Thursday, May 18, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak

     Gourmet Philly Style! 
     The world of Philly Steaks has changed through the years.  The old school days of only having shaved beef as a choice of meat are long gone.  Being limited to American Cheese, Provolone or Whiz is no longer a rule.  Gourmet Cheese Steaks that stray from tradition are en vogue in modern times.   
     Chicken Cheese Steaks became popular in the early 1980's.  Chicken simply replaced the beef in this sandwich and for many years the list of extra ingredient options did not change.  Just like with a Beef Cheese Steak, Peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce and a choice of cheese were the only options for a Chicken Cheese Steak.  In recent years the craft beer bar scene has gained a foothold and the level of competition in the bar snack food arena has risen dramatically.  Philadelphia steak shop owners and tavern chefs have rekindled many classic recipes and adapted new food items in order to remain competitive.  
     As long as the ingredients add up to a flavor combination that is easily recognized, a modern Cheese Steak creation will be well received by conservative clientele.  The Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak is an item that strays from tradition, yet it appeals to fans of Buffalo Wings.  A soft Hoagie Roll, boneless chicken, mild hot Sauce thinned with butter and crumbled blue cheese is all it takes to make this sandwich.  A Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak is a real crowd pleaser, because the flavor is like eating a sandwich that is made with classic Buffalo Wing ingredients.   
     When Chicken Cheese Steaks first hit the scene, they were made with coarse chopped shredded chicken breast.  In recent years paper thin sheets of chicken cheese steak meat have been marketed as a frozen product.  Some of these products are highly processed and the flavor is not as good as chopped shredded chicken breast.  For today's recipe, chopped shredded chicken breast is used, but a frozen chicken cheese steak meat product is an option.   

     Buffalo Wing Sauce: 
     This recipe yields 3/4 cup.  (Enough for 1 large 12" Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak.) 
     This Buffalo Wing Sauce is close to the original recipe.  The original recipe was basically just butter and Frank's Red Hot.  A small amount of Honey and BBQ sauce adds a touch of sweetness and depth. 
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot Sauce in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of honey.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of BBQ sauce.
     Add 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Pour the wing sauce in a container and set it aside or chill it for later use.     
     Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak:
     This recipe yields 1 foot long sandwich.
     Frozen Thin Shaved Chicken for Cheesesteaks is available at some grocery stores.  If none is available, then cut some semi frozen chicken breast filet meat into paper thin slices to create the same look.  The chicken breast meat can also be chopped and shredded with spatulas as it cooks on the griddle
     The best bread for a cheesesteak is a foot-long Hoagie Roll that has a slightly chewy texture.  Soft Italian Sub Rolls are good too.  A crusty baguette is not a good choice.
     Step 1:  Select 9 ounces of boneless chicken breast filet.
     Cut the chicken filets into long thin strips.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron griddle (or wide sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Coat the griddle with 2 teaspoons of blended olive.
     Step 3:  Place the boneless chicken breast pieces on the griddle.
     Use 2 large spatulas to tear and shred the chicken into small pieces as it cooks.
     Grill and toss till the chicken is fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Mound the cooked shredded chicken on the center of the griddle.
     Pour about 1/2 cup of the Buffalo Wing Sauce over the chicken.
     Toss the ingredients together till the shredded chicken is coated.
     Step 5:  Mound the Buffalo Chicken on the center of the griddle.
     Sprinkle 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of crumbled Bleu Cheese on the chicken.
     Use a spatula to briefly toss the ingredients together till the Bleu Cheese starts to melt.
     Step 7:  Cut one side of a 12" long Hoagie Roll (or sub roll) and split the roll open.  (Do not cut all the way through the bread!)
     Use a large spatula to mound the Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak mixture on the open Hoagie Roll.
     Cut the sandwich in half and place it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with curly leaf parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.

