Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip

Lemon chicken skewers
I don't know what it is about Ina Garten's cookbooks that I love so much, but I am totally addicted to her cooking. Many of her recipes look complicated, but in reality they are really easy and quite fabulous. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because it reminds me of Minnesota...yeah, Minnesotan's love food on a stick, and this chicken skewer is awesome during the summer. So get your grill ready and start cookin'!


  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Cool slightly and cut diagonally in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skewer with wooden sticks and serve with Satay Dip.

SATAY DIP (makes 1 ½ cup)

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and serve as a dip for chicken skewers.peanut satay dip

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Garlic Broccoli

In exactly 30 days from today my friend, Kerry, will be getting married to Mr. Sean, and my hubby and I are going to their wedding in Boston. Kerry is actually one of the original members of our now-defunct cooking club, which we called Boston Bites. She is currently attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales University and I totally admire her for that. Hopefully one day I'll be able to go to culinary school, too.

Anyhoo, I bought a fabulous dress to wear to her wedding...unfortunately it's a size too small! So, in an effort to lose 10 pounds within the next month, I've been cutting down on pasta--which I absolutely love--and I'm making healthier versions of recipes. For example, this garlic broccoli dish is stupendous. I absolutely love garlic and I could probably eat this every day. I only use the most minimum amount of oil and butter, so if you're not on a diet, you can add a bit more if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4, but you'll probably eat the entire thing yourself)

  • 1 bunch of fresh broccoli florets, about 12 ounces
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Wash broccoli and cut into small florets (they also now sell bags of fresh broccoli florets already washed).

Place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave for 2 minutes or until broccoli is barely tender and still bright green. Make sure you don't overcook it. Remove from microwave and drain and set aside.

Add olive oil and butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the chopped garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, just until the garlic starts to soften and it begins to slightly turn golden. Raise the heat just a little and caramelize, NOT BURN, the garlic. It will turn into a golden light-brown color. Quickly remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside, but leave the oil and butter in the skillet. **The oil will be slightly dark because the butter will be caramelized, too.

Add the steamed broccoli, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes to the skillet and sauté for one minute. Lastly, add the caramelized garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until it's all heated through and combined.

Place the broccoli in a serving bowl and serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blood Orange Mimosa

Here I am enjoying my bomosa.
To me, Sunday's are bittersweet. They are great because it's usually on a Sunday that you get to eat a big breakfast, or even have crepes for brunch, and/or you're nursing a hangover from the awesome night before. Yet, it's also bitter because you know that Monday is coming and you have to start the daily grind again. But, in order to ease you into your Monday humdrum, having a mimosa on Sunday will do you wonders. Now this particular mimosa is not just your typical OJ and champagne. No, no, darling, this is freshly squeeze blood-orange (or sangüina in Spanish) and slightly more expensive champagne. So buy yourself a bottle or Korbel or Mumm, and serve up the blood-orange mimosas, or Bomosa, as I like to call them.

INGREDIENTS (serves 8 people--or 4, if I'm there)

  • 1 bottle Korbel champagne
  • 2 cups blood-orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 8 blood-orange slices

Mix the champagne with the blood-orange juice in a large jug. Garnish each glass with a slice of orange. Serve, enjoy and eat your crepes! My cousin Fernanda thankfully didn't like her bomosa, so I got to drink it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Crab-ology at Macy's School of Cooking

Chef Melchior at the Macy's School of Cooking in Mission Valley, San Diego
Last week I decided to attend Macy's School of Cooking here in San Diego. Since I can't afford going to a real culinary school, this is my way of learning new techniques. Although the class was interesting and cheap (it was $10 bucks), it actually felt more like an advertisement since one of the representatives from Phillips Crab was there promoting their canned crab product. I did learn about the different parts of a crab and the variety of crab meats as well as simple recipes using real crab meat, but I felt like I could just watch the same stuff on the Food Network. The chef leading the class was Alexandria Melchior of Bambu Bistro. I've never been to her restaurant which, unfortunately, hasn't had any good reviews, but she seemed very personable and did explain everything she was doing.

