Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

ASIAN SLAW

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Uncategorized, Food, Recipes, garden
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I love cole slaw. It’s awesome with any grilled food, but I especially love the classic pulled pork/cole slaw combo. Visiting the local farm stand the other day, the cooler weather crops were in, and there was a beautiful head of cabbage just sitting there, waiting for me to take it home.

The farm stand had this beautiful purple cabbage, but use green if you like!

 

 

I wanted to try something different from the basic cole slaw recipe I usually make, and so I took my ingredients in an Asian direction. I think I came up with something that really rocks…and it goes great with a plate of Asian-inspired spare ribs!

 

Shredded veggies, ready for the dressing.

 

1 medium-sized head of cabbage, cored and shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
I like to give the cabbage different textures, so I wash and then quarter the cabbage, removing the center core (which is, by the way, totally edible and was given to me by my Mom as a treat when I was a kid. Hey, it’s a Lithuanian thing.) So I hand slice one-quarter of the cabbage as thinly as I can with a knife. The other three-quarters go in a food processor to slice more thinly. I put the carrot through the machine as well. I put the veggies in a large bowl and add the sesame seeds.

Veggies and dressing mixed.

To make the dressing, in a separate bowl, combine the mayo, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey, whisking to mix thoroughly.

Rice vinegar is not rice wine vinegar. Make sure you use the good stuff. Here’s one brand I use.

Add the dressing to the veggies, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours, mixing every hour to combine as the veggies release their juices and make the slaw more flavorful and “wet.”
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OVERNIGHT OATS

Posted: October 12, 2017 in breakfast, Food, Recipes
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Overnight oats are something that came and went, it seems. But now I’m finding more and more articles about it again. I suppose cooler weather makes us think of oatmeal. This is my favorite way to eat it.

I wake up at 4AM to go to work every day, so to have something really tasty and healthy already waiting for me, next to my carafe of iced coffee in my fridge, is awesome.

Some people worry about eating raw oats because oats contain phytic acid or phytate. It’s found in grains, nuts, seeds, and beans and binds to essential minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron, preventing your body from being able to absorb them. But soaking oats overnight will remove some of the phytate, and what’s left is not a big deal. So eat up!

Many overnight oats recipes contain almond milk, but unless you make it yourself, store-bought almond milk has little or no nutritional value (or almonds, for that matter.)

And I’m not a fan of soy, especially non-organic soy that’s usually grown with Monsanto’s Roundup-ready products.

So I go for organic grass-fed no-fat milk. The chia seeds add anti-oxidants and omega-3’s. Cinnamon has some health benefits, too, but it’s mainly here for flavor. And I use frozen organic blueberries in this recipe, but any frozen or fresh berries (or sliced apples!) will work.

 

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1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup organic blueberries or other fruit
3/4 cup organic no-fat milk
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a container that seals tightly and refrigerate overnight. Eat it cold or warm the next morning.

Great fried shrimp is like sea candy…you just can’t get enough. This recipe is easy and really delicious. Never use anything but wild-caught American shrimp!

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1 lb. wild-caught USA shrimp
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour to keep it gluten-free)
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 raw egg, scrambled
avocado oil or pork fat, for frying

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Combine the flour, corn meal, Prudhomme seasoning (see below) and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Scramble the egg in another bowl and set aside.

Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Remove the entire shell, or leave the tip of the tail, depending on your preference.

Heat a pan with an inch of the oil. When it reaches 325 degrees, it’s ready for frying.

Dip the shrimp in the egg, and shake off any excess. Then toss the shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Carefully place the shrimp in the pan of oil.

Cook the shrimp for about 45 seconds, flip them over, and cook for another 45 seconds, until they’re golden brown. Don’t crowd the pan and never over-cook shrimp!

Drain on paper towels and serve immediately!

 

The shrimp are delicious by themselves, but here’s an easy remoulade to make along with them…

1 cup mayo
1/4 cup Gulden’s mustard
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Combine the ingredients and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

 

It’s a bit of a cheat, but I find the Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic seasoning has great flavor and works really well for this. I also use it on fish: simply pan saute a filet in butter, and sprinkle on the seasoning. I originally started with the small jar found in most supermarkets, but then quickly graduated to the jumbo size can found online!

 

If you want to make your own seafood seasoning, a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne will get you a result that’s pretty close to the Prudhomme seasoning.

