Food Blog|Recipes|Product Reviws|Food Commentary|Long Island Food

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Pancetta Wrapped Cod




This isn't so much a recipe more so a technique. An easy one at that. Wrapping seafood in a salty fatty cold cut like pancetta is a good way to infuse flavor into seafood.

I heard pancetta described as Italian bacon but this is only partially true. Yes, it is from the same cut of pork as bacon but that is where the similarities end. Bacon is smoked while pancetta is cured in salt. The curing process enables pancetta to be safely consumed raw and bacon as we all no is as lethal raw as it is delicious fried. Either way both products are damn good but in their own way.

Pancetta is usually found in spirals. The best way to use the pancetta in this method is to unravel the spirial into thinner pieces and than wrapping it around the fish. This will give a more tighter wrap. Also if you try this use a piece of fish that is in a loin type shape. Other good choice besides cod would be monkfish of halibut.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Anniversary Dinner





So tonight is my two year wedding anniversary with my lovely wife. I asked her what she wanted me to make her for dinner and with no hesitation she said Fillet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce. I was more than glad to oblige her for I am too a fan of both Fillet Mignon and Bearnaise Sauce. Bearnaise Sauce is a classic twist on the mother of all sauces; Hollandaise sauce. Basically it is Hollandaise Sauce just with some Tarragon added. I am not going to post a recipe for this because there are about a gazillion of them online for you to find yourself. Instead I will just post a picture of the finished product

Monday, August 4, 2008

Product Spotlight: Microwave Egg Poacher



This post may cause some foodies to turn up their nose but I think this is a cool little kitchen gadget. I bought this thing about 3 years ago in Target for like $2. Just recently I started using it again. Basically you just put a drop of water in the cup and crack an egg on top of it. Microwave for a minute and you have an decent poach like egg. Results are very similar to a Egg McMuffin. The manufacturer is Nordic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dinner Tonight : Chicken Yakitori





If you have ever dined at a Japanese Restaurant you've probably seen or tried Chicken Yakitori.
From what I have read they are a popular street food in Japan much like Kebabs are in New York City. Essentially Yakitori is a Kebab but with an Asian flair. I've read several recipes and they vary tremendously. For this recipe marinated some boneless and skinless chicken thighs in olive oil,lemon and garlic for a few hours prior to grilling.



1lb chicken thighs trimmed of fat and cut into bite size pieces
1 Bunch of Scallions
Salt and Pepper to taste
bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes


Dipping/Basting Sauce:

40z Soy Sauce(I used lite soy sauce)
2oz Dry White Wine or Saki
2oz Orange Juice
1 heaping teaspoon of all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon of sugar
1 Dash hot sauce(optional)

This dipping sauce is super easy to make. Simply combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan under high heat. Stir until the flour is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to low. Let the sauce reduce until you have it has a nice thick texture. Use for a dipping sauce on the side and to baste the skewers while cooking.

Now to assemble the skewers I used only the bottom white portion of the scallion because they are firm enough to handle being skewered. Just trim off the bottom root and cut the white stem portions into small pieces. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers placing a piece of scallion between the chicken pieces. Place skewers on a medium hot grill. Grill for another 5 minutes or so on each side. Brush some of the sauce on right before you take them off the grill.

Serves 2 for a main course


Tips

* Feel free to use chicken breasts or other proteins for this dish

*The reason I brushed the sauce on toward the end of the cooking process is because I didn't want the sugar in the sauce to burn.

* You can use the top portions of the scallion as a garnish before serving(chopped of course)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dinner Tonight:Grilled Tofu




Nothing like firing up the grill on a nice spring afternoon. Burgers, steaks and dogs are the perfect grilling fare. How does tofu on the grill sound? I am sure the few people read this blog are navigating to the X button in the upper right hand corner of their screen but I urge you to pause for a moment. While grilling tofu may not have the same appeal as a thick rib eye steak you may be surprised with the results of a nice chunk of grilled tofu.

First thing you want to achieve when grilling tofu is a nice crust on the outside. To do this you must properly drain the tofu. I put the block of curd between two plates and placed something heavy on top. Every few minutes pour off the liquid until there is non left. Cut the tofu into bite sized chunks after draining is complete. Being that tofu is very sponge like its a perfect vechile for absorbing a marinade. I simply used fresh lime juice and soy sauce. I let it marinade for about 3 hours carefully tossing occasionally.

I then skewered the tofu and put them on a HOT OILED grill. I emphasize this because tofu can easily fall apart. I cooked them about 8 minutes in each side(turn carefully).

I served mine in a Asian inspired sauce consisting of Oyster Sauce that I thinned out with a little chicken stock and rice wine. I also put a couple of dashes of hot sauce and thickened the sauce with a slurry.

Tips:

*For grilling purposed use extra firm tofu

* Tofu is very versatile and urge you to try your favorite grill recipes(especially ones for chicken and fish)with tofu instead of meat.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Vegetable Spotlight: Fiddleheads


Fiddle me this. Have you ever walked into your local market and blindly purchased a product soly because of its odd appearance? Well I have, quite a few times actually. Recently I purchased a small spiral green which I later found out to be Fiddleheads.
This odd looking vegetable is actually a baby fern. Its harvested only in the spring and its very popular in New England and parts of Canada. The flavor of a Fiddlehead is very 'grassy' even after cooked for a long period of time.
When preparing a Fiddlehead its important to wash well and parboil them. There were a few cases food illness outbreaks in British Columbia in the 90's after individuals consumed some raw of lightly cooked Fiddleheads. Do not be swayed by this though. Its no different than say chicken right? If you eat raw of undercooked chicken you will probably get ill as well. This is what making offbeat foods fun to eat.
I prepared some Fiddleheads for my wife and I very simply.

