Friday, July 29, 2016

Seared Scallops and Capelin Roe over Mesclun Lettuce with Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette







     A Light Summer Salad!
     Grilled seafood salads are popular in restaurants these days.  When seafood is featured in a salad at a fine dining restaurant, the portion size is petite and the salad is presented with creative flair.  At casual restaurants the portion size is usually larger and the presentation style is more relaxed.
     Today's seared scallop salad has an uncomplicated presentation style that many casual restaurants employ.  At a busy American style diner restaurant or at a busy casual seafood restaurant, every salad menu item is designed to be assembled quickly, so the presentation style tends to be modest.  
     The flavors of this seared scallop salad are gentle and easy to recognize.  The sliced sweet shallots balance the sharp flavor of the Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette.  Capelin Roe is better known as Masago and this orange color roe is often used to garnish sushi rolls.  Masago has a very mild flavor that is not challenging to the senses.

     Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (3 or 4 portions)
     Blueberry Pomegranate Vinegar is not always available at common grocery stores.  To make Blueberry Pomegranate Flavored Vinegar, add about 1/4 cup of pomegranate fruit and blueberries to 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar, then gently simmer the mixture till the fruit flavor is steeped.  The vinegar mixture must be pour through a fine mesh strainer and cooled to room temperature.    
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of Blueberry Pomegranate Vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 1/3 cup of blended olive oil while gently whisking, to create a semi emulsified vinaigrette.
     Stir the vinaigrette before serving.

     Seared Scallops:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Select 6 to 8 large sea scallops.  (The total weight should be 6 ounces.)
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Place the scallops in the pan.
     Sear the scallops on both sides, till they are almost fully cooked and a few light brown highlights appear.
     *Try to only flip the scallops once.  The scallops should be medium rare in the center.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Briefly swirl the pan , so the scallops and lemon juice mix together
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the scallops on a platter and keep them warm on a stove top.

     Seared Scallops and Capelin Roe over Mesclun Lettuce with Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
     Step 1:  Mound 2 1/2 cups of mesclun (mixed baby lettuce greens) on the center of a plate.
     Sprinkle 1/4 cup of diced tomato on the plate around the lettuce.
     Step 2:  Cut 1 shallot into thin slices.
     Separate the slices into rings.
     Sprinkle the shallot rings on the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Place the scallops on the center of the salad greens.
     Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette over the scallops and lettuce.
     Step 4:  Place a small dab of Capelin Roe (Masago) on the center of each scallop.
     Garnish the plate with sliced lemon curl.

     Viola!  A colorful healthy summer salad!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cod Steamed in Banana Leaf with Onions, Capers and Tomato Sauce





     Mediterranean Style Food For Summer! 
     Today's Mediterranean style steamed fish entrée is delicious, impressive and easy to prepare!  This saucy steamed fish can be served as a light meal or as a shared appetizer.  After the fish is steamed with tomato sauce in a banana leaf, the fish is so tender that it easily flakes apart.  The result is fish that is smothered with a tasty sauce that is best when served with crusty bread.  Casually eating spoonfuls of the saucy fish on bread while sipping on wine makes for a nice summer sunset dining experience!
     Atlantic Cod is endangered and it is not sustainable.  Many Cod species worldwide have been heavily fished, so it is best to check the sustainability status before purchasing any Cod species.  Pacific Ling Cod was used to make the recipe photo example a few years ago.  Ling Cod has been in sustainable numbers in recent years.
 
     Onions, Capers and Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 2/3 cups.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Bring the wine to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/4 cups of small chopped peeled seeded overripe plum tomatoes.
     Add 3/4 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 teaspoons of capers. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of torn Italian Parsley leaves.
     Add 2 pinches of Herbs de Provence.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil,
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates and the sauce is a medium thick consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil while stirring.
     Keep the sauce warm over vey low heat.
     