     Every bite of this Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak tastes like classic Buffalo Wings!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pastrami Reuben on Black Bavarian Rye Bread with German Potato Salad

     German Deli Food For A Chilly Day!
     Cold day?  Not feeling great?  Try eating something that makes you feel good!  Reuben Sandwiches have a way of putting a smile on a face!  Warm German Potato Salad is a classic cold weather recipe too.
     I learned both these recipes while working at a German delicatessen early in my career.  The German deli was only open for breakfast and lunch.  The owners were a married couple from Germany.  All of the kitchen equipment, spices and specialty food came from Germany.  The deli owners took great pride in cooking perfection German deli food just like how it was prepared back in their homeland.
     The only problem in that German deli was the kitchen atmosphere.  The kitchen had a large open view window to the dining room and the customers could hear everything that was spoken in the kitchen.  The husband and wife owners would stop all production in the kitchen, so they could argue with each other a few times a day.  These were not typical husband and wife arguments!
     The married couple yelled at each other at the top of their lungs and they used some of the most vulgar rotten crude language imaginable!  Every degrading word in the book flew through the air and the foul language carried out to the dining room.  The German husband and wife arguments were vulgar enough to make mild mannered customers go to church on Sunday!
     Many times, the German couple would switch from English curse words to German curse words to disguise the fact that they were cursing.  That made no difference, because most English curse words are originated in the old West German Anglo Frisian language or from way back when the German Engs invaded England.  At high volume, it was easy to figure out the meaning of the German curse words.
     The high volume loud German vulgar cursing in that deli kitchen was a daily routine.  I still remember the sound of shocked customers in the dining room dropping their knives and forks on their plates!  Customers even knocked over their drinks or spilled coffee because their nerves were wracked and their hands shook!
     Needless to say, the German deli restaurant kitchen did not have a quiet pleasant atmosphere.  At least one time a day after arguing with each other, the German husband and wife deli owners would glare at me and then start making stereotypical comments about how stupid Americans are!  I understood that getting caught up in an argument like this would end in futility, so the best response was to use a little bit of wit.
     After catching the first barrage of anti American "ack-ack" from the German deli owners that now acted as a anger fueled team, I just patiently listened to the glaring husband and wife agree with each other by saying "Ja! ... Der Americans are so stupid!"  I responded by saying "You Germans think we Americans are stupid? ... Well, what about the Bulgarians?"  Then I turned and pointed my finger at the Bulgarian dishwasher across the kitchen.  The Bulgarian dishwasher was wearing sandals with black socks, he had the legs of his shorts rolled up, he wore a tight girls rhinestone disco T-shirt and he had a shiny beige vinyl man-purse slung over his shoulder.
     The German husband and wife then took their eyes off of me and they just stared at the weird looking Bulgarian guy.  The German couple stared at the Bulgarian for a few seconds and then they just shook their heads in disbelief, while saying in complete disgust, "Ja! ... Bulgarians look so stupid! ...  Ja!  They are much stupider than Americans!"  The Bulgarian dishwasher and I then looked at each other and we shrugged our shoulders, laughed a little bit and we continued on with our work.
     The dramatic vulgar arguments and degrading language episodes were a daily routine in that German delicatessen kitchen.  The arguments were like clockwork, because the dramatic vulgar argument episodes happened at the same time everyday.  I asked the German owners about the arguing and cursing one day.  The wife said that they had been doing this intense argument act for many years and they really did not mean the crude things that they say.  She said that it was their way of relieving stress!
     Giving advise to the German deli owners was risky business, so I kept my thoughts to myself.  I should have told the German couple that there are far better ways to relieve stress than by releasing energy via loud arguing and rude cursing, but the German couple probably already knew these things.
     The food was great in that German deli, but the atmosphere in the kitchen was nerve wracking and the reaction of the customers was embarrassing.  Of course, I had good reason to pursue work elsewhere and I did.  I did have the composure to learn a few great German cooking techniques and good authentic German deli style recipes while I was there.  After all, the husband was a very successful award winning chef when he lived back home in Germany and he deserved the highest respect.
     When the German chef taught me how to make the Reuben Sauce, I asked if a Reuben Sandwich was really an American invention.  He laughed!  The old German chef said, "Reuben Sandwiches have been made in Germany for many years longer than in America."  He also stated that his Reuben Sauce was indeed the original German Reuben Sauce.  All I could do was agree, because the flavor of the Reuben Sauce was fantastic!
     Great sandwich components make a great Reuben!  German style 100% rye grain bread with no caraway seeds is the best for a Reuben.  Pumpernickel and Black Bavarian Rye Bread are good for making Reuben sandwiches too.
     Pastrami is highly seasoned beef that is brined, dry cured and smoked.  Thin sliced pastrami is needed for this sandwich.  A German deli or butcher shop is the best place to find good quality pastrami.
     A top quality imported Swiss Emmentaler Cheese is best.  For a milder flavor, American Baby Swiss (Lorraine Swiss Cheese) is a good choice.

