Friday, July 24, 2015

Maine Shrimp Roll






     Maine Shrimp Roll
     Lobster Rolls are a popular restaurant sandwich at tourist traps along the Maine coastline.  Lobster Rolls are one of the easiest sandwiches to make.  A generous portion of chilled boiled Maine Lobster meat is mixed with a copious amount of mayonnaise, then it is placed on a "row style" hot dog bun.  The sandwich is grilled till the hot dog bun is toasted.  This is all that there is to a Lobster Roll sandwich.
     Nearly every coastal restaurant in Maine offers the Lobster Roll on the menu.  Maine is one of the few places this can be done, because the local price of lobster is dirt cheap.  Local live Maine Lobster sells for about 1/5 the price of what Maine Lobster sells for in other states.  This is why the portion of lobster is so generous on a Lobster Roll.  
     When I worked in Maine, I was hired to cook and write a new menu for a tourist trap restaurant in a small fishing village.  The owner of the restaurant had the personality of a burro's derriere and this fellow knew nothing about the hospitality industry.  The owner was only in the restaurant business, because he saw it as an easy opportunity to make money.  Needless to say, that job was not worth the trouble and after a couple of months I took off for better opportunities.
     While in Maine, I spent a little time visiting towns up and down the local coastline.  One thing that I noticed was that the range of the restaurant cuisine venue was very limited.  There was only a choice of pizzerias, fried seafood & lobster restaurants, one or two American style Chinese restaurants, few diners that sold plain simple food and a bunch of fast food joints.  In Camden, there actually was a few restaurants that served creative fine dining food, but these places depended on wealthy tourists from New York City.
     Overall, the cuisine in Maine was on a Lobster Roll kind of par.  I noticed that the local customers were eager to try the fancy fine dining style food items that I marketed as daily specials, and the fancy food sold well.  The problem at that time was trying to find skilled local cooks.  Most of the local cooks were barely at a fry cook skill level.  The ones I worked with could not make basic sauces and they had no sauté cooking skills.  The local clientele wanted to try fancier food, but the local cooks were not capable of getting the job done at that time.
     Basically, the local region in Maine where I worked was locked in a "catch 22 fried seafood situation."  When only one cuisine venue is offered, like fried or boiled seafood, local consumer burnout inevitably occurs and the restaurant becomes completely dependent on the tourist trade.  If there is a lousy tourist season and the number of travelers is low, then the tourist trap restaurants that offer a limited cuisine venue are subject to business failure.  This happened the season that I worked in Maine.
     
     Anyway, as far as plain simple food goes, Lobster Rolls are pretty good.  Something simple, like a Lobster Roll, only draws complaints from folks that demand exciting food flavors.
     Lobster Rolls are not the only hot dog bun sandwich that is sold in Maine Restaurants.  Shrimp Rolls are also a popular item.  Most local Shrimp Rolls are made with Popcorn Shrimp.  Popcorn Shrimp are nearly flavorless and sometimes only salt brine can be tasted.  Making a Shrimp Roll sandwich with large shrimp creates a better flavor.
   
     The best hot dog roll to use for a Shrimp Roll or Lobster Roll is a "Row Bun."  The shaped hot dog buns are placed next to each other in a row on a sheet pan.  After they are baked, the hot dog buns stick to each other and they have to be separated by hand.  The result is a hot dog bun that only has a brown crust on top with two bare sides.  Row Hot Dog Buns are meant to be grilled, so the bare sides are toasted before serving.
     Row Style Hot Dog Buns are not always easy to find at grocery stores.  The crust can be cut off the side of regular hot dog buns, so a Lobster Roll or Shrimp Roll can be made the right way.  I was in Chicago when I made the Shrimp Roll in the photos above.  Poppyseed Hot Dog Rolls are just about the only choice in local Chicago food markets.  Trimming the poppyseed crust to make a Row Bun did the trick.

