Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Cod Over Brussel Sprout Puree

(click picture for larger view)

Who doesn't like almost ANYTHING wrapped in bacon? I chose to wrap this filet of cod because it is a meaty piece of fish, and it was the best option A&P had. Other robust fish to utilize could be monk fish, haddock or pollack.

Brussel Sprout Puree: 5 or 6 ounces of fresh brussel sprouts. One clove of garlic, chopped. One quarter of a small white onion, chopped. Extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper.

For the fish: One 10 ounce filet of cod. Five pieces of bacon, flattened with the sharp side of a knife. Zest of one half of a lemon. Rosemary, thyme, pepper and a dash of garlic powder.

Preparation: Blanch the brussel sprouts, bottoms cut off. Add them to a food processor with garlic, onion and a few tablespoons of olive oil. While this is pureeing, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add more olive oil as you need, to reach the necessary consistency.

Next, preheat the oven to 400 and lay out the bacon, each piece overlapping each other. Season the top of the fish with the zest, rosemary, thyme, pepper and garlic powder. Lay the fish on top of the bacon, top down. Repeat seasoning on the bottom of fish and complete the wrapping.

In a cast iron or another oven proof pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and place the fish in the pan on the stovetop, over high heat for one minute. Place the pan in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. You want the bacon to be slightly brown.

Remove from oven and plate on top of the puree.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cabbage Soup

(click picture for larger view)

If you're looking for a new, hearty winter soup, look no further. It's a combination of pork, veggies and a wonderful smokey flavor. 

Ingredients: Vegetable oil, about 1/2 lb of smoked bacon (feel free to use more if you'd like), 2 lbs of ham hocks, 1 medium onion (chopped), about 6 chopped carrots, 2 1/2 or 3 lb green cabbage, 5 or 6 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 bay leaves, 32 ounce carton of chicken broth, 2lbs of red potatoes (cubed with skin), salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, all to taste.

Preparation: Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Add the bacon and cook until slightly brown. Next add the ham hocks, onions and carrots. Cook until the onions are slightly wilted.

Add the cabbage, garlic, bay leaves along with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook until the cabbage is also slightly wilted, then add the the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Next, add the potatoes, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup, let cool and pick off the meat and add to the pot. Skim the top of the soup to remove any excess fat and remove bay leaves.

If you like heat, add more cayenne to your bowl. It goes very well with this soup.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Potato, Bacon & Leek Chowder

(click picture for larger view)

It's that time of the year again where it's cold outside and hearty soups warm you right up on the inside. This chowder is so creamy and smokey from the bacon, it's so delicious.

Ingredients: A few tablespoons of butter and olive oil, 4 cups of milk, 6 cups of chicken broth, flour, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of red potatoes, 1 pound of smoked bacon, 2 large or 3 medium sized leeks and a handful of chopped parsley.

Preparation: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, after it has been chopped. Cook the bacon, mixing often, until browned. Do not cook the bacon till crisp. Next add the sliced leek and cook until tender about 6 minutes or so.

Combine the milk and about 8 tablespoons of flour in a bowl and whisk. Slowly add the milk mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. Add the broth, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender. I like thicker chowder so while it is simmering, I usually whisk in more flour to my desired thickness. When potatoes are done, I mix in the the parsley. To serve, I garnished the bowl with grated cheddar cheese and sliced scallions. I used a mandoline for the scallions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sausage Sangie (Sandwich) With Fennel, Celery and Red Onion Slaw

(click picture for larger view)

This sangie (sangie is my nickname for sandwich) is a nice change of pace from the good ol' sausage and peppers. Everything comes together extremely well.

Ingredients: Sweet or hot Italian sausage, ciabatta or portuguese rolls, butter, garlic, fennel, celery, red onion, red wine vinegar, sugar and parmigiano reggiano.

Preparation: For the slaw, I sliced the bulb of the fennel very thin, reserving the fronds. Next I halved the celery and sliced three stalks lengthwise, very thin as well, reserving the leaves. A small red onion was also sliced very thin from end to end. Now, I added about 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and sugar to a small pot and brought to a boil for sugar to dissolve. Combine all veggies, fennel fronds and chopped celery leaves to a large bowl; add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss and set aside.

The sausage was prepared in a pan over medium heat, drizzled with olive oil and browned. A few minutes before the sausage is ready, preheat the broiler for the bread. I normally use ciabatta bread for this sangie, but the store had none left, so I substituted portuguese rolls. (FYI - ciabatta is Italian for slipper) Tear out the insides of the rolls and place in the broiler. While the rolls are toasting, crush a few garlic cloves, add them to a small pot with butter, and melt. 

Serve: Pour the butter and garlic on both sides of the toasted bread and grate some of the parmigiano reggiano. Place a nice amount of the slaw on the bottom roll, top with the sausage and ENJOY!  