     Warm German Potato Salad:
     This recipe yield 3 to 4 portions!
     Step 1:  Place 1 pound of small red bliss potatoes in a pot.
     Cover the potatoes with cold water.
     Boil over medium high heat till the potatoes are fully cooked.  (The potatoes should be firm, not mushy!)
     Cool the potatoes under cold running water.
     Chill the potatoes in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
     Step 2:  Use the back of a paring knife to scrape the skin off the potatoes.
     Cut the potatoes 3/16" thick slices and place them in a mixing bowl.
     Step 3:  Grill 1 1/2 slices of smoked bacon in a skillet with a few drops of vegetable oil over medium/medium low heat.
     When the bacon is crisp and lightly browned, remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside.
     *Save the bacon grease for later in the recipe.
     Coarsely chop the bacon and add it to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.
     Step 4:  Place 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of pickle brine from a jar of imported German Dill Pickles.
     Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease.
     Add 1 finely chopped green onion.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Step 5:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
     Step 6:  Mix a 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 1/2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
     Slowly add just enough of the slurry to the sauce while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon
     Simmer and stir for 2 minutes.
     Step 7:  Add the sauce to the potato slices and bacon in the mixing bowl.  
     Gently toss the ingredients together.
     Step 8:  Place the potato salad in a small shallow casserole dish.
     Bake the potato salad in a 300ºF oven till it becomes hot.  (A probe thermometer should read 165ºF to 180ºF.
     Keep the potato salad warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     This recipe yields enough for 1 Reuben.
     German wine packed sauerkraut is available at German delicatessens and some grocery stores.  
     There is no need to rinse wine packed sauerkraut!
     Gently heat 1 cup of wine sauerkraut with its own juices in a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Keep the wine sauerkraut warm over very low heat.
     Drain the liquid off of the sauerkraut before serving.

     Reuben Sauce: 
     This yecipe yields enough for 2 sandwiches. 
     This German Reuben Sauce is rather zesty!
     Step 1:  Place 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of German Mustard.
     Add 2 tablespoons of organic ketchup.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of horse radish.
     Add 1 tablespoon of imported German sweet pickle relish.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Pastrami Reuben:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush the pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Place 5 ounces of thin sliced pastrami on the griddle.
     Pour 1 tablespoon of water over the pastrami.
     Turn the pastrami a few times as it heats and steams.  Let the excess water evaporate.
     Step 2:  Brush two slices of Black Bavarian Rye Bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the 2 bread slices on the griddle.
     Place 3 or 4 thin slices of Swiss Emmentaler Cheese (or Lorraine Swiss) on the bread.
     Step 3:  Use a spoon to spread a thin layer of the Reuben Sauce on the cheese on both slices of bread.
     Step 4:  Place the warm grilled sliced pastrami on one slice of the bread.
     Step 5:  Place about 1/3 cup of the drained warm weinsauerkraut on the other slice of bread.
     Step 6:  Grill the bread till it is toasted.
     Step 7:  Use a spatula to flip the sauerkraut half of the sandwich on top of the pastrami half.
     Place the Reuben on a cutting board and slice it in half.
     Step 8:  Place the Pastrami Reuben on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with pickles and Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with a portion of the German Potato Salad.