 

 

No, this is not a blog about a Chinese rock band. I happened to buy a pack of chicken drumsticks the other day and wanted to create something other than the usual Asian-style flavors I’ve done in the past. So, I “winged” it! (That’s genuine chicken humor there…)

I’ve got many Asian ingredients in my fridge, so I started to put together a marinade and it tasted pretty good even before it went on the chicken. But afterwards, with the flavors baked into the drumsticks, it was amazing…and highly addictive! No matter how drumsticks you bake, it won’t be enough!

I tossed the drumsticks in a Ziplock bag, dumped the marinade on top of them, sealed the bag and squished it around a bit to make sure all the chicken got a hit of the marinade.

I placed the bag in a bowl at room temperature (in case of spillage, it wouldn’t go all over my counter), and gently squished it around every half hour for about 2 hours.

After that, the drumsticks went in a 350-degree oven…

Marinated drumsticks, before cooking…

 

4 lbs. chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons Thai peanut satay sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon chili oil

 

…and after.

 

Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl and whisk well to mix. Place the drumsticks in a large Ziplock bag and pour the marinade in. Seal the bag well, and squish it around so that the marinade makes contact with every part of the chicken pieces.

Let the bag sit at room temperature for 2 hours, squishing it around gently every half hour.

Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.

Line a pan with aluminum foil (to make clean-up easy later.) Lay the drumsticks in the pan, pouring the leftover marinade into a small saucepan.

Bake the drumsticks for about 45 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and carefully pour the juices in the pan into the same small saucepan with the leftover marinade. Keep the chicken “on hold” for a few minutes while you focus on the saucepan.

Heat the saucepan with the marinade until boiling, then reduce the heat and cook a little more until the marinade has thickened a bit. Brush this all over the chicken pieces and return the chicken to the oven for the last 10 or so minutes of cooking.

 

You might be familiar with most of the ingredients in this recipe. They are easily found in the international food aisle at any good supermarket, and that includes the less-common Thai peanut satay sauce. There are different brands, but here’s what a jar of it looks like…

 

 

Cooler fall 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 this weekend!

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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.

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2 lbs. 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

 

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

Melt the butter in the same pot the potatoes were in, then add the onions and saute until 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: 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 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 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 on paper towels, and quickly season lightly with salt while hot, if desired.

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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 Ziploc freezer bags and store in the freezer. When it’s time to cook them, let them thaw for about 15 minutes, then place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for another 15 minutes.

 

BEET AND QUINOA SALAD

Posted: September 24, 2017 in beets, Food, Recipes
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Why was it that I could only find a great beet salad in a restaurant? Was there some secret to making one? Well, after some experimentation, I came up with a beet salad that I really enjoy…and it’s easy to put together ahead of time if you have guests coming over for dinner.

 

Sometimes I skip the arugula and just go for a bowl like this…

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 lb. beets, cooked and sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 clove garlic, through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 scallion, finely minced
2 cups baby arugula
5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

 

Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions. I like to substitute half of the water with homemade chicken stock.

While the quinoa is cooking, combine the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper in a separate bowl.

Once the quinoa has cooked, place it in a bowl and add half of the dressing, mixing gently with a fork to fluff up the quinoa. Place it in the fridge to cool completely.

I like to use the product LoveBeets, available in any supermarket. The beets come fully cooked and peeled, ready to slice.

I go to the membership clubs and buy the beetlicious jumbo size!

Chop the beets to the size you like and place them in the bowl of quinoa. Add the scallions, arugula and cheese. Toss to combine.

When the mixture has cooled down, give it a taste and add more of the dressing if needed. This tastes great at room temperature as well.