     Cod Steamed in Banana Leaf with Onions, Capers and Tomato Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée (or an appetizer for 2 guests). 
     Step 1:  Heat a chargrill or wide griddle to a medium temperature.
     Soften a 14" x 14" piece of banana leaf by briefly heating both sides on the grill or griddle.
     *Heating the banana leaf will cause it to wilt, so it can easily be folded.
     Step 2:  Place the softened banana leaf on a countertop.
     Place an 8 to 10 ounce cod filet on the center of the banana leaf.
     Lightly season the fish with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Spoon about 1 cup of the Onions, Capers and Tomato Sauce over the fish.  (Keep the rest of the sauce warm till later in the recipe.)
     Step 4:  Fold the banana leaf so it completely seals in the fish and sauce.
     Step 5:  Place the banana leaf envelope on a steamer rack in a steamer pot.
     Place a heavy spoon on top of the banana leaf to prevent it from opening up.
     Cover the steam basket with a lid.
     Steam the banana leaf package till the cod is fully cooked.  (About 10 minutes.  A probe thermometer should read 165ºF.)
     Step 6:  Carefully use a spatula and fingers to place the banana leaf package on a plate.
     *Steamed banana leaves can be tender enough to split apart, so handle the banana leaf package with care!  
     Step 7:  Open the banana leaf package.
     Trim off any excess banana leaf or fold the excess banana leaf under itself.
     Step 8:  Smother the steamed cod with the remaining Onions, Capers and Tomato Sauce.
     Place a small tomato rose garnish on the plate.  (optional)
     Serve with plenty of sliced French bread on the side.
 
     The best way to served this saucy steamed cod is to set the plate on the center of the table with plenty of sliced french bread, so guests can simply dig in.  This is casual Mediterranean comfort food!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kotleti





     Russian Style Ground Meat Patties!
     Kotleti is a delicious Russian creation.  If Kotleti are served with French Fries and ketchup, then this presentation style can be considered to be a snack or street food.  Kotleti can also be be served a bit fancier as a comfortable home cooked meal.    
     Kotleti is often described as Russian Meatballs or breaded meatloaf patties.  Kotleti can be made any shape.  Kotleti are often shaped like oval patties or like mini sliders.   Kotleti can be baked, broiled or pan fried.  The finished Kotleti should be slightly crispy on the outside.
     Kotleti is usually made with ground beef, pork or chicken.  Ground turkey, wild game and even fish can be used to make Kotleti.  I made today's recipe photo example with ground pork.
     Kotleti is usually served with no sauce, but there are a variety of sauces and condiments that go well with these tasty meat patties.  Gravy, sour cream, mustard or ketchup are the simplest choices.  Sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes or French Fries are traditional accompaniments for Kotleti too.

     Kotleti:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (2 to 4 Kotleti, depending on the size.)
     Step 1:  Place 1 small peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.  (Select a potato that is enough for about 1/3 cup of mashed potato.)
     Cover the potato with water.
     Boil over medium high heat till the potato is very soft.
     Drain the water off of the potato.
     Step 2:  Place the boiled potato in a mixing bowl.
     Mash the potato till it is very smooth.
     Step 3:  Trim the crust off of some stale French bread.
     Coarsely chop the bread pith and place it in a container.  (About 3/4 cup of chopped bread pith is needed for this recipe.)
     Step 4:  Wet the bread pith with 1/4 cup of milk.
     When the bread pith becomes very soft, squeeze the excess milk out of the bread.
     Place the damp bread pith in the mixing bowl with the mashed potato.
     Step 5:  Add 7 ounces of ground pork.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of whisked egg.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 minced green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Step 6:  Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 7:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients till they are very smooth.
     *If the meat mixture looks like it is too wet, then add 1 or 2 tablespoons of fine bread crumbs while mixing.
     Chill the meat mixture to 41ºF, so it becomes stiff.
     Step 8:  Divide the meat mixture into 2 to 4 equal size portions.  (Large Kotleti or small Kotleti!)
     Press the meat portions into thick oval shaped patties.
     Step 9:  Dredge the Kotleti patties in plain fine bread crumbs.  Press the bread crumbs onto the patties.
     Step 10:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Place the breaded Kotleti in the pan.
     Sauté the Kotleti till the bottom of the Kotleti turns a golden color.
     Step 11:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a spatula to flip the Kotleti over in the pan.
     Place the sauté pan with the Kotleti in a 300ºF oven.
     Slowly roast the Kotleti till they are fully cooked and the bread crumb coating is crispy golden brown.  (Flip the Kotleti occasionally so they cook evenly.)
     Step 12:  Set the Kotleti on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to remove any excess oil.
     Keep the Kotleti warm on a stove top.
 
