Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crab and Scallop Risotto

A wonderful Anniversary!!

Just last week my wife and I celebrated our fifth year of marriage! We decided to spend our happy moment in Costa Rica, this is a great country, and has lots of exciting things to do. Unfortunately my wife fractured her foot two weeks before our vacation date, so we spent all our time by the pool. This was great except for one problem… The rain season had started (boo). So each day after breakfast we went out to the pool, and were lucky enough to get 3-4 hours of sun before the rain came, and boy goes it rain down their! So the rest of our time was spent at the bar looking out at the pool dreaming and talking. This was great! And we still had a great time. Our five years together has been wonderful, the good and the bad, I would do it all over again! She is a great woman, and makes me a better man. Thank you honey for everything.

One of the best things about Costa Rica is the people, in all my travels I have never met a group of people so friendly, they were all great and most spoke English. This makes life easier on vacation. The country is incredibly green with bright flashes of reds and yellows. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, volcanoes, and a rain forest. I would defiantly go back and I would recommend this country to anyone. If you like adventure or just relaxing by the pool this is the place.

My last little tidbit is for John, The very nice gentleman I met by the pool. To answer your question, yes they still give out apples at all the Leo Burnett offices! It was great meeting and talking to you, and thank you for all the useful information about your beautiful country.

Crab and Scallop Risotto
Arborio rice- 1 cup
Chicken broth- 3 cups
Butter- 2 tablespoons
Olive oil- 2 tablespoons
Onion- ½ cup (small diced)
Parmesan- ½ cup + some for garnish
Salt & pepper- to taste
Scallops- 8 (bay Scallops, seasoned with Olive Oil and salt & Pepper)
Crab meat- 8 ounces (canned)
White wine- ½ cup
Garlic- 1 tablespoon (minced)
Method to the Madness
1) Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a sauce pot. In another sauce pot heat the oil and butter over medium high heat and sauté the onions until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add rice. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and deglaze with the white wine cooking until all the wine is absorbed.
2) Add the chicken broth one cup at a time cooking each batch until liquid is absorbed. When you are adding the last cup of broth start a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the scallops, cook for about two minutes per side (be careful they cook fast). When you finish the last batch of chicken broth, add the crab and parmesan, season with salt & pepper. Mix well.
3) Top the Risotto with the Scallops and garnish with fresh grated parmesan.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mini Ravioli Lasagna

Mini Ravioli Lasagna

Lasagna! My first attempt at making lasagna was a complete disaster. It was back in 1991, I lived in a loft in Chicago’s Gold Coast. It was a small place with one of those efficiency kitchens, so everything was pint sized two burners and a half sized oven. It was truly a labor of love to cook in that kitchen, but this was a first date so I was going for it anyway! So I proceeded to go grocery shopping to get everything I needed, and I got back to the loft around 5 and started to cook (dinner was scheduled for 8). I of course was making everything from scratch, so first thing first; the sauce without a recipe. Ugh two hours later it was finally simmering, we are now at 7:30 half an hour to go. So I let it simmer for about half an hour, and then I started to put together the Lasagna. Called Mom to see how long I needed to bake it for, her answer one hour and let cool for fifteen minutes. This puts us at 9:15-9:30, more than one hour late. Problem; the oven is really old and does not keep proper temperatures, so it took two hours. Now I’m embarrassed and in a rush, so I dive right into the lasagna when it comes out of the oven, and it proceeds to fall completely apart. It was a mash of noodles and meat sauce, very unappetizing. No salad, no side dishes, no dessert, just my attempt at lasagna and a bottle of wine all two hours late. Results no second date, but a few weeks later I was registered in culinary school, and applied for a job at an Italian restaurant. Everything happens for a reason. After years of fine tuning, this is my recipe now. It’s great for parties; the entire recipe can be made a day ahead, so the only thing you’re putting together at dinner time is the salad. I served it with a Spinach and arugula salad.

