Monday, July 31, 2006

Lobster Chowda

Lobster Chowder at the Harvard Club of Boston

My hubby and I were in Boston for a wedding that was held at the Harvard Club of Boston. We were served lobster chowder as a first course. The soup was creamy and the lobster meat was plentiful. Although it tasted a bit like clam chowder to me, the soup was very tasty.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups lobster meat, cut up
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/4 cup butter

In deep saucepan, saute onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and water. Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.

Add remaining ingredients, lobster meat, salt, pepper, milk, cream and 1/4 cup butter, and let it simmer on low (do not boil), for about 10 more minutes until the soup is heated through.

The beautiful bride, Ronit, and I

Monday, July 24, 2006

Spinach and Feta Mini Puff Bites

spinach and feta mini puff pastry bites

My friends and I got together on Friday to celebrate Matthew's 33rd birthday. For the occassion, I made some super simple and delicious hors d'ouvres like these spinach and feta puffs. I like using the puff pastry dough rather than the phyllo dough because it cut my time in half and I didn't have to worry about the phyllo drying out. This recipe makes between 36 and 40 mini-bites.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 36 mini-puffs)

  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach
  • 1/4-pound firm feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • About 20 grinds black pepper
  • Small dash nutmeg
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 (10 by 9.5-inch) piece of packaged puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Thaw frozen spinach in microwave according to package directions or by running under warm water. Drain spinach, squeezing the excess liquid from it. In a bowl, mix the spinach, feta, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg together.

Flour a clean, dry countertop or other flat working surface. Lay out the puff pasty on the floured surface. Flour the top of the dough. Roll out the puff pastry until it is half as thick (about 1/8-inch) and about 24 by 12 inches. Trim edges to size if necessary. Cut into 3-inch strips crosswise and lengthwise, making 32 (3-inch) squares. Make sure the squares are well floured then stack them in a little pile.

roll out the dough

Fill a little dish with some room temperature water. Imagine each square you work with is separated in half by a diagonal. Place a couple teaspoons of filling in the top half.

fill each square with a tablespoon of filling

Dip a finger into the water and moisten the edges of the top half with water.

fold opposite ends of square

Fold the bottom half to meet the edges of the top half. Use a fork to seal the edges.

then the other opposite ends of the puff and seal

Place finished pockets on a nonstick baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes until golden brown and puffy. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of Good Deal with Dave Lieberman

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blue Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers

Blue Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers

This is my modified Emeril Lagasse stuffed hamburger recipe. These hamburgers are quite tasty but if you're not a blue cheese lover, try using cubes of pepper jack or even feta! Since I do not have Emeril's "Essence" I used grilled seasoning, but you can also use Goya seasoning or your favorite meat seasoning.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/24teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grill seasoning
  • 12 ounces blue cheese
  • 4 large whole wheat buns, split in half
  • Desired condiments, such as sliced tomatoes, romaine, sliced onions, and avocados
  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill. (Alternately, cook the patties in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine the beef, garlic, salt, pepper, and grill seasoning, and mix gently but thoroughly. Divide into 8 equal patties. In a separate bowl, crumble the cheese and form into 4 equal patties.
  3. Place 1 cheese patty on each of 4 beef patties. Top with remaining 4 beef patties, pinching the edges under to seal the cheese completely.
  4. Place the stuffed patties on the grill and cook to desired temperature, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. (Alternately, cook the patties in a large skillet over medium-high heat.)
  5. Place the buns on the grill, inside down, until just warmed through, about 30 seconds. Remove the patties and buns from the grill and place on serving plates. Garnish with condiments and serve immediately.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Pan Roasted Quail Wrapped in Proscuitto

    quail wrapped in proscuitto

    During the 4th of July weekend, my husband and I visited the Stroot's condo in Baja. Michel Stroot is a famous chef of the Golden Door Spa in Escondido, California. He is now retired, but once a chef, always a chef. He specializes in healthy yet flavorful food. While we were in Baja, he bought these quail to make a pan fried quail recipe. Although we didn't stay long enough to taste his creation, my parents told us it was incredibly delicious. The recipe below is quite delicious, too, and amazingly easy to make.

    INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

    • 8 semi-boned fresh quail (preferably local ones from your farmer's market)
    • 8 thin slices proscuitto or Serrano ham
    • 16 sage leaves (fresh)
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • salt pepper
    • 1/4 cup Marsala wine
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (choose a good one!)

    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

    Place a sage leaf inside each quail and season the inside with salt and pepper.

    the little quails from Baja

    Lay another sage leaf on the breast of each quail and then wrap each bird neatly with the slice of prosciutto or Serrano ham, and season with a little black pepper but no salt. The prosciutto is already salty. The seam of the prosciutto should be at the bottom.

    Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and and two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan, just large enough to hold the 8 quail. When the oil is sizzling put the birds in breast side down and sear them for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the birds from the pan and put them in an oven-proof dish put them into a 350 degree oven for about 6 to 8 minutes.

    In the meantime pour all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and butter remaining in the fry pan, keeping any brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn the flame to high heat and carefully add the white wine and marsala and reduce by a half, scraping the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and swirl in 1 tablespoon of cold butter, until it melts and thickens making for a richer, silkier sauce. Check sauce for seasoning.

    After the quail have been taken from the oven, allow them to rest in a warm place for another 5 minutes and pour any further pan juices from the quail into the sauce. Serve the quail over some wilted spinach and spoon around some of the sauce. Magnifico!

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Chicken Breasts with Walnut Stuffing

    This may seem kind of weird, but in the summer, I tend to bake more than usual. I'm not sure why, but I'm thinking it's because I can just go home, put all my ingredients together and place them in the oven, that way I can just relax by the fan to cool off. Anyway, this recipe came out delicious. As a delicious and quick side dish, saute together string beans, corn, chopped red bell pepper and left-over roasted potatoes in butter and add thyme, pepper and a little salt.

    INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

    • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, pounded down to about a 1/4"
    • The juice of one lemon
    • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
    • 3 cups real bread crumbs, toasted (if you have stale bread, it's even better)
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup chopped celery
    • 2 teaspoons parsley flakes
    • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
    • seasoned salt and pepper
    • 1 to 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
    • 4 tablespoons of cold butter (keep in refrigerator until very end)

    Mix together bread crumbs, half of the melted butter, onion, celery, parsley, walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, and enough chicken broth to moisten the stuffing. Lay out 4 squares of aluminum foil, about 12"x 12", and butter generously.

    Make a mound of stuffing on each buttered square of foil. Set aside.

    Brush both sides of the chicken with lemon juice then with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a chicken breast over each mound of stuffing then fold foil up over the chicken to make individual packages. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Open packages to expose the chicken. Place one tablespoon of cold butter over each chicken and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more, or until juices run clear.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Veal Country Fried Steak

    My husband and I had a huge craving for country fried steak the other day after watching a cooking show about it. So off to the grocery store we went to buy cubed steak but, unfortunately, they had ran out. Instead, we found cubed veal steaks and we decided to give it a try. I'm not big on veal but this recipe came out delicious. The veal was juicy and tender and it has now become one of our favorite recipes.
    INGREDIENTS (makes 2 steaks)
    • 2 veal steaks, cubed (the grocery store sells them ready-cubed for you)
    • kosher salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 whole egg, beaten
    • vegetable oil
    • 1 cups beef broth
    • 1/4 cup whole milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    Season each piece of veal on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the egg into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Then follow by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with the other piece of veal. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
    Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the veal. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 to 6 minutes per side.
    Remove the steaks to a plate and cover tightly with foil. Set aside.
    Remove all but one tablespoon of vegetable oil from the pan you cooked the veal in--don't clean the pan because you want all those brown bits. Whisk in one heaping tablespoon of the flour left over from the dredging.
    Add the beef broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
    Season to taste, but you probably wont need it. Serve the gravy over the steaks and serve with a side a mashed potatoes. Yummy!

    Thursday, July 13, 2006


    If you've ever traveled to Mexico or live near the Mexican border, then you've probably seen corn vendors on the street. They sell elotes which basically translates to corn-on-the-cob. The elotes are steamed or grilled to perfection, then its husks removed and are served smothered in butter, lime, salt, crema, chili powder and sometimes cheese. Nowadays, vendors are selling only the corn kernels in cups with the toppings over it. I personally prefer the whole corn-on-the-cob because it's more authentic. If you are unable to find crema, you can skip it. Mmm, my mouth is watering.

    INGREDIENTS (for 2 elotes)

    • 2 ears of corn, clean and remove a few of its outer husks and some of their beards. Soak in water for 30 minutes.
    • Butter
    • 1 lime, cut into wedges
    • Salt and pepper
    • Mexican style crema (optional)
    • Chili powder
    • 1/4 cup grated dry Mexican cheese or parmesan or Romano cheese

    Set up a grill on medium-high (you can also steam or boil the corn if you don't want to grill). You can either 1. Place the ear of corn with its husk on the grill and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, turning it several times, or 2. Peel the husks down, but don't totally remove them, and wrap a piece of foil over the husks to create a handle (see picture below). Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or as soon as the kernels get a plumpy and cooked through. Remove from grill.

    Place your corn on a plate (peel the husk if you decided on method 1 above) and slather the toppings in the following order: butter, squeeze of lime, salt, pepper, crema, grated cheese and chili powder. YUMMERS!