The attentive class

One of her recipes that I really enjoyed was the crab and gorgonzola cheese quesadilla. Basically you heat a flour tortilla on a skillet with a little olive oil. Add a handful gorgonzola cheese, a bit of jack cheese, lump crab meat, caramelized onions and cilantro. Then top it with another flour tortilla and cook on the other side until the cheese melts and it becomes toasty. The quesadilla was tangy and sweet at the same time and I just never would've thought of pairing crab meat with gorgonzola cheese. If you're not a fan of the blue cheeses, you can simply use a jack cheese or even gruyere cheese.

My $10 slice of crab and gorgonzola quesadilla

Lastly the chef didn't give out any recipes, but we all can make quesadillas, can't we? Chef Melchior also made crostini with a crab-cheese mixture on top, but it wasn't really a hit for me. If you're interested in Phillips Crab, you can check out, and even purchase, their crab meat here. All in all, the class was comme ci, comme ça, and I suppose I got my $10 worth of free food and crab meat tasting.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oven-Fried Chicken

Yummy oven-fried chicken
I've always shied away from making fried chicken mainly because I could never tell if the chicken was done or if the chicken was properly marinated and seasoned. But after watching Ina Garten make her oven-fried chicken on TV, I decided it to give it a try—with my twist, of course! Her recipe only calls for a lot of kosher salt and ground black pepper, however I found that by adding additional seasonings, the chicken is extra flavourful. So if you feel like making awesome comfort food for your family tonight, give this a try.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 8 pieces of chicken, such as bone-in-breasts, thighs, and drumsticks
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • ½ teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt
  • Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them, and 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, ½ tablespoon salt, ½ tablespoon pepper, one tablespoon McCormick Montreal Seasoning, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt in a large bowl and mix well. dredge the chicken in seasoned flourTake the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.

Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces. fry the chicken for 3 minutes on each side

Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

I got this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, the feisty Italian chef on the Food Network. This is basically her twist on schnitzel, which I do enjoy making. A nice gremolata or even risotto would go nicely as a side dish. What I love about this dish is that it's affordable, easy to make, and come on, who doesn't love a pork chop?

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 (1/2 inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate.
  2. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere.
  4. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
  5. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Turkey Cakes with Morel Sauce

    turkey cakes smothered in morel cream sauce
    Earlier this year when I was on holiday in Minnesota, I was introduced to morel mushrooms. I had never seen an actual fresh morel mushroom because they are usually sold in dried form here in Southern California. However, up in the Minnesotan-Wisconsin region, these lovely 'shrooms grow wild and they are plentiful. The mushrooms have a very meaty and nutty taste and really wake up bland meats such as chicken or turkey. I played with the ingredients in trying to recreate the pheasant cakes with morel mushroom cream we had at Legends Grill in Prior Lake, MN. It didn't come out exactly the same, but it was still yummy. If you don't like asparagus, you can omit them from the morel sauce...I just used them because I had leftovers.

    INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

    • 1 oz. dried morels, reconstituted in warm water for 30 minutes and roughly chopped
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1/4 c. panko or breadcrumbs
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    Morel Sauce
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/3 cup asparagus, cut into 1/2" pieces (about 3 spears)
    • 1 oz. dried morels, reconstituted in warm water for 30 minutes and roughly chopped
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

    In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and sauté until soft, about 2 minute. Add 1 ounce morels and minced garlic, and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about another minute. Put mixture in a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

    Once it's cooled, add the ground turkey, worcestershire sauce, egg, parsley, parmesan cheese, panko and salt and pepper to the shallot and morel mixture. Combine the mixture, without overworking it. Shape into 4 patties about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

    Spray large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add patties; cook 4 minutes. Turn patties; cook 4 more minutes or until no longer pink in centre and internal thermometer inserted into centre of turkey reads 165°F. Cover the patties with foil and place them in the warm oven while you make the sauce.

