Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thanksgiving in Kauai

God what an awesome vacation! I traded in two of our twelve timeshare weeks for a couple of condos in Princeville, Kauai, on the north shore over Thanksgiving. Jay and I decided to create a Hawaiian Thanksgiving meal. It was fully grindable, bra…

Kalua Turkey

I’ll never make Kalua Pork again, nor ever cook my Thanksgiving turkey by roasting. This came out so tender and juicy and wonderful with all of the flavors of Kalua Pork and none of the grease.

  • 1 Turkey
  • Liquid Smoke (unless you can dig an imu pit)
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt (we used Alaea Red Salt)
  • Ti Leaves
  • Taro Leaves
  • Aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 500f degrees.

Remove neck & giblets from turkey. Place in sauce pan with 4c water, 2 stalks of celery, a handful of fresh parsley, 1/2 an onion, salt, and pepper. Simmer for several hours.

Completely defrost and rinse the turkey, then pat dry. Rub with Liquid Smoke (about ¼ to ½ bottle) on the inside cavity, under the skin, and outside skin (wear gloves if you don’t want to smell of liquid smoke for the next week). Rub again with the salt, inside cavity, under skin, outside skin.

Line a roasting pan with oversized sheets of aluminum foil, at least 2 sheets thick. Put two layers of Ti Leaves on the foil, then two layers of the Taro Leaves on the Ti Leaves (if you’re in Kauai and you try to buy the taro and ti leaves at the Safeway in Kapa’a, the locals will laugh at you. Instead, just stop by the side of the road and pick a bunch).

Set the bird on the layers of leaves, then repeat the process in reverse to cover the bird. Wrap it completely with Taro Leaves, then Ti Leaves, then seal with foil.

Place roasting pan with bird in oven, and reduce heat to 280f degrees. Roast for 40 minutes per pound (about 8 to 10 hours for a 14lb bird).

Hours and hours later, the bird will be glorious, tender, and falling off the bone. Fabulous juices will fill the bottom of your roasting pan. Drain the juice and reserve for gravy. Carefully unwrap the foil, and remove & discard the Ti Leaves. Pick the Taro Leaves off and reserve. Discard turkey skin. Pull the meat off of the carcass and serve.

Kalua Turkey Gravy

  • 2c reserved liquid from Turkey
  • 2c liquid from giblet stock
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp corn starch, to desired thickness

Bring the liquid ingredients to a slow simmer. Dissolve cornstarch in water, and slowly add to liquid, stirring constantly. Thicken to desired consistency.

Taro Leaves

Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the reserved Taro Leaves and serve.


While the Turkey is cooking, you’ll need to whip up some pupus to keep folks occupied

Crab Dip

  • 1lb crab, shredded (I used 1/2lb imitation, 1/2lb snow crab)
  • 16oz shredded cheese (I used ‘Mexican Blend’)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2c finely chopped green onion
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 2c mayonnaise

Squeeze the water out of the crab (otherwise, your dip will end up watery). Mix together everything but the cream cheese and mayo. Stir in the cream cheese until it’s well blended. Add in mayo to taste—if you want to dip with tortilla chips, you’ll want it a bit thinner. If you want to spread on crackers, add less mayo for a thicker mixture.

If you’re really ambitious, spoon the dip into wonton sheets and fry for really ‘ono’ crab wontons.


Originally I thought we’d buy this ready-made, but Jay only bought the wraps. Here’s how we filled them.


  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1c chopped green onion
  • 1 pkg bean thread noodles (long rice), soaked and chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 sweet potato, diced and cooked
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine the filling ingredients, mashing the sweet potato into the mixture. Place 2 Tbsp of the mixture on the quarter corner of a wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the mixture, and then turn in one corner. Roll another quarter turn, and then fold in the opposite corner. Continue rolling, sealing the end with water or egg white. Fry the lumpia until golden. Serve with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 1 jar ‘Homemade Chili Sauce’
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Corn Starch

Combine first four ingredients in saucepan. Simmer to combine. Dissolve 1 Tbsp corn starch in 1/4c water. Add to sauce, stirring constantly, to thicken. Remove from heat and chill before serving.

Hawaiian Salt Potatoes

This is really just your basic salted roasted potatoes, but I have to include the recipe from Aloha World Ono Recipes, because it’s just so fun:


  • 4 beeg kine Baking potatoes
  • 5 Tbps Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Hawaiian salt
  • 3/4 tsp Black peppah 1 tsp Mashed gahlic
  • 1 tsp Minced ginjah oa minced parsely oa minced rosemary oa minced onion

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat da oven to 400 degrees. Scrub da spuds den try cut dem in half lentwise, den cut each half in thirds lentwise. Going have 6 wedges. One, two, chree, fouah, five, seex. K?Den, try get one cookie sheet dat get sides. Den. kâwili (mix) in one cup oa small kine bowl da ress of da ingredients. Den, pour all dis ovah da potatoes; make shuah u 'au'au yoah hands, den kâwili da oil mixchah all ovah da potatoes. Make shuah alla sides stay coated. Now, try spread da potatoes in one singo layah all ovah da cookie sheet. Bake um foah 30-35 minutes, but try turn um ovah wen pau 20 minutes. Nemmine if stick litto bit. Den bake da ress of da time. Da idea stay foah gettum crisp ona outsai an tendah ona insai. Den, sprinko wit moah Hawaiian salt an grine NOW! No wait, cuz dey stay da most ono wen dey stay hot. All dis going serve about 3-4 peeps, cuz us locals like foah grine, yeah!

Curried Pea Salad

  • 3/4c mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • Garlic
  • Hawiian salt
  • 16 oz.frozen green peas
  • 8 oz lump crab meat
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2c chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3oz fried chow mein noodles

Combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder and garlic salt in a bowl and mix well. Place the frozen peas in a colander and hold under running cold water for several minutes to thaw; drain. Squeeze water from the crab meat. Combine the peas, crab meat, and celery in a bowl and toss to mix. Add the dressing and mix well. Add cashews and noodles just before serving.

Macaroni Salad

You can’t have a meal in Hawaii without the macaroni salad. There are a million variations.

  • 1 med. pkg. macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 lb. crab, chopped (imitation works well)
  • 1/2 box frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 sm. stalks celery. chopped
  • 4 large hard boiled eggs, grated
  • 1/4c sweet pickle relish
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1/2 chopped sweet onion, or 2 chopped green onion
  • 3/4 of a quart of Mayonnaise

Combine ingredients with cooled macaroni, and then add the mayo. The macaroni will absorb the mayo, so you may want to make your salad a day ahead to let the flavors combine. You might also want to add more mayo just before serving.