     A German deli style Pastrami Reuben is perfect for lunch on a chilly day or when a smile is needed!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sesame Miso Glazed Salmon with Honey Yogurt Slaw on a Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun

     Modern Fusion Street Food!
     Modern fusion style sandwiches that are served on hot dog bun were first introduced during the street food trend that took full shape during the Great Recession of 2007.  Thousands of fine dining and upscale casual restaurants failed when the economy flopped, because they failed to adapt to the needs of the dining public.  Innovative chefs actually profited on the tough economic times, just by introducing exciting new cuisine styles that presented value.  Gourmet street food was one of the more successful food trends during the great recession, because the food was entertaining and it presented good dining value.
      Hot Dogs have always been a cheap street food item and part of the reason is the size of a standard Hot Dog.  A Standard Hot Dog on a bun can be eaten with just a few bites and consumers tend to order more than one to make a meal out of this item.  The standard Hot Dog Bun is relatively small too, so it dictates a small portion size for whatever is placed on it.  Even if a gourmet item other than a Hot Dog is placed on the Hot Dog Bun, the small size of the portion will keep the price low, so a Hot Dog Bun Snack Sandwich is appealing during tough economic times.  Members of the dining public that crave gourmet food items or exotic flavors, but are strapped for cash, can find satisfaction when consuming a small Hot Dog Bun Snack Sandwich and the chances are that they may even order more than one.
     The success of gourmet street food has set new standards in bars and pubs that offer food.  Offering a limited menu of the same old worn out manufactured Cheese Sticks, Chicken Fingers, Wings and Burgers no longer is en vogue.  In order to remain competitive, a few gourmet street food items or odd regional street food classics have to be offered on the menu.  If a chef in a pub has talent, then the creative street food items will catch on and customer flow numbers will rise.
     Currently, modern consumers seek innovative street food creations and it shows in television ratings.  The cuisine that draws the most viewers on food topic channels is gourmet street food of any kind.  Street food interests viewers that are thoroughly tired of being forced to only consider healthy cuisine trends as the only alternative when dining out, even though many modern street food creations actually are healthy to eat.
     Today's Sesame Miso Glazed Salmon with Honey Yogurt Slaw on a Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun recipe is a good example of decadent modern street food that is quite healthy.  The flavor is not too exotic for modern bar and pub patrons to fathom, so this makes this sandwich a winner from the start.  Since this gourmet Salmon Filet Hot Dog Bun Snack Sandwich is small, it even leaves room for a chef to break out the good old "2 for 1" special offer, which always is a winner with bar patrons that seek value when they munch.  

     Napa Cabbage Honey Yogurt Slaw: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (Enough for 5 or 6 garnish portions.)
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of very thin sliced Napa Cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/5 cup of very thin sliced green bell pepper strips.
     Add about 1/6 cup of thin julienne sliced carrot for color.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place 1/3 cup of Goat Milk Yogurt (Greek Style Yogurt) in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of honey.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Rice Vinegar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Black Sesame Seed.
     Whisk till blended.
     Step 3:  Add the Honey Yogurt Dressing to the cabbage mixture.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Place the Napa Cabbage Honey Yogurt Slaw in a container.
     Chill in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the flavors meld and the cabbage wilts.
     Step 5:  Toss the ingredients together before serving and drain off any excess liquid.

     Toasted Sesame Seeds: 
     This recipe yields 2 tablespoons.  (Enough to garnish several snack sandwiches.)
     Heat a dry small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds.
     Toss the sesame seeds gently in the hot pan till they are lightly toasted.
     Place the toasted sesame seeds in a container and set them aside.