Almost 95% of all shrimp sold in the United States comes from farmed shrimp in countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam and India…as well as Latin America. The stuff you buy at the supermarket comes frozen (since shrimp is highly perishable) and then is thawed out and placed on ice to make the display look nice. But the shrimp you’re getting is not “fresh” (unless you’re lucky enough to get some wild caught local shrimp) and it’s from countries where the methods of farming are questionable at best.
Shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America is destroying mangrove forests and because of that, coastal villages as well. Disease is commonplace in shrimp farms, so they’re pumped full of antibiotics and pesticides.
Imported wild shrimp are also a problem because of bycatch. For every pound of wild shrimp caught, several pounds of other animals such as turtles die needlessly in the trawler nets.
Wild-caught  American shrimp is the best way to go for your health and the environment. American shrimp fishermen are required by law to reduce bycatch. For example, they’re required to use Turtle Exclusion Devices to stop turtles from being caught in their nets.
I stopped eating tiger shrimp and other farmed shrimp from foreign countries a long time ago because I found a source of shrimp that not only delivers to my door, but offers me that shrimp at competitive pricing even with the shipping! And best of all, it’s wild caught in American waters. I’m supporting the lives of shrimp men along the Gulf of Mexico, not some foreign country that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the environment, the shrimp they raise in it, or my family’s well-being.

The real deal, usually sold in 5 lb. boxes.

On top of everything else, wild-caught American shrimp tastes better. And why shouldn’t it? The shrimp are eating their natural foods found in the wild…not some pellets thrown at them that contaminate the water and the shrimp themselves.
My favorite website for wild-caught American gulf shrimp is www.cajungrocer.com. I’ve been ordering my favorite Cajun foods, like Turduckens and alligator sausage, from these people for many years, but they also sell frozen shrimp and live crawfish (in season.)
Don’t cheat yourself, your friends or your family out of something really special. Wild-caught American gulf shrimp costs the same, supports our economy, is better for you and tastes better.
The basics of this recipe come from my friend, Lee, a retired chemist in New Jersey who also enjoys creating in the kitchen. What I found interesting about his recipe was the touch of sugar that doesn’t really add sweetness but rather helps create the light, tasty caramelized crust that forms on the shrimp when you sear it. I tweaked a few things in this recipe, but the essence of it remains the same.

Seasoned shrimp.

 

1 lb. large peeled and deveined wild-caught American shrimp
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Sugar
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 clove of garlic, squeezed through a press
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
Extra Virgin olive oil
Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mash the butter with a fork, folding in the garlic. Add the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add half the shrimp in a single layer to the pan and cook it at high heat until it’s caramelized on one side, about 1 minute. Flip the shrimp over with tongs and cook for another 30 seconds. Don’t over-cook it!
Remove the cooked shrimp to a covered bowl and similarly sear the other half of the shrimp, then return the other half of the shrimp back to the skillet. Turn down the heat to medium and add the butter/garlic/lemon/parsley/oregano/salt mixture, occasionally tossing shrimp around in the pan to evenly coat them with the glaze.
If you’re serving the shrimp over pasta, increase the amount of butter and olive oil to just lightly coat the pasta. Toss the cooked pasta into the pan of shrimp to combine.
I like to season lightly at the end with a tiny pinch of Fleur de Sel. Serve immediately.

The Saturday before Labor Day is traditionally considered to be International Bacon Day. So that makes it today!

Let’s face it: there are few foods as magical as bacon. Add bacon to just about any dish you’re preparing, and it elevates it to incredible new heights of flavor. The BLT is possibly the greatest food combination ever invented: just a few simple, fresh ingredients, when placed together, transforming into one of the most amazing sandwiches on planet Earth.

BLT wraps: home-cured and smoked bacon, local farmstead romaine, home garden tomatoes.

 

If I’m buying bacon, I go on-line to Burger’s Smokehouse, a family run business in Missouri that has made great bacon for decades. The prices are good, and they include shipping. (www.smokehouse.com) I buy in quantity and freeze what I don’t need right away. My favorite is the thick-sliced country bacon “steaks.”

But I also make my own.

Bacon comes from the pork belly, and they’re easy to find in any good butcher shop. But to get something a notch above, I’ll buy a heritage breed, like Berkshire pork, from Heritage Pork International. (www.heritagepork.com)  I follow the simple curing techniques outlined in “Charcuterie,” a great book written by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

To cure bacon, all you really need is salt and sugar, and what they in the curing biz call “pink salt,” which is not to be confused with salt that happens to be pink, like Himalayan salt you would find in a gourmet store. Pink salt is bright pink to let you know that this is a special salt that should only be used in small quantities for curing. The reason is it contains nitrites. Nitrites delay the spoilage of the meat, and help keep the flavors of spices and smoke. They also keep the meat nice and pink instead of an unappetizing gray. That’s good. But nitrites can break down into nitrosamines, which have been known to cause cancer in lab animals. But let’s face it: you would need to eat a ton of cured meat to really worry about this.