     Sauté Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 garnishing portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot starts to turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of thick sliced button cave mushrooms.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Saute till the mushrooms start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of water.
     Simmer and reduce, till the water completely evaporates.
     Keep the mushrooms warm on a stove top.

     Kotleti Presentation:
     Place the Kotleti on a plate.
     Place the sautéed mushroom on the plate around the Kotleti.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley over the Kotleti and mushrooms.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with some sour cream, horseradish or ketchup on the side.

     Kotleti have a comfortable aromatic flavor that is perfect for any season! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lamb Blade Steak di Asti with Buttered Farfalle Pasta





     A Italian Asti Region Style Osso Bucco Recipe Adapted For Lamb!
     Asti style Veal Osso Bucco is braised till it is tender, yet it is incredibly light on the palate.  Asti Style Osso Bucco is slowly braised with soffritto vegetables, crisp dry white wine, sage and plenty of lemon.  As one can imagine, this Asti specialty can be served any season.
     Lamb Blade Steaks benefit from braising too.  Most braised lamb recipes require a heavy rich dark braising sauce.  A good lamb steak really does not need to be smothered with a rich sauce to cover the slightly strong flavor of the meat.  A light acidic Asti style braising sauce not only mellows the lamb flavor, it helps to tenderize the meat.  The result is a very pleasant lamb steak entrée that actually is light enough on the palate to raise some eyebrows!
     Lamb Shoulder Steaks (Lamb Blade Steaks) are usually sold for a thrifty price, because the weight is about 45% bone and there is usually a thick fat cap.  One section of the Lamb Steak meat can be rather tough if it is not braised.  Lamb Shoulder Steaks are rarely served in fine restaurants and they are primarily served a home cooked meal.  This qualifies today's Asti style Lamb Steak as comfort food, while the traditional Veal Osso Bucco di Asti is a classic entrée that often is served in fine dining restaurants.

     Lamb Blade Steak di Asti:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.  
     Step 1:  Select 10 ounce lamb shoulder blade steak.
     Trim the excess outer fat cap, so it is about 1/4" thick.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauteuse pan (a deep sauté pan for braising) over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the lamb steak in the pan.
     Sear the lamb on both sides, till it is lightly browned.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic
     Add 1/4 cup of diced carrot.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced celery.
     Briefly sauté and stir the soffritto vegetables till they become aromatic.  (About 1 minute.  Do not allow the vegetables brown!)
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.  (An acidic Pinot Grigio is a good choice.)
     Add the juice of one lemon.
     Add just enough water to barely cover the lamb steak.
     Add 4 or 5 fresh sage leaves.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.  (Do not cover the pan.)
     Slowly braise the lamb steak in the oven.
     Flip the lamb steak in braising liquid occasionally.
     Braise till the vegetables and lamb are cooked tender.  Allow the broth to reduce by half and only add water if necessary.