     Maine Shrimp Roll: 
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     No spices, seasoning or lemon is needed for a Maine style shrimp boil, especially when the shrimp are used to make a Shrimp Roll!
     In Maine, far more mayonnaise it added to the shrimp than what it takes to bind the ingredients together.  I guess that mayonnaise in Maine is the equivalent of Eskimos eating whale blubber in icy cold weather.  The amount of mayonnaise can be reduced, if you wish to live a longer healthier life!  The amount of mayonnaise was reduced to a reasonable amount for the Shrimp Roll in the photo examples.   
     Step 1:  Boil 5 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add about 8 ounces of medium size shrimp.  (21/25 per pound)
     Boil till the shrimp are fully cooked.
     Use a fryer net to place the shrimp in a container of ice water.
     Step 2:  Peel and devein the shrimp.  (Remove the tails too.)
     Coarsely chop the shrimp into bite size pieces.
     Step 3:  Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl.
     Add a generous amount of mayonnaise.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Separate a single "row style" hot dog bun.  (Or trim the crust off of the sides of a regular hot dog bun.)
     Brush the sides of the hot dog bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Open the hot dog bun and spoon a generous amount of the mayonnaise and shrimp mixture on the bun.
     Place the shrimp roll on the hot griddle.
     Grill the bun on both sides till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 5:  Place the shrimp roll on a plate.
     Garnish with a parsley sprig and a pickle.
 
     When considering the high price of Maine Lobster in places outside of the State of Maine, a Shrimp Roll is a good alternative.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chicago Style Hot Dog







     The Classic Chicago Dog!  
     The flavor of a Chicago Hot Dog is like no other hot dog.  The ingredients combine to give this hot dog a very tasty summertime flavor!
     Upon first glance, it is easy to assume that a Chicago Dog is just an ordinary hot dog with a few extra toppings.  After taking a second look, one can see that some of the hot dog toppings do not look like average run of the mill condiments.  
     There are a few ingredients on this hot dog that are difficult to find outside of Chicago area.  Neon Relish, Sport Peppers and Famous Dave's Spicy Dill Pickles are required for making an authentic Chicago Style Hot Dog.  These products can be found at Chicago Hot Dog Shops and hot dog stands that feature Vienna Hot Dogs, but these shops are usually not located in regions where a different kind of hot dog brand or style is dominant.  Neon Relish, Sport Peppers and Dave's Spicy Dill Pickles are available at internet shopping website like Amazon.  
   
     Chicago Style Hot Dog:
     The ingredients are listed in the same order that a Chicago Hot Dog is assembled.  The cooking methods are mentioned too.   The pictures above show how the finished Chicago Style Hot Dog should look.  

     Poppy Seed Hot Dog Bun
     Only a Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun can be used to make an authentic  Chicago Style Hot Dog.  A plain hot dog bun will not do.  The Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun should be warmed in an oven or on a dry griddle.

     Yellow Mustard 
     Plochman's Yellow Mustard is the official mustard for Chicago Hot Dog's.  Any kind of American style yellow mustard can be substituted.  I prefer Dijon Mustard, but that is a matter of personal taste.  For an official Chicago Hot Dog, the yellow mustard is squirted or spread on the hot dog bun, before any other ingredients are placed on the bun.

     Vienna Hot Dog
     Chicago Style Hot Dogs are made with Vienna brand all beef hot dogs.  There are several different hot dog styles and the Vienna style recipe is similar to the authentic Vienna Sausages that are made in Austria.  Vienna brand hot dogs have no casing.  These hot dogs are plump and they have a mild flavor.  Vienna Hot Dogs are available in a few different sizes.
     For an authentic Chicago Hot Dog, the Vienna Hot Dog is supposed to be steamed or simmered in a pot of water.  Most modern Chicago Hot Dog stands just lightly grill the hot dog on a flat top steel griddle or a rotating hot dog grilling machine.  Chargrilling is an option, but chargrilled Chicago Style Hot Dog is called a Char Dog.

     Chopped Onion 
     Chopped onion is required on an official Chicago Hot Dog.  Spanish Onion or Yellow Onion are the best choice.  About 3 or 4 tablespoons of small chopped onion is plenty.

     Spicy Dill Pickle Spear 
     The local Chicago top pick for the dill pickle spear is Famous Dave's Spicy Dill Pickles.  This brand of pickle can be found at many national grocery store chains.  If this brand is not available, any kind of spicy kosher dill pickle can be substitute.  When selecting a substitute, the golden rule is "the spicier the better!"  The spicy pickle is cut into a thin spear and wedged between the hot dog and the bun.