1/2 lb fresh Fiddleads
1 Tablespoon of Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

First thing you should do is wash the Fiddleads thoroughly under cold water. Then add them to boiling water and boil for five minutes. Remove from the boiling water and pour water out. Boil some more water then and cook for five more minutes and remove.
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the Fiddleheads and cook for ten minutes. Salt and pepper to tastes and squeeze the lemon over the Fiddleheads before serving.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Wings!!!


I have to tell you I love wings. Unfortunately for the chicken population I am not alone.
Sometime in recent history some culinary genius from upstate NY came up with the idea for Buffalo Wings and since then Americans have been eating them in large quantities. Not many other foods around are as messy to eat as wings yet they are eaten with such gusto that we seem to ignore they fact that we look animal like as we consume them. In front of a television hunched over a plate of wings with blue cheese and celery pieces is a glorious place to be.

Buffalo Wings are traditionaly fried but tonight I prepared them on my grill. A part of me has always been scared to own a fryer. I envision myself at 2 o'clock in the morning frying hunks of cheese and I do not want to go down that road. Anyway,I made them with two different sauces. One a traditional Buffalo style sauce and another an Asian inspired sauce. Well actually I didn't prepare the Buffalo sauce I used a bottled sauce and as a foodie I am not ashamed to admit it. I have successfully made Buffalo sauce before it essentially is butter and hot sauce but I found a bottled brand that actually is good. It is made by Mikee. I purchased it at a speciality store but I have seen it in supermarkets as well. Its a really good product. Simply toss the cooked wings in the sauce when done. Its pretty spicy already but if its not to your liking you can always kick it up a notch with some more hot sauce.

The Asian inspired sauce I made from scratch. The base of the sauce is made from a Taiwanese barbecue sauce from a company called Bull Head. This sauce and American barbecue sauce couldn't be more different. Bull Head sauce is a known as Sha Cha sauce and China and the base is made from dried fish. The texture is gritty almost like a wet rub. The flavor of fish is subtle and it has a spicy aftertaste. I mixed it with a few other ingredients.

Asian Barbecue Sauce:

2 Tblespns Bull Head Barbecue Sauce
1 Tblespn Oyster Sauce
1 tspn cider vinegar
1 hot sauce to taste

Mix ingredients and bring to a boil then toss the wings in the sauce after they are cooked. I usually grill wings about 7 minutes or so on each side.

Tips:

* Bull Head Sauce is a common product in Asian markets

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Fish Tacos w/Pico De Gallo


I had my first fish taco in L.A. county a few years back and found them to be a nice light alliterative to the beef taco. Since then I've had them in a few different establishments here on the east coast and while I found them good I thought there was room for improvement. One common trait that I found was the deep frying of small cubes of fish. The problem I find with this method is when you bite into the taco sometimes you will get a piece of fish and sometimes you wont. I wanted to insure that I would get a mouthful of fish and every bite. Right away I though about Cod and the way it flakes when you cook it.

I wanted to top the fish taco with a fresh Pico de Gallo which is a simple condiment consisting of tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chilies.


For the Fish Tacos:

1 lb Cod
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn chili powder
1 tblspn vegetable oil
Chopped lettuce
Flour or corn tortillas.
Juice of one lime
dash white wine
salt and pepper to taste.



Wash the fish and cut into cubes. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the fish. Mix in the cumin and the chili powders. Add the wine and cover the skillet and simmer for about ten minutes. While the fish is cooking prepare the tortillas according to the package. Uncover the fish and add salt,pepper and lime juice. With a fork gently flake the fish pieces. If the fish is not yet flaky cover and cook a little longer. Arrange the tortillas on a plate and add the chopped lettuce. With a slotted spoon add the fish to the tortillas over the lettuce. Spoon some Pico De Gallo over the fish and serve.

Serves 2


Pico De Gallo:

3 large ripe tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 small chopped onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers with seeds and pith removed
3 tblspns chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving


Tips:

*Feel free to try another type of fish besides cod. Scrod will also flake similarly to cod.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Bitter Melon w/ Egg Whites and Black Beans




I really have been trying to take advantage of all of the ethnic food stores in my area lately particularly the ones of the Asian variety. In the past few months I've tried things from fermented tofu to pickled mustard greens. Some of these ingredients are an acquired taste. I tend to enjoy exotic flavors though.

One product I've tried several times recently is the Bitter Melon. This is a vegetable native to Asia that is used in many dishes and also as a alternative medicine in the far east. It resembles a lumpy cucumber and as the name implies is very bitter. How bitter? Well lets just say it makes Broccoli Rabe which some consider to be bitter taste like a jelly bean in comparison. It's so bitter and odd tasting that I can't resist its flavor. Its fascinates me.

The Bitter Melon dish I am presenting on this blog might look simple and but it actually took me a few times to get right. I made the bitter melons with egg whites and black beans. Mixing eggs with dishes in Asian cuisine is very appetizing in my opinion. Eggs provide a neutral flavor and a unique texture. They are also very high in protein which makes them a good meat substitute. Eggs are also high in cholesterol which is way I only choose to utilize egg whites in this dish.

The black beans are actually fermented soy beans. If you eat Chinese food you have probably seen or tasted dishes with Black Bean sauce. They have a have a salty and earthy taste which I covet and it compliments ts many things from chicken to seafood. In my research I have read the bitter melons are often paired with black beans so I decided to give it a try.

1 large bitter melon
2 tspns black beans(fermented soy beans)
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tspn grated ginger
3 egg whites
1 tspn low sodium soy sauce
2 tblspns cooking oil
dash of pepper
dash of chili sauce(optional)

Chop off both ends of the bitter melon and slit it lengthwise. With a spoon gently remove the seeds and the pith from the vegetable and discard. Cut into pieces about a quarter inch thick. To remove some of the bitterness I added the pieces to boiling water and blanched them for 2 minutes then quickly put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. This step is optional but if you never tried bitter melon before you may want to do this.