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Goat Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Piggies

    My husband loves bacon...well, then again, who doesn't? Yes, I know it's bad for you, but bacon just makes everything taste better. He came up with this concept of wrapping a jalapeño with bacon and I created and cooked it. The outcome was this spicy, creamy, bacony "piggy" that is quite interesting. If you're an adventurous foodie like we are, give this recipe a try.

    INGREDIENTS (makes 3)

    • 3 fresh, large jalapeños
    • 5 slices of bacon
    • 2 ounces of goat cheese
    • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
    • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped (or your favorite fresh herbs)
    • Salt and pepper
    • Wedges of lime
    • 6 toothpicks, soaked in water for 5 minutes

    First, place your jalapeño peppers under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes. You want to char the skin all around, so turn them around a few times. Remove from broiler and wrap them in plastic wrap for a few minutes to steam-off the skin. Unwrap them from the plastic and remove the charred skin. Make a slit, lengthwise, on each jalapeño and remove seeds and ribs, but try to keep everything else intact. Set aside.

    Next, set oven to 375 degrees and place the bacon in a baking sheet and bake in oven for 3 minutes, then turn them and bake another 3 to 5 minutes. You want the bacon cooked through but still soft and pliable--not crispy. Remove from oven and drain in paper towels. Finely chop two of the bacon strips.

    In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese, parsley and the chopped bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

    To assemble: set the oven to broiler again. Stuff each jalapeño with about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of the goat cheese mixture. Wrap one slice of bacon around each pepper, securing the bacon with two toothpicks (see picture below). Place the stuffed peppers in a baking pan (you can use the same one you used for the bacon) and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, just to crisp up the bacon and heat the goat cheese.

    Serve in a platter with wedges of lime and enjoy. A very cold, tall beer will certainly make this meal even more enjoyable!

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Sandwich Cubano

    A perfect Cuban sandwich
    Cuban sandwiches are one of my favorite sandwiches. They are tasty and make a hearty lunch. The sandwiches have a submarine-style layering of ham, roast pork, cheese, and pickle between a sliced length of Cuban bread. The key to a great Cuban Sandwich lies in the grilling. A great Cuban sandwich is grilled in a sandwich press (called a plancha) until the ham, pork, and pickles have warmed in their own steam.

    INGREDIENTS (makes 4 sandwiches)

    • 1 loaf Cuban bread (Italian or French bread may be substituted)
    • Prepared yellow mustard
    • 1/2 pound baked ham, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 pound roast pork, thinly sliced
    • 8 thin dill pickle slices
    • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
    Slice the bread horizontally to open. Spread a thin layer of mustard on top and bottom halves of bread. Arrange ham, pork, pickle slices, and Swiss cheese evenly over the bread. Cover the sandwiches with the top halves of the bread. Cut into 4 sandwiches.


    Sandwich Press or Panini grill: Grill sandwiches in a hot buttered sandwich press until flat, bread is browned, and cheese has melted. Remove from heat; cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

    Waffle Iron: Turn over metal plates to the flat surface. Place sandwich in hot buttered waffle iron, close cover, and grill for 3 minutes on each side.

    Griddle: Place sandwich on a hot griddle, and position a heavy iron skillet or bacon press on top of the sandwich. Flatten the sandwich to about 1/4 of it original size. Grill the sandwich for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

    George Forman Grill: May also be used.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Campechana, version 2.0

    YUM! A delicious campechana!
    I've been having crazy cravings for campechanas or shrimp cocktails, lately--and no, I'm not pregnant! So I tweaked the original recipe and came up with this one. It's pretty close to the delicious version I usually get at a seafood restaurant in Tijuana. Enjoy!

    INGREDIENTS (4 large servings)

    • 1/2 cup white onion, diced small
    • 3 limes, halved
    • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
    • 1 tomato, seeded and diced small
    • 2 cups V8 Juice
    • Half of a jalapeno, seeded and diced very small (if you like heat, use the entire jalapeno)
    • 12 shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked and cut into 1/2" pieces
    • 1 can (15oz) of oysters in water, drained and rinsed
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, divided
    • 1 avocado
    • Kosher salt
    • Fresh ground pepper
    • Tapatio hot sauce, or your favorite non-vinegar based hot sauce

    In a large non-reactive bowl add the diced onion, the juice of one lime and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the diced cucumber, diced tomato, diced jalapeno, cooked shrimp, oysters, one tablespoon cilantro, and the V8 juice. Then squeeze in the juice of two more limes and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and a few dashes of Tapatio sauce. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

    Marinating the campechana

    Just before serving, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cilantro, and one diced avocado. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

    To serve: divided the campechana in 4 shrimp cocktail glasses, or large margarita glasses. Serve with a side of tostadas or tortilla chips, lime wedges and hot sauce.