Saturday, February 25, 2006

Oysters Rockefeller

Growing up in Southern California I was exposed to all kinds of sea food during my childhood. A favorite sea delicacy of mine is oysters. I love them raw with loads of fresh lemon juice, garlic and Tabasco sauce! If you're not a fan of raw oysters, then you should try the oysters Rockefeller. They are just so yummy and luxurious and a nice glass of Prosecco is a great companion to these hoity-toity oysters.

INGREDIENTS (Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium; serves 6)

  • 24 oysters, shucked
  • 24 bottom oyster shells
  • 1 9-or 10- ounce package of frozen creamed spinach, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons Pernod, optional
  • 4 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
  1. Have your fish monger shuck 24 oysters and retain the bottom shells (you will be placing the oysters on the bottom shells to grill them). Rinse and dry bottom shells, if necessary. Keep oysters in the refrigerator until just before you want to grill them.
  2. Line up the oyster shells on a sheet pan or cookie sheet and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the thawed creamed spinach and mix in the Pernod, if using. Place about a tablespoon of the spinach mixture into each shell. Top with an oyster and sprinkle generously with the cheese.
  4. Take the tray to the pre-heated grill, gently place the oysters, shell side down, on the cooking grate (if all of the oysters do not fit, you may need to do this in stages). Close the lid and grill for 10 minutes. There is no need to move the oysters while cooking, and do not try and turn them!
  5. Remove from grill to an oyster plate or another platter and eat while warm.
Recipe and pictures from

Friday, February 24, 2006

Super-Quick Spicy Mac & Cheese

As you all know, I have an unhealthy obsession with Rachel Ray (by unhealthy I mean because I cook everything she makes, thus not terribly healthy for my body...jeez!). And I have always been a fan of "real", homemade baked macaroni and cheese with the béchamel sauce and the gruyere cheese, but when you're in hurry, this version tastes (almost) as good as the original. The added chopped jalapeños give this recipe that extra bite we all seek in life!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni (3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • One 4-ounce can mild or hot chopped jalapeños or other green chiles, drained (1/2 cup)
  • Two 8-ounce packages of mixed shredded cheeses, such as Wisconsin and Vermont cheddars, or American and Monterey Jack
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and stir in the pasta. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and shake well.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your broiler.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of the milk and the butter over medium-low heat.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch until smooth.
  5. When the milk and butter come to a boil, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring, until the milk returns to a boil. Stir in the chiles and then the cheeses, reserving a handful of cheese.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pasta. Pour the mixture into a large casserole, sprinkle with the reserved cheese and broil until the top is golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cheddar, Bacon and Apple Sandwich

Sometimes grilled cheese sandwiches can be very passé, but when I saw this recipe on the Artisanal website, I just had to try it. I'm not a big fan of grilled cheese sandwiches because, to me, they are not very flavorful. But these babies are full of flavor. The cheddar cheese, apples and bacon play with your taste buds...and you're going to like it.

INGREDIENTS (makes 3 sandwiches)

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple, sliced into 1/8" slices
  • 1 cup grated Tillamook Cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bread, such as sliced French bread or thick country bread
  • Butter, softened
Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line your bacon on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes until the bacon is cooked and crispy. Remove from oven and place bacon on paper towel and set aside. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Spread about 3 tablespoons of cheese onto 3 slices of bread. Arrange 3 to 4 slices of apples over the cheese, then top with two pieces of bacon. Spread 1 to 2 more tablespoons of cheese over bacon and top each sandwich with remaining slices.

Lightly butter the outside slices of bread. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle on medium-high. Place each sandwich, butter-side down, on the skillet and toast for about 2 minutes. Turn sandwich over and toast other side.

