Monday, April 28, 2008

Cocktail Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons
Creole mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Sauce: 1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup grated yellow onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs, except the oil and butter. Mix well with your hands. Form into individual meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter. In a large skillet, heat the oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning until brown on all sides. Transfer to a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking to dissolve the sugar and combine. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is bubbly, 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Spring Rolls

Hot Chinese Mustard Sauce:
4 tablespoons Chinese dry mustard
2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons
rice vinegar
4 tablespoons pickled ginger liquid
1 lemon, juiced
Pinch turmeric
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg yolk*
1 tablespoon chile oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil

Aromatics: 1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled
3 large cloves garlic
2 green onions
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup peanut oil
Pinch salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch sugar

Filling: 1 large onion, julienned
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/4 pound shiitakes, discard stems, julienned
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1 large yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 small green cabbage, julienned
Peanut oil, for stir-frying
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound glass noodles, soaked in water for 10 minutes, chopped into smaller strands
1/4 cup mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons chile paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

To form spring rolls:
Spring roll wrappers
1 egg with 1 tablespoon each water and cornstarch, beaten together for egg wash
Peanut oil, for deep-frying

Prepare the Hot Chinese Mustard Sauce. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil. Stir until well blended. Slowly whisk in the peanut oil until emulsified. Refrigerate, covered until needed.

Prepare the aromatic mixture. In a food processor, combine the ginger, garlic, green onions, and red pepper flakes. Turn on machine, slowly add oil, and process mixture to a puree. Saute mixture for 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

Prepare the filling. In a wok, stir-fry each vegetable separately in peanut oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in noodles, mushroom soy sauce, chile paste, sesame oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool completely. When cool, blend the filling mixture with the aromatic mixture.

When ready to form the spring rolls, squeeze out all the excess liquid. Make the spring rolls. Place about 1/2 cup of prepared filling per spring roll wrapper. Roll and seal edges with the egg wash. Repeat the process until all filling is used. In a deep pot, with about 4 cups peanut oil heated to 350 degrees F., deep-fry in batches of 4 until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Trim off the ends and slice diagonally. Drizzle top with Hot Chinese Mustard Sauce. Serve immediately.

Chorizo, Bean and Cheese Nachos

1 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from casings and crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt Water
Homemade Tortilla Chips, recipe below, or large, restaurant style corn tortilla chips
1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 small white onion, sliced into thin rings
5 large jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and chopped, or to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large skillet, cook the chorizo, garlic, and cumin, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sausage is browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. To the fat in the pan, add the pinto beans, chili powder, salt, and 1 to 1 1/2 cups water (depending on the moisture in the beans). Cook over medium heat until warmed through, smashing with the back of a heavy wooden spoon or potato masher until chunky/smooth.

Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large, oval ovenproof platter or in a large baking dish, spread 1 layer of chips. Top with a layer of 1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the sausage, cheeses, onion rings, and chopped jalapenos. Repeat with another layer of chips, beans, sausage, cheese, onions and jalapenos. Bake until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is hot, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and lime juice, with a pinch of salt. Drizzle over the nachos, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Homemade Tortilla Chips:
9 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
4 cups corn or vegetable oil
Essence, recipe follows

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

In batches, add the tortillas to the oil, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook until golden brown, turning once, about 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season lightly with Essence. Serve warm or use to make nachos.

Yield: 3 dozen chips

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Burrito Bar

Black Bean Filling:
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil,
1 turn of the pan 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic,
chopped 1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro,
a palm full 1 teaspoon ground cumin, eyeball it in your palm
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
Coarse salt

Chicken and Chorizo Filling:
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
3/4 pound boneless chicken breast tenders, diced
1 teaspoon dark chili powder
Coarse salt, to your taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 pound chorizo, casing removed and diced
12 burrito size flour tortillas

2 cups roasted salsa, see below
1 1/2 cups grated Pepper Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups white smoked cheddar, shredded
4 to 6 scallions, chopped
1 heart romaine lettuce, chopped
Green Onion Sour Cream, recipe follows

Roasted Salsa:
4 plum tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small onion, peeled and cut across into 3 thick slices
3 or 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
Handful cilantro leaves
Coarse salt

Heat 2 nonstick skillets over medium high heat. In the first, add 2 tablespoons oil, jalapeno, garlic and onion for black beans. Saute 2 or 3 minutes, add beans and seasonings and cayenne pepper sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In the second skillet, add oil and chicken. Season chicken with chili powder and salt and lightly brown the meat, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, red peppers and chorizo and saute 5 to 6 minutes, then reduce heat to low.

For salsa, heat a skillet over high heat. Add whole tomatoes and a seeded jalapeno, skin side down, and the thick slices of onion. Allow the tomatoes, pepper and onion to char on all sides. Add blackened tomatoes, pepper and onions to a food processor. Pulse grind the salsa with mint and cilantro leaves. Season salsa with coarse salt. Char and soften tortillas by holding them over hot burner 15 seconds on each side.