     Sesame Miso Glaze:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (Enough for about 5 or 6 small portions of salmon.)
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of Red Miso Paste in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of dry rice wine (Sake).
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 teaspoons of lime juice.
     Add 2 teaspoons of ginger paste.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of white pepper.  (to taste)
     Stir the ingredients till they are combined.
     Step 2:  *Check the consistency.  The glaze should be thick enough to easily coat a spoon, but not as thick as peanut butter.  If it is too thick, then add a little bit of warm water while stirring.
     Step 3:  Place the Sesame Miso Glaze in a container.
     Set the container aside for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Sesame Miso Glazed Salmon with Honey Yogurt Slaw on a Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut a 3 1/2 ounce salmon filet portion.  (Remove the skin.)
     Cut the salmon filet in half lengthwise.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the 2 salmon filet pieces.
     Lightly sear the salmon on both sides till it is about halfway done.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a spoon to pour and spread a thin layer of the miso glaze over the seared salmon.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons.)
     Step 4:  Place the sauté pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the salmon is fully cooked.
     *Warm 1 Poppyseed Hot Dog Bun for about 30 seconds in the oven too!
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Step 5:  Place the warm Poppy Seed Hot Dog Bun on a plate.
     Spread about 1/4 cup of the Honey Yogurt Slaw on the hot dog bun.
     Step 6:  Use a spatula to place the 2 Sesame Miso Glazed Salmon pieces on the slaw, so the miso glazed side is facing upward.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of Toasted Sesame Seeds over the glazed salmon.
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs, sliced pickled ginger and a pickle of your choice.

     This is a very likable fusion style hot dog snack sandwich!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cajun Pig In A Blanket with Yellow Remoulade

     A Tasty Cajun Andouille Sausage Pig In A Blanket!
     The classic Pig In A Blanket is an old time favorite.  The basic recipe is a hot dog that is wrapped with biscuit dough and then baked.  Many chefs prefer to use puff pastry dough, rather than biscuit dough for a pig in a blanket.  I used puff pastry dough for today's recipe.  Pe-made frozen pastry dough sheets are a nice convenience and this product is best for snack food recipes like a Pig In A Blanket.  Frozen puff pastry sheets can be found in nearly any grocery store.
     Andouille is a Cajun style spicy smoked sausage.  Traditional Andouille can be a large sausage that is two to three inches in diameter, which is too large for making a Pig In A Blanket.  Commercial Andouille is available in ropes or links that vary in size.  In recent years, traditional sausages that are about a foot long have been scaled down by food manufacturers, so the traditional sausages can fit on a hot dog bun.  Large hot dog size Andouille Sausages that weigh about 5 ounces are available at grocery stores.  The quality of the small Andouille usually does not compare to hand crafted Cajun Andouille, but the large hot dog size Andouille are just fine for making items like a Pig In A Blanket.
     Making a Cajun pig in a blanket turned out to be a good idea and this recipe could very well become a fun Mardi Gras street food style snack.  It would not be great, unless some Remoulade was served on the side.  Remoulade is taken very seriously in Louisiana and this sauce is nearly always slathered on sandwiches or served as a dipping sauce.  
     There are several varieties of Remoulade in Louisiana and they are usually identified by their color.  White Remoulade is a classic French Sauce.  French Yellow Remoulade is White Remoulade with Curry Powder added.  Orange color Remoulade is a combination of Yellow Remoulade and Ketchup.  Reddish Pink color Remoulade is the most popular and it is a combination of French White Remoulade and Ketchup.  Creole Mustard is the classic choice for flavoring any Louisiana style Remoulade, but in a pinch, French Dijon Mustard will do. 
     With all these Louisiana Remoulade versions to choose from, I chose the French Yellow Remoulade for this Cajun pig in a blanket.  The Creole Mustard really adds some pizazz to this classic French sauce and it tastes real nice with a Cajun Pig In A Blanket.