     Buttered Farfalle Pasta:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Buttered pasta is nice with this Asti style Lamb Steak entrée.  While the lamb steak is braising, the Farfalle Pasta can be cooked.  Wait till about 15 minutes before the Lamb Steak is ready, to cook the pasta.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 small portion of Farfalle Pasta in boiling water till the pasta is cooked al dente.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Step 2:  Return the pasta to the warm pot.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Season the pasta with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
     Gently stir and toss till the butter melts.
     Keep the pasta warm on a stove top.
   
     Lamb Blade Steak di Asti with Buttered Farfalle Pasta:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.  
     Step 1:  Remove the braising pan from the oven.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice to freshen the flavor.
     Step 2:  Remove the sage leaves.
     Set the bay leaf aside.
     Step 3:  Place a portion of Buttered Farfalle Pasta on the back half of the plate.
     Place the lamb steak on the front half of the plate.
     Step 4:  Spoon the braised soffritto vegetables on the plate around the lamb steak.
     Spoon a generous amount of the thin braising sauce over the lamb and onto the plate.
     Garnish the lamb steak with thin lemon wedges and the reserved cooked bay leaf.
   
     Rarely is a braised lamb steak described as being light and lemony!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fusilli Col Buco Putanesca






     Pasta Putanesca!
     Fusilli Col Buco translates to corkscrew pasta.  Fusilli Col Buco is considered to be an artisan pasta and it can be used in place of capellini, spaghetti or linguine.
     The word "Putanesca" refers to harlot, prostitute or in a culinary sense, "A Hooker's Pasta."  Putanesca refers a quick "a la minute" pasta that was made by a lusty promiscuous wife after she got word that her fisherman husband was unexpectedly returning to home port.  Another story says that Putanesca was a low price pasta creation that chefs cooked for the hungry hookers just before dawn, after the evening prostitution business was done.  Either way, Putanesca is a quickly made cheap pasta that requires minimal preparation.  
      When I apprenticed in Italian kitchens back in the early 1980's, Putanesca always was made with a simple olive oil sauce and only items that have a long shelf life were added.  A few years later, a national chain restaurant marketed a bastardized version of Putanesca that was made with tomato sauce.  Eventually nearly every restaurant was serving the tomato sauce version, even though it was not authentic.
     Honestly, a tomato sauce does not really fit in with the theme of the Putanesca recipe, because Salsa di Pomodoro takes 4 hours to make.  Even Marinara Sauce takes 40 minutes to make.  The fisherman husband certainly would get suspicious of the wife while waiting 40 minutes to 4 hours for dinner to be made, when the meal should have been hot and ready on the table upon his return.  The olive oil sauce Putanesca only takes about 10 minutes to make, so the fisherman husband is happy and the wife is not suspected of fooling around!  So indeed, the olive oil sauce Putanesca is the authentic recipe!
     Use a generous amount of your best olive oil when making this bold tasting pasta.  Garlic is usually sliced, instead of being chopped, for olive oil pasta sauces.  Greek Kalamata Olives do not have the correct flavor profile for most Italian recipes.  Ripe Black Olives or Italian Oil Cured Olives are a better choice.
  
     Fusilli Col Buco Putanesca:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     Anchovy was once used like salt in Italy.  It is usually not necessary to add salt to a sauce that has anchovy in the list of ingredients.  Use your judgement when tasting, to see if the pasta needs a pinch of salt or not!
     The object of "a la minute" pasta is to have the sauce and pasta finish at the same time.  It is best to delay starting the sauce for a few minutes, because the Putanesca olive oil sauce only takes about half the time that it takes to cook pasta till it is al dente.   
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of Fusilli Col Buco Pasta in boiling water till it is al dente.
     Step 2:  *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks, but wait 2 or 3 minutes, because Putanesca sauce only takes 4 or 5 minutes to make!
     Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3 garlic cloves that are thin sliced.
     Sauté the garlic till it is a golden color.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 to 3 chopped anchovy filets.
     Add 10 pitted ripe black olives that are cut in half.
     Add 2 teaspoons of capers.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of fresh ground black pepper.
     Gently warm the capers and olives, while the pasta finishes cooking.
     Step 4:  *If the pasta is not finished cooking, then remove the pan from the heat.  Reheat the sauce when the pasta is ready. 
     When the pasta is al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the olive oil sauce in the sauté pan.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 5:  Mound the pasta on a plate.
     Try to expose a few olives, capers and sliced garlic on the surface, so they can be seen.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.
  