     Sliced Tomato
     A slice of tomato is cut in half and wedged between the hot dog and bun.  If the tomatoes are small, leaving the tomato slices whole is okay.  The tomato brightens the flavor of a Chicago Hot Dog and it adds good eye appeal.

     Neon Relish 
     Neon Relish is a neon green color sweet pickle relish.  A few select Greek spices gives this relish a unique flavor.  There is only one company that markets a product called Neon Relish, but I have not seen the brand name since I lived in Chicago.  The Neon Relish brand is the best, but it is nearly impossible to find these days.
     The next best choice is Vienna brand Chicago Style Relish.  The Vienna product tastes good too.  There are also a couple of local Chicago brand name sweet pickle relishes that are worth trying.  Regular sweet pickle relish is not an acceptable substitute for Chicago style Neon Relish!

     Sport Peppers
     Sport Peppers are pickled small green Serrano Chile peppers that have the stem trimmed off.  Sport Peppers are used to make many Southern Food recipes, so they are fairly easy to find outside of Chicago area.  There are many brands of Sport Peppers to choose from.
 
     Celery Salt
     The ingredient that most chefs outside of Chicago overlook is Celery Salt.  Celery Salt is added last and it is sprinkled over the finished Chicago Dog.  A light sprinkle of celery salt gives a hot dog a delicate flavor.  Some people like a generous amount of celery salt on a Chicago Hot Dog and this creates a much deeper flavor.  

     Viola!  The classic Chicago Hot Dog!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blackened Catfish Nugget Po' Boy with Louisiana Remoulade










     Maximum Louisiana Po' Boy Flavor!
     Traditional Louisiana Po' Boy Sandwiches are made with low price ingredients and they are minimally garnished.  This is because Po' Boy sandwiches were borne during poor economic times.  These sandwiches were made for hungry local folks who were lucky enough to find some work.  
     The traditional Po' Boy Sandwich spread is Louisiana style Remoulade, not plain mayonnaise.  A Po' Boy that is made with just mayonnaise just does not have enough flavor to make it worthwhile.  Louisiana chefs are famous for maximizing flavor!
     Louisiana Remoulade can be made from scratch as a mayonnaise emulsion or it can be made by mixing the ingredients with pre-made mayonnaise.  To make Louisiana style Remoulade, ketchup is added to a classic French White Remoulade or Yellow Remoulade Sauce.  To clarify the matter, a pink or orange color Remoulade is what most folks call Louisiana Remoulade, but because of the French culinary heritage, there are 4 basic colors of Remoulade that are used in Louisiana style cuisine.  
     • Yellow = Curry Spice Flavor French Remoulade  
     • White = Standard French Remoulade   
     • Orange = Curry Spice Louisiana Remoulade    
     • Pink = Standard Louisiana Remoulade 
     There are also many local variations of Louisiana style Remoulade.  From one house or restaurant to the next, the recipe can vary.  Every Louisiana chef or home cook adds their own personal touch to their Remoulade recipe.
     A key ingredient for Louisiana Remoulade is Creole Mustard.  No other mustard in the world tastes like Creole Mustard.  If none is available, then Dijon Mustard is what most chefs choose.        
     Since mixing pre-prepared ingredients together to make Louisiana Remoulade is so easy to do, there really is no excuse for a cook to just slap plain old mayonnaise on a Po' Boy Sandwich.  Louisiana cuisine is all about flavor and Louisiana cooks take great pride in the great flavors that they create!
     Blackened Catfish is a nice choice of meat for a Po' Boy Sandwich.  Cajun Blackening Spice Mixes can be simple or complex.  Catfish is one of the best fish for the Cajun Blackening Cooking Technique.  There usually is no argument when stating that farm raised catfish is one of the most sustainable fish species that there is.  