     Louisiana Yellow Remoulade:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups.  (6 portions) 
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of Louisiana Creole Mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Add 3 tablespoons of minced Cornichon Pickle.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced capers.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Madras Yellow Curry Powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. 
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)  
     Step 5:  Whisk the ingredients till blended.  
     Place the Yellow Remoulade in a container.
     Refrigerate for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Cajun Pig In A Blanket:   
     This recipe yields 1 Cajun Pig In A Blanket.
     Frozen Puff Pastry Dough Sheets are a nice convenience and this product is fine for this recipe.
     Step 1:  Select an 4 to 6 ounce Andouille Sausage that is about the same size as a large hot dog.    
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the Andouille Sausage.
     Sauté till the sausage lightly browned.
     Remove the sausage from the pan and let it cool to room temperature.
     Step 3:  Place a chilled Puff Pastry Dough Sheet on a lightly flour dusted countertop.
     Cut a square shape piece of Puff Pastry that is as wide as the length of the Andouille Sausage.
     Step 4:  Brush one side of the puff pastry square with egg wash.
     Place the Andouille sausage on the edge of the puff pastry square.
     Roll the sausage and pastry together till the pastry dough overlaps by 1/2".
     Trim off the excess puff pastry dough.
     Press and pinch the seam, so it is sealed tight.
     Step 5:  Place the Cajun Pig In A Blanket on a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.  
     *Be sure that the seam of the pastry is facing down.
     Score the top of the pastry with even spaced knife slashes.
     Brush the pastry dough with egg wash.
     Step 6:  Place the pan in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake until the pastry puffs and it turns a golden brown color.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Allow the Cajun Pig In A Blanket to cool to a safe serving temperature. 

     Place the Cajun Pig In A Blanket on a plate.
     Place about 2 ounces of the Louisiana Yellow Remoulade in a ramekin and set it on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with pickles of your choice and an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Viola!  A tasty Cajun Pig In A Blanket with Yellow Remoulade!  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fried Mozzarella Sliders with Marinara

     Fried Mozzarella Sliders!
     Gourmet sliders are still a popular food trend that is going strong.  Gourmet sliders of every kind are offered these days.  Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between what is a slider and what really is a mini sandwich.  
     The classic definition of a slider is a cooked mini burger patty made with any kind of ground meat on a mini roll.  By this standard, anything else is really just a mini sandwich.  By modern standards, the definition of a slider is a bit looser.  Modern sliders are made with pork belly, pulled pork barbecue, blackened tuna, beef tenderloin, prime rib, veggie patties, crab cakes and even fried fish.  Much to the dismay of traditionalists, as long as a featured item is hot and it fits on a tiny roll, then it can be called a slider in modern times.            
     A few years ago, I attended the San Gennaro Feast in Las Vegas.  Attending that event gave me a chance to catch up on new Italian American food trends.  I posted photographs of some nice tasting Meatball Sliders that I sampled that day.  The little Meatball Sandwiches were tasty and it was a good Italian slider idea.  I also saw Mozzarella Sliders on the menu at one of the other vender stands.  This was another good Italian slider idea!
     Making Meatball Sliders is fairly easy to do.  Making Fried Mozzarella Sliders does require a little bit more skill.  I used to make Mozzarella en Carrozza (Pan Fried Breaded Mozzarella) at an Italian restaurant during my first apprenticeship.  The trick part is frying the breaded mozzarella just long enough to soften the cheese.  Frying just a few seconds too long will result in soft melted cheese that easily leaks out of the breadcrumb coating.  When done just right, Fried Mozzarella Sliders are a sheer pleasure to eat, especially when they are topped off with a good Marinara Sauce!  

     Shiny Hamburger and Slider Rolls:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.