Mini Ravioli Lasagna
Meat sauce- 4 cups (recipe to follow)
Basil- ¼ cup (sliced thin)
Mozzarella cheese- 1 cup (shredded)
Ricotta cheese- 1 cup
Egg- 1 (lightly beaten)
Nutmeg- 1 teaspoon
Salt & pepper- to taste
Four cheese ravioli- 1 pound
Chives- ¼ cup (chopped)
Parmesan cheese- to garnish
Method to the Madness
1) Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the mozzarella, chives, ricotta, egg, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
2) Place four large ramekins on a baking sheet. Spread a thin coat of meat sauce on the bottom of the ramekins. Arrange ravioli on top slightly overlapping them, top with some sauce and then the ricotta mix. Add remaining ravioli, and top with more meat sauce. Top with fresh grated parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes, remove and let cool for 15 minutes.
Spinach and Arugula Salad
Baby spinach- 5 ounces
Arugula- 5 ounces
Goat cheese- ½ cup (crumbled)
Pine nuts- ¼ cup (toasted)
Raspberries- 1 pint
White balsamic vinaigrette- 3 tablespoons
Salt & pepper- to taste
1) In a large mixing bowl combine the spinach, arugula, goat cheese, vinaigrette, and salt & pepper and mix well.
2) Garnish with the raspberries and pine nuts.
Olive Oil- 2 tablespoons
Yellow Onion- 2 cups (medium diced)
Garlic- 2 ½ tablespoons (minced)
Tomatoes- 4- 28 oz cans
Tomato paste- 1- 6 oz can
Basil- 1 cup packed tight (2 packages)
Salt & pepper- to taste
1) Heat oil in a sauce pan; add onions and a pinch of Salt & pepper (this is called layering). Sauté for 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent, add garlic and sauté for another minute, until fragrant.
2) Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil for 1 minute turn down heat and let simmer. Add tomato paste, season with salt & pepper. Let the sauce simmer for at least 45 minutes or for best results 2-3 hours.
3) After your desired simmer time. Turn off the heat and let rest for an hour. Then add the basil and puree. I like my sauces smooth if you don’t, just add the basil and you’re ready to serve.
4) To make this into meat sauce; just add 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of Italian sausage. Brown them first in a sauté pan
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Vegetable Oil- 26 fluid oz
White Balsamic- 6 fluid oz
Dry mustard- 1 teaspoon
Basil- 1 tablespoon (fresh, chopped)
Parsley- 1 tablespoon (fresh, flat, chopped)
Sugar 2 teaspoons
Salt & pepper- to taste
1) In a food processor add the sugar, dry mustard, and white balsamic, pulse to mix.
2) With the food processor running slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil. Then add the basil, parsley, and salt & pepper and mix well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Greek Meatballs with Lemon Couscous

The first time I had true Greek food was at a small Greek restaurant in Chicago. Those of you who live in Chicago or have visited know that our Greek town is on one street and goes on for about four blocks. It offers a dizzying array of choices, some are old school with proprietors straight from the homeland, and some are new offerings provided by some of Chicago’s best restaurateurs’. I prefer the first, something about seeing Mom and Pop in the kitchen gets me every time. The smile on their faces when you walk in and the preverbal hand shake from Pop; this always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I had the pleasure of working with a Greek gentleman for five years, at the first place I managed. He had an amazing assortment of recipes all kept in his head. This was a fantastic experience for me; he cooked everything “old school”. I cooked everything how I had been taught in culinary school; new and fancy. At the time I thought I knew everything, turns out I really didn’t know all that much, he truly schooled me. Funny thing I have always learned the most from the Moms and Pops out there.

Greek Meatballs with Lemon Couscous

Bread Crumbs- 1 cup
Milk- ¼ cup
Feta Cheese- ¼ cup (crumbled)
Parsley- ¼ (chopped)
Green Onions- 3 tablespoons (Minced)
Oregano- 1 tablespoon (dried)
Egg- 1 (beaten)
Ground Chuck- 1 pound
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
Garlic- 1 tablespoon (minced)
Crushed Red pepper- 2 teaspoons
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Whole Tomatoes- 2 cans (28 oz)

Method to the Madness

1) In a large mixing bowl combine the crumbs, milk, feta, parsley, green onions, oregano, salt & pepper, and the egg. Stir in the ground chuck and mix well. Shape into 2 inch balls.

2) Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the meatballs, browning on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and tent with foil.

3) In the same pan add the garlic, and Pepper flakes sauté for 1 minute, add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs simmer for 5 minutes.

4) Serve over Lemon Couscous with a Feta dressing. Garnish with diced cucumber.

Lemon Couscous

Chicken Broth- ¾ cup
Lemon Juice- ¼ cup (fresh)
Butter- 1 tablespoon
Salt & pepper- to taste
Couscous ¾ cup (dry, plain)

1) In a sauce pan add the chicken broth, lemon, butter, and salt & pepper to a boil. Add couscous stir, cover and remove from heat for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Feta Yogurt Dressing
Feta cheese- ¼ cup (crumbled)
Greek yogurt- ¼ cup
Lemon juice- - 2 tablespoons
Lemon zest 1 tablespoon
Salt & pepper- to taste

1) In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients together, and chill until ready.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Festival of The Vine

Hello all! This week in my home town it's time for Festival of The Vine. Which is a perfect little festival all about food and wine. The only problem is I have to work the entier weekend (my day job). So as a result I will not be able to post any new recipes to the blog until Tuesday. Have a great weekend everyone! And I will talk to you then.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vanilla Cider Pork Chops with Pears and Wild Rice

Back to work, back to cooking. Well the holiday weekend has come and gone, and I hope everyone had a wonderful time. Fall has arrived and I welcome it with open arms, it’s been really hot & humid this summer. This is by far my favorite time of year, football, sweaters, cool temps, and a whole different style of cooking. Now we can get into many of my favorite dishes. Through the week I’ll keep our cooking time to one hour, on the weekend we will go longer. Today is going to be Pork Chops with a twist. Have a great day!
Thank You
For the Chops
Butter- 3 tablespoons (unsalted)
Pears- 3 (peeled, cored, and quartered)
Pork Chops- 8
Flour- ½ cup (seasoned with salt & pepper)
Chicken broth- 1 cup
Hard Apple Cider- 1 cup
Heavy cream- 1/3 cup
Vanilla Bean- 1 (split and seeded)
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Method to the Madness
1)Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add pears and sauté until lightly browned; remove and set aside.
2)Season the chops with salt & pepper, and then dredge in flour. Cook chops for 2 minutes on each side in the same pan. Remove, set aside.
3)In a mixing bowl combine the broth, cider, and cream; add to the pan and deglaze. Bring to a boil. Add the vanilla pod and the seeds; reduce by half about 5 minutes.
4)Add the pears and the chops to the pan with all of the juices; simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens. Season with salt & pepper and serve with the wild rice
For the Rice
Walnut pieces- ½ cup
Hard apple cider- ¼ cup
Chicken broth- 14 ounces (one can)
Butter- 1 tablespoon
Wild rice- 1 cup
Salt & pepper- to taste
1)Toast walnuts in a pan for 5 minutes. In a sauce pan bring to a boil the cider, broth, and butter; add rice. Reduce heat cover and simmer for 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Season with salt & pepper and mix in walnuts.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BBQ Turkey Burgers with Melon Salsa

Hello all welcome to Labor Day weekend! I thought I would give you a different option today. Tomorrow I will be making BBQ Turkey Burgers with a homemade BBQ sauce. The sauce is easy to make and I bet you have all the ingredients in the pantry. I’m going to pair this with a Summer Melon Salsa. Both of these recipes will take no time at all, you can make the BBQ sauce a day ahead of time, and the Melon Salsa the morning of the cook out. Have a great weekend everyone.
Thank You