Garlic Asparagus

  • 1 can Chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 12 Garlic clove pealed and cut in halves lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 lbs Asparagus, trimmed
  • Hawaiian salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Grated skin of 1 lemon

In large skillet, bring broth, oil and garlic to boil. Add asparagus and return to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook just until asparagus is tender but still crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to warm serving plate. Raise heat and cook liquid and garlic in pan until syrupy and reduce to about 1/2 cup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over asparagus and sprinkle with lemon skin.

Haupia Cake

I never remember desert, but this was Hawaii!


  • 1 pkg White cake mix (for a 9X13" pan)
  • 1 C Coconut milk
  • 2/3 C Water
  • 2 Egg whites


  • 1 Tbsp Unflavored gelatin
  • 2 C Heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Lemon extract
  • Shredded coconut to taste

Prepare cake mix according to package directions using 2/3 cup of the coconut milk, the water, and the egg whites. Cool cake, remove from pan and split carefully into 3 layers. Reserve top layer; spread haupia filling on the remaining layers. Chill layers until filling is set.

While layers are chilling: soften gelatin in remaining 1/3 cup coconut milk; dissolve over hot water. Cool. Whip cream; fold in gelatin mixture, sugar and extract. Stack chilled cake layers; frost with whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle cake with coconut.

Haupia filling:

  • 2 C Coconut milk
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • Cooking Instructions:

In a sauce pan heat coconut milk (do not boil). Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch with water; stir into hot coconut milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (cook over low heat to avoid curdling). Stir in vanilla and cool.

NOTE: It is best to chill the haupia until it is somewhat thick, but still spreadable; otherwise it kind of goops up when you try to spread it on the layers. Chill the frosting, too, before you spread it.

Kalua Turkey Loco Moco

Loco Moco is the Hawaiian Breakfast of Champions. We used our Thanksgiving leftovers for a Kalua Turkey Loco Moco that would have been the envy of Sam Choy himself.

  • 1c white rice, cooked
  • Leftover Kalua Turkey
  • Leftover Kalua Turkey Gravy
  • Spam
  • Portuguese Sausage
  • Eggs, fried ‘runny’

Place 1/2c cooked rice in center of plate. Top with shredded Kalua Turkey. Add a slice of fried spam, and 2 slices of fried Portuguese Sausage. Top with fried egg, and cover with gravy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sushi Chicken & Veggies

I hadn't been feeling well, and wanted a really mild dish for dinner. Chicken sounded nice, with rice. Ginger might help calm my stomach. So I came up with this dish, "Sushi" Chicken & Vegetables. It was more awesome than I could have imagined!

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1" fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 med shallot
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • rice wine vinegar, about 8oz total
  • 1/4c light oil
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1c fresh peas, shelled
  • 1/2c shredded or diced carrots
  • 1c sushi rice
On hand:
  • sea salt
  • sugar
  • green onion, chopped
  • soy sauce
Peel the shallot, ginger and garlic, and then place in blender with 1/4c vinegar, oil, 1 Tbsp sugar, and the dry mustard. Blend to a fine paste, adding water if necessary to create a somewhat thin marinade for the chicken.

Pound thick part of breasts to create an even thickness. Place into gallon sized ziplocked bags, then pour marinade over chicken. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Combine shredded cabbage, peas, and grated or diced carrots in gallon sized ziplock. Add 1/4c vinegar. Sprinkle with salt. Seal and shake to mix well, then let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Rinse sushi rice and drain well. In a small saucepan, add 2Tbsp vinegar and 1tsp salt to 1c plus 1Tbsp water. Bring to a boil, then add rice. Cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then remove pan from heat. Let rice sit for 5 minutes, untouched and without lifting the cover.

Place chicken in baking dish and cover with marinade. Broil at 350f degrees for 10 minutes, then turn breasts and broil for an additional 10 minutes until cooked through.

Drain the vinegar from the veggies. Saute until carrots are soft, peas are cooked, and cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat and combine with rice.

When chicken is cooked, slice diagonally into thin strips and divide into four piles. Press rice & vegetables into 1c mold and turn out onto four plates. Drape strips of chicken over each of the four piles of rice. Sprinkle with green onion, drizzle soy sauce around rice, and serve.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Seared scallops with smoked salmon lardons and golden tomatoes

I had to come up with a dish in which I could use my fresh smoked salmon. Something that would bring out and compliment the flavor of the salmon, without being overwhelmed by it.

I had some fresh scallops, and thought of how well they generally pair with bacon lardons. Surely this salmon would go equally well? The recipe is very simple, and was nicely complimented by squash-stuffed raviolis in a brown butter sage sauce with a bit of chopped spinach.
  • 1-2 large scallops, per person
  • a few ounces of smoked salmon (I cut it into 'lardon' chunks)
  • 2 or 3 smallish golden tomatoes, cubed; or a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt & pepper
Scallops: If you like, slice the scallops in half with a very sharp knife-do not pull away any of the membrane as it keeps them together. Cutting large scallops in half will help by aiding uniform cooking, but is not absolutely necessary. Pat them dry and season with salt and pepper. Having a dry surface is key so that the scallops will sear rather than steam.

In the pan: Heat the butter on high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle add the scallops seasoned side down. Sear on both sides, so that there is a dark color along the edges and a golden brown on the top--about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove scallops from pan as they finish. Scallops should be opaque and just firm (not solid)--take care not to overcook! Once scallops are cooked, add in salmon and tomatoes, and saute just until the tomatoes wilt.

To serve: place the sauce on the plate, and top with one or two scallops.

Autumn Brined Smoked Salmon

This has an amazing smell that reminds me of the season. I'm smoking this salmon for Thanksgiving appetizers. If it lasts that long...
  • 1lb fresh salmon, preferably wild-caught alaskan chinook
  • 1 star anise
  • 6-8 allspice berries
  • 6-8 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp black pepper cloves
  • 2 Tbsp lavender
  • 2 Tbsp dried garlic slivers
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 1/2c rock salt (use good quality sea, kosher, or pickling salt. Cannot use iodized)
  • 1/3c sage honey (this is what I used, can substitute clover)
  • 1/2c pinot noir
  • 1 to 2c water
Place spices (first six ingredients) in mortar and pound to a coarse grind. Place in saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to boil and simmer until salt and honey disolve and spices release their fragrance, about 5 mins. Remove from heat. Pour the brine into a baking dish and place it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, until cool.

Place the fish in the brine, skin side up (if the skin has been removed, it doesn't matter which side is up). Soak the fish for at least 12 hrs, turning occassionally.

12 hours later...

Remove the fish from the brine and dry to form the pellicle, about 2 hrs. Smoke over low heat (180f to 220f degrees) for 4 to 6 hours. Some notes:
  • I used a charcoal smoker, with a pan of water suspended between the coals and the rack on which the salmon sat
  • I used mesquite and hickory wood, but as these are very strong woods you may wish to use alder instead. Don't use cedar, it'll overpower everything.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pan-seared Salmon with Pinot Reduction

It’s ALL about the sauce. Really, you can’t go wrong reducing 2 cups of wine down to ½ cup and pouring it over some kinda meat.