Add the black beans,garlic and ginger to a bowl. With the bottom of a fork mash them together until it forms a paste.

In another bowl whisk in the soy sauce and chili sauce(if using) into the egg whites.

Heat the oil in a skillet(I used a nonstick because I feel more comfortable cooking eggs in nonstick but this is optional) and heat the oil. Try to get the oil very hot. Add the black bean mixture and stir around for 30 seconds or so. Add the bitter melon to the skillet(after it was removed from the ice water and dried off) and mix with well with the black beans mixture. Grind some fresh pepper and set the heat to low and cover for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up remove the bitter melon from the skillet. If need be add more oil to the skillet and scramble the eggs. After the eggs are done add the bitter melon back to the skillet and mix it well with eggs. Remove and serve.

Servings: One main course or a side dish for two.

Tips:

* You can use whole eggs if you want for this dish

*I omitted salt from this dish because there is already salt in the black beans and soy sauce.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Restaurant Review: House Of Dosa's, Hicksville NY


Recently I discovered a new type of dish called a Dosa. Dosa's are large crepes native to Southern India. They are normally consumed for breakfast but they really can be enjoyed anytime of day.

House Of Dosa's in Hicksville, NY is a vegetarian restaurant specializing in this dish and has received stellar reviews from critics including a 25 for food in the Zagat survey. I first tried a dosa a few months ago and I was instantly hooked. They are light and flaky rice based crepes that you can get filled with a number of ingredients ranging from potatoes and onions to spinach and cheese. On a recent visit there I invited two friends for lunch who have never tried a dosa before.

The restaurant itself is in a little strip of stores on a busy road in Hicksville. There is really no ambiance to speak of. It has around 20 tables or so and the decor is modest to say the least. This not a place to come to for the surroundings. HOD is a place strictly for the food.

We started off with Lassi's, which are cold yogurt beverages served in a metal cup. My friend found the cup humorous and compared it to the cup used in Friendly's to make Fribbles. I explained to him that all the food and beverages in HOD are served in metal cups and plates. I am not sure if this is unique to HOD or the norm for these type of restaurants. Lassi's are very refreshing and the flavor really offsets the spicy food.

For lunch we ordered two dosa's and a Thali lunch special which consists of rice,pancakes and a array of different condiments. HOD also offers a number of rice dishes. I ordered the Tamarind Rice for the table which is a personal favorite of mine.
Thali Lunch Special

The first thing my friends commented on were the size of the dosa's. I too had the same reaction initially. The huge crepes overlap the plates. Dosa's are served with Sambar, which is a vegetable soup, and two types of chutneys one is a spicy coconut chutney and the other a savory coriander chutney. My friend ordered the potato and onion dosa and I had a tofu dosa while my friends wife had the Thali lunch special. Everything was delicious. The particular dosa's we ordered were only moderately spicy and the condiments with the Thali lunch special range from sweet to very spicy.
Tofu Dosa





Masala Dosa(potato and onion)





All in all I think my friends enjoyed their first experience with dosa's. As for me I just crave them all the time now and can't wait to return. *** out of ****. Excellent

Notes:

Dosa's range from $5 to $9 and they are very filling.
Waiter service is very quick and attentive.
No alcohol is served in this establishment.
Take out service is available.
Additional Parking in rear.
Website: http://www.houseofdosas.com/

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Grilled Seafood w/ Salsa Verde


Well spring has finally sprung. Baseball has started, the flowers will soon be in bloom and more importantly the grill has been unleashed. I wanted to make something different since it's been a while since my grill was lit. One that stood out was a recipe for Salsa Verde. From what I have read this is a pretty popular Mexican sauce with a base of Tomatillo and Cilantro. In case you don't know Tomtillio are those little green tomato looking things covered with a green husk. I have tried one before but not in this application.

While crawling the web for Salsa Verde recipes I saw a ton of varations . I decided to just pick and choose. So I took a ride to the market to pick up the ingriedients for the sauce. When I went to grab a bunch of cilantro I was distracted by a pungent odor. It was a strong Cilantro odor but oddly enough it wasn't coming from the Cilantro. It was another green herb which I later found out to be Culantro. Latino cuisine is definitly not my forte and I wasnt fimilar with this herb. I tasted a little piece of it and it tasted like Cilantro but a little but stronger in flavor. I went with it versus the Cilantro.


Salsa Verde

approx 1 Cup chopped Culantro(or Cilantro)
3 Jalepeno Peppers, seeded and pilth removed, chopped
4 tomatillos, husk revmoved,chopped
1 Bunch Scallions Chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped

Combine all ingriedients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Thats it.


Tips:

* If you do decide try this don't be afraid to deviate from the recipe above. Especially when it comes to the Culantro over the Cilantro. Not that it tasted bad or anything its just not authentic

* I used the sauce with Monkfish and Shrimp and it was delicious. The next night I had it with steak it also came out nice. Feel free to exipirment with Salsa Verde

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Thighs w / Lemon Thyme Pan Sauce


It's not very often that the tastiest part of the animal is also the most least expensive. Take chicken thighs for example. I purchased four lovely thighs for less than $3.00 total. Perfect for dinner for two. Thighs have many advantages over the ever so popular chicken breast. As I said previously they are more of a bargain but they are also more forgiving and better tasting. When I say they more forgiving I mean they are a lot harder to overcook than the white meat of the breast. The dark meat of the thighs also have a more richer flavor that I in particular favor over the the breast meat.

