Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

I marinated and roasted both, lamb and chicken, with this marinade, and both worked great. So if you’re not as big a fan of lamb as I am, no worries.

 

The key to the success of this dish is to make sure you give the meat a lot of time to suck up the marinade, and to season the meat well.

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
The zest and juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped fine

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

 

Place the lamb and/or chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade, squishing it around so that it really covers the meat. Marinate the meat for at least 3 hours, but overnight in the fridge is best. Make sure to squish the bag around every few hours to make sure all parts get the marinade.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

 

Place the marinated meats on a sheet pan with non-stick foil. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Pour whatever marinade is left in the bag into a bowl and use it to baste the meats as they cook. (Don’t use any of the marinade without cooking it–it has touched raw meat!) Bake until medium for the lamb, or all the way through for the chicken. At the end of cooking, toss the meat under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice char.

 

 

Grilling is certainly an option for this dish. Lamb can be cooked directly on the grill, all the way through. Chicken will require to be pre-cooked in an oven or cooked over medium heat on the grill to make sure it’s cooked all the way through before that final char.

Cooler weather always gets us craving for comfort foods, and this is one we discovered on a trip to Spain in 2014. Croquettes are the Spanish equivalent of chicken nuggets: they’re found on every kids’ menu…and my daughter ordered them just about everywhere we went! So it’s no surprise that I “got the order” to make a batch of croquettes once we got home…and I’ve been making them ever since.

You can make these days ahead of time and then freeze them, re-heating them whenever you have guests. These are way better than your average snacks when that football game is on!

 

image

 

I found a great recipe for croquettes in Saveur magazine, and decided to try it out. I was a bit clumsy at making them at first–they do need a bit of finesse–but by the end of the batch, I got the hang of it. And to make them gluten-free, I simply substituted GF flour and breadcrumbs for the all-purpose flour and Panko. (The best tasting GF breadcrumbs are the ones you make yourself. Buy a loaf of frozen gluten-free bread, like Udi’s, and toast it in your toaster oven. Crumble the slices into a food processor, processing them until the breadcrumbs are the size you like.)

 

image

 

2 lbs. raw potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, minced
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz. ham, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour like Cup4Cup)
2 eggs
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
avocado oil for frying

 

image

 

Peel the potatoes, cutting them into 1″ cubes. Boil them in salted water until tender. Drain them and set them aside.

Melt the butter in the same pot the potatoes were in, then add the onions and sauté them until they’re translucent. Put the potatoes back in the pot and add 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Add more cream, if needed, but be careful not to make it mushy.

Add the cheese and mix until it has melted in. Add the ham and mix again. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the contents of the pot into a metal bowl and place it in the freezer to cool, stirring every 10 minutes until the mashed potato mix is cold, but not frozen.

Line up three bowls: all-purpose flour (or GF flour) in the first bowl, eggs (scrambled) in the second bowl, Panko (or GF breadcrumbs) in the third.

Remove the mashed potato mix from the freezer, and with floured hands, grab enough to gently roll a small meatball in your hands. (I’ve found that starting with a round shape makes it easier to work with.)

Roll the ball in the flour, then the egg, then drop in the Panko and roll again. With the ball in your hand, gently squeeze into a tubular (or small football) shape, and then place it on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Continue with the rest of the potato mixture. (You may need to add another scrambled egg or two if you run out.)

Once you’ve rolled all the croquettes, place the sheet pan in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up.

Heat a pan with 2″ of oil to 350 degrees. Remove the croquettes from the freezer, and working in small batches, fry them until golden brown. Place them on paper towels, and quickly season lightly with salt while hot.

 

image

 

 

The croquettes freeze really well, so this batch goes a long way. Once they’ve been fried, let them cool completely to room temp. Place them in freezer bags and store them in the freezer. When it’s time to cook them, let them thaw for about 15 minutes, then place them in a pre-heated 325 degree oven and cook for 15 minutes.

 

CHICKEN WITH A CHILI/MAPLE GLAZE

Posted: September 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

Recently on vacation, I ordered something similar to this from a take-out joint. It was chicken wings with a Sambal/maple syrup glaze, and although the idea was a winner, the execution: not so much. I found that the wings were really dry because they were over-fried. So I tweaked this at home with delicious results.