     Marinara Sauce:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Classic Marinara Sauce 
     About 1/3 cup of Marinara will be needed to garnish 3 Fried Mozzarella Sliders.  Gently warm a portion of the Marinara sauce in a sauce pot over low heat as needed.   
     Fried Mozzarella Sliders with Marinara:
     This recipe yields 3 sliders.  (1 portion)
     Chilling or partially freezing the breaded mozzarella before frying will provide a few extra seconds before the cheese becomes soft.   
     Step 1:  Select a ball of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese that is 3" to 3 1/2" diameter.
     Cut 3 slices that are about 3/8" thick.  (Each slice of Fresh Mozzarella should be the same size as a Slider Burger Patty.) 
     Step 2:  Place 2 cups of fine plain Italian breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl.
     Lightly seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Mix the breading ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place 1/2 cup of flour in a small mixing bowl and set it aside.
     Step 4:  Place 1 large egg in a mixing bowl.
     Whisk till blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 5:  Dredge the 3 slices of Fresh Mozzarella in the flour. 
     Dip 1 floured cheese slice at a time in the egg wash and make sure it is completely coated. 
     Dredge each egg washed cheese slice in in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
     Step 6:  Place the Breaded Mozzarella slices on a parchment paper lined platter.
     Chill in a refrigerator or freezer to 35ºF.
     Step 7:   *It is best to get the slider rolls and sauce ready, before frying the cheese.  
     Cut 3 warm Shiny Slider Rolls in half.
     Place the rolls on a plate and set it aside.
     Heat about 1/3 cup of Marinara Sauce in a small sauce pot over very low heat.
     Step 8:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  
     Add enough blended olive oil, so the oil is about 3/8" deep in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 9:  *Breaded mozzarella cheese fries very quickly!  Be ready to flip the mozzarella over when halfway done and be ready to remove it from the hot oil before it overcooks.  Do not fry for too much time, because the cheese will melt and leak out of the breading.
     Place the 3 Breaded Mozzarella Slices side by side in the hot oil. 
     Fry till the bottom side is light golden brown.
     Use a slotted spatula to turn each Breaded Mozzarella over.
     Fry the other side till it is light golden brown.
     Step 9:  Use a slotted spatula to remove the 3 Fried Mozzarella from the hot oil.
     Place the 3 Fried Mozzarella Slices on the Shiny Slider Rolls.
     Spoon about 2 tablespoon of Marinara Sauce on top of each Fried Mozzarella Slider.
     Lean the tops of the Shiny Slider Rolls against the sliders.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.

     Gooey Fried Mozzarella with Marinara on Shiny Rolls is the best Italian munch you never had! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Classic Marinara Sauce

     Classic Marinara!
     Marina Sauce originated in the galleys of Italian merchant ships and fishing vessels.  The way that Marinara Sauce is made is similar to how meals were quickly put together for fishermen returning from sea back in the old days, before radio communications.  Fishermen worked at sea till the job was done or the weather started getting rough and there was no time schedule.  Home cooks ashore often had to wait till the boats could be seen returning to port, before getting the meal started.  Home cooks in fishing villages developed great recipes that take very little time to prepare.
     The same can be said about meals prepared at sea.  Less than 100 years ago, a galley cook performed far more duties on a fishing boat than just preparing meals for the crew.  If repairs or hauling in a catch needed to be done, the task took priority over preparing a meal.  Often a galley cook was faced with preparing a meal for a hungry crew in short order and this is where Marinara Sauce fits in.
     Depending on the quality of the canned tomatoes, Marinara Sauce can be made in a matter of minutes or it can be simmered for forty minutes,.  In the old fishing boat days, the time that that it took to make Marinara also depended on how hungry the crew was!  It was never a good idea to keep temperamental fishermen hungry for too long, especially if the crew depended on the Vitamin C in tomatoes for preventing scurvy.
     Marinara can also be made with peeled, seeded overripe fresh tomato filets.  I once worked with an Italian chef in Florida that went to a tomato packing plant just to get boxes of overripe fresh tomatoes that were unfit for shipping.  Tomato shippers prefer to pack only unripe fresh tomatoes, because they are more durable when boxed and shipped.  A tomato packing plant usually gives the overripe tomatoes away for free to farmers that need livestock feed or to anybody that wants them.  Since the Italian chef got the overripe tomatoes at no cost, his restaurant food cost percentage was very low!
     Classic Marinara Sauce: 
     This recipe yields 3 to 4 portions of sauce.  (about 3 to 3 1/3 cups) 
     • The proportion of olive oil in a marinara sauce is about 20%.  Olive oil is the key to cooking this classic tomato sauce.  Without enough olive oil, a marinara will turn out to be "flat" like stewed tomatoes.
     • Only the best imported canned Italian tomatoes should be used to make Marinara Sauce.  This is because Marinara has evolved from a simple quickly made sauce to a sauce that shows off the best tomatoes in the house.
     • Canned whole peeled seeded San Marzano Tomatoes packed in their own juices are the best choice.  Another good choice is canned Italian peeled seeded plum tomatoes packed in their own juices.  If the imported can of Italian tomatoes also says "Con Basilico" (packed with basil leaves) on the label then that is good too, because basil sweetens tomatoes.  
     Step 1:  Place a 28 ounce can of imported Italian peeled seeded San Marzano Tomatoes packed in their own juices in a mixing bowl.   (Or use canned Italian peeled seeded plum tomatoes packed in their own juices.)
     Crush and squeeze the tomatoes by hand till no large chunks remain.
     Set the prepared tomatoes aside.
     Step 2:  Heat 3/4 cup of pomace olive oil in a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 8 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Fry the garlic in the oil, till it cooks to a light golden brown color.
     Step 3:  Immediately add the reserved prepared tomatoes and their juices.
     Add about 12 whole fresh basil leaves.  (medium to medium large size leaves)
     Add 3 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, while stirring often.  (Do not over heat this sauce!)
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Gently simmer the sauce and stir the olive oil into the sauce once every five minutes.
     *The olive oil must be stirred into the sauce regularly, so the olive oil combines with the tomatoes and juices!
     Simmer the marinara for up to 40 minutes, till the excess tomato juices have reduced and the sauce becomes a medium thin tomato sauce consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 2 tablespoons of minced Italian Parsley.
     Remove the pot of Marinara Sauce from the heat.
     *Marinara is never kept warm.  Marinara Sauce is always reheated to order!