4 Chicken Thighs w/ Skin
1 cup vegetable stock(or chicken)
2 oz Vermouth(or any dry white wine)
1 small shallot minced
1 tspn dry thyme
1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Pre heat oven to 375.

Heat the oil on medium high in a large skillet and cook the thighs skin down for five minutes. Turn over and put in oven for about 15 minutes or until the thighs are cooked through and its juices run clear.

Place thighs on a plate and cover with a piece of foil keep warm. Pour off most of the oil from the skillet leaving about a teaspoon remaining. Return skillet to the stove and set to medium heat Add the flour to the skillet and whisk it together with pan oil until it is well blended. Add the shallots and cook for about a minute or so. Pour the stock into the skillet and scrape the bottom of the pan releasing all of the brown bits of goodness. Add wine,lemon juice and thyme. Reduce sauce by half salt and pepper to taste and spoon over chicken.

Tips:

* The goal of pan frying with the skin down is to get a nice crispy skin. If you are not happy with the crispiness of the skin place the thighs underneath the broiler for a few minutes. Just watch it carefully so you don't burn them

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is the Food Network losing its edge?


When I was a child I remember cooking shows on PBS like Julia Child, Frugal Gourmet and that dude that always said I garronnteee. I was too young to enjoy them I suppose but I do remember watching them for a bit with a speck of curiosity.

It's pretty interesting how currently chefs are like rock stars now in a sense. At least to some people. If you were to ask me today would I rather go see a Led Zeppelin reunion concert or go to a three star Michelin Restaurant like Per Se I would no doubt choose the later. Ten years ago it would have been a different story.

I would have to attribute my initial interest in the culinary arts largely to the Food Network. The first show that really sparked my interest in food would have to be the original Japanese Iron Chef. At first I watched it because I found the voice dubbing comical but as time went on I was more entertained by the food. At that time some of the food seemed just as foreign as the show itself but it sparked my interest.

I was living at home at those days and never really cooked anything before other than eggs. When I moved out of my house into my first apartment I was forced into the role of the cook due to my wife's culinary short comings. I was in charge of the buying and preparing the food for the house. It was pretty exciting actually I just didn't know how to cook. After some trial and error you start to figure stuff out. The Internet also has a wealth of information on it so I utilized that.

This is when I first started watching Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton Brown was really helpful. The way he broke down a certain ingredient and then teaches the viewer on how to prepare it was perfect. The show gave me confidence. He was almost like a virtual mentor to me. After I watched him explain the background of an ingredient and then prepare it I knew I could do it too. At first I tried not to deviate or be too creative. I just learned the basics and from there I spruced things up.

Aside from the above shows I mentioned above I find a lot of the programing in the Food Network is not up to par compared to what other networks are broadcasting. How did they miss out on Gordon Ramsey! This guy is Television Gold! He might be the most charismatic celebrity chef out there and they didn't get him on their channel. The Travel Channel also has two of the best food shows out there. Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations' and Andrew Zimmern'sBizarre Foods' ' are two great programs that foodies everywhere watch. Last but not least Bravo's huge hit 'Top Chef'. Now in it's fourth season this is one of Bravo's biggest hits. How can a reality show about cooking not be on the Food Network? I just find their prime time lineup very weak. Emeril finally is lost his 8pm slot to Good Eats(rightfully so). After that we are bombarded with Ace Of Cakes,Unwrapped, Diners,Drive In's and Dives and Dinner Impossible. What kind of self respecting foodie is going to watch how an Unwrapped episode about how a tootsie roll was made(hosted by dude from Double Dare) over a Gordon Ramsey show?

From what I have read The Food Network is still very successful but how long will this last? The best primetime food programs are not on their network. This should be a major concern for them. Right now their big show is the Ultimate Recipe Showdown(again hosted by the dude from Double Dare). Ok it sounds decent but are two home cooks competing in a chocolate chip cookie battle really original or cutting edge?

Everything on the Food Network just seems so sweet and wholesome. What makes like Top Chef and Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen so good is that they are full of energy. There is real drama, real tears and lot of emotion. I think they just need to step it up a bit. Take a chance on something new. Try to create a program that some people might consider edgy. Its only a matter of time until another food channel surfaces. Will they survive an ultimate food channel showdown?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Snack Spotlight: Oversized Thai Squid Snack




I found this product in the snack isle of my local Asian market last week. I've seenfish snacks of all sorts but never one this big(2 ft long). I purchased this strictly on size, not really expecting it to taste all that good. There was a card game coming up at my house on the weekend and I decided to serve it as a snack.

When I showed the package to my wife she didn't display the same enthusiasm as I did toward the snack. In fact she ridiculed it and taunted me about it. She even threaten to destroy it before my brethren and I could consume it. I feared that the squid snack wouldn't make it to the card game. I pleaded with her to spare the abnormally large sea snack and she agreed.

So card night came and it was a great time. Good friends, beer and cards. Great combination if you ask me. I even managed to win $40 whilst my rival Butter lost $40. It was brilliant.

I served some food at the game, some soprosata and arugula wrapped around bread sticks and chicken skewers with peanut sauce. I strategically waited until the beers kicked in before I presented them with the squid snack. When I did bring it out there was some mixed reactions. There was some laughter, some tears and even some fear towards it. They had never laid their eyes anything like this before.

When I opened the package there was an immediate odor of the sea. A very strong odor. My dining room was soon engrossed with it. I did not let this odor sway me however. I tore off a little piece and tried it. It had the texture of a fruit roll up . The taste was very fishy with a sweet and spicy aftertaste. It wasn't very appetizing. My cohorts agreed and we disposed of the remains.