Using really good quality chicken makes all the difference, so buy the best you can find.

I also used a whole chicken as well as wings, and found that it works just as well. Cut the whole bird up into parts before cooking, saving the carcass for chicken stock later on.

 

 

Whole chicken cut up, or your favorite parts
Lawry’s seasoned salt
2 oz. real maple syrup
1 teaspoon Chinese chili garlic sauce

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the whole chicken into parts, or, if using wings, place the pieces on a baking sheet. (I like to cover the baking sheet will non-stick foil.) Season both sides of the chicken with the seasoned salt.

Bake the chicken pieces until they’re completely cooked, about 45 minutes to an hour.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the Chinese chili garlic sauce with the maple syrup. If you like things really spicy, simply add more chili garlic sauce!

When the chicken has cooked, place the pieces in large bowl, Pour the glaze over the chicken pieces and toss them around to make sure they’re thoroughly covered in the glaze. The darkness of the glaze will depend on the darkness of your maple syrup. I used a light amber syrup in these photos.

 

Serve right away…and bring plenty of napkins!

I’ve had Clams Casino in many different forms. Back when I worked in Italian restaurants in New York, we would make a breadcrumb mixture, press it onto a freshly opened whole clam, and then place a small piece of bacon on top before it went into the oven. It was good, but the clam often stuck to the shell, and many people didn’t want to gulp down a whole clam like that.

Oyster knife (left) and a clam knife (right.) Different tools for different jobs.

When it was time for me to make my own recipe, I decided that I would chop the clams and mix them into the breadcrumb mix, so that every bite was the same.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (about a 1/2 an onion)
2 garlic cloves, squeezed through a garlic press
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup unflavored bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 dozen medium neck clams
1/3 lb. bacon, cut in small squares to fit the clam shells
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté them until they’re translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for 10 seconds. Add the wine and simmer for a minute. Add the bread crumbs, and stir the mixture until it becomes thicker, like a paste. Add the parsley and oregano. Season with pepper. (There’s going to be plenty of salt in the clam juice and bacon, so no salt is needed.)

The bread crumb mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
It’s time to open the clams. If you know how to do that, open them over a sieve with a bowl underneath so that the clam meats and juices are captured. Discard any broken shells, but save the good ones.
If you struggle with opening clams, this method makes it a little easier: Bring a large pot of water to boil, and drop the clams into it, about 10 at a time, for 30 seconds. Don’t let them open! Remove the clams with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl to cool. Continue doing this in small batches until all the clams have been in the water. You’ll find this makes opening the clams much easier. Then proceed as above.
Once you’ve shucked all the clams, let the clam juice sit for a bit, so that any grit settles to the bottom of the bowl. Then pour off the clean clam juice and add it to your bread crumb mixture. (Don’t worry if it looks soggy at this point.)

Looking a little soggy, but that’s OK.

I like to hand chop the clam meats instead of using a food processor. You want tasty clam chunks, not too big but not mush. Add the clams to the the bread crumb mix.
At this point, if the clam mix looks very soggy, simply add a little more bread crumb to dry it out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with foil. Separate the clam shell halves and wash them, making sure you don’t have any shell fragments left in the clam shell.  Fill them with the clam mixture, mounding them slightly, and placing each one on the baking sheet.

Clams and bacon…delicious!

Cut the bacon in small squares to fit the clam shells. Place a small piece of raw bacon on the top of each clam.
Bake until the clams are just cooked through, the topping is golden, and the bacon is cooked, about 30 minutes.

This makes a great appetizer, but it’s hard to just eat a few!

Good news if you’re on a gluten-free diet. These fritters can be made GF! And they’re delicious.

I have both recipes–gluten-free and the original–below!

They key ingredient in making a good fritter batter is beer. But until recently, there weren’t many gluten-free beers to choose from…and the ones that were out there tasted like crap. All that has changed.

Now you can pretty much find a gluten-free craft beer in every state, and there are several regional gluten-free beers as well. Easy enough to find: just go to a good beer store and ask. They almost always carry a couple of brands.