     Rémoulade Louisiane  (Pink Color):
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (Enough spread for 2 to 3 sandwiches.)
     This is one of many Louisiana Remoulade recipes that I have published.  The Herbs de Provence mixture replaces several individual herbs, so the French flavor accent of the Remoulade is easier to match.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of organic catsup.
     Step 2:  Add 2 tablespoons of minced gherkin dill pickle or minced Cornichon.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Creole Mustard (or Dijon Mustard).
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 4:  Add 2 teaspoons of French Herbs de Provence.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced curly leaf parsley.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the sauce for 20 minutes before serving, so the flavors meld.

     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix: 
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.  (Enough spice mix for 1 large portion or 2 petite portions of catfish nuggets.)
     This Cajun Blackening Spice Mixture has a complex flavor.  The amount of Cayenne Pepper may seem high, but most of the spicy heat literally goes up in smoke when searing at a high temperature. 
     Step 1:  Place 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Step 2:  Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Mix the ingredients together and set it aside.

     Blackened Catfish Nuggets:  
     This recipe yields enough blackened catfish nuggets to feed 1 hungry Po' Boy!
     Be sure to turn on the exhaust fan and the A/C fan before blackening the catfish!  Open the windows too, so the neighbors can smell what is cooking!  
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Heat the butter, till it just begins to smoke.
     Step 2:  Dredge 8 ounces of catfish filet nuggets in the Cajun Blackening Spice Mix.
     Place the catfish nuggets in the smoking hot butter.
     Step 3:  Blacken the catfish nuggets for 4-5 minutes on one side and only about 1 minute on the other side.
     Step 4:  Use tongs or a spatula to place the blackened catfish nuggets on a wire screen roasting pan over a drip pan to drain off any excess butter.
     Keep the nuggets warm on a stove top.

     Blackened Catfish Nugget Po' Boy with Louisiana Remoulade:
     The garnishes on a Po' Boy sandwich should be minimal! 
     Step 1:  Split open a 10" Hoagie Sandwich Roll and brush it with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the roll on a griddle over medium/medium low heat, till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 2:  Spread a thin layer of the Louisiana Remoulade on the hoagie roll.
     Place some baby spinach greens on the roll.
     Place some thin sliced onion that is separated into rings on the spinach.  
     Place the Blackened Catfish Nuggets on the sandwich.
     Step 3:  Place the Po' Boy on a plate.
     Place a small ramekin of Louisiana Remoulade on the plate.  (About 1 1/2 ounces)
     Garnish the plate with dill pickle spears and curly leaf parsley sprigs. 

     Hoo Dawgy!  This is a tasty Louisiana Po' Boy!  

Cincinnati 4 Way






     Cincinnati 4 Way Chili!
     Cincinnati Chili was created by a Greek immigrant over 6 decades ago.  His Cincinnati Chili creation turned out to be a great success.  The locals liked this big city style chili because a Greek food craze was going on at that time.
     The flavor of Cincinnati Chili is heavily influenced by Greek cooking techniques and Greek spices.  There are absolutely no hot chile peppers or southwestern style chili powder in Cincinnati Chili.  Spanish Paprika is not even on the list of ingredients.  This is a very aromatic and great tasting chili, that by definition is really not a classic chili at all.

    I have tried the canned Cincinnati Chili and the canned product contains about 95% with very little meat, so this product does not offer good value.  Back in the 1990's there was a franchise restaurant chain that featured Cincinnati Chili.   I tried the chain restaurant's Cincinnati Chili once and it was watered down cheap version that was as appealing as dirty dish washing water.
     Photos that I have seen in the past always pictured Cincinnati Chili as being thick, rich and meaty.  This classic look seemed like a winner, because folks in Cincinnati certainly do not spend money on watered down food.  
     The original Cincinnati Chili recipe has never been published and it still considered to be a secret recipe.  If one does some research and reads the descriptions of cook's that have seen how this chili is made, then putting the pieces together is fairly easy to do.  Knowing something about Greek cuisine and cheap street vendor food of the 1930's post depression era helps too.
     A good Cincinnati Chili has a texture that is similar to the Italian Sugo di Carne Sauce (Meat Sauce).  Because of the rich texture, it was a natural choice to offer Cincinnati Chili on a bed of Spaghetti Pasta.  Several variations of the Cincinnati Chili and Spaghetti creation were eventually given these catchy names:
     Cincinnati 2 Way - Cincinnati Chili with Spaghetti Pasta    
     Cincinnati 3 Way - Cincinnati Chili, Spaghetti and Shredded Cheddar Cheese
     Cincinnati 4 Way - Cincinnati Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar and Chopped Onions 
     Cincinnati 5 Way - Cincinnati Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar, Onions and Red Beans
 