We picked up 2lbs of nice fresh salmon today. I decided to smoke half of it. Here’s what I did with the other half.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pinot Reduction

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups pinot noir wine
  • 1 sprig rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 salmon steaks or fillets (6 to 8-ounces each), skin and bones removed


Cook sugar over medium heat in heavy-bottomed non-stick saucepan. Do not stir, just shake the pan occasionally to redistribute sugar until it liquefies and begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly add the wine, stirring with a whisk until the caramelized sugar has dissolved, and then add the sprig of rosemary. Return to high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce becomes a syrup and reduces to approximately ½ cup. When sauce is reduced, stir in balsamic vinegar and butter; turn heat to medium-low. Cook until butter melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove rosemary sprig.


Preheat oven to 450f degrees. Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper.* Heat a heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Add just enough oil to make a light film, then place salmon in hot skillet and sear until nicely browned, about 1 minute. Flip the fish over and put the skillet in the oven. Roast for approximately 4 to 6 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 140 degrees F (salmon will be slightly opaque in thickest part). Remember the salmon continues to cook after it is removed from the heat source. Carefully remove salmon from pan and transfer onto individual serving plates. Spoon Pinot Noir Sauce over salmon and serve with chopped rosemary.

Served with carrots and golden beets, roasted in balsamic and basil mint; roasted new potatoes with rosemary.

*I used some of the salt that I had prepared for the brine, which included fragments of coarsely ground allspice, star anise, juniper berries, cloves, and pepper. I sprinkled this on the salmon when I was preparing the sal

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our Big Fat Greek Dinner

We were meant to work on Jay’s kitchen, but on the way back from Home Depot we were distracted by the Farmer’s Market. He still managed to get the frame done for one of the cabinets, but we also managed to make a pretty good Greek feast.

I didn’t make a lot of the Moussaka, because I wasn’t sure everyone would like it. I shouldn’t have worried—my dad liked it so much that he stole the last quarter of it, packed it up, and took it home!

  • Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

  • Moussaka

  • Tsatziki

  • Orzo Salad

  • Honey Minted Carrots

  • Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Fasolaki)

  • Roast Beast

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms Recipe

  • 18 zucchini, acorn squash or pumpkin blossoms, stamen removed

Cheese Filling:
  • 3 ounces goat (feta) cheese

  • 3 ounces cream cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Beer Batter:
  • 1c flour

  • 1c beer

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • Vegetable oil for frying

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Grated Mizithra or Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

Gently swish the squash blossoms in cold water to clean. Carefully twirl to remove most of the water, then drain thoroughly on paper towels. Set aside.

Mix together goat cheese, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Gently fill each blossom with about 2 teaspoons of the cheese filling. Refrigerate while making batter.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 F over medium heat.

Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and cumin. Beat egg and add the beer. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while stirring. Add more beer as necessary to desired consistency. Refrigerate for an hour.

Carefully dip a stuffed blossom into the batter, covering the entire flower, and ease into the hot oil. Brown on one side, then turn to brown the other. Cook only a few at a time so they are not crowded. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining stuffed squash blossoms.

Sprinkle stuffed squash blossoms with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a sprinkling of grated Mizithra or Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


  • 1 lg aubergine/eggplant

  • 1 large onion, finely sliced

  • 1lb ground beef or lamb

  • 1 glass white wine (not retsina, but aretsinoto)

  • 16oz can of small diced tomatoes

  • teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon ground allspice

  • salt and white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1c grated mizithra, parmesan, or kefalotiri cheese

  • some chopped parsley

  • 2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1/8” slices

  • Vegetable oil

Béchamel Sauce
  • 2-3 Tablespoons butter

  • 1/3c. flour

  • 1 pint warm milk

  • Salt, white pepper, and cumin

  • 2c. grated Mizithra or Parmesan cheese

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1c. grated Mizithra, Parmesan, or kefalotiri cheese

Moussaka should be baked in the oven. Use a baking dish, either square or oblong, approximately 9”x9” or 11”x13”. You’ll need to cover the dish during the first part of the baking, for which you can either use a fitted lid or aluminum foil. If using foil, place toothpicks in the moussaka to prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese.

You may, if you wish, line the pan with the skin of the aubergine. Doing so is mostly aesthetic, but it does help to hold the moussaka together. In this case, you’ll need to carefully slice off the stem and leaves, without breaking the skin. Slice the aubergine in half lengthwise. Cover the bottom of a wide, flat-bottom pan with olive oil. When oil is hot, lay the aubergines in cut-side down and sear. Add 1c water to the pan, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes, until the flesh of the aubergine is tender. Remove from heat and let cool. When they can be handled, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin intact. Lay the skin inside of your baking dish, and set aside.

If you do not opt to use the skin, simply peel and dice the aubergine and add below.

Sautee the sliced onion in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until translucent. Add the meat and sauté together, stirring, until all the lumps are broken down and the meat starts to change color. Pour in the wine, add tomatoes, the spices, the salt and pepper and the oregano. Stir in the aubergine. If you did not pre-cook the aubergine, you’ll need to simmer until it becomes tender. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time in case it sticks. Remove from heat and mix in 1c of the grated cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.

Fry the potatoes in hot oil until slightly browned. You may deep fry, or pan fry in 2” oil, enough to cover the potato slices. Remove from oil and drain on paper.

Béchamel Sauce
Melt the butter and, away from the heat, gradually add the flour and stir to amalgamate. Return to the heat and gradually add the milk and seasoning, stirring continuously. Simmer for 9-10 minutes, stirring, until it has thickened considerably. Remove from heat, let it stand briefly, then add the cheese and the egg yolks. Stir to combine. Do not let the sauce boil after this. It should by now be a thick béchamel, to enable it to sit on top of the meat mixture and form a kind of crust.
To assemble, put half the meat in the bottom of the pan. Top with 1/3 of the béchamel. Cover with slices of potatoes. Repeat for the next layer. Cover the top layer of potatoes with the remaining béchamel, then top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs.
Cover and bake in a pre-heated oven, at 350f degrees for 1 hour. In the last 15 minutes, uncover and bake until a golden crust is formed. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving, in order to be able to cut it more easily. To serve, cut into square or oblong-shaped pieces. It should be quite dry by then and the pieces should ideally stay intact.

1 large English cucumber, grated and drained
A handful of fresh dill, chopped fine
A few cloves of garlic, crushed
2c plain yogurt
Olive oil

Grate the cucumber, then place in a strainer and press out the water. Combine with yogurt and garlic (you may use more or less garlic, to taste). Stir, then drizzle EVOO over the top.