I have no regrets nor fond memories of the squid snack. One most be open minded when it comes to sampling cuisine from different cultures but sometimes the road is rocky. There will some hits and misses along the way.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dinner Tonight:Ostrich Fillet w/ Braised Endives


Ostrich. The other red meat. Yes cows everywhere are rejoicing over the other red meat yielded by this large, rather funny looking flightless bird. Why are they rejoicing? Maybe because Ostrich meat has less fat and cholesterol than beef. Not only that it has less fat and cholesterol than skinless chicken. In a growing health conscious society I can see in the future Ostrich steaks being a staple at your neighborhood steak house. I can also imagine some loud mouth at Yankee stadium yelling out 'Get your Ostrich Dogs here' while enjoying a ball game with the family. Maybe I am reaching a little bit, but if you have the opportunity perhaps you should give a cow a reprieve for one night and give Ostrich meat a chance.


The flavor and texture is similar to beef but it does have a slight gamy aftertaste. It's versatile like beef and I don't see why it couldn't be subsituted for beef in most dishes. You do have to show caution when preparing Ostrich though because it doesn't cook like beef.


Since it is much leaner then beef(any probably most other meats) be sure not to overcook it because it will dry out fast. Marinate the meat for to ensure maximum juiciness. Also because of Ostrich's high Iron content the meat well remain more red then beef even when cooked through. Cooking time for Ostrich should be the same time as beef and should be cooked to medium.


I made a simple marinade for a 4oz portion of Ostrich tonight that I purchased vacuum packed from supermarket. It consisted of:




2 tblspns reduced sodium soy sauce
1tpsn grated fresh ginger
1 tpsn Sesame Oil
Dash of rice cooking wine
Dash Orange Juice
Marinate for one hour prior to cooking.




Add a tablespoon of oil to a hot skillet and add the meat and the marinade to the skillet. Cook about three minutes on each side and serve. Keep in mind I am working with precut thin fillet.


If you are able to get your hands on a thicker Ostrich steak you should cook it to an internal temperature of 150 degrees



For a side I made some braised endives from a recipe I lifted from TooManyChefs.com

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Veggie Egg Foo Young



EFY is a classic Chinese American dish. I say Chinese American because I am pretty sure this dish was created for American diners during the Chop Suey craze. This doesn't make the dish less delicious maybe just less authentic Chinese. It's still a very versatile dish that can consist of basically anything you desire from meats,seafood and in this case vegetables. What makes this different from your normal everyday breakfast omelet is the addition of soy sauce and the amount of oil in which you fry your omelet in. It is also smothered in gravy. Every time I have had EFY from a Chinese eatery I'm pretty sure it's always deep fried to get that crispy airy texture. While I didn't deep fry mine I did add a little bit more oil than I normally would to try to mimic the original texture of the EFY.


For Omelets:

4 large eggs
6 Shitake Mushrooms sliced
1 small onion chopped
1 handful bean sprouts
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tblspns soy sauce
2 scallions chopped
salt and pepper to tasted
Canola Oil for cooking
Dash white cooking wine

For Gravy:

12 oz chicken stock
4 oz cold water
1 tblspn corn starch
black pepper to taste

Omeletes:

Add the chopped onions and mushrooms to a hot oiled skillet with cooking wine and saute for four minutes or so or until the onion are translucent and the mushrooms are tender. Add the frozen peas and bean sprouts and toss them around a few times and empty the mixture into a large bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and the soy sauce together until the egg whites and the yolks are well blended. Add the egg mixture to the vegetables. Heat a large nonstick skillet with enough oil cover the bottom plus and additional tablespoon. With a ladle add the egg veggie mixture to the skillet and cook for about three minutes on each side or until the omelets are cooked through. Plate the omelets. Garnish with chopped scallions

Gravy:

Add cornstarch to the cold water and stir until dissolved. In a sauce pan bring the black pepper, stock and and cornstarch mixture to a boil. The mixture should thicken up into a clear gravy. Spoon over the omelets.

Serves two

Monday, March 3, 2008

Product Spotlight: Quron Garlic N Herb Chik'n Cutlets


I have always been fascinated by fugazi meat products. Sometimes they are decent and sometimes they are something people in prisons would use as a weapon rather than eat. The product I am reviewing today definitely falls into the category of decent. This is not the first Quron product I have tried. Maybe two years ago I purchased their plain chik'n cutlets and I found them rather bland and forgettable. So when I saw a flavored variety I decided to give them another try.


Quron's niche in the vegetarian food world is that it does not use soy as their base. Instead they use something called Mycoprotein. After reading the description on the carton and some more research I found out MP is actually a fermented fungi product that is naturally high in protein, and lowin calories and low in fat. Even though I am a big mushroom fan hearing the term fungi doesn't really make my mouth water. But whatever I have consumed so much questionable eats over the years some fermented fungi shouldn't really put me off.


It was easy enough to prepare 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes flipping once halfway. It actually wasn't that bad. As advertised on the carton it was crispy on the outside. The cutlet itself did have the texture of chicken more so than I remembered. It was on the dry side but considering the health benefits of it I was able to deal with it. I suppose you could sauce it up with some tomato sauce or something to offset the dryness. Maybe down the road I will consider that.


Final verdict? Well I don't think the poultry industry has anything to worry about but you may want to give this fungi a try. Especially if you are someone who is trying to cut down on cholesterol and fat in your diet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Blackened Swordfish Steaks


This is a quick recipe that can be made easily after work on busy nights. You can make this dish as hot and spicy as you like or make it more subtle if you desire. If my wife wasn't around tonight I probably would have made this dish different because she doesn't enjoy hot and spicy foods as much as I do.