     A traditional Pasta Putanesca is very simple and it takes very little time to make!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mulligatawny







     Mulligatawny!
     The origins of Mulligatawny go back to the age of the British occupation of India.  The original Indian Mulligatawny was a black pepper broth soup with lentils and few spices.  After the British got ahold of this soup, the simple Indian Mulligatawny was transformed into something completely different.  Curry spices, apples, vegetables and meat were added.  The bastardized version of Mulligatawny in no way resembled the original recipe, but the original name of this soup was retained.
     The British version of Mulligatawny eventually became popular in Australia, where lamb was added to the recipe.  Now when Mulligatawny is mentioned, it is described as a hearty curry lamb soup with vegetables, that is sweetened with apples.  
     I have made Mulligatawny Soup in many restaurants.  Usually I make this soup with lamb scraps after fabricating leg of lamb or lamb shoulder for roasting.  Since Mulligatawny is a soup, the pieces of lamb meat can be small, so this recipe is good for making use of lamb scraps.  Thriftiness has always been a theme in British colonial cuisine!
     The best customer reaction to today's Australian Mulligatawny happened while I was the chef at a traditional English Pub.  Needless to say, the Mulligatawny was a smash hit, because the clientele craved curry.  I actually had to make a double batch every time that I put this soup on the special du jour board at that pub, because so many customers ordered a second bowl of this soup after finishing the first one.  The aroma of Mulligatawny was simply irresistible!
   
     Mulligatawny:
     This recipe yields about 3 3/4 cups.  (Enough for 2 large bowls of soup!)
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped shallot.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds, till the ginger and garlic become aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup each of these diced vegetables:
     - onion
     - celery
     - carrot
     - green bell pepper
     - red bell pepper.
     Add 1 fine chopped green onion.
     Sauté and stir till the vegetables are halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour while stirring.  Stir till the flour combines with the excess butter, but do not let the flour brown.
     *The flour will absorb the excess butter and make roux.
     Step 4:  Add 3 1/2 cups of light chicken broth.
     Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.  Stir occasionally.
     Step 5:  Add 6 ounces of small thin bite size pieces of lean lamb scraps.  (Lean lamb shoulder or leg scraps are best for this recipe.)
     Return the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1 cup of large diced apple.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Step 7:  Gently simmer the soup till the vegetables and lamb are tender.  Allow the volume to reduce to about 3 2/3 cups.  Stir occasionally.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of plain goat milk yogurt (Greek Yogurt) while stirring.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Step 9:  Ladle 1 portion of Mulligatawny into a large soup bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sliced green onion on the soup.

     This is a tasty Mulligatawny!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Spicy Mango Barbacoa Chicken & Pineapple Kabobs








     A Spicy Version Of Mango Barbacoa!
     Mixing an American style barbecue sauce with a Mango Barbacoa Sauce yields a Spicy Mango Barbacoa Sauce.  The result is a barbecue sauce flavor that appeals to nearly everybody.
     A high percentage of restaurants rely on Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce.  The problem is so many restaurants use Cattlemen's, that customers notice that the barbecue sauce tastes the same from one place to the next.  Many restaurant chefs doctor up Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce in an effort to give the sauce a signature touch, but the overbearing flavor of the manufactured barbecue sauce is easy to taste.  For example, adding chopped mango and peppers to a bottled BBQ sauce product only results in a manufactured barbecue sauce flavor with extra stuff that can barely be tasted.
     Mixing a homemade barbecue sauce with a homemade Mango Barbacoa Sauce results in a true marriage of good flavors.  This is because the ingredients are known and adjustments can be made.  A Georgia style BBQ Sauce mixed with a Mango Barbacoa yields a comfortably spicy tropical barbecue sauce flavor that is hard to beat!  
     Vertical kabob presentations are popular at tropical Caribbean resorts.  Exiting presentations are what tropical resort customers expect.  The food should be part of the vacation memories that last a lifetime!
   