Gluten-free beers can be divided into 2 types: truly gluten-free: brewed with gluten-free ingredients and safe for Celiacs to drink…and gluten-reduced: beers that are brewed with ingredients containing gluten, then had an enzyme added to reduce  the gluten. These are fine for those that have an intolerance to gluten, but are not Celiac. Read the labels!

 

 

The beer that I used for my recipe is a beer that they say  is “crafted to remove gluten,” meaning there’s still a small amount left in there.

Ultimately, if gluten is not an issue for you, follow the recipe at the bottom of this page. It’s my original, and not only uses a tasty lager full of gluten, but also a special fritter flour, which can be found in many stores.

However, if you have to “live the gluten-free live,” and you’ve told yourself you can never have another fritter, I have good news for you: you can…and they’re delicious! This is a large batch, so feel free to reduce it if needed.

 

In making this recipe, I tested 3 types of gluten-free flour: Cup4Cup all-purpose flour, Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Flour, and a Canadian brand (not available here yet.) Cup4Cup (far left) was the clear winner for taste and texture of the fritter.

 

1 lb. all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like Cup4Cup)
2 lbs. frozen or fresh mussels
1/2 cup (or more) gluten-reduced lager beer (I used Omission)
oil for frying (I stay away from canola, but use what you like)

 

Pour an inch of water in the bottom of a pot, and place a strainer on top. Pour the mussels, fresh or frozen, onto the strainer and cover the pot. Set the heat on high and steam the mussels until they’re cooked, about 5 minutes. If you’re using fresh mussels, throw out any of the ones that didn’t open. Frozen mussel meats (without the shell) are also available in many areas. They work with this method, too.

 

Steamed New Zealand green-lipped mussels. Available frozen in many stores. Get the plain ones, not the ones that already come with sauce.

 

Remove the meats from the shells, and toss them in a food processor. Give them a quick chop…not too fine, because you want to see and taste them in the fritter.

Save the “mussel juice,” the water in the bottom of the pot. It’s got lots of mussel flavor.

Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the chopped mussels. Add a 1/2 cup of the mussel juice and a 1/2 cup of the beer. Mix thoroughly, using a fork or your hands, until you get a batter that’s a bit gooey, but not really wet. You might need to keep adding small amount of broth, beer or flour to get just the right consistency. Once you’ve done that, let the batter rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Keep it at room temperature, and do not stir again! If you need to wait a while before frying, cover the bowl with a wet towel.

In a heavy pan or a fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees.

 

 

Once the oil is hot, take small meatball-sized globs in your hands and gently drop them into the oil. Don’t fry too many at once or the oil temperature will drop quickly. Fry them until they’re golden brown and cooked all the way through. Drain the fritters on paper towels, and season them immediately with salt and a little pepper.

The dipping sauce recipe I have listed at the bottom is not gluten-free. But most tartare-type sauces usually are, and are equally delicious.

Of course, you can make fritters with anything, from mussels to shrimp to lobster!

 

You’d never know they were gluten-free!

 

Here’s the original recipe, full of glorious gluten!

It was a fall afternoon in Newport, Rhode Island, at the now-defunct Newport Yachting Center’s annual Oyster Festival. We’re gorging on freshly shucked oysters and clams, boiled shrimp, and…what have we here? I never heard of a mussel fritter before, but once I took a bite, there was no turning back.

They couldn’t be easier to make, but it is crucial to have the right fritter batter. And that starts with a Rhode Island product called Drum Rock fritter mix. If you live in New England, you can find it in just about any seafood department at Whole Foods. If you live further away, you can check out their website (www.drumrockproducts.com) or try your luck with a local brand of fritter mix.

 

fritter ingredients

 

If you’re using fresh mussels, be sure to clean them well and remove the beards. Steam them in a pot over a small amount of water. As they open, they will release their flavorful juices and you want to save every drop of that broth for the fritters. Here in New England, frozen mussel meats are available in some seafood stores. All you need to do is thaw them, steam them saving the broth, and you’re ready to go.