Now put the sandwiches on another baking or pizza pan and bake them in the 350 degree oven until cheese has melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Slice each sandwich in half and serve with a side of pickles or my super-quick homemade spicy mac & cheese.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spicy Chicken and Cashew Nuts

This chicken and cashew dish is a one pot wonder. You basically only need a large 4 quart pot or Dutch oven and voila, you're done! As always, most of your time will be consumed in chopping and getting the ingredients ready, but once you start cooking your dish will be done in about 15 minutes. Try to get roasted and unsalted cashews and use pure maple syrup; this is the secret ingredient!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 TBSP. Olive oil
  • 1 TBSP. butter
  • 2 lb. chicken tenders
  • Your favorite dry rub or McCormick Montreal seasoning
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 small can water chestnut slices, drained
  • 1 TBSP. Tamari or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 to 4 TBSP. chipotle in adobo, chopped (use less if you don't want it spicy)
  • 2 TBSP. honey
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup whole cashews, roasted and unsalted
  • 4 TBSP. cilantro, chopped
  • Salt
  • Cooked Jasmine or White rice
  1. Season the chicken tenders with your favorite dry rub or with McCormick Montreal seasoning. Cover with plastic and let it marinate in the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile get all your ingredients out and cut your veggies.
  3. In a large 4 to 6 qt. pot or Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter on medium-high. Add the chicken tenders and cook in batches for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pot (do not drain oil) add the sliced onions and sauté for 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the sliced red bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Now add the frozen green peas, water chestnuts, tamari (dark soy sauce) and cumin. Add the cooked chicken tenders back into the pot and the chipotle in adobo sauce. Raise the temperature to high. Cook, mixing it gently for 2 more minutes.
  6. Lastly, add the honey, maple syrup and cashews and cook for 3 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed. Remove from heat and add the chopped cilantro last and mix well.
  7. Serve the chicken and cashew with a side of cooked Jasmine or white rice. If you want, sprinkle a few chopped scallions over each serving.
Recipe modified from Everyday with Rachel Ray.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Restaurant Review: Blue Bayou @ Disneyland

Blue Bayou inside Disneyland 1313 S Harbor Blvd Anaheim, CA 92802-2309 (714) 781-4565

After 30-something years, I finally dined at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland. You know which restaurant I'm talking about, right? Do you remember getting on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride back in the 80's and as the boat took you to the land where 'dead men tell no tales,' there was a restaurant off to the right-side? Well, that's where I went. Of course, I had to make reservations a few days ahead since the restaurant gets booked solid on the weekends.

If you don't know the Blue Bayou, then let me describe the restaurant: It's always a starry night inside (the ceiling is painted black and faux stars shine above). This semi-elegant and romantic eatery overlooks the tree-shrouded entrance of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Strings of Japanese lanterns and candles set a dramatic backdrop, with faux frogs and critter noises completing the swampy effect. Fireflies flicker in the distance, creating a romantic vibe, while attentive service provides a welcome respite from the madding Disneyland crowds outside.

The menu is Creole-Southern Style with a California accent--and the food is reasonably priced compared to all the other overpriced food and merchandise Disney sells to the public. My husband (who got on Space Mountain twice!) ordered their specialty: Bayou Roast Pork Loin. It is a jerk seasoned pork loin and served with root beer spiced apples, their famous Blue Bayou potatoes and fresh sautéed vegetables $16.99.

I got the Roast Prime Rib of Beef served with creamy horseradish sauce and au jus. The prime rib is accompanied by Blue Bayou potatoes (I opted for a veggie side instead) and a Southern-style popover brimming with fresh sautéed vegetables $17.99. If you go during dinner time, add about $5 to each entree.

The one good thing about the Blue Bayou is that they don't serve alcohol (actually, there is no alcohol served in all of Disneyland) this way the bill is always reasonable. Our total was just over $40 bucks and it was worth it. So if you plan on visiting Disneyland soon, make sure you call ahead and make a reservation. You'll enjoy dining at the Blue Bayou restaurant!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Grilled Stuffed Apples

I was skeptical in trying this recipe because I didn't think a dessert smoked with hickory would taste good. Boy, was I wrong. Who knew that the taste of smoky hickory went so well with apples and cinnamon? And it even tastes great when you combine it with vanilla ice-cream. Make sure you eat them while they are still hot!


  • 3 Apples, cored and hulled
  • 4 TBSP. Brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP. Butter, cubed
  • 1 TBSP. raisins (optional)
  • 6 Graham crackers, finely crushed up in a zip-loc bag
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 large Marshmallows, each one sliced in half
  • 1 cup hickory chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Prepare your grill for indirect grilling on medium-high.