Orzo Salad
1c orzo pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
1/2c pepperoncini peppers, drained and sliced
1 sliced red bell pepper
1/2c kalamata olives, pitted
1/4c grated carrot
1/4c to 1/2c sliced onion
6 to 8 ounce crumbled feta
2 ounces Greek vinaigrette salad dressing

The vegetables should be sliced into thin strips. Mix together the above. You may add more or less dressing as you prefer.

Honey Minted Carrots
Baby carrots
1/4c white vinegar (rice or wine)
1/4c white wine
1/3c honey
1/4c chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 cloves crushed garlic

Place carrots in baking dish. Simmer together remaining ingredients, then pour over carrots. Cover and bake at 350f degrees for 45 minutes. Remove cover during last 15 minutes to allow liquid to evaporate and caramelize.

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Fasolaki)
Thin green beans
Onion, cut into thin strips
Tomato sauce
White wine
2 to 3 cloves crushed garlic
Olive oil
Cumin, cinnamon, white pepper, and salt

Sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and sauté over low heat until garlic is tender but not browned. Deglaze with a 1/4c white wine.
Top and tail the beans, and cut the potatoes into strips. Add to pan and cover all of the vegetables with tomato sauce. Lightly season with spices, and stir to mix.
Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Roast Beast
This was Jay’s secret recipe, which is why I’m posting it on the internet.

1 Roast beast
1 large (32 oz) can Tomato Soup
1 whole fresh lemon
Seasonings: lots of oregano, crushed garlic, salt & pepper

Chop and blend the seasonings with a splash of EVOO to form a mushy paste, then massage into the roast. Place in deep roasting pan. Mix tomato soup with equal parts water. Add more crushed garlic. Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into the liquid mixture. Add in the empty rinds and pour around roast. Cover, and cook for a really long time, until roast is fall-y apart-y. When it’s all done, break the whole thing up into its sauce and serve it like that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Danish Food

Here is a collection of recipes for Det Store Kolde Bord


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sweet pickles -- chopped
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 hard-boiled egg -- chopped
  • 1 dash garlic
  • Capers -- optional

Mix all ingredients. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

NOTES : This seemingly simple relish is used on many foods in Denmark. An interesting variation add chopped, cooked cauliflower. Excellent with seafood, sandwiches, meats, or as a garnish.

Sweet-Sour Cabbage - Mormors Hvidkål

Serves 6

  • 1 small onion -- sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups red cabbage -- shredded
  • 2 tart apples -- cored peeled diced
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 whole cloves

Brown onion lightly in the butter. Add remaining ingredients in order given.

Cook until cabbage is almost tender.

Curry Dressing

  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add remaining ingredients.

Frikadeller I Løgsauce

Serves 8

  • 2 onion -- minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg -- grated
  • 2 pound ground pork
  • 2 pound ground beef, lean
  • 6 slices dry bread crumbs
  • milk
  • 2 egg -- beaten
  • Flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 3 cups onions -- minced
  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk

Brown onion in butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix beef, pork and bread crumbs which have been soaked in milk. Combine with onions. Add the egg; mix well, and form into small balls. Roll them in a small amount of flour.

Brown the meat balls in the butter. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Serve with either of the following sauces:

ONION SAUCE (Løgsauce)

Cook minced onions in butter until transparent. Blend in the flour and salt. Slowly add the milk and stir continually until thickened. Pour over the meat balls.

Serve with buttered noodles sprinkled with toasted crumbs.

Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

  • 1 16" cucumber
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 dash pepper

Cut cucumber and onion paper thin. Separately combine remaining ingredients. Combine with cucumbers and onions. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours. Drain before serving

Potato Salad - Kartoffelsalat

Serves 10

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 4 pounds potatoes -- boiled & chilled
  • ½ cup parsley -- minced

Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, drain and crumble.

Add the flour and onion to the fat in the pan. Stir in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices. Cook until medium thick. Cool.

Peel and dice potatoes. Sprinkle parsley and crumbled bacon over potatoes. Pour cooled dressing over all and mix gently to avoid mashing the potatoes.

Det Store Kolde Bord

Below is the menu that I created and served at the Memorial Celebration for my grandparents, Christian & Edna Hansen.

First Course: Fish & Smorrebrod

This course is traditionally enjoyed with cold beer and “snaps”. Snaps is infused vodka (Aquavit) always served at this type of buffet in small (2cl) glasses. The first snaps is typically poured when everyone has prepared their first smørrebrød, and everyone who is drinking will toast with "skål". You are not expected to drink the entire glass on your first sip, but it is customary that anyone desiring another sip of the snaps must raise his glass and bring out a toast ("skål") inviting everyone else at the table to join him. It is generally considered polite to go through the motions of participating in these toasts, even though you do not have to actually drink much or anything at all.

Both the fish and smorrebrod items are meant to be placed on a single slice of buttered bread (usually “rugbrød”—a dark rye bread), and then topped with the accompaniments provided. Rather than eaten by hand, it’s generally managed with a knife & fork. Try a couple, but don’t overstuff yourself—this is only the first course!


Kryddersild-herring: pickled herring pieces served with sliced potato, onions and capers, topped with dill sour cream.

Karrysild-herring: Herring pieces with apple and horseradish, topped with curried sour cream

Laks: smoked salmon served on white bread, topped with shrimp, lemon and fresh dill


Liverpostej: liverwurst on dark rye with bacon and sautéed mushrooms

Roast beef: thin sliced roast beef served on dark rye bread with remoulade, a sprinkling of horseradish, and roasted onion

Second Course: Lune Retter, Vegetables, and Salads

Traditional Danish hot dishes are served with hot vegetables and cold salads.

Frikadeller: Danish meatballs, served with potatoes, pickles, and onion gravy on the side

Medisterpolse: Danish sausages with ketchup & mustard, served on buns—just like hot dogs! Danes often top this with potato salad as well.

Kalvemedaljon: Lightly fried veal or pork medallions with a creamy mushroom sauce on top

Morbradbof: flattened pork tenderloins lightly fried, topped with your choice of sautéed mushrooms, onions, or pickles

Aerter: fresh steamed peas sautéed with chopped lettuce and dry mustard

Rosenkal: brussel sprouts, steamed then lightly fried with bacon

Gulerodder: carrots with butter and a light caramel

Agurkesalat: cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar

Kartoffelsalat: vinegar-based potato salad

Third Course: Cheese & fruit, served with coffee and tea

Cheese: A selection of traditional Danish cheeses, including Blue Castello, Havarti, Danablu, Fontina, and Maribo

Fruits & nuts: figs, apples, cashews, grapes and almonds to accompany your cheese


Here is the Memorial video for Chris and Edna Hansen.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Labor Day BBQ

I had vegans and vegetarians at this BBQ, so had to be a bit creative. Rather than make special dishes to accommodate the meat-o-phobes, I prefer to make as many dishes as possible enjoyable by everyone. All of the dishes below are vegetarian, and all but the Spinach & Artichoke dip are vegan.