For the fritters:
1 lb. fritter mix
2 cups cooked mussel meats
1/2 cup mussel broth (saved from steaming mussels)
1/4 to 1/2 cup good quality beer (I use Sam Adams Boston Lager)
Oil for frying

 

Steam the mussel meats until they’re just cooked. Remove the mussel meats, and reserve 1/2 cup of the broth. Pulse the mussel meats in a food processor, but leave ’em chunky…or chop by hand.

Put the fritter mix in a large bowl. Add the mussel meats, mussel broth, and beer. Stir gently until just mixed. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and do not stir again. (If you’ve got guests coming, you can prepare up to this part ahead of time, covering the bowl with a wet towel, and leaving it at room temperature.)

Using a thermometer, heat the oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees, and using a small spoon or scoop, drop the fritters in the hot oil, turning gently, cooking 3 to 4 minutes until golden.

Drain them on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper immediately. Serve right away!

 

IMG_3043

 

An easy, delicious dipping sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Ponzu sauce

The perfect dipping sauce for these mussel fritters is made from two ingredients: mayo and Ponzu sauce, a citrus-based soy sauce. Combine both ingredients in a bowl. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

MAKE YOUR OWN KETCHUP

Posted: August 29, 2021 in Uncategorized

I suppose the first question someone would ask is: why?

I like to know the ingredients that are in my food, and looking at the label of a bottle of ketchup, there are quite a few ingredients I’m not thrilled with. Things like corn syrup and thickeners. So when I had an overabundance of tomatoes in my garden this year, and I made tons of tomato sauce, I thought it might be cool to make my own ketchup out of some of it. The results were pretty darn good.

If you don’t have your own garden-fresh tomatoes to work with, using canned tomatoes is just fine.

 

 

2 (28 oz.) cans peeled ground tomatoes (or 56 oz. fresh ground garden tomatoes)
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1 whole clove

 

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot under high heat. Bring it to a boil, and as the ketchup starts to thicken, turn the heat down accordingly so you don’t burn the sugar.

It could take an hour–or more–for the ketchup to reach the thickness you like, but once you’ve achieved it, remove the pot from the heat and pour the ketchup into a blender and puree it until it’s smooth.

Let the ketchup cool completely, then taste it and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

 

The ketchup can be frozen in containers, or kept in the fridge. Try it in recipes for meatloaf, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce–anywhere you’d use regular ketchup.

The original recipe for this white bean soup used bits of bacon. But it just so happened that I was planning on slow-cooking a pork shoulder in my smoker today. When the smoked pork met the white bean soup, it was a match made in pig heaven!

 

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 smashed garlic clove
3 cans (15 1/2 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, 1 1/2 cups reserved
40 oz. veal bone broth (or chicken broth, if you prefer)
1/4 teaspoon bouquet garni
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bacon fat and/or olive oil
A slab of slow-cooked smoked pork shoulder, pulled and shredded

 

In a large heavy saucepan, sauté the onion, fennel, and garlic in bacon fat or olive oil until they are tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain and rinse the cannellini beans, reserving 1 1/2 cups for later. Pour the beans in the saucepan.

Add the veal (or chicken) broth, the bouquet garni, and the salt and pepper.

Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it cool for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender, until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and add the reserved beans. Heat for 10 minutes, and then taste it, adding more salt and pepper, if needed.

 

 

To serve, place a mound of the pork, cubed or pulled, in the center of a bowl. Pour the soup on top, and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Chopped scallions, or fresh chives, or parsley on top never hurt!

 

 

 

THAI MARINADE AND DIPPING SAUCE

Posted: August 14, 2021 in Uncategorized

In a previous blog, I featured my recipe for a “Thai Grilled Steak.” This recipe is very similar to it. In fact, I was trying to recreate that recipe the other night so that I could marinate a beautiful cut of grass-fed beef flap I had, but I didn’t have all the ingredients in my pantry. So I improvised, and I think I made it just a little bit better!

I really love the flavors of this recipe, and the great thing is that you can use it as a marinade and a dipping sauce–not just for the beef flap–but a dipping sauce for grilled chicken, dumplings, anything. It’s that good.

Make more than you think you’ll need because you can keep it in the fridge for future dipping.