BBQ Turkey Burgers with Melon Salsa

Worcestershire sauce- ¾ cup
Ketchup- ¾ cup
Soy sauce- 5 tablespoons
Garlic- 1 ½ tablespoons (fresh, minced)
Chili powder- 2 teaspoons
Cumin- 2 teaspoons
Tabasco- ½ teaspoon
White pepper- 2 teaspoons
Brown sugar 2 tablespoons
Turkey- 3 pounds (ground)
Onion- ¼ cup
Bread crumbs- ¼ cup
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Tomato- 1 (Large, sliced)
Head lettuce- 1 (shredded)
Pretzel Rolls- 6 (If you can’t find Pretzel Rolls use your favorite)

Method to the Madness

1)In a medium sauce pan add the Worcestershire, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, chili powder, cumin, Tabasco, white pepper, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour and whisk until smooth. Set aside and refrigerate.
2)In a mixing bowl add the turkey, onion, bread crumbs, salt & pepper and ¼ cup of the BBQ sauce combine. Don’t over work, otherwise they could become dry. Portion into 8 ounce patties, and chill until dinner time.
3)Dinner time; heat grill to medium high and add burgers cook for 3-4 minutes and flip, cooking for another 3-4 minutes. Cook until done these can’t be medium rare or medium. Internal temperature should reach 165. Toast rolls on the grill and you’re ready.
4)Top bottom side of roll with the burgers, add a drizzle of BBQ, tomato slices, and shredded lettuce. Feel free to add your favorite cheese. Serve with a side of the Melon Salsa.

Melon Salsa
Lime juice- ¼ cup
Honey- 1 tablespoon
Jalapeno- 1 (medium diced)
Cilantro- 3 tablespoons (fresh, chopped)
Melon- 4 cups (diced, any combo you like, go for 3 types)
Salt & pepper- to taste
Paprika- 2 teaspoons
Red onion- 3 tablespoons (minced)
1)Combine all ingredients together and chill until dinner time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cilantro Crusted Roast beef with Sautéed Golden Petite Potatoes

Good morning everyone!! I made this yesterday, my wife and I loved it. Not my first attempt at Roast Beef, but it was for this version. If you make a large batch it will be perfect for left-over’s, and makes great sandwiches. So if you decide to make this on Sunday you will have perfect sandwiches for the kid’s school week. ENJOY

Thank You

Cilantro Crusted Roast beef with Sautéed Golden Petite Potatoes
Eye of the round roast- 2 ¾ pound
Pine Nuts- ½ cup (toasted)
Cilantro- 2 cups (loosely packed, fresh, chopped)
Garlic- 2 tablespoons (fresh, minced)
Olive Oil- ½ cup
Salt & Pepper- to taste
Blackened Seasoning- 2 tablespoons (optional)

Method to the Madness
1) Pre heat oven to 450. In a food processor; add the pine nuts, cilantro, garlic, and salt & pepper. With the processor running slowly drizzle in the oil. Set aside
2) Place roast in a shallow baking dish and season with the blackened seasoning, rubbing it in. Add the cilantro mix and coat the entire roast.
3) Place the roast in the oven for 20 minutes @ 450, then drop the oven temperature to 350 and cook for another 35-40 minutes or desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to check doneness 140 will give you medium rare. Let rest for 8-12 minutes before slicing.

Golden Petite Potatoes
Petite potatoes- 2 pounds
Olive oil- 2 tablespoons (enough to coat the pan)
Salt & pepper- to taste
Caramelized onions- 1 cup
1) Add 2 cups of sliced onions to a sauté pan over medium high heat season with salt & pepper and cook for 20 minutes, until dark brown. This will give you a 1 cup yield.
2) Boil potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, until almost fork tender. Strain; in a large sauté pan add some oil (coat the pan). Add the potatoes, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5 minutes, add caramelized onions and toss well. Cook for another 3 minutes or desired degree of doneness.
• Quick tip on roasting beef, 20 minutes per pound @350 is a good rule of thumb for medium rare.
• Be careful when toasting Pine nuts, they toast really fast.