BTW: If you'd like to eat healthier, substitute chicken sausage and don’t use butter. I'd suggest as soon as the bread comes out of the broiler, grate, using the roll as the grater itself, a fresh piece of garlic on the crust instead.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


(click picture for larger view)

Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable dish consisting of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic, bell peppers, and various herbs. This is usually served as an accompaniment, as I did to veal cutlets, but has also been known to serve as an entree.

Ingredients: For the eggplant, I used Italian eggplant, (Italian eggplant is smaller than American eggplant and usually less bitter), plum tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, yellow onion and garlic. I subtracted bell peppers and added cremini mushrooms and okra to the mix.

Preparation: For the eggplant, zucchini and squash: All were halved then quartered and cut into one inch pieces. The garlic is finely chopped. One large yellow onion: cut the ends, peeled, halved end to end, then cut into 1/8's. I blanched the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are blanched, the skin is easily peeled off. (Blanche is a cooking method that requires the plunging of vegetables, pasta or proteins into boiling water very quickly, until cooked, then removed and plunged into ice water to stop the cooking process.) The mushrooms were cut into 1/3rd's. For, the okra, I cut off the tops and a slight bit of the tips, then halve across (not lengthwise).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil was heated in a large saucepan, over medium. Next garlic was added. After a minute or two, I added all veggies to the pan, covered and lowered heat. Keeping an eye and stir often, I added fresh parsley, thyme and Herbes de Provence. In order to avoid the veggies getting mushy, you can do one of two things: Keep a close eye and do not overcook or prepare all veggies separately and combine and heat all together.  

FYI: I like to add red chili flake when I eat this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Fall Back" In Love With Pork Chops

(click picture for larger view)

It's the time of the year where certain ingredients and flavors just taste so right. This plate consists of pork chops accompanied by sautéed pears and red onions, which all add up to a fabulous fall delight.

For the meat: One side of each chop was lightly brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Then, seasoned with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, freshly chopped rosemary and thyme, and finished with a touch of Morton & Basset ground allspice. (Allspice, also called "Jamaica Pepper", is a spice which is the dried, unripe berries of the pimento tree. The name allspice was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavors of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.) Next, I lightly coated the seasoned side of the pork in flour, placed the pork, floured side down, and repeat oil, seasoning and flouring. The meat was cooked in a bit of vegetable oil on medium/high heat, four minutes on each side.

Pears and Onions: One extra large or two medium red onions quartered then cut into 1/8's. Four Bosc pears, halved, quartered, cored, then cut into 1/8's (skin stays on). I added extra virgin olive oil to large pan. Once the oil was heated, I added a few tabs of butter. According to my eye, it was about 3 to 4 tbsp. Once butter melts, I add the pears and onions, season with salt, pepper and grate one whole nutmeg. Sauté and toss frequently, until pears are tender but not mushy, approximately 10 to 12 mins. Lastly, I sprinkled brown sugar (approx 2 tbsp) over the pan, cook another minute or two, plate next to the chops and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

American Style Healthy Stuffed Peppers

(click picture for larger view)

 The Low Down: Stuffed peppers is a dish which exists in different names and forms around the world. Stuffed peppers in American cuisine is a dish where bell peppers (red and green), are typically filled with a stuffing such as ground beef mixed with breadcrumbs and/or cooked with rice, egg, herbs, spices, (especially paprika and parsley), and cheese. Recipes vary, but often include the following steps: removal of the seeds of the pepper, stuffing them, covering with cheese, and baking the combined filling until the peppers are soft. A sauce may be served with them, often a tomato sauce, but this, too, varies greatly.

Preparation: I decided to be health conscious and utilized ground turkey (instead of ground beef) and brown rice (instead of white rice) as the main ingredients. I started off by cutting off the tops of the peppers, and clean the insides. Next, I mixed the turkey meat with the brown rice that I have prepared beforehand. As the meat and rice are mixed, fresh onion, celery, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder were added. In a large bowl, everything is generously combined by hand, then I continue to season by eye and taste. Notice, no cheese in this dish.

Next I turn on the oven to 375 to pre-heat. Once my meat and rice mixture is complete, I add it to the hollowed out peppers by spoon. Then, I puree fire roasted tomatoes and cover the stuffed peppers on top, adding a few chunks of tomatoes as a garnish and sprinkle with fresh oregano and basil.

Place the dish in the oven, uncovered. The peppers will remain in the oven for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.

Food For Thought: Green Jalapeno Tabasco is a great compliment to this dish.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Healthy Pork Chops with Grilled Veggies

(click picture for larger view)

Are you into eating healthy and cutting out those nasty carbs and gut building fats? My last chicken dinner was very health conscious (chicken with leek and asparagus) as well is this pork and grilled veggie plate.

Preparation:  I sliced one large yellow and green zucchini, and two white onions about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Next, I grabbed about eight asparagus, chopped off the inedible, hard bottoms and set aside all veggies.