If you use gluten-free soy sauce, this recipe is GF. Chili garlic sauce can be found in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.

A little side salad with blue cheese and home-cured and smoked bacon doesn’t hurt, either!

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped salted pistachio nuts
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

 

 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

Whatever cut of beef you’re using, make sure it isn’t too thick, or the marinade won’t penetrate the meat.

I like to use beef flap because it’s full of flavor, and I slice it crosswise to make cuts of meat that are about 1/2″ thick.

I place the beef in a bowl, and pour just a little marinade in at a time. I don’t want the meat swimming in the marinade…just enough so that it makes contact with all the surfaces of the meat.

Place the unused marinade in a sealed container in the fridge.

If I’m cooking soon, I let the beef marinate at room temperature. But ideally, I want the beef to marinate in the fridge overnight–the longer the better–to really soak up the flavors of the marinade.

Before cooking, take the beef out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Discard the marinade that was in the bowl with the beef.

If your beef flap is thin enough, tossing it onto a very hot cast iron skillet to sear it on both sides will bring the beef to a perfect medium-rare. Otherwise, you can sear it in a regular pan and then finish it in the oven–or–fire up the grill!

Use the remaining marinade for dipping.

If you’re marinating chicken, basically the same steps apply. Marinate the meat as long as possible before cooking, and use the remaining sauce for dipping. But with chicken, you have to be careful not to cross-contaminate. Any sauce that touches raw chicken should not be used for dipping later on!

 

Thighs finishing on the grill.

 

Whether you use chicken breast or chicken thighs — I used both here— the flavor is outstanding, especially if you can finish it on the grill!

 

Here’s great hack for fresh ginger that I learned from Liz, the owner of Wishing Stone Farm, an organic farm in Little Compton, RI, where they grow their own ginger roots. Place your ginger root in a Ziploc bag and keep it in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for grated ginger, simply pull the frozen root out of the freezer and grate it, skin and all, while it’s frozen. Then simply place the root back in the Ziploc and back in the freezer until next time. No waste!

MY BEEF STROGANOFF

Posted: August 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

Beef Stroganoff is a classic dish that I remember from my childhood. It’s easy to make and really satisfying, and you can add or remove ingredients as you wish to make it your own.

 

This is a recipe that is easily changed to accommodate your personal tastes, so feel free to do so. For example, the classic recipe uses sliced white mushrooms. I had some dried porcini in my stash–much more intense in favor–but I like that, so I used them. Classic stroganoff uses egg noodles. I went with bucatini pasta. And the beef is usually a cut like flank steak, but I like using beef flap. Just be sure to slice the meat thinly and against the grain to keep it really tender.

This recipe makes a lot, so feel free to cut the ingredients in half for a smaller batch…

 

 

2 lbs. beef flap, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
salt and pepper

1 lb. egg noodles or pasta

 

Place the dried porcini in a sauce pan with about 1 1/2 cups of water. Set it on high heat and let it boil until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 a cup. Set it aside. When it has cooled a bit, strain off the liquid into a glass and chop up the mushrooms on a cutting board.

 

Melt a couple of tablespoons of the butter in a large pan, and start browning the beef in small batches, placing the cooked beef in a bowl on the side while you add more beef to the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the beef will steam and not brown. It may take a few batches to get all the beef cooked.

 

 

Once the beef is done, in the same pan, toss in the chopped onions with a little more of the butter and sauté until they’re translucent. You can add some of the mushroom liquid to the pan now, to deglaze it and remove some of the yummy bits stuck to the bottom.

 

 

Add what’s left of the butter to the pan, then add the mushrooms and the tarragon. Season well with salt and pepper and add the rest of the mushroom liquid, being careful not to pour out any grit that may have settled to the bottom of the glass. Cook until it has thickened a bit.

 

 

You can stop preparations at this point until you’re ready to serve your guests.

Place the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water and cook until al dente.

When the pasta is almost done, return the pan with the mushroom mixture to medium heat, and add the sour cream to it, mixing well. Add the beef and any juices that are in the bowl with it, mixing well.

 

 

 

Drain the pasta and serve the beef stroganoff immediately, seasoning with a finishing salt, like Maldon.