     Mango Barbacoa Sauce: 
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Mango Barbacoa Sauce
 
     Georgia BBQ Sauce:  
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Georgia Style BBQ Sauce 
 
     Spicy Mango Barbacoa Sauce:
     Mix equal amounts of the mango barbacoa sauce and the Georgia BBQ sauce together in a bowl.
     About 1 1/2 cups of sauce is enough for today's kabob recipe.
 
     Spicy Mango Barbacoa Chicken & Pineapple Kabobs:
     This recipe yields 3 kabobs.  (This is 1 large portion that can be shared by 2 guests.  As far as BBQ is concerned, go big or go home!)  
     Be sure to cut all of the kabob ingredients the same size so the kabobs cook evenly.  The best size for this kabob's pieces is.
     Step 1:  Soak 3 long bamboo skewers (12" to 14") in water.
     Step 2:  Cut these vegetables into 3/4" to 1" square shapes:  
     - 6 pieces of green bell pepper
     - 6 pieces of onion
     - 6 pieces of red bell pepper
     Step 3:  Cut 6 pieces of fresh pineapple into 3/4" to 1" cube shapes.
     Cut 12 pieces of chicken into 3/4" to 1" cube shapes.  (Each chicken piece should weigh 1 1/2 to 2 ounces.)
     Step 4:  Assemble 3 kabobs with equal amounts of the vegetables, fruit and chicken.
     Step 5:  Lightly brush the kabobs with vegetable oil.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Heat a chargrill (or broiler) to a medium temperature.
     Grill the kabobs till the chicken halfway cooked.
     Step 7:  Brush the kabobs with the Spicy Mango Barbacoa Sauce.
     Continue grilling the kabobs and turn them frequently, so the Spicy Mango BBQ sauce caramelizes evenly.
     Brush the kabobs with the BBQ sauce occasionally till the chicken is fully cooked.
     Keep the kabobs warm over a low temperature spot on the grill (or keep them warm on a stove top).

     Presentation:
     The center of the thick pineapple base can be hollowed, so it can be filled with chutney.  Mango Chutney tastes good with spicy BBQ!
     Step 1:  Cut a 2 1/2" to 3" thick slice of pineapple.
     Cut a lime in half
     Step 2:  Place the thick pineapple slice on a plate.
     Brush the kabobs one last time with the BBQ sauce.
     Push the dull end of each kabob skewer into the thick pineapple, so they are evenly spaced and the kabobs stand upright.  The pointed ends of the skewers should be at the top.
     Step 3:  Spear the pointed ends of the kabob skewers through the lime rind, so all 3 kabobs are locked in place.
     Place a small piece of parsley sprig on top of the lime.
 
     A towering way to present Spicy Mango Barbacoa Chicken & Pineapple Kabobs!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Smoked Hog Jowl and Goat Soul Food Penne Rigate Pasta








     Savory Soul Food Pasta!
     Many people refer to old fashioned southern food, country food and African American cooking as Soul Food.  The benefits of soul food from a health standpoint may depend on the individual.  Cooking with the honest intention of making guests feel better and stronger is just part of what Soul Food is all about.
     A dietary study was done many years ago on Soul Food.  The findings of the study showed that the Soul Food cooking style and ingredients were beneficial for building strong muscle tone and tendon strength.
     Professional athletes and body builders in the last fifty years have used illegal steroid substances to increase muscle mass and strength the easy way.  During the peak years of of steroid usage a few decades ago, there was an African American body builder that was very strong and he had great muscular definition.  The body builder won world champion titles a few years in a row.
     The giant Afro American bodybuilder was at a news conference when a reporter asked if his secret to success came from illegal steroid usage.  The huge man smiled with sparkling teeth and he said "The secret to my success as a champion body builder is Soul Food!"  The reporters were dumbstruck, because they assumed that steroids were the only pathway to success back in those days.  The last thing they expected was to see an honest athlete that relied only on great old fashioned Soul Food for building strength.
     What the body building champion said was the truth!  Soul Food can put meat on anybody's bones.  If you want a strong body and you want to look younger than your age, Soul Food is the cuisine to eat.  Soul Food benefits those who are physically active the most.  Those who eat soul food and just laze around, will certainly have weight control problems in a short time.  This is because Soul Food is rich and the nutrients are readily available.  
     The rules of making Soul Food are simple.  No pre-made ingredients should be used, other than hot sauce and condiments.  Nothing should be wasted.  The stewing or braising pot liquor is never dumped down the drain.  Meats and vegetables must be fully cooked and tender enough to easily digest.  Simple seasonings are the only flavoring additives.
     All Soul Food must be cooked with comfort in mind.  Expensive big city gourmet food items would be out of place.  Only fresh farm food and affordable down home ingredients should be used.  Secondary cuts of meat are cherished more than filet mignon.  The most important rule is that Soul Food must be cooked with loving care and pride!
     Today's Soul Food Pasta is something that I gave some thought to for a few months, yet it is nothing new.  Noodles often take the place of rice or potatoes in down home cooking.  Southern country style cooking techniques get the most flavor out of the few simple ingredients.  

     Smoked Hog Jowl and Goat Soul Food Penne Rigate Pasta:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty pasta entrée.
     Goat meat can be found at old fashioned butcher shops.  Usually the goat meat is cut into large chunks for stewing.  Cutting the goat meat into small pieces helps it to become tender quicker.  
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Penne Rigate Pasta in boiling water over high heat till it is al dente.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil over the pasta, while tossing, so it does not stick together.
     Set the pasta aside till later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chicken grease, pork lard or vegetable oil.
     Place 4 thin slices of smoked hog jowl in the pan.  (About 2 to 3 total ounces.)
     Gently sauté the fatty jowl meat till a few golden brown highlights appear and a little bit of grease is rendered.
     Step 3:  Cut 4 ounces of goat meat into bite size cube shaped pieces.
     Add the goat meat.
     Sauté till a few brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 3 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onions and meat are caramelized to a light brown color.
     Step 5:  Add 2 tablespoons more chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green serrano chile pepper.
     Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Sauté till the second addition of onions become clear in color.
     Step 6:  Add 1 1/2 cups of chopped mustard greens.
     Stir till the greens start to wilt.
     Step 7:  Add enough light pork broth to almost cover the ingredients in the pan.  (About 2 cups.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till most the broth is evaporated.
     Step 9:  Add 1/3 cup of sliced okra.
     Add 1/3 cup of pre-cooked black eyed peas.
     Add 1 pinch of dried crushed red pepper.
     Add enough water to almost cover the ingredients.  (About 2 cups.)
     Gently simmer till the broth reduces to about 1/2 cup of rich tasting pot liquor.
     Step 10:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved portion of cooked Penne Rigate Pasta.
     Toss the ingredients together, till the pasta is hot.
     Step 11:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the pasta on a plate.  Try to expose a few pieces of goat meat and smoked hog jowl on top of the pasta.
     Pour enough pot liquor over the pasta, so there is plenty on the plate to be soaked up with bread.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with sliced white bread or corn bread on the side!

     This a good tasting Soul Food Pasta that is very satisfying!

Ham Steak Roasted Over Brazilian Peppercorn Dill Cabbage and Potato







     Simple Comfort Food! 
     During times of adjustment, comfort food is in high demand.  Easy to recognize simple food has a way of relieving stress.  Today's recipe is just about as simple as it gets.  Ham and cabbage is such a simple flavor combination that salt and pepper is usually only seasoning that is needed.  The better the ham steak is, the better the ham and cabbage entree will be. 
     Certain herb combinations go well together in comfort cuisine.  Herbs like dill weed and thyme provide familiar savory flavors that are are not challenging to the senses.  The flavor of a simple sugar cured ham steak seems to wake up when it is roasted with some thyme.  The savory flavor of cabbage is lightened up when a little bit of dill weed is added. 
     Plain old black pepper is what most people season cabbage with.  Some people become tired of the black pepper flavor and wish there was an alternative.  Seasoning cabbage with Brazilian Pink Peppercorns adds an interesting touch of smokey pepper flavor.  
     Brazilian pepper is not always easy to find at common grocery stores.  When it is available, it is usually way overpriced and it is sold in a tiny spice bottle.  A small spice bottle of Brazilian Peppercorns is useless from a cooking standpoint, because a higher amount of Brazilian Pepper is required for seasoning food, than black pepper.  Shopping on the internet for bulk spices, like Brazilian Peppercorns, can present opportunities for finding a good bargain.  Bulk amounts of Brazilian Peppercorns can be frozen for a long period of time and there will be no loss of flavor or color.
     When using Brazilian Peppercorns in a savory recipe, moisture is required to make the hollow pink peppercorn shells tender.  Crunchy crushed dried pink peppercorns sprinkled over an entrée is okay for some cooking applications, but for comfort food, it is better if the pink peppercorns are cooked on the soft side.  Cooking comfort food means making sure that every item on the plate is pleasantly comfortable to eat!

     Ham Steak Roasted Over Brazilian Peppercorn Dill Cabbage and Potato: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée!  
     A large whole sugar cured ham steak with the bone attached is best for this recipe.  The ham steak should be 1/4" to 3/8" thick.  A large ham steak that weighs 13 to 16 ounces is considered to be a single portion.  The old saying "Go big or go home" does apply to ham steaks!
     This recipe is baked in two stages.  The vegetables are given a head start, so the ham steak does not overcook and become dry.
     Step 1:  Select a deep roasting pan that is wide enough for one whole ham steak.
     Place 2 thick center cut slices of cabbage in the pan.  
     *A small head of cabbage is best.  The slices should be about 1" thick.  Minimally trim the cabbage core, so the leaves stay attached.
     Cut a 6 to 8 ounce peeled russet potato in half lengthwise and place both halves in the pan.       
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough diluted water to the pan, so the liquid is about 1/4" deep.  
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the liquid in the pan. 
     Step 3:  Brush the cabbage and potatoes with melted unsalted butter.
     Season with sea salt.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of coarsely crushed Brazilian Peppercorns over the cabbage.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of dill weed over the cabbage and potatoes.
     Step 4:  Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil.
     Bake in a 350ºF oven till the potatoes and cabbage start to become tender.  (about 35 to 45 minutes)  
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.  
     Remove the foil.
     Place a large whole ham steak over the potatoes and cabbage.  (13 to 16 ounces)
     Brush the ham steak with melted unsalted butter.
     Sprinkle 1 generous pinch of thyme leaves over the ham steak.
     Step 6:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.  (Leave the lid off.)
     Roast the ham steak till light golden brown highlights appear and the vegetables become tender.
     Remove the pan from the oven and keep it warm on a stove top.
  
     Presentation:
     When serving whole ham steaks, break out the king size dinner plates!
     Set the ham steak aside.
     Use a slotted spatula to place the potatoes and cabbage on the back half of the plate.
     Spoon some of the roasting pan juices over the cabbage.  
     Place the ham steak on the plate, so it partially covers the vegetables. 
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     Viola!  An uncomplicated ham steak entrée for any season!