To accommodate the meat-eaters, I grilled up some really yummy steaks. But you can figure out those without a recipe.

Most Glorious Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ bulb fresh fennel, diced
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
  • A few cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
  • ¼ c drained & chopped sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil
  • ½ c white wine
  • A few large handfuls of coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 2c marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 6oz cream cheese
  • 1c sour cream
  • ½ c shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ c shredded Asiago cheese
  • ½ Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • ½ Tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Sauté onion and fennel in butter and olive oil until onion begins to soften. Add wine and simmer until fennel is tender, about 5 minutes. Once the liquid has almost evaporated, add crushed garlic and sundried tomatoes, and stir. Top with spinach and toss until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.

In large microwave-safe bowl, combine cheeses.

In food processor, lightly pulse the artichoke hearts with the tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add in the sautéed vegetables, and pulse again lightly to mix.

Add the vegetable mixture to the cheese, and stir. Put in microwave and heat on half power for about 3 minutes. Mix, then reheat on full power for about 2 minutes (You may also put in a baking dish and heat in conventional oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through).

Serve with sliced French baguette or tortilla chips.


  • 1c small diced tomatoes
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
  • Bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 long French baguette

I know. You’re thinking, it’s the height of summer, and you’re using CANNED tomatoes? But the thing is, canning preserves the sweetness of summer, and the small diced canned tomatoes have no skin and no seeds. It really makes this preparation easy. But if you like, go ahead and skin and deseed 3 or 4 fresh ripe tomatoes. Dice and drain before using.

Combine tomatoes, basil, onion, salt and pepper in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cut baguette into thin slices and place on cooking rack. Spray with olive oil, and toast until lightly browned and crispy.

When ready to serve, arrange toasts on tray, and top with one spoonful of tomato mixture.

Bean Salad

This isn’t your traditional marinated 5 or 7 bean salad. It’s wonderfully fresh and raw, and shouldn’t be marinated to the point where the basil wilts and the beans become pickled.

A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4c finely chopped sundried tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ c each malt and rice wine vinegar
¼ c olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)

1c each: garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans
2 ears fresh corn, removed from cob
1c frozen sweet peas (or fresh peas, lightly blanched)
1c frozen cut green beans (or fresh green beans, cut and lightly blanched)

Combine first set of 10 ingredients in a blender and pulse briefly to mix.

Combine beans, peas, and corn. Add dressing, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, but not more than 12 hrs. I prefer to use a gallon size ziplock for refrigeration, as the flavors tend to blend better.

Grilled Marinated Polenta, topped with mushrooms and eggplant relish

A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4c finely chopped sundried tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ c each malt and rice wine vinegar
¼ c olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)

1 tube of fresh polenta, cut into ½” slices

4 or 5 marinated cipolini onions
1c marinated button mushrooms
1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 small eggplant / aubergine, diced
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Aluminum baking trays, with holes poked through the bottom

Combine the first set of 8 ingredients (yes, it’s the same dressing as for the beans, minus the paprika and mustard. If you like, you can just double the dressing for the beans, and use half of it here) in a blender and pulse to make a paste. Add additional vinegar to thin if necessary. Reserve 2 Tbsp for relish.

Arrange slices of polenta on a baking tray (not the ones with holes), and pour a spoonful of the marinade over each slice. Turn over each slice, and add another spoonful of the marinade. Pour any extra marinade into the tray. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Combine onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, salt & pepper in food processor. You can also add the leftover ends of the polenta, if you like. Pulse this lightly two or three times to chop, but not puree. Turn out into bowl. Add reserved marinade and mix.

To grill, poke holes into the bottom of an aluminum baking tray. Oil lightly, and arrange the slices of polenta. Top each slice with a spoonful of the mushroom and eggplant relish. Place on grill. Close cover, and grill over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the polenta is crispy on the bottom and the vegetables on top are warmed through and soft.

Arroz con gandules

I haven’t made this yet, so the recipe may change. But I saw Daisy make it, and had to put it here for safekeeping. Looks gorgeous.

First, you have to make the Sofrito.

If you can't find ajices dulces or culantro, don't sweat. Up the amount of cilantro to 1 ½ bunches.

  • 2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
  • 3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, washed
  • 7 to 10 ajices dulces (see note below), optional
  • 4 leaves of culantro (see note below), or another handful cilantro
  • 3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully. Freeze sofrito in ½ cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it.
Pantry Notes: Ajices Dulces, also known as cachucha or ajicitos are tiny sweet peppers with a hint of heat. They range in color from light to medium green and yellow to red and orange. They add freshness and an herby note to the sofrito and anything you cook. Do not mistake them for Scotch bonnet or Habanero chilies (which they look like)--those two pack a wallop when it comes to heat. If you can find ajicitos in your market, add them to sofrito. If not, up the cilantro and add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Culantro is not cilantro. It has long leaves with tapered tips and serrated edges. When it comes to flavor, culantro is like cilantro times ten. It is a nice, not essential addition to sofrito.

Makes about 4 cups.

Arroz con Gandules
Makes 10 to 15 servings, as part of a larger meal

1/2 cup Achiote Oil
1 cup Sofrito
3 tablespoons alcaparrado or coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
3 tablespoons fine sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 pounds smoked pork neck bones or smoked turkey wings or one smoked ham hock
One 13-ounce bag frozen pigeon peas OR one 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained
6 cups long grain rice
Beef Broth, homemade or store-bought and/or water as needed (about 8 cups)
1 banana leaf*

*Note: Banana leaves and/or plantain leaves, are large, pliable, dark green leaves that are used quite a bit in Latin American cooking. Here they lend the rice a subtle flavor. They are available, usually frozen in 1-pound packages, in Latin markets and some specialty stores. And if you life in California, you can probably find a banana tree locally, from which you can harvest a young leaf.

Heat the achiote oil in a heavy 5-quart pot or Dutch oven over high heat until rippling. Stir in the sofrito, alcaparrada or olives, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook until the sofrito stops boiling and starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.

Add the pork bones and stir until they're coated with oil, then stir in the rice until everything is mixed together and the rice is coated with oil.

Stir in the pigeon peas and enough broth and/or water to cover the rice by the width of two fingers. Top with the banana leaf, folding it up as necessary to fit over the rice. Bring to a boil and boil without stirring until the level of liquid meets the rice. Take the banana leaf off, give the rice a big, healthy stir and put the leaf back on top. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the banana leaf, give the rice a big stir and fluff it with a fork. Serve hot.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Quick & Easy Appetizers

My friend, Jen, needs to make appetizers for a party of 80. These recipes make about 15 to 30 servings each. As a general rule of thumb, I look to have 4 or 5 servings per person. It isn’t necessary to scale the recipes, so long as you have a reasonable total amount of food. However, some recipes go faster than others; for these I recommend at least a serving for every 2 or 3 total expected guests—for Jen this means that she might consider at least doubling things like the Fruit Cups or Pizza Margherita, but should be fine with meatballs, chicken, and rollups.

