and close the lid, opening the vents. Every few minutes, turn the chicken pieces over so they get nice grill marks but
don’t burn.

 

 

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There are very few sandwiches more perfect than the BLT, and I would be a fool to try to improve on it. Freshly toasted bread, a slathering of mayo (Hellman’s only, of course), crisp lettuce, fresh juicy sliced tomato, and my own homemade bacon. What could be better?

I recently tried my hand at smoking and slow-roasting a huge slab of grass-fed beef brisket, and it came out beautifully. Rich and smoky, there was far too much of it for a mere mortal like myself to polish it off, even if I ate it for days in a row. So I cut the brisket into more manageable sized slabs, wrapped them and placed them in the freezer.

 

beef brisket

 

I took one of those slabs out of the freezer the other day, and noticed that, with the grain of the meat and fat, it resembled bacon. And then it dawned on me: I could slice it like thick-cut bacon, fry it in a pan, and make my own BLT with it: a Brisket, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich!

 

steakon!

 

The end result was fantastic. Quite different than the infamous BLT, but a beefy winner in its own right.

 

Alz BLT: Brisket, Lettuce and Tomato

Alz BLT: Brisket, Lettuce and Tomato

I’ve always been fascinated by Korean barbecue. Every time I see it on TV or catch a recipe on an e-mail blast, my mouth waters and I say to myself that I’ve got to experience it some day. But the painful reality is: Korean barbecue can be really spicy…and I’m a total wuss.

Korean barbecue 101: Gogigui means “meat roast” in Korean, and it refers to the method of roasting beef, pork, chicken, and other meats. Meats can be marinated or not. Bulgogi is the name of the most common Korean barbecue. Meat is marinated with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and pepper, and then grilled. Galbi uses beef short ribs, and adds onions to the marinade. And the hot stuff is daeji bulgogi, because the marinade isn’t soy sauce-based, but based on the hot-n-spicy Korean chili paste known as gochujang.

All of the marinades looked delicious, but the hot one with gochujang would be my biggest challenge, so I decided to start there. I found a great recipe, and quickly realized that I would have to turn the heat way down if I was actually going to try to eat it! For example, the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of white pepper. I totally left it out. And it called for a full cup of gochujang. Not only did I cut that part in half, I doubled many of the other non-spicy ingredients.

So is it authentic Korean barbecue? Probably not. But it’s my version of it. It’s got lots of flavor and still carries a bit of heat.

For gluten-free diets: finding GF hoisin and soy sauce is easy. Look for the La Choy brand. But I haven’t been able to find gochujang that has a GF label.

 

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3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup gochujang
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (I use gluten-free hoisin)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon freshly grated garlic (I use a garlic press)
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
4 lbs. chicken pieces

 

Pre-heat the oven to 500 or its top temperature.

In a bowl, mix everything but the chicken pieces. Brush the sauce onto the chicken pieces, then wrap them in aluminum foil. (I like to tear a long piece of aluminum foil and lay it on top of a sheet pan. I place the chicken pieces on the foil, brush them with sauce on all sides, then fold the foil over the chicken, making one large pouch that holds all the meat.) Leave the pouch on the sheet pan and place it in the oven. Lower the oven temp to 350.

Cook the chicken for about an hour, making sure it’s almost completely cooked. Juices should run clear, not bloody, when you poke it with a fork.

Start a hardwood fire on your grill. Push the coals to one side of the grill so you have a hot side and a cooler side with no coals underneath it. Place the chicken pieces on the cool side of the grill (if you put it on the hot side, it will stick and burn), brush with more sauce, and put the lid on the grill, making sure you have the vents open for air circulation.

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See those 2 black bits in the foreground? That’s where the chicken stuck to the grill because I placed them over the hot coals. Don’t do that.

After a few minutes, lift the lid, flip the chicken pieces over, brush them with sauce again, and close the lid. Keep doing this until the chicken is nice and caramelized, with tasty grill marks.

If you want to serve some of the sauce on the side, it’s important to pour some of the sauce off and set it aside in the very beginning, so you’re not using the same sauce that the basting brush touched the raw chicken with.