     Cincinnati Chili:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Cincinnati Chili

     Cincinnati 4 Way:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Thin grated domestic cheddar is very fluffy and it does not weigh much.  The big fluffy pile of cheddar creates great eye appeal!
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of spaghetti pasta in boiling water, till it is cooked softer than al dente.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Step 2:  Place the spaghetti on a plate.
     Spoon about 3/4 cup of the Cincinnati Chili over the spaghetti.
     Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped onion over the chili.
     Mound about 2 cups of thin grated cheddar cheese on the chili.
     Garnish with a parsley sprig.
 
     The huge amount of cheddar cheese over the Cincinnati Chili is how an authentic 3 Way, 4 Way or 5 Way is served.  The cheese melts and combines with the hot chili and pasta to create an indescribably good tasting flavor combination!  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Balkan Brat!








     Balkan Brat!
     Today the goal was to make a good hot grinder style sausage sandwich that features some Balkan region flavors.  When making a new sandwich, one simply has to give the sandwich a catchy name!  The name Balkan Brat kind of has ring to it.
     Sandwich shops and street food vendors always think up catchy names for sandwich creations.  Some are named after neighborhoods, countries or famous people.  Some popular sausage sandwich names include New York Greaser, Maxwell Street Polish and Coney Dog.  

     Bulgaria is famous for producing some of the finest pork in the world.  Pork is a main staple in the Balkan region.  Bulgarians butchers make a wide variety of sausages.  Probably the most common and most popular sausage of them all is plain lightly seasoned fresh pork sausage, which is also called Bratwurst or Fresh Kielbasa.  Fresh Kielbasa is not smoked and the seasonings are nearly the same as Bratwurst.  A plain fresh bratwurst sausage is fine for today's recipe.  The size of the sausage for a belly buster sandwich should be big.  For example, belly buster hot dogs weigh a minimum of one quarter pound. 
     The ingredients in today's recipe support the Balkan Brat sandwich theme.  Ajvar is a Balkan region specialty and it is often used as a sandwich spread.  Pan fried potatoes and onion often accompanies sausage in Eastern European cuisines.  Bulgarian Kaskaval sheep milk cheese was melted on the sandwich.  Marjoram is a common herb in the Balkan region. 

     Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread:
     This recipe yields enough spread for 2 to 3 sandwiches!
     Jars of Ajvar Spread can be found at nearly any Greek, Mediterranean or Eastern European food market.  Ajvar is basically a mild red, yellow or orange bell pepper spread.  It can cost ten times as much to make fresh Ajvar than it does to purchase a jar of pre-made Ajvar.  Pre-made Ajvar is a very high quality product and there are many brands to choose from. 
     Place 4 ounces of mild avjar in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 ounce of dijon mustard.
     Add 2 ounces of mayonnaise.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread, till it is needed.

     Bulgarian Belly Buster:
     Step 1:  Place an 8 to 10 ounce plain fresh pork sausage in a pot.  (Plain fresh bratwurst is fine for this recipe.)
     Cover the sausage with water.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.  (A low temperature will prevent the sausage casing from splitting.)
     Gently simmer the sausage, till it is fully cooked.
     Set the cooked sausage aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarse chopped onion.
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of peeled russet potato that is thin sliced.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the potatoes are halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved poached pork sausage.
     Sauté till a few brown highlights appear on the sausage and the potatoes are fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 4:  Select a sub sandwich roll that is about the same length as the sausage.
     Split the roll open from end to end.
     Spread a thin coating of the Ajvar Mustard Sandwich Spread on the sub roll.
     Step 5:  Place the potatoes and onions on the sub roll.
     Place the sausage on the sub roll. 
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 ounces of Bulgarian Kashkaval sheep milk cheese on the sandwich.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of marjoram over the sandwich.
     Step 6:  Place the sandwich on a baking pan.
     Bake the sandwich in a 350ºF oven, till the roll is lightly toasted and the cheese melts.  (Do not brown Kashkaval Cheese or it will taste very bitter!)
     Step 7:  Place the Bulgarian Belly Buster on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice!