I’ve listed the items in order of relative effort required.


16oz jar of sauce
38oz bag of frozen meatballs
5-quart (full-size) crock pot

Use any sauce you like. Dump the sauce & meatballs into the crockpot several hours before serving. Plug it in, and turn to ‘auto’ (this will allow the crock pot to heat everything up nicely, then drop to a simmer).

Some variations:
  • Sweet & Sour: use two 12oz jars of sweet & sour sauce, add pineapple chunks, chopped onion, diced bell pepper

  • Thai peanut: use two 12oz jars of Thai Peanut sauce, add chopped onion, bell pepper

  • BBQ: use one 16oz jar of BBQ sauce

  • Italian: use one 16oz jar of your favorite red pasta sauce

  • Swedish: use one 12oz jar of Alfredo sauce, one 10oz jar of cream of mushroom soup, 1/4c ketchup (really), 1/3c Worcestershire sauce, 1Tbsp dry mustard, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, salt & pepper to taste. If it seems too thick after a few hours, add milk to reach desired consistency. Can also add one box of pre-sliced mushrooms.

Makes about 15-18 servings

Caesar Tortellini

1 ‘Family Size’ pkg (20 oz) refrigerated filled tortellini
1c bottled Caesar dressing
1/4c fresh grated Parmesan
1 pkg fresh cherry tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) pitted, large ripe olives, drained
salad greens

Cook and drain tortellini as directed.Toss with dressing and cheese. Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours but no longer than 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

When ready to serve, toss tortellini with tomatoes and olives. Line a large bowl with salad greens and place tortellini mix in bowl.

Serve with toothpicks.

Makes approximately 20 servings


Seriously. Just make some small bowls of spicy nuts. People love ‘em!

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic granuals
1 tsp salt
2c cashews
2c pecans

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

Add butter to an 11- x 7- x 1-1/2-inch baking pan and melt in the oven. When melted, stir in seasonings and mix. Add cashews and pecans and toss to coat. Spread nuts evenly in the baking pan.Bake at 300ºF for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Sprinkle the nuts with additional salt, if desired.

Remove nuts to brown paper bag to cool. Shake occasionally while cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Makes approximately …well… 4c of nuts. Some people can eat this in a single sitting. WAY better than chex mix any day.

Sesame Chicken with Honey Dip

32oz bag frozen chicken nuggets, breaded & cooked
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4c sesame seeds
1/4c honey
1/4c Dijon mustard
1/4c mayonnaise
1 gallon-size ziplock bag

Defrost chicken in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F degrees. Combine dry mustard, onion powder, and sesame seeds in ziplock bag. Place defrosted nuggets in ziplock, and shake to coat (defrosted nuggets will be moist enough to coat nicely).

Lightly grease baking sheet, and place nuggets in single layer. Sprinkle on any leftover seasoning. Spray lightly with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden & crispy.

While nuggets are baking, combine honey, mayonnaise, and mustard. Serve as a dipping sauce with the chicken.

Makes approximately 25 servings

Piggy Wraps

Oh c’mon. You know everyone LOVES these…

1 pkg. Hillshire Farm sausage (48ct)
3 pkgs. refrigerated crescent dough

Cut each crescent roll triangle in half. Starting at wide end, roll sausages in dough. Arrange on cooking sheet.

Bake at 400º for 5 minutes or until golden brown. May be froze until ready to cook.

Makes approximately 24 servings

Pastry Cups

You can use the basic method to fill these with just about anything. Recipe uses mushrooms & cheese, and some variations follow.

1 pkg mushrooms (anything from basic button to wild, roughly 8oz fresh), chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
1/4c chopped green onion
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3oz brie cheese
1 pkg refrigerated crescent dough
24-cup minature muffin tray

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray muffin cups with oil. Unroll dough and separate into rectangles. Press diagonal perforation to seal, then cut crosswise to create 4 squares from each rectangle. Press one square into each muffin cup, leaving corners to overhang.

Cut brie into 24 pieces. Saute mushrooms with butter, and garlic until soft. Remove from heat, and add onions and mustard. Spoon mixture into cups, and top with a piece of brie.

Bake until pastry is golden and cheese is bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve warm or cold

Makes approximately a dozen servings

Filling Variations:
  • Crab & cream cheese: Bake pastry cups, then fill with a mixture of 3oz cream cheese, 1/2c (total) finely chopped onion, chives, carrots and roasted peppers, a good dash of Worcestershire sauce, a splash of Tabasco, and a 6oz package of crab meat. Chill and serve cold.

  • Shrimp & cheese: mix 1/2c salad shrimp (peeled, cleaned, no tails—you know what I mean) with shredded cheese, then bake as above.

Crab Dip

1 cup Ranch dressing
6 oz. crabmeat or imitation crabmeat
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers for dipping.

Makes approximately a dozen servings, this stuff goes fast.

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

The world’s easiest—just mix it up and bake in an interesting ramekin or clay pot and serve with crackers or sliced bread.

2 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1-1/4 cups frozen chopped spinach, (about 10 oz.) thawed
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsps. lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drain the spinach and squeeze it dry.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Mix in the artichoke hearts, spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season with garlic and lemon juice.

Spread evenly into a baking dish that will hold 6 to 8 cups (roughly 9x9). Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, and let the dish bake uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until the surface is lightly browned.

Makes approximately 24 servings.

Cheddar Spinach Appetizer Squares

1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
3 eggs, well beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 350° F.

Unroll crescent rolls; place in 13x9-inch baking pan. Press over bottom and 1/2-inch up sides of pan; seal perforations.

In medium bowl combine all remaining ingredients; mix until well blended. Pour into crust. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until filling is set.

Let cool, then cut into 24 squares.

Makes approximately a dozen servings.

Pizza Margherita

2 teaspoons cornmeal
1 (13.8-oz.) can Pillsbury® Refrigerated Pizza Crust
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
20 (1/4-inch-thick) slices Italian plum tomato (about 6 medium)
1/3 cup thin fresh basil strips

Place oven rack in lowest rack position; heat oven to 425°F. Spray 15x10x1-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal.

Unroll dough; place in cornmeal-coated pan. Starting at center, press out dough with hands to edge of pan. Brush dough with oil; sprinkle evenly with garlic.

Place crust in oven on lowest oven rack; bake at 425°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until set and dry.