    Morel sauce: Wipe the same sauté pan with a paper towel and heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot and asparagus for one minute, then add remaining one ounce of morels and garlic. Sauté for another minute then stir in the white wine. Bring to a boil then simmer for a couple of minutes, or until wine is reduced by half. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer until the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste then place the warm turkey patties in the sauce and simmer for about a minute. Serve the sauce over the turkey patties and a side of Minnesotan wild rice will go well with this dish, too.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Remembering Ireland

    Up Dungourney!
    It seems like it was only yesterday that I was in Ireland with my husband and parents. It was definitely a journey I’ll never forget. Every year when St. Patrick’s Day comes around, I get very nostalgic for the beautiful Irish landscapes, the incredible Irish people and excellent Irish cuisine. Oh, and I don’t want to forget the excellent Guinness Beer—another Irish import—and whiskey.

    I think my sister-in-law and I may do something special for St. Patrick’s Day today. We’ve both been craving corned beef and potatoes…and don’t forget Irish coffees! Or we may go to a party…but believe me, whatever we do will not compare to actually being in Ireland. It is truly one majestic gem.

    Sheep at the Kinery's Farm in Dungourney

    One of my favourite things about our trip to Ireland was all the incredible food we had. I don’t think we ever had anything bad there. In recent years, fish is becoming very popular in Ireland and all their smoked fishes are excellent. smoked fish in IrelandBut what can I say about the traditional Irish breakfast…probably the best breakfast in the world. I think every morning we had a fried egg, rashers, sausages, boxty and white or black pudding.

    a typical Irish breakfast

    I was incredibly surprised when we made our way to Galway and I had what had to be the best mussels ever. If you ever find yourself in Galway, you must go to the Druid Lane restaurant and try their fresh Galway Bay Mussels. Un-freaking-believable.

    And, of course, no trip to Ireland is complete without making a pilgrimage to the Guinness brewery in Dublin. As you all know, I’m not a beer drinker, but I have to say that the Guinness I had in Ireland was probably the best ever! So, whatever you decide to do for St. Patrick’s Day, just be safe, keep it authentic and for crissakes don’t order any Irish car bombs—that’s the most anti-Irish drink ever!

    Me in front of Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Boxty - Irish Potato Pancakes

    Boxty on the griddle,  boxty in the pan,  if you can't make boxty,  you'll never get a man.
    It's amazing how St. Patrick's Day is a much bigger deal here in the United States than in Ireland. But it is still so much fun. My husband's family has a tradition of watching The Quiet Man (yes, it's that John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara movie) every St. Patrick's Day. I'm still getting used to their tradition—I find the movie quite silly, to tell you the truth—but I have definitely gotten used to their Irish food. There is nothing like good, authentic Irish food that sticks to your bones...and what is more authentic than boxty (Irish potato pancakes)? Believe you me, you will love these fried up cakes, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!!


    • 1 cup raw, grated potatoes
    • 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup (about) milk to mix
    • Butter or oil for frying

    Place the grated raw potatoes in a clean cloth and wring to remove excess moisture.

    Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine flour mixture into raw potatoes, mashed potatoes, and eggs. Add a little milk, if necessary, to make a pliable dough.

    Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and add butter or oil. Drop potato batter by the tablespoon into the hot pan. Brown on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Butter each boxty and serve hot.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Irish Brown Bread

    Traditional Irish Brown Bread
    When I was in Ireland last October, I fell in love with the brown bread that the Irish serve with just about every meal. Brown bread is hearty bread with whole wheat flour, oats, wheat germ and it tastes incredible when you spread some real Irish butter all over it. But a secret of this delightful bread is that just about every household in Ireland makes the bread from a mix...yes, a mix! There are several excellent brown bread mixes out there. I personally have used Odlums Brown Bread Mix but I hear that McCann's also has a good bread mix. Oh, and if you actually want to make traditional Irish brown bread from scratch, here's the recipe. If you make it, let me know how it came out.


    • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
    • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
    • 3 tablespoons toasted wheat bran
    • 3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
    • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats (do not use quick-cooking oats)
    • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 2 cups buttermilk
    1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Do not start until the oven is hot.
    2. Butter and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
    3. Put the first 8 ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
    4. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles fine meal.
    5. Scoop out a well in the flour and pour in about ¾ of the buttermilk. With your fingers draw the flour into the buttermilk, mixing them with as light a touch as you can. The dough should come together easily into a soft ball, if it is too dry add a little more buttermilk but avoid allowing the dough to become sticky.
    6. Turn the dough onto a floured board and transfer dough to prepared loaf pan. Place in the oven immediately.
    7. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 400ºF. Bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and knock on the base of the loaf - if it sounds hollow it is done. If not, return to the oven for about 5-10 minutes more.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Irish Seafood Chowder

    Irish Seafood Chowder
    One of the best seafood chowders I've ever had was at the restaurant inside the Old Midleton Distillery (a.k.a. Jameson's Irish whiskey) in Midleton, Ireland in County Cork. Perhaps it was all the whiskey we had that day, but this dish had it all: the right amount of creaminess, potatoes and seafood cooked just right. And the Irish brown bread served on the side with real butter made the dish become one of the most memorable to me—and my family. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the actual recipe they use there, but this one is somewhat close. But if you ever want to have the best seafood chowder, then you're just going to have to make a trip to Ireland!

    INGREDIENTS (Serves 8)

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 10 oz)
    • 1 celery stick, finely sliced
    • 1/3 cup button mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small dice
    • 3 tomatoes, cut into small dice
    • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
    • A pinch of saffron strands
    • 1/4 cup Pernod (or dry, white wine if you can't find Pernod)
    • 1 quart (32 oz) of fish stock
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 lb mixed fresh fish fillets, such as salmon, cod, swordfish or monkfish, cut into 1 ½" cubes
    • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • ½ cup whipping cream
    • 4 tablespoons finely sliced scallions, to garnish

    Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion, celery and mushrooms over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the potato, tomatoes, tomato puree, saffron strands, and Pernod. Bring to a boil then add fish stock, and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil again, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and then cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

    Purée half the mixture in a food processor, then return it to the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Bring back to a boil and add the fish and finely chopped parsley. Stir in the cream. When the chowder has returned to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

    Ladle into eight warm soup bowls and garnish with the scallions, and serve immediately with a side of Irish brown bread.

    Monday, March 12, 2007

    Traditional Irish Champ

    Traditional Irish Champ
    Can you believe St. Patrick's Day is almost here? It seems like only yesterday that I made my first Irish-American dinner of corned beef and cabbage. But to make a "true" Irish dinner for this St. Patrick’s, we lads need to make traditional Irish champ, boiled bacon and sautéed cabbage. Aren't you getting hungry already? I sure am. As you may have guessed, champ is basically mashed potatoes, but of course no one does mashed potatoes better than the Irish.

    INGREDIENTS (Serves 8)

    • 4 lb Potatoes
    • ½ pint whole milk
    • 8 oz spring onions (scallions), chopped
    • 4 oz unsalted butte, divided
    • Salt and Black Pepper
    1. Peel potatoes and put them in a large pot full of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. A sharp knife should easily pierce through the potatoes.
    2. In a small sauce pan, simmer the milk and spring onions together for five minutes.
    3. When potatoes are done, drain potatoes well and mash thoroughly.
    4. Add the hot milk, including scallions, salt and pepper, and half the butter.
    5. Serve the champ piled high on a serving dish. Make a well in the middle and add the rest of the butter in the centre. Oh, and don't forget to accompany your Irish dinner with some Guinness on the side!Matthew, mom & danny @ the Gravity Bar in Dublin, Ireland