     This is the way that I was taught to make Marinara during my first Italian apprenticeship.  As one can see, it only takes a few select ingredients and good cooking techniques to make a great Marinara Sauce!  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Classic Italian Sub

     An Old School Italian Sub Sandwich!
     The best Sub Sandwiches can be found at an Italian delicatessen or Italian sub shop.  Italian chefs take great pride in traditional meats and cheese from the old country.  Local Italian artisan deli meats and cheese in big cities, like Chicago or New York City are also made with the same high quality standards.  Local Italian bakeries always have the best Sub Sandwich Bread.  With a combination of Italian food resources like this, it is easy to see why an Italian Sub Sandwich tastes so great in a big city.
     When making an Italian Sub Sandwich, settling for second rate lunch meats and cheese simply will not do.  National brand lunch meats and cheese always make concessions in quality to suit the mass production process.  Selecting average national brand lunch meats and cheese at an average grocery store will result in an average tasting Italian Sub Sandwich that will be only slightly better than those found at a fast food sub shop chain restaurant that only cares about high volume sales.  When it comes to Italian Sub Sandwiches, the word "average" simply is not good enough!
     Fast food sub shop chain restaurants are another thing to avoid, if you have quality in mind.  Fast
     There is no substitute for the real thing, as far as making an Italian Sub Sandwich goes.  When I made the Italian Sub photo example for today's recipe, I travelled 20 miles across town to a great Italian deli on the other side of Chicago just to get the lunch meats, cheese and bread.  I chose local Italian crafted Spicy Capicola, imported Italian Volpi Prosciutto, Italian artisan crafted Toscano Salami and imported Italian Mortadella with pistachios mortadella.  A locally crafted Aged Sharp Provolone and a fresh large Italian Sub Roll from a local bakery topped off the shopping list at the Italian delicatessen.  Everything was professionally packaged and wrapped with deli paper, just like back in the old days.  The quality and aroma of the Italian deli products guaranteed that the Italian Sub Sandwich would be great!

     Italian Sub Vinaigrette: 
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 3 or 4 foot long sub sandwiches.)    
     This style of vinaigrette is usually placed in a plastic squeeze bottle, then shaken each time that it is used.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of grumbled leaf oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the vinaigrette in a plastic squeeze bottle.
     Let the sub dressing sit for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Shake the bottle of vinaigrette before using.
     Italian Sub Vinaigrette can