Remove crust from oven. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over partially baked crust. Arrange tomato slices over cheese. Sprinkle with half of the basil. You can prepare up to this point a day in advance, then refridgerate.

Return pizza to lowest oven rack; bake an additional 12 to 17 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Sprinkle remaining half of basil over pizza.

Cut into 20 squares.

Serve warm.

Makes approximately 20 servings

Beef Roll-ups

5 10-inch burrito tortillas
1c sour cream
2 Tbsp horseradish
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6oz package of fresh baby spinach
10 thin slices deli roast beef
1c shredded cheddar cheese

Combine sour cream, horseradish, and mustard. Spread on tortillas. Cover spread with single layer of spinach leaves. Place 2 slices of roast beef in center of tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese.

Roll each tortilla up tightly, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hrs.

Remove rolls from wrap and slice into 1-inch pieces.

Makes approximately 40 servings

Pizza Roll-ups

1 can Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Crust
1 pouch pre-measured Boboli pizza sauce
1 pack sliced pepperoni
8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp cornmeal

Unroll pizza crust and spread into rectangle approximately 15” x 10”. Spread sauce over surface, top with a complete layer of pepperoni, then cover with layer of shredded cheese.

Roll dough along the long edge, then press to seal—you should end up with a 15” long roll. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate at least 4 hrs.

Preheat oven to 425°F degrees. Lightly dust a cooking sheet with cornmeal. Remove rolls from wrap and slice into ½” pieces. Place rolls on cooking sheet and bake until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes approximately 15 servings.

Vegetable Bars
2 pkgs crescent rolls
1 (8-oz) cream cheese
1 cup mayo
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch original salad dressing mix
1 cup cauliflower flowerets
3/4 cup fresh broccoli flowerets
3/4 cup grated carrots
bacon bits

Press crescent rolls to cover bottom of a 15 x 11 x 1 inch pan.

Blend cream cheese, mayo, and dressing mix until smooth. Spread on crust. Sprinkle vegetables on filling. Press vegetables into filling slightly. Top with bacon bits (omit if you have vegetarians).

Bake in a 375° F. oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

Makes approximately a dozen servings

Spinach Bars

1/2 stick butter
2 pkgs. frozen spinach, chopped, thawed and squeezed dry
3 large eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
6 medium mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. Cheddar cheese, finely grated

Heat oven to 350° F.

Melt butter in 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a bowl combine spinach, eggs, baking powder, mushrooms, onion, salt and Cheddar. Pour over butter in dish and bake for 35 minutes (eggs should cook through, but dish will not really solidify until it cools and the cheese firms).

Cool a bit before cutting into 1 inch cubes.

Makes approximately 30 servings

Fruit Cups

I don’t do enough sweet to balance the savory. Here’s one that even I might attempt…

1 box frozen Belgian mini cream puffs (30ct)
1 can Bing Cherries in Heavy Syrup (not Maraschino, this would be the real fruit)

Cut each cream puff in half. Spoon a single cherry into the cup.

Makes approximately 30 servings

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Palta Reina de Chile (Chilean Royal Pastina-Stuffed Avocado)

The meal was otherwise somewhat uninteresting—I wanted something to go with a Margarita-marinated grilled tri-tip (see earlier posting about getting my food drunk) and grilled corn on the cob, and I wanted to stay away from traditional carbs. I had some really nice fresh avocados from the farmer’s market, and some crab, so…

Avocado rules in this dish when pastina, otherwise known as saffron rice, is combined with crab and delectably fills half of an avocado. Served on a bed of mixed greens, this dish is fit for royalty.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 small Roma tomato, seeded and chopped finely
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound cooked crab or lobster meat, finely chopped
  • 4 ripe Hass avocados
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens with radicchio
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

In small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring chicken broth and saffron to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In small bowl combine lemon peel and juice, oil, onion, tomato, bell pepper, cilantro, salt, black pepper and crab or lobster meat. Toss with rice. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Just before serving cut avocados in half and remove pit from each. Fill each avocado with rice mixture. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice and lightly toss salad greens. Arrange 1/2 cup dressed greens on each plate and top with stuffed avocado.

Serves 8.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Glorious Authentic San Francisco Cioppino

My one and only childhood friend of memory visited me this weekend. Jennifer and I were best friends when we were 12 and 13…and then I moved away. But she stands out in my memory as the best friend I ever had, and it was absolutely delightful to see her again.

Stuck for something to cook for dinner on Friday night, we wandered into the grocery store for inspiration. The seafood counter had loads of lovely fresh live mussels and clams, and some fresh local halibut as well. Rather than have to choose, I decided to whip together some amazing San Francisco Cioppino with all of the above.

Cioppino is one of the few genuinely unique San Francisco dishes. It’s neither Italian nor Portuguese, but concocted by fishermen who came from the Mediterranean to the Bay Area in the 1800s. Inspired by ethnic origins but leveraging local abundance, Cioppino truly reflects the diversity and bounty of San Francisco.

For a proper Cioppino, you need to create a tomato broth with plenty of local herbs, garlic, and wine, and then add to it whatever local seafood is currently fresh and on hand. The dish should include a few types of shellfish, in addition to some sort of reasonably strong-fleshed white fish. Mussels, clams, prawns, and crab work incredibly well for the shellfish, and rockfish (including Pacific Red Snapper) or halibut are often used for the fish. You can also add abalone, squid, and octopus. It should be served like a stew, with plenty of San Francisco sourdough bread on hand to mop up the glorious broth.

This recipe was perfect for 4 hungry people.

For the sauce:
  • Butter & Olive Oil (my brother’s favorite combo)
  • Garlic, at least one whole bulb, crushed
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper (can also use mild green chilis), finely chopped
  • A few stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • Fresh herbs on hand: basil, parsley, oregano or marjoram, thyme, bay leaf + fennel seed, black pepper, a dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2 x 16oz cans of chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 x 8oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 x 8oz bottles of clam juice (Sure, you could use fancy gourmet fish stock. But it wouldn't taste much differently)
  • 2-3 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc (1 for the Cioppino, the rest to drink)

Heat the butter & olive oil, and sauté the onion until translucent. Add bell pepper, carrot, and celery, and sauté until soft. Add garlic and herbs and sauté until the aroma is heavenly. Deglaze the pan with a good splash of white wine, and then add tomatoes and tomato sauce, and the clam juice. Leave to simmer for at least an hour, adding water if/when necessary to maintain a fairly thin, souplike consistency.