In a bowl mix the butter, brown sugar, raisins, graham cracker, nutmeg and cinnamon with a fork or use your fingers until combined and crumbly.

Next, cut a little bit of a slice from the bottom of each apple so that they can stand upright. Core the apple from the top and hull it out, removing all seeds and be careful not to cut through to the bottom or sides.

Stuff each apple with the crumble mixture and top each apple with a slice of marshmallow.

Next, strain your hickory wood chips from the water and put them in a packet made out of aluminum foil. Poke a few holes in the foil and place the packet over the fire.

Next, put the apples on the grill (away from the fire) and grill for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or with a side of vanilla ice-cream.

Rosemary and Garlic Grilled Chicken a la Brick

Grilling chicken with a brick is the best tip we've ever gotten. Generally, we don't grill much chicken because it tends to overcook and dry out. However after we tried it the "a la Brick" way, the chicken came out fabulous and juicy (kind of like me!). It was so juicy and flavorful and it only takes about 8 to 10 minutes to grill. So if you don't have any bricks laying around in your house, go to the Home Depot and buy a couple. At about 60 cents each, a brick is going to be one of your favorite grilling tools.


  • 4 Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (6 to 8oz. each)
  • 1 TBSP. garlic (about 4 cloves) pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 TBSP. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil
  1. Generously season the breasts on both sides with salt, cracked black pepper, and hot pepper flakes. Sprinkle the breasts with garlic and rosemary, patting them in with your fingers. Arrange the breasts in a baking dish. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over them and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes, turning several times.
  2. Wrap your brick(s) in a couple of sheets of foil.
  3. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to high.
  4. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken breasts on the grate, all going the same way, at a 45 degree angle to the bars of the grate. Place a brick on top of the chicken. Grill the breasts until cooked, 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning the breasts after 1-1/2 minutes to create an attractive cross-hatch of grill marks.
  5. Serve the grilled chicken with a side of grilled cabbage or a spinach salad.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Grilled Cabbage with Bacon and BBQ Sauce

My husband and I are totally hooked on Steve Raichlen's BBQ University DVD. I got the DVD for Christmas and we watch it every Sunday to get inspired on what to grill that day. I know this sounds weird, but grilled cabbage is our absolute favorite. You have to try it to believe it. Last month, Matthew grilled a huge one for our party and it was gone in a jiffy. We grilled a smaller head last Sunday for the both of us and we were fighting for the leftovers.


  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 2 TBSP. butter, cubed
  • 4 bacon strips
  • 1/4 to 1/3 really good BBQ sauce such as Bone Suckin' Sauce or Sweet Baby Ray's
  • A handful of hickory chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Salt and pepper
Pre-heat your grill on medium-high and set it to grill in the indirect grilling method.

Meanwhile, place the bacon in a shallow plate that is microwaveable safe. Microwave for 2 minutes. Turn bacon over and microwave another 2 minutes. Remove bacon and cut into bits. Reserve the bacon fat. Put the bacon bits back in the micro and cook for another minute. Set aside.

Make a ring out of aluminum foil slightly smaller than the diameter of the cabbage. You are going to use this ring to balance the cabbage on the grill.

Remove some of the outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice about 1" to 1-1/2" off the top of the cabbage, leaving it with a flat-top.

With a pairing knife, carve a hole at the top of the cabbage, about 1/2" deep and 2" in diameter (see picture).

Add the bacon bits in the carved hole, then drizzle the entire top with the reserved bacon fat. Next, sprinkle some salt and pepper, top it with the BBQ sauce and place the cubed butter all over it.

Next, remove your hickory wood chips from the water and put them in a packet made out of aluminum foil. Poke a few holes in the foil and place the packet over the fire.

To grill: Place the aluminum foil ring on the grill, then place the cabbage in it to balance it upright. Grill the cabbage "indirectly" for about 40 minutes. When ready, cut into wedges and serve with a side of BBQ sauce.

Sinfully delicious!