2 Swordfish Steaks
Equal Amounts of:
Paprika
Garlic Salt
Dash of White Pepper
Dash of dried Thyme
Dash Of Cayenne Pepper
2 Tblspns Butter
Juice of half a lemon


Rinse and pat dry the fish. Combine the dry spices well and rub onto the fish. Let the steaks sit for about twenty minutes with the rub on them so they absorb some flavor. In a heavy bottom skillet add the butter over medium high heat. After the butter is melted and starts to foam add the fish. Cook five to six minutes or until the on each side or until they are cooked through. Make sure you do not over cook the fish otherwise it will dry out. Squeeze the lemon juice on fish before serving.

Tips:

* I used less than a teaspoon for the dried spices for this two persons serving. You can much as much as you like and reserve the rub for other dishes like chicken or other seafoods.

*To make more spicy add more White Pepper and Cayenne.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whole Canned Chicken?



First and foremost this is not a review it's more of a PSA to the citizens of the world that such a product exists. Somethings should not be canned. A whole chicken is one of them. I understand and have even purchased chicken canned chicken meat but the thought of stuffing a whole bird in a can is utterly repulsive. What would prompt someone to purchase this anyway? The only logical reason I can see is to prepare for a post apocalyptical food shortage but even then I might just vie for some Spam. I think the government should maybe budget some money to research who buys this product and do background checks on them. I might even go as far to suggest that parents who would feed this foul(no its not a typo) product to their children be stripped of the parental rights and be placed in some sort of correction faculty. Ok, maybe that's a little extreme but I feel chicken is inexpensive and easy enough to prepare that one would not have to resort to having to buy a whole cooked canned chicken.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Seared Tuna Steak


When I was a growing up I do not ever remember tuna being a staple on restaurant menus regularly. Maybe because people associated tuna with mushy meat that was stuffed into a can with an aroma akin to bait. But let me tell you tuna is no chicken of the sea its more of a Fillet Mignon of the ocean. I would have to think that the Japanese should take some credit for showing the world that to really enjoy tuna it should be consumed in a rare or raw state. Think about the first piece of sushi or sashami you ever tasted and I would wager that most people first started with a raw piece of tuna of some sort. The meaty flavor almost has no fishy taste when raw , the texture is firm and the deep red color is eye catching on a plate.

1 1/2 lb tuna steak
Chinese Five Spice
1 tspn fresh grated ginger
2 tblspn Peanut Oil
Dash Soy Sauce
4 oz white wine( or Saki )
Juice from half of lemon

Rinse and dry the Tuna Steak. Rub both sides of the steak generously with Chinese Five Spice. Heat up the Peanut Oil on medium high heat in a skillet and add the ginger. Cook for a minute or two and add the tuna. Sear for three minutes without touching the steak to insure you get good caramelazation on the outside of the tuna. Flip over after the three minutes is up. Add a few drops of soy sauce to the pan. Do not be alarmed when the Soy Sauce smokes and caramelizes. Cook for an additional three minutes and remove from pan and slice. At this point your skillet will have a syrupy glaze from the burnt Soy Sauce. Lower the heat and add the white wine to the pan scraping the pan to release of burnt bits. Add lemon juice and reduce mixture by fifty percent and pour over sliced tuna.

Serves One

Friday, February 15, 2008

Swiss Chard w. Tomatoes



Swiss Chard is an extremely healthy vegetable which falls into the generic term of 'greens' just like collard green, mustard green and kale. It is tastes very bitter when eaten in the raw state but the flavors mellow out as you cook it. You can really substitute Swiss Chard with any spinach or greens recipe. Only thing you really should take not of is the ribs of the leaves need to be cooked longer than the leaves themselves. Some recipes I've read even instruct you to discard the ribs of leaves.

1 bunch Swiss Chard
1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 tblespns olive oil
drop of white wine
dash crushed red pepper(optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the whole leaves thoroughly and dry. Separate the leaves from the ribs. Chop the ribs into bite size pieces and set aside. Chop the leaves in bite size pieces as well and put aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chopped garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add the tomato's, ribs red pepper if using and the wine. Stir everything together and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chopped leaves and cook for an additional seven minutes stirring occasionally and serve.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl Snack: Curry Dip


It was a good weekend to be a New Yorker. I'm not a big football person but on Sunday you really didn't have to be to enjoy the outcome. Congrats to Eli and company.

At my home I am in charge of all the food. I food shop, I cook and more times than not I clean up after wards. I am not complaining about it either I feel right at home(most the time) in the kitchen. My wife on the other hand is not much of a cook. This is not a knock against her at all. She is a naturally organized and neat person therefore she is better suited for other household chores.

So my brother and sister law had a super bowl party on Sunday and I figured I would be called upon to make something. I like cooking for parties. When I make party dishes I try to give guests something different than just chips and salsa. A dish to show off my culinary prowess. I did not get a chance to however. My sister in law requested my wife make her Curry Dip recipe. Now when I said my wife doesn't cook that is indeed a true statement. She does make Spinach Dip and Curry Dip quite often for parties. But I do not consider dip making 'cooking' because well, it isn't cooked. I must admit I was slightly insulted. After all I am the chef of the house and I am the one they should be asking to bring something. It then dawned on me that I do not have a signature dish. Something to distinguish me from others. Maybe my logic to make something different all the time does not work to my advantage.I need to create a specialty to give me an identity. In this new year perhaps I should find my one dish and perfect so family and friends will request my food and I could share my recipe with them.

Anyway enough ranting. My wife's Curry Dip is actually very good and this is coming from a non dip person. This is an old recipe from the 60's or 70's from I believe from her great aunt. Though there is curry in this recipe even a person who doesn't like the pungent spice should be able to enjoy it. It's has a nice tangy and spicy flavor that goes great with veggies. She chose carrot,cauliflower and celery as the dipping apparatuses. Turned out great and the guests loved it.