     Viola!  A tasty new kind of grinder sandwich.  The Balkan Brat!  

Toasted Cuzco Maiz Gigante







     Toasted Cuzco Giant Corn!  Ancient Gourmet Popcorn!
     Cuzco, Peru was the capitol of the Ancient Incan civilization.  Cuzco was the central site of many cultures before the Incan Empire began.  Ancient South American civilizations had a lot of experience in developing vegetable and medicinal plant hybrids.  Most of the modern world's potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn varieties were all originally developed by ancient civilizations in South America.  

     Maiz Cuzco Gigante is a spectacular corn varietal.  Every kernel has nearly the exact same shape, size and color.  This variety of corn has kernels that have a thin hull.  The thin hull does not become hard or sharp when it is fried or toasted.  
     Regular popping corn has a relatively thick hull that holds moisture inside when it is fried.  When fried, the moisture turns to steam and the hull splits, then the starchy inside of the kernel expands and explodes to create fluffy light popcorn.  Dried Cuzco Giant Maiz certainly does pop and explode when it is fried, but because the hull is thin, the starchy inside of the kernel does not rapidly expand like regular popcorn.  
     As you can see in the photos above, many of the Toasted Giant Cuzo Corn Kernels split open, but the starchy inside of the kernel did not expand and become puffy.  Even so, the Fried Giant Cuzco Maiz is not hard, tough or chewy after frying.  The fried hull is not hard or fibrous.  Fried Cuzco Giant Maiz is crunchy, yet very tender!  
    The starchy inside of a giant corn kernel has a toasted bread kind of flavor when it is fried.  In fact, the flavor of fried Cuzco Giant Maize is kind of addictive!

     Peruvians do like to snack.  Stores, restaurants and street vendors sell little bags of a wide variety of snack food.  Snacking is a as much a personal event as it is a social event in Peru.  Groups of people stand around talking and chatting, while munching on little bags of snacks.  Toasted Cuzco Giant Maiz is one of the most popular snack foods in Peru.  
     Outside of Peru, bags of a snack product called Corn Nuts are marketed in convenience stores.  Corn Nuts are very hard and crunchy.  Toasted Cusco Giant Maiz is not even half as hard as Corn Nuts.  Those who do not like Corn Nuts because they can damage dental work, will like Toasted Cuzco Giant Maiz because it is more tender.

     Cuzco Giant Maiz is Nixtamalized before it is dried.  The corn is boiled with ash or slaked lime to make the nutrients in corn easily available for digestion.  Nixtamalization also gives corn kernels a lighter color. 
     Dried Cuzco Giant Corn is usually labeled as "Maiz Gigante del Cusco" or "Maiz Cancha Cuzco Gigante."  The label on the bag also usually says "Giant Cuzco Corn For Toasting."  If you see both those items on the label, then you have found the right variety of corn for today's recipe.  
     Giant Cuzco maiz can be found at international markets, latin markets, gourmet food stores and internet shopping sites like Amazon.

      One thing about frying giant Cuzco maiz, it that it is traditionally toasted in a big pot with no lid, but this method can be somewhat challenging.  A loose fitting lid is best for keeping the popped kernels in the pot. 
     Only a tiny amount of oil is needed to toast the giant corn kernels.  Take care and be calm when the giant Cuzco Giant Corn starts to pop, because this corn sounds like loud firecrackers when it pops!  
      If you are into entertaining children while cooking, leave the lid off of the pot.  The few giant corn kernels that pop and fly out of the pot will travel quite some distance!  Trying to catch the corn kernels is part of the fun of toasting Cuzco Giant Maiz!