To make the basic dry cure:

1/2 lb. kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 oz. pink salt
optional ingredients: granulated garlic, granulated onion

Mix the ingredients well. An important note: all salts do not all weigh the same, so go by the weight and not a cup measurement.

Once you rub the pork belly with the basic dry cure, place it in a large Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out of it, and seal it tightly. If it’s too big for the bag, you can either cut the belly into two pieces, or wrap it tightly with several layers of plastic wrap. Place it in a container in the fridge for a couple of weeks, flipping it over every few days to let gravity do its work. You’ll see that the salt will draw moisture out of the meat and form a brine. This brine will continue to cure your pork belly, so leave it in there. (The container will capture any liquid that might seep out.)

In two or three weeks, once the pork belly has been cured, wash the brine off the meat, and pat it dry with paper towels. Now it’s time to cook. You can simply cook the pork belly at 200 degrees for about 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. I place the pork belly in a digital smoker, which allows me to set an exact temperature. I smoke it at 250 degrees for 2 hours, using hickory chips.

 

 

 

Bellies in the smoker

Bellies in the smoker.

 

 

Smoked bacon

Smoked bacon!

That’s it. You have achieved bacon!

The reward is so worth the effort. Just remember that you still need to slice the bacon and fry it. Don’t eat it straight out of the smoker. That first slice you cut off your bacon and toss in a pan to lightly fry for a few moments will be the best bite you’ve ever had in your life!
And if you’re making one slab of bacon, why not make it three or four? It freezes well. And…you will eat it. You know you will!

Frying in the pan!

Frying in the pan!

I love the combination of tomato sauce and feta, and this dish, served over some pasta, will have you licking the plate.

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8 oz. (or more!) feta cheese
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, ground into sauce
1 lb. (about 24) wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium onion, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, through a press
pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Ouzo
salt and pepper

Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Place them in a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them and toss to mix. Open the can of tomatoes and puree it in a food processor.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions until they’re translucent and then add the garlic. Saute the garlic for 10 seconds, until fragrant, then add the red pepper flakes, dill and oregano. Add the tomato sauce, and cook over medium heat until the sauce has reduced a bit and isn’t watery. Add the Ouzo carefully–keep away from open flame! Add salt and pepper to taste.

Line a sheet pan with foil and pour a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Lay the shrimp down in one layer on the sauce, and then cover the shrimp with the rest of the sauce. Crumble the feta cheese with your fingers and sprinkle all over the top.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven until the shrimp has cooked through and it’s nice and bubbly. Serve over pasta.

SHEET PAN EGGS

Posted: August 27, 2017 in breakfast, Food, Recipes, sausage
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When you’ve got 20 people showing up at your house for breakfast the morning after hosting a 165-person party the night before, you want to make it all as easy as possible for yourself. Sheet pan eggs are the answer!

I pre-cook everything but the eggs the day before…I caramelized some onions, cooked sausage patties and cut them into small cubes, and wilted a couple of handfuls of spinach…then kept them in the fridge, ready to use. Grating or crumbling some cheese–cheddar or feta–is also a good idea.

2 dozen eggs, scrambled
12 sausage patties, pre-cooked
2 large handfuls of spinach, wilted in a pan with some olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced, and sautéed until caramelized in a little olive oil
cheddar cheese or feta, optional
milk or cream, optional
butter
olive oil

 

The next morning, I get a large bowl out and scramble 2 dozen eggs. A touch of milk or cream is optional. Then I add all the pre-cooked ingredients, stirring well.

The secret to successful sheet pan eggs is to make sure the pan is greased really well. Using a cube of butter, I cover every inch of the sheet pan thoroughly. Then, I pour a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the pan, and spread that around with my fingers.

Once the pan is nicely greased, I carefully pour the contents of the bowl into the sheet pan and place in a 300-degree oven.

Let the sheet pan eggs bake at this temperature, resisting to hurry the process by cranking the heat up. Higher temperatures will burn the bottom before the top is properly cooked.  Eventually, you’ll see the bottom of the pan solidify while the top is still a bit runny. Be patient! When the top is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing it into squares.

To serve, either go the sandwich route by toasting some fresh slider buns. Or simply serve a square on a plate, garnishing as you like, a little Tabasco on the side.