The seafood:
Choose three or four of the items below. I used 8oz each of clams, mussels, halibut, and prawns.
  • ½ lb mussels, clams, or limpets
  • 4 oz prawns, langostine, or crayfish, cleaned, shelled, deveined. Tails can be left on or removed but they should at least be shelled.
  • a small Dungeness crab (I suppose if you’re not in SF, you can substitute something else). Be sure to pre-crack legs and claws
  • 4 oz well pounded octopus, squid, or abalone, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 oz nice, firm, white fish like rock fish or halibut, chopped into 1” cubes
  • 4 oz scallops
Once the sauce is fantastically glorious, bring it to a boil and add half a bottle of white wine (seriously). Bring it back to a boil, and add the seafood in the order in which it is listed above, taking care not to over-cook any of the seafood. Clams take longer to open than mussels, prawns and crab should turn red, octopus, squid, and abalone should lose their translucence, and fish and scallops should turn white and firm. Once all of your seafood is cooked, the cioppino should be removed from the heat and served with plenty of warm, crusty sourdough bread. Be sure to put out bowls for discarded shells, big spoons for slurping up the stew, and necessary crab forks and stuff with which to crack open shells as needed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Echiladas Veracruz

Even the wannabe gourmand occassionally needs to whip up something fast & easy. In this case, we were staying at a lodge up in Tahoe and I had to make a yummy dinner for hungry skiers with a minimum of ingredients, no seasonings, and no leftovers in the tiny little lodge suite kitchen. They don't even stock salt & pepper in these places. So I grabbed a few instant food items from Safeway and whipped up some pretty delicious Crab & Shrimp Enchiladas Veracruz.

10oz Safeway Select Verdi Alfredo Sauce
12oz Wild Wife! Mild Chile Verde
8oz salad shrimp
8oz crab
Small package fresh pico de gallo
Small package fresh sliced peppers & onions
16oz shredded jack cheese
10 white corn torillas

Fry tortillas in oil until just slightly crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Mix together the alfredo sauce and the chile verde. Pour enough into a 9 x 12 baking dish to cover the bottom.

Discard all but 2 tbsp oil. Add pepper & onions and fry until onions begin to turn translucent. Add shrimp meat and crab. Add enough sauce cover the seafood, and then bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

To assemble:
  • lay a tortilla in the baking dish

  • fill with a spoonful of the seafood

  • sprinkle with cheese

  • add a spoonful of pico de gallo
Roll and finish seam side down. Repeat until all tortillas are used.

Spoon sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese and pico de gallo.

Bake in 350f degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bunny Bourguignon

AAAhhh man this was glorious. As Trisha once said "The good thing about bunnies is, they're cute and soft and you can pet them... and they taste good too!"

Better than chicken any day.

This recipe was dead easy as well. If you like, you may marinate the bunny overnight using the wine & herbs. However, I've found that marinating is more necessary with chicken or beef; rabbit tends to absorb the flavors of the broth nicely while braising.

For this recipe, I meant to use only bay leaf and thyme. However, when I sent Trisha out to the garden for fresh herbs, she brought in small sprigs of rosemary, mint, and corriander before finally finding the thyme. Instead of wasting it, I threw them in as well.

I used criminy mushrooms. Firm wild mushrooms such as chanterelle, black trumpet, morel, or porcini would also do well in this dish.

  • 1 Fryer rabbit, cut up
  • Smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • A good bordeaux
  • Broth (I used beef)
  • Fresh herbs: thyme, bay leaf


Pre-heat oven to 500f degrees.
Fry bacon in large dutch oven. Remove when crispy, leaving grease in pan.
Dredge bunny in flour. Brown on all sides. Add S&P to taste. Remove when nicely browned.
Add diced onion and saute until clear. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to release their water. Immediately deglaze pan with wine; add broth and bring to simmering boil.
Return bacon to pan and stir. Add rabbit pieces, coating with sauce as you add.
Cover and place in oven. Reduce heat to 350f degrees.
Cook for about an hour, checking the volume of liquid occassionally. Add more broth as necessary to nearly but not completely cover rabbit.

I served this with lightly fried new potatoes (just enough to impart a crisp golden brown crust), and buttered broccolini. You could probably serve it over noodles as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Pecan-crusted Trout

I feel like I’m so many recipes behind! There’s the greek feast we had at dads, and the Dijon ham & cheese puffs I made at Christmas, the turkey enchiladas, and probably more.

Anyway, I made this pecan-crusted trout tonight, and it was friggin awesome.

Pecan-Crusted Trout with Orange Rosemary Butter Sauce

This recipe was actually instigated by some fresh pecan-crusted trout I found at Nob Hill Foods. If you don’t have such luck, I recon you can simulate it by using the method below.

For trout
2 cups pecans (about 8 ounces)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large (12- to 14-ounce) trout, filleted, skin left intact
3 large egg whites, beaten to blend

For sauce
4 Clementine oranges, or 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup dry wine
2/3 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or you could just use more wine)
1/4 c fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large fresh thyme sprig
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

For assembly
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh green beans, cut into 2” pieces
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup of dry white wine


Combine pecans and 1 tablespoon flour in processor. Grind pecans finely; transfer to plate. Place remaining flour on another plate. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Dip 1 fillet into flour to coat; shake off excess. Using pastry brush, brush flesh side with egg whites. Place fillet, egg white side down, onto pecans; press to coat with nuts. Transfer to waxed paper-lined baking sheet, pecan side down. Brush skin side with egg and sprinkle any remaining coating over the top. Repeat with remaining fillets; chill.

Combine first 7 ingredients in medium saucepan. For the sauce, I used 4 Clementine oranges, because that’s what I had on hand. I peeled the oranges, and then squeezed the juice into the pot. I also added the pulp (this saved me the step of smashing the oranges against the side of the pan as they cooked). Boil 10 minutes, and then add the rosemary (this stuff grows as a weed, so I always have plenty on hand. If you don’t already have a rosemary bush, plant one. I’m pretty sure it grows everywhere, with just about zero maintenance).
Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 to 20 minutes. Strain sauce pressing on solids in sieve, and then add the liquid back to the pan. Add cream; bring to boil*. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in butter** 1 piece at a time (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature up to 2 hours.

Heat butter in a pan, then add the fresh green beans and thinly sliced carrot. Toss to coat, and then add the wine. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add bell pepper; toss 2 minutes. Salt according to taste. Remove from heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Place fillets, pecan side down, into skillet. Cook until crust is golden and crisp, about 2 to 5 minutes. Using spatula (or two), turn fillets over. Cook until just opaque in center, about 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining butter, oil and fish as needed.

Whisk sauce over low heat to rewarm (do not boil). Circle the plate with sauce, and then divide vegetables and pile in center of plate. Top with fish. Spoon sauce over fish and around vegetables.

*If your sauce breaks at this point, don’t worry. Let it simmer for a bit, then whisk in a teaspoon of flour and it’ll rebind. Don’t feel badly either; it’s nearly impossible to add cream to orange juice, lemon juice, white wine and vinegar and NOT have it break.
**I did mention that this is in no way a low fat/low calorie recipe, didn’t I?