Wash three 3 inch pork chops off and let them dry. Next, soak them in low sodium soy sauce for about 20 minutes and turn on your broiler to heat up. Afterwards, I rub the chops in a bowl with the some of the remaining soy sauce, paprika, salt, pepper and (manually) minced garlic. After the chops are ready to be thrown into the broiler for 30 - 35 minutes, I mix the veggies with EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and place them on the grill, and continue to flip every 5 minutes or so (be sure to achieve grill marks).

I'm Just saying: Proper serving temperature for pork is medium. Pink in the middle is safe, juicy and totally delicious. Please do your mouth a favor and do not over-cook the pig.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Leek and Asparagus

(click picture for larger view)

This dish happens to be a healthier version of another chicken recipe that I came up with. I'd like to offer some information regarding the two vegetables on this plate.

Leek: Spring and fall are the high seasons for leek, when they will be small and tender. The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The dark green portion is usually discarded, since it has less flavor and as the leek grows, this part becomes woody and very chewy. Leeks have similar nutritional benefits as onions and garlic. They provide a good source of iron, fiber, vitamins B6 and C.

Asparagus: Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten. Once the buds start to open, the shoots quickly turn woody and become strongly flavored. It is a highly prized vegetable, which is grown in countries like United States, Mexico, Peru, France and Spain; though it originally came from the Mediterranean region.  

Preparation: My first action was to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, I sliced four thin leeks to about 1/4 inch thin. Then, I chopped about 12 pieces of asparagus into thirds, discarding the hard, non-edible bottom. Afterwards, I placed the veggies in a large bowl with the cleaned chicken breasts. I added olive oil, white wine, fresh rosemary and thyme, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and a tab of butter to the bowl. Everything was generously mixed together by hand, to coat every "star" of the dish.

Once the oven was heated, I placed the chicken and the veggies into a pyrex dish and then to the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. While the dish is roasting in the oven, I prepare my balsamic reduction, which will be my "garnish" to the plate. For the reduction I used Colavita Balsamic Vinegar. It's not the best, but it's not cheap, so it works (don't use cheap balsamic to reduce). I poured the balsamic into a pot, added freshly sliced garlic, thyme and a bit of sugar. I let the vinegar come to a boil and run for a few minutes then turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes and removed the garlic. Once it has reduced to 1/2 or a 1/4, remove from heat and place to the side.

Once the chicken is done in the oven, lay it over the leek/asparagus mix and drizzle the balsamic reduction on top to complete the presentation. This is such a juicy chicken dish. I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Salsiccia Rigatoni

(click picture for larger view)

Gimme Some Info: Salsiccia is Italian for sausage. So, here we have "Sausage Rigatoni". The word rigatoni comes from the Italian word rigati, which means “ridged” and is associated with the cuisine of southern and central Italy.

This is a fantastic family-style dish. Along with the pasta and sausage, comes sweet green peas, cherry tomatoes (although you can use various types of tomatoes as long they are in season, i.e, grape, campari and even heirloooms, but they would need to be on the smaller side), cannellini beans (which are white Italian kidney beans) and portabello mushrooms.

Preparation: To start this off, I added garlic and shallots to olive oil. Next, I browned the sausage, then sweat out the mushrooms. In the meantime, I am boiling the rigatoni to slightly less than al dente, set the pasta to the side and preserve a bit of the pasta water. Next, I add vegetable stock, pasta water, tomatoes, then cover with lid. A few minutes before the tomatoes are about to burst, I add the pasta, peas and cannellini beans (they add a great texture to every bite) and allow it to cook in the sauce. Once heated and tomatoes burst, I add chili flake, toss and serve.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frutti di Mare

(click picture for larger view)

For The Shell of It: Frutti di Mare is Italian for "Fruit of the Sea", representing a dish with a myriad of seafood flavors that is popular along the coast of Italy. While this dish can include all types of seafood, the most popular seem to be shellfish. Remember to clean and scrub the shells!

Preparation: In this particular dish I prepared it with shelled extra large fresh shrimp, large scallops and Cherrystone clams (named for Cherrystone Creek, Virginia). The seafood is prepared with garlic, shallots, white wine, pasta water. Next, sweet cherry tomatoes were added. Lastly everything is tossed with fresh basil, chili flake and angel hair pasta. Oh, and Italian bread is a must to help soak up that delicious broth.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chicken Milanese

(click picture for larger view)

Chicken breast, pounded out to about one inch thick, breaded with panko. Next, I season the panko, with fresh herbs and seasoning. I fry the chicken on medium heat, four minutes on each side. The chicken is accompanied by a mix of Belgium Endive and Radicchio salad tossed with lemon and olive oil. This dish makes the avid chicken aficionado glee, and at the same time it is healthy, fulfilling and delicious.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flounder Fish Tacos

(click picture for larger view)

For this particular recipe I reccomend a lighter, flakier fish like a tilapia or flounder. Prepared with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Lightly fried with a bit of vegetable oil. Then placed on a soft taco lined with tartar sauce, then topped with fresh mango (tossed in honey), chopped white cabbage, black beans, diced red onion and drizzled with sriracha sauce. Perfect for any summer day by the beach or at home.