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Carne Asada Tacos

    A simple carne asada taco
    My husband is currently in Minnesota and one of the things he misses the most from San Diego (besides me!) is carne asada tacos. Carne asada is Mexican barbecue and it basically translates to "grilled meat." During the summertime, you can smell carne asada grilling in just about every neighborhood here in SD. Talk about yummers! Usually, we buy our carne asada already prepared from the butcher. Lindsey also recently found out that Trader Joe's also sells prepared carne asada, and it is excellent. If you want to prepare your own carne asada, I highly recommend you use trimmed and thin flank steaks, or the thinnest skirt steaks you can get. But "trimmed" of fat is the keyword here. Then, just set out all the fixings and get ready for a party!

    INGREDIENTS (4 to 6 servings, depending on how many tacos each person eats)

    • 2 pounds flank or skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat and pounded thin to about 1/4"
    • A dozen corn tortillas
    • Guacamole (or sliced avocados if you, prefer)
    • Queso fresco (a Mexican fresh, farmer’s cheese--this is optional, but I loves me cheese!)
    • 2 limes, cut into wedges
    • 1/2 cup onions, diced
    • Fresh salsa, preferably homemade
    • Beans (refried or pinto), optional
    MOJO (aka Marinade)
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 jalapeno, minced
    • 1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1 orange, juiced
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
    To make the marinade:

    In a mortar and pestle or bowl, mash together the garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and pepper to make a paste. Put the paste in a glass jar or plastic container. Add the lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, and oil. Shake it up really well to combine. Use as a marinade for chicken or beef or as a table condiment.

    Prepare the carne asada: Marinate the flank or skirt steak in the mojo for a minimum of 1 hour, and up to 6 hours. Season with a little more salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator while it marinates.

    When ready to grill, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush the grates with oil to prevent meat from sticking. Pull the steak out of the mojo marinade and grill the steak for 7 to 10 minutes per side, turning once, until medium to medium-well. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Lindsey, master griller!

    In the meantime, set out all the fixings (guacamole, queso, limes, onions, salsa and beans, if using) on the table, and warm up the tortillas in the grill or in the microwave.

    With a butcher’s knife or any sharp knife, chop the meat into bite size pieces. chopped up carne asadaTo fix your carne asada taco, take a warm, corn tortilla, fill it with a smear of beans (if using), a few pieces of meat, a dollop of guacamole, queso fresco, onions and salsa. Squeeze a little lime over it and enjoy the goodness of being a Mexican!

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Shrimp Etouffée

    shrimp etouffée
    I made a mini-version of this recipe and it came out fabulous. I didn't let the sauce simmer for 30 to 40 minutes (like the recipe said) but next time I make this dish I will. Simmering the etouffée for as long as you can is what gives this dish is authentic Nawlins taste. Oh, and don't forget the crusty French bread. Yummers.

    INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (half of stick of butter)
    • 1/4 cup of flour
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
    • ½ cup chopped celery
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    • ½ teaspoon dried basil
    • ½ cup of white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvegnon blanc
    • 1 (15-oz) can of diced tomatoes, low-sodium
    • 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock (or shrimp stock made from the shells of the shrimp)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 pounds of large shrimp, shelled and deveined
    • Tabasco sauce (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
    • Steamed white rice

    In a large pan or dutch oven, cook the butter and flour over medium-high heat stirring constantly. This is what is called a roux, which is a mixture of flour and fat.When the roux reaches the color of peanut butter, about 15 minutes, add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaf, dry thyme and basil.

    Continue cooking and stirring until the trinity is well mixed into the roux and the veggies are soft (about 10 minutes). Add ½ cup of white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the can of diced tomatoes and the chicken stock or shrimp stock. Bring to a boil, cover and then continue simmering on low-heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches a not-too-thick gravy consistency.

    Add 2 pounds of large shrimp, a couple of dashes of Tabasco (if using), the chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper and bring sauce back to a boil. Continue cooking for 8 to 10 more minutes.