If you do not have gas burners, heat your dry skillet you used for salsa and cook tortillas 1 at a time in the pan 15 seconds on each side. Pile tortillas near stove and line up your toppings. Serve fillings out of the pans you cooked them in.

Green Onion Sour Cream:
2 cups sour cream 1 lime, juiced and zested
3 scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until the sour cream is pale green and scallions are finely chopped. Serve with burritos. Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Homemade Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese and Chives

4 Yukon gold potatoes, about 2 pounds
Peanut oil, for frying
Kosher salt
1 pound bleu cheese, finely crumbled
1 bunch chives, chopped

Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin 1/8-inch slices using a mandolin or sharp knife. Rinse the slices in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Drain them and pat them dry.

Put about 3 inches of oil into a large deep pot; it should not come up more than half way. Bring the oil up to 325 degrees F over medium-high heat. Working in batches, carefully add the potato slices, a dozen at a time. Stir them to make sure they are not sticking together. Fry until they are a golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain them well on paper towels; season with salt. Repeat with the remaining potato slices.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a layer of the chips onto a baking dish and sprinkle with some of the bleu cheese and chives. Place another layer of chips onto that and some more cheese and chives. Continue until you have used up all the chips and cheese. Put into the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Garnish with more chives.

Chips and Veggies with Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 sack chips
available on snacks aisle of market
1 pound baby cut carrots
1 green bell pepper, cut in strips
4 stalks celery, cut into sticks

Combine cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs, milk, black pepper in food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl.

Serve with chips and veggies.

Mexican Stuffed Tomatoes

5 yellow vine-ripe tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 jarred pimentos, drained and chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 small zucchini, 1/4-inch dice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in palm of your hand
2 tablespoons, a handful, fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the bowl

Cut the tops off 4 tomatoes and trim a thin slice off the bottoms so that they will sit upright easily. Hollow out the tomatoes with a spoon over garbage bowl or sink. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Remove stem of remaining tomato. Seed and chop tomato.

In a bowl, combine chopped tomato, pimentos, onions, zucchini, jalapeno, lemon juice, oregano and cilantro or parsley. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the bowl. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the bowl in a slow stream or about 2 tablespoons.

Toss mixture to combine and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Fill the empty tomatoes with stuffing and serve.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, one turn of the pan
24 large gourmet stuffing mushroom caps, stems removed and reserved brushed with damp towel
Salt and pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, half a turn of the pan
3/4 pound sweet bulk Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, chopped
20 stems mushrooms, finely chopped
1 rib of celery and green, leafy top from the heart of the stalk, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (10-ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 slices white bread, toasted and buttered, chopped into small dice
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano, 2 handfuls

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and mushroom caps and season caps with salt and pepper. Saute caps 5 to 7 minutes, until they are lightly browned and tender on edges. Turn caps up and let juices drain away from caps.

Transfer caps to a small nonstick baking sheet. Wipe out skillet and return to heat. Add a touch of oil and sausage to the hot skillet. Brown and crumble sausage for 3 minutes. In a food processor pulse and chop the garlic, add mushroom stems and pulse to chop the mushroom stems.

Add celery, onion and red bell pepper to the mushrooms and pulse to chop. Remove mixture from the processor and saute veggies and mushrooms over medium high heat another 3 to 5 minutes.

Add dry, defrosted spinach and stir into stuffing. Add chopped bread and cheese to the pan and toss stuffing until bread is moist and stuffing is combined, 2 or 3 minutes. Fill caps with stuffing using a small scoop or large spoon.

Place caps in hot oven and reduce heat to 450 degrees F. Bake 6 to 8 minutes to crisp edges of stuffing and set stuffing in mushrooms.

Transfer stuffed mushrooms to a serving plate.

Grilled Chicken Pitas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (1/4 pound)
1/4 cup olive oil

For the yogurt sauce:
8 ounces (1 cup) unflavored yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil cooking spray
1 large Vidalia or purple onion, cut into thin rings
6 pita breads
1/2 head romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1 (10.6-ounce) jar kalamata olives, drained, halved, and pitted, or other black olives
12 slices bacon, fried crisp
Alfalfa sprouts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the chicken breast and pat dry. Combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the oregano in a glass dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the chicken breast to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Combine the tomatoes and feta cheese in a small glass dish. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the olive oil, and the remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, and stir to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, walnuts, and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Spray a grill basket with olive oil. Grill the chicken breasts over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink in the thickest portion of each breast. Spread the onion rings over the surface of the basket and grill while the chicken is cooking. Turn the basket frequently. The onion rings will blacken as they cook; this will also take 8 to 10 minutes. When the chicken and onion rings are cooked, place the pita breads on the grill for about 2 minutes per side, until grill marks show. Slice the chicken into very thin pieces.

At serving time, put out all of the ingredients and allow each person to assemble sandwiches: Split each pita. Place several slices of grilled chicken, 3 or 4 slivers of onion, a tablespoon of tomato-feta mixture, lettuce, olives, and 1 or 2 slices of bacon into each pita. Top with yogurt sauce and a wad of alfalfa sprouts. Add salt and pepper, to taste.