     Toasted Maiz Cuzco Gigante:
     This recipe yields 1 snack portion.
     This recipe is the same as the traditional recipe that is printed on the bag of Maiz Cancha Cuzco Gigante in the pictures above!  The traditional recipe for Tostada Maiz Cuzco Gigante has not changed since it was created in ancient times.
     Keep in mind that this corn variety does not pop like regular popcorn.  
     Step 1:  Heat a pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 cup of Dried Cuzco Giant Maiz Kernels.
     Step 2:  Gently shake the pot till all of the kernels are toasted to a golden brown color.  
     *The kernels will puff up and the hulls will split open.  Only a few kernels will actually pop!
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add a few pinches of sea salt while tossing.
     Place the Toasted Cuzco Maiz Gigante in a bowl and serve.

     Munching away on this great traditional Peruvian snack is a sheer pleasure!  The flavor of fried maiz gigante is one of a kind and it tastes much richer than regular popcorn.  No melted butter is needed.  This is a very healthy snack!  

Beer Batter Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds with Cilantro Chutney Dip and Fry Sauce








     Beer Batter Fried Cheese Curds!
     Fried Cheese Curds are a popular bar snack and county fair street vender food in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada.  Just about anyplace that cheese is made, cheese curds are eaten as snacks.  Cheese Curds are best when they are very fresh.  Fresh Cheese Curds squeak when they rub against the teeth, so they often are called "squeaks" instead of Cheese Curds.
     White Cheddar Curds or Orange Cheddar Curds are the most popular for making Fried Cheese Curd snacks.  The Cheese Curds can be breaded or battered.  Breaded Fried Cheese Curds are traditional, but this frying method presents problems.  Breaded Fried Cheese Curds often turn out greasy.  This is because the cheese curds melt quickly, so the frying time is cut short and the frying oil saturates the breading.  One solution is to freeze the Breaded Cheese Curds before frying, so the frying time can be extended.  
     Beer Batter Fried Cheese Curds also may suffer from a reduced frying time, because the curds quickly melt and the cheese can leak out.  The plus side about batter frying, is that the consistency of the batter can be adjusted to suit a shorter frying time.  Another plus is that Beer Batter tastes great with Cheddar Cheese Curds! 
     The fried cheese curds in the photo examples above turned out perfect!  The batter was golden and crispy.  No cheese leaked out of the batter.  These are the two goals to keep in mind when batter frying Cheese Curds.  

     Cilantro Chutney Mayonnaise:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.
     Jars of pre-made cilantro chutney can be found at Indian food markets.  
     Cilantro Chutney is also easy to make.  Cilantro Chutney is a puree of garlic, ginger, cilantro, vinegar and sugar.  A jar of pre-made Cilantro Chutney costs much less than making it from scratch and the quality is high.  
     Place 1/4 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cilantro chutney.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill until the sauce is needed.

     Fry Sauce:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1/4 cup.  
     Fry sauce is also called Utah Sauce.  
     Place 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of organic ketchup.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the Habanero Utah Sauce in a ramekin and refrigerate till it is needed.

     Beer Batter:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 to 3 appetizer portions of cheese curds.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of domestic lager beer in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough flour while whisking, to make a thin batter.  The beer batter should have a thin pancake batter consistency.
     Step 2:  Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Chill the batter till it is needed.

     Beer Batter Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Heat 6"of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Sort out the larger Cheddar Cheese Curds and save the small curds for another recipe.  (Small curds are good for making Canadian Poutine.)
     About 3/4 cup to 1 cup of large Cheddar Cheese Curds is a good appetizer portion.
     Step 2:  Dredge the cheese curds in flour.
     Dip the cheese curds in the beer batter.
     Step 3:  Place a few battered cheese curds in the pot of hot oil at a time, so they do not stick together.
     *It is best to fry only a few cheese curds at a time.  This way, less steam is produced and less foaming occurs.  Be sure that the cheese curds are completely covered with batter.
     After 20 seconds, get the fryer net handy.  Keep an eye on the cheese curds.  When the batter becomes crisp and the very first sign of leakage can be noticed, use the fryer net to scoop the cheese curds out of the oil.
     Step 4:  Use the fryer net to place the batter fried cheese curds on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil. 
     Keep frying cheese curds in small batches, till they are all cooked.
   
     Beer Batter Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds with Cilantro Chutney Dip and Fry Sauce:
     Mound the Beer Batter Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds on a parchment paper lined plate. 
     Place small ramekins of Cilantro Chutney Mayonnaise and Fry Sauce on the plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     The two dipping sauces taste great with cheddar cheese curds.  It does take practice to do perfection batter frying.  After a while, frying beer batter cheddar cheese curds is easy to do!  

Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline








     A Hawaiian Style Meatball Sub! 
     There are far too many restaurants at oceanside tourist destinations that offer the same food that every competing restaurant in the local area is marketing.  Variety is the spice of life!  Why not offer entirely new unique food creations.  Add some excitement to the tourism scene and inspire consumer interest!

     Las Vegas is called the Ninth Hawaiian Island, because this city is a favorite destination of Hawaiian tourists.  There is a large population of Hawaiians living in Vegas and there are many good Hawaiian restaurants that serve up island style food.  Some of these places offer unique Hawaiian style food creations and some only serve traditional island food.
     Doing something different is what today's Hawaiian style sandwich recipe is all about.  A Hawaiian style Meatball Sub is something that not seen on restaurant menus, but it sure has good sales potential because so many people like meatballs.  Adding some Hawaiian style flavors naturally increases interest.
     It is not just good enough to create a new kind of meatball sub sandwich.  The sandwich has to be given a name that creates interest and inspires customers to make a purchase.  Everybody knows what the Bonsai Pipeline is.  A big sub sandwich resembles a big curling Bonsai Pipeline wave as it hits the shore.  There also is a stigma about meatballs, Italian restaurants and the mob.  Where the syndicate operates, there are bosses.  Who is the boss?  In the mob and the Hawaiian Islands there is only one big boss.  The Big Kahuna!  Put it all together and Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline is a good name for today's sandwich creation!

     Hawaiian Style Meatballs:
     This recipe yields enough meatballs for 1 large Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline!   
     Either ground pork, beef or veal can be used to make the meatballs.  A combination of ground beef and pork is a nice option. 
     Step 1:  Place 8 ounces of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 cloves of finely minced garlic.
     Add 1 finely minced green onion.
     Add 2 teaspoons of ginger paste.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of whisked egg.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese chile powder or cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced cilantro.
     Add about 1/3 cup of fine plain French bread crumbs.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.  If the mixture looks too wet, then add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of bread crumbs.
     Step 3:  Scoop the meat mixture into medium size meatball portions.  (About 2 1/2 to 3 ounces apiece.)
     Hand roll the meatballs into a smooth round shape.
     Step 4:  Place the meatballs in a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with vegetable oil.
     Bake the meatballs in a 350ºF oven.
     *The pan will need to be removed from the oven once in a while, so the excess grease can be poured off.  The meatballs will need to be turned occasionally too.  Use a thin metal spatula to free the meatballs from the pan.
     Bake the meatballs, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Set the meatballs aside and keep them warm on a stove top.

     Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for one large meatball sub!  
     Dried sliced pineapple works best for this recipe.  The dried pineapple slices should be fairly thick.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of pineapple juice.
     Add 1/3 cup of dried pineapple that is cut into small bite size pieces.
     Add 1 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of agave nectar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Step 2:  Add 2 tablespoons of organic ketchup.
     Add 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped seeded jalapeño.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Step 4:  Bring the liquid to to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the sauce reduces to about 1 1/2 cups in volume.
     Step 5:  Add just enough corn starch and cold water slurry, while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a very thin consistency.  (The sauce will be reduced further after the meatballs are added.)
     Step 6:  Place the reserved meatballs in the sauce.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the meatballs are reheated and the sauce easily clings to the meatballs.
     Keep sauced meatballs warm over very low heat.

     Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline:
     Step 1:  Split an 8" to 10" sub roll open on one side.
     Place the sauced meatballs and pineapple chunks on the roll.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of grated mozzarella cheese over the meatballs.  (About 3 ounces.)
     Step 2:  Place the sandwich on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 375ºF oven, till the cheese melts and the roll is lightly toasted.  (Do not brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
     Step 3:  Sprinkle some thin bias sliced green onion over the cheese.
     Place the Big Kahuna Meatball Pipeline on a plate.
     Garnish with pickles, cilantro sprigs or Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with Hawaiian style Macaroni Salad on the side!

     Put on the dark sunglasses, crank up the surf music and munch Hawaiian style!