    Serve the etouffée over white rice and garnish with the sliced scallions and serve with crusty French bread, ya hear.

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Steak Milanese with Garlic Linguine

    Steak Milanese
    One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine at Home. Most of their recipes are always great and very inventive, but once in a while they have old time favorites like this steak milanese. This is a great recipe for you penny-pinching chefs because you can use inexpensive cuts of beef. Oh, my camera ran out of batteries when I made this and so I had to take pictures with my mobile phone.

    INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

    • 8 beef cube steaks, about 4 ounces each, OR 1 lb. top loin steak, trimmed and pounded to 8 1/4" thick steaks
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 eggs, beaten
    • 2 cups breadcrumbs (I used panko)
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
    • 3 Tablespoons kalamata or black olives, halved
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 lb. dry linguine
    • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 3 Tablespoons Parmesan, shredded
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

    Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on steaks and season both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper.

    Place the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into three separate shallow dishes. Dredge the cutlets in flour, followed by the eggs, then the crumbs. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; chill for 30 minutes.

    Next combine the halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, olives, basil, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to the relish to marinate for at least 15 minutes. tomato relish

    In a large saute pan heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Fry the cutlets in batches until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Loosely cover the cutlets with foil and place them in the oven while you make the linguine. frying cutlets

    To make the garlic linguine: cook the linguine according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until garlic begins to sizzle, about 1 minute, then toss linguine with the garlic oil, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

    To serve: place two cutlets per plate and top with the tomato relish. Serve with garlic linguine on the side.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Gnocchi di Ricotta alla Gorgonzola

    ricotta gnocchi smothered in a gorgonzola sauce
    Oh my goodness...I made these deadly ricotta gnocchi last night and I'm pretty sure I went into some type of cholesterol shock. For me, the gorgonzola sauce was a bit too rich, so next time I will cut down on the amount of cheese. Additionally, you just need a little sauce on the gnocchi because the gnocchi are already rich enough. For me, 4 or 5 gnocchi as a side dish (or even a light lunch) is enough. Nevertheless, I think I like the ricotta gnocchi better than the regular potato gnocchi. I also tried the ricotta gnocchi with just a regular marinara sauce, and they were quite yummy, too. Anyway, if you have high cholesterol or are some type of diabetic, you should probably not try this...but, dang, is it sinful!


    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
    • 6 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour or as needed
    • 5 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled or chopped
    • 3/4 cups cream
    • 2 oz. butter

    In medium bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle flour over ricotta mixture and, with your hands, work mixture into soft, smooth dough. If dough is sticky, add some flour. Work dough just until flour is incorporated into cheese mixture; do not overwork.

    Break off piece of dough; on lightly floured surface, roll into 3/4-inch-thick rope. (If rope doesn't hold together, return to bowl with remaining dough and work in more flour.) Cut dough rope into 3/4-inch lengths. Place one piece of dough on inside curve of fork tines, gently pressing on dough with thumb as you roll dough along tines. Allow dough to drop off fork, slightly curling in, forming an oval. One side of gnocchi will have ridges and opposite side will have an indentation. Repeat rolling, cutting, and shaping with remaining dough. (Gnocchi can be made up to 4 hours ahead to this point. Arrange in floured jelly-roll pan; cover and refrigerate. Make sure your gnocchi rest at least 15 minutes in the fridge for the gluten to develop.)

    The sauce: Melt the chopped Gorgonzola cheese in the cream with the butter and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper over a low flame.

    In 5-quart saucepot, heat 4 quarts water to boiling over high heat. Add half of gnocchi and cook until gnocchi float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to warm shallow serving bowl. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. To serve, pour the Gorgonzola sauce over the gnocchi, mix gently and serve at once. gnocchi di ricotta alla gorgonzola

    If gorgonzola cheese sauce is too much for you, you can also use a regular jarred marinara sauce on the ricotta gnocchi. I kind of liked the tomato sauce a little better.