2 cups mayo
1 tblspn mustard powder
1 tblspn garlic powder
1 tblspn curry powder
1 tblspn horseradish
1 tblspn grated onion
1 tblspn white win vinegar
1 tblspn mustard


Combine ingrerdients and let chill for an hour before serving.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dinner Tonight: White Castle Style Cheese Burgers


For dinner tonight I was going to sous vide a Mulard Duck but I decided against it at the last minute. Instead I decided to recreate an American classic the White Castle Cheese Burger. These little belly bombers are probably the quintessential guilty pleasure. Many times I've indulged on these in my youth after a night of boozing only to wake up the next day doing shots of Pepto. Why do we subject ourselves to such punishment? Maybe because they are delicious and their mini steamed goodness is so unique that they have to be enjoyed regardless of their undesirable side effects. With the help you You Tube I finally saw how they were made and became determined to duplicate them in the comfort of my own kitchen.








1lb ground chuck
2 onions chopped
1 egg
12 Wonder Bread Dinner Rolls
Couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
Couple dashes Adobo
Few slices of American Cheese
Ketchup
2 tblespns canola oil
2 oz water


Cook the rolls as directed cut them in half and put aside. Mix the chuck,egg, Worcestershire sauce and the Adobo in a bowl well. Grab a large piece of wax paper or foil to stage the patties. Make the beef patties as flat and square as possible. You want to make them larger than size of the rolls because when the patties cook they will shrink. I achieved this by pressing them down by hand and cutting the edges with a knife to form the square. You will probably have to shape it by hand a bit as well. They don't have to be perfect but try to get them as square as possible. With your pinkie finger make several holes in the patties. After the patties are made transfer them to the freezer and let them firm up for about half an hour. I did this because White Castle burgers are cooked frozen and I wanted to be true to the recipe and technique.


To cook the onions I used a large griddle pan, if you do not have one I guess use a large skillet or maybe even a cookie sheet. Regardless of what you are using place it on your stove with the oil
and add the onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat turning them over a few times. Add the water then spread the onions out flat in a single layer and proceed to put the patties on top of them. Then place to top of the rolls on top of the patty. I know it might seem odd, even unsafe to place the bread on top of the raw meat but this is how they are made in the White Castle restaurants. This is how the burgers get their tradmark flavor and texture, the steam from the onions cook the beef and the vapors travel through the holes in the patties and are absorbed by the bun. Its actually pretty clever. Cover the everything with foil, lower the heat and let cook for ten minutes or until the patties are well down. While the patties are cooking add the ketchup on the bottom of the bun and place a piece of cheese on top of it. After that patties are well done assemble the burger and serve. I recommend a Napa Valley Pinot Noir to be paired with the burgers.


Makes approx 24 burgers


Tips:


*Add a slice of pickle to the bottom of the bun with the cheese and ketchup of desired


* Here is a link the aforementioned You Tube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spxy6LbyrGI

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snack Spotlight: Blue Diamond Maui Onion Garlic Almonds


In a market flooded with peanuts of every sort, cashews and of course the macadamia who would've thought the almond would be able to excel in such a nutty market. Flavored almonds are nothing new, in fact I remember a long time ago having smoked almonds (actually I think they just have smoke 'flavoring' added to them) and I liked them right away. Recently the folks over at Blue Diamond came out with the Bold line of almonds. One of the flavors they are selling is Maui Onion and Garlic. Maui Onion's as the name implies comes from the volcanic rich soils of Hawaii and from what I have read are very sweet compared to the yellow onion most of us cry over here in the mainland. I am sure the onion flavor in the almonds pales in comparison to the real thing but they do indeed have a sweet onion taste with a bite of garlic. Almonds themselves are very low in carbs and high in Vitamin E and Monosataurated Fat(the good fat the lowers cholesterol). Next time your are in the chip aisle on your supermarket try picking up some of these bad boys instead

Monday, January 28, 2008

Family Recipe:Potato Dumplings




There are few dishes from my childhood that spark nostalgia more than potato dumplings(Kartoffelkloesse in German), or as my family refers to them potato balls. This is a traditional potato German dumpling usually served with a nice pot roast or Saurbraten. It is perfect to sop of some gravy or to enjoy with a pat of butter. Usually when I make this recipe I do so along side with my grandmother. When I inquire on why she does certain things when preparing the potatoes, or recommend an additional ingredient my suggestions are shot down quciker then the red baron. This is how she was taught to make them and she refuses to deviate. I shouldn't argue though because they are constantly delicious.

5 lbs Idaho Russet Potatoes
10 tablespoons all purpose flour + extra for dredging
5 tablepoons farina
4 eggs
2 table spoons salt
Water for boiling


Rinse the potatoes and boil until they are soft 20-30 min. Let the potatoes cook and proceed to peel the skin off of them. After they are peeled put them through a Potato Ricer into a pan large enough to hold five pounds of potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your hands. This is a very messy job, one of my cousins uses rubber gloves to preform this task but I will leave that up to you. Once everything is all mixed well you can starting making the dumplings. You are going to want to give yourself plenty of space to do this. Lay out a few large pieces of wax paper and make a pile of flour on the paper. Grab a handful of the potato mixture and roll them around in your hands until you form a smooth ball. You want to make them a slightly larger than you would a meatball. Coat them with flour and add to a pot of boiling water. Boil the dumplings at for eight minutes in water making sure not to crowd them in the pot.



Yields: 28-35 dumplings


Tips:


* Traditionally these dumplings are enjoys boiled but they are very good if not better fried. To do so cut the dumpling in half and fry in butter until brown and crispy on the outside

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti Pie




This is a simple recipe that isn't a show stopper but it is a nice 'comfort food' type of dish that works well on a cold winter evening. As I stated in previous posts I find normal spaghetti and meats balls in red sauce a little boring and its always nice to try something different. In this recipe I used the whole wheat pasta to mimic a pizza crust and added some homemade meatballs and three different cheeses to concoct more healthier alternative to pizza.


1/2 14 oz box of whole wheat spaghetti
2 eggs beaten
4 mid sized meatballs sliced
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoon fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese grated
8 oz tomato sauce
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta one minute less according to instructions drain and add to large bowl. Add beaten eegs,Parmesan cheese ,Italian Seasonings,salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer the ingredients to a ten inch cooking pan lightly sprayed with Pam. Take your ricotta and spread it over the pasta's surface with the bottom of a spoon. Try to leave about an half inch of pasta uncovered around the parameter because the pasta will form a nice crust. Next spread the tomato sauce over the ricotta, then spread the mozzarella over the sauce. Place the slice meatballs on top of the mozzarella and bake in a 375 degree oven for twenty five minutes. Garnish with chopped basil.

Yields 3-4 servings or if you are really hungry 2-3 serving or if you want to make a spectacle of yourself 1 serving


Tips:

*To make slicing the meatballs easier I put them in the freezer for a half hour to firm them up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Involitni Of Beef




This is a Giada Di Laurentiis recipe. Its a nice twist on Braicole. Here is the link to the recipe on The Food Networks Website:Click



Tips:


* You are going to want to pound the beef to get it as thin as possible and to increase the surface area. By pounding the beef it will aslo help tendorize it. Best way to do this is to place the beef slices between two pieces of plastic wrap drizzled with water. Pound the beef lightly moving from the middle to the outside of the slices

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Rotini w/ Vegetables and Brie Cheese

More likely than not you eat pasta on a regular basis. It's okay to admit it you are not alone. Also more likely than not you enjoy your pasta with tomato sauce. This is also not a crime as most people do as well. I find it hard to get excited about pasta and tomato sauce though, because this is something I have been eating my whole life. In this recipe I tried to spruce up the everyday favorite with vegetables and Brie Cheese. Yes I know adding a French cheese to a pasta dish might sound odd but the brie melts then coats the pasta giving it a well needed kick that you will enjoy.

7 Oz. Whole Wheat Rotini
Approx 5 oz Brie Cheese
4 Oz. Tomato Sauce
7 Asparagus Spears, trimmed cut into 2" pieces
1 Bell Pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
6 Cherry Tomatoes halved
5 larges basil leaves torn
Juice of half a lemon
3 oz white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash red pepper flakes(optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook pasta as directed and set aside. Heat up the olive oil in a large hot skillet and add the chopped garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about two minutes making sure you don't burn the garlic. Add the pepper and the asparagus. Cook for one minute stirring once or twice. Stir in tomato sauce,wine and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove cover and add pasta. Stir the pasta once to cover it in sauce. Now the Brie is a very soft cheese and it is hard to slice Removed the rind of the cheese and with your fingers pull off small clumps of cheese, about one inch in size. Spread to pieces of cheese over the pasta evenly. Add the cherry tomatoes and cover letting the cheese melt about a minute or two. Remove cover and stir so the melted cheese coats the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves over the pasta and serve. 2-3 servings




Tips:

* Use any pasta you like but I recommend the Rontini or perhaps a Fussili. You want a pasta with a lot of crevicesfor the cheesy sauce to get stuck into.

*Shave about two minutes off the cooking time of the pasta for it will continue to cook while it's in the skillet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Antipasto


Antipasto is proof that you can achieve pure culinary perfection without actually lighting a flame. Few items marry as well as assorted Italian Hams, cheeses and marinated vegetables. When I created this I finally have an idea what Da Vinci must of felt when he painted the Mona Lisa. Instead of a canvas I had an aluminum pan. Instead of paint I had prosciutto. Regardless when I was finished I knew I made something special. I did not feel guilty though when I marred the molto bello display of salty pleasures when I jolted my serving fork into the dish. This is because the true beauty is revealed in full when take your first slice of sopressata. Molto rispetto antipasto, molto rispetto

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti Squash / Tomato Sauce




First and foremost I'd like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. I figure I would start the new year on the right foot with a hearty healthy dinner. Spaghetti Squash has always intrigued me. There are not many things that grow in nature that can subsitute pasta but S.S. pulls it off. Like pasta S.S. itself does not have much flavor but you can cook it in garlic and oil or in this case serve with tomato sauce. The sauce I used is all homemade void of any fat like butter or oil and is fortified with protein rich Kidney Beans






1 Spaghetti Squash around 3 lbs

1 15oz can Red Kidney Beans

3 Large Tomatoes chopped



1 Small Onion chopped



1 Sweet Red Pepper chopped



1 Garlic Clove chopped



6 Cremini Mushrooms Sliced



1 teaspoon dried Basil



1 teaspoon dried Oregano



Salt and Pepper to taste









Sauce:

Add the chopped tomatoes,pepper and onion to a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add the the mixed ingredients to a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to skillet. Then stir in all of your spices and cover. Let everything simmer for thirty minutes stirring occasionally.Stir in the mushrooms for the last ten minutes of cooking.

Squash:


Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stringy pulp completely. Place the S.S. face down in a glass pyrex and fill the bottom with a about a half inch of water. Bake for forty five minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove the S.S. from the oven hold one of the halves vertically over a large bowl. Scrape the inside of the S.S. with a fork. The flesh should come out stringy resembling spaghetti. Repeat the same procedure with over half. At this point you can either transfer the S.S. to a plate for serving or you can use the empty halves of the S.S. as a bowl and serve with the tomatoe sauce on top.
Tips:
* The seeds of a S.S. are very similar to pumpkin seeds and are delicious toasted. I rinsed off all of the seeds and removed any pulp that was attached to them. I then sprayed them down with Pam and salted them up. Put in the oven with the S.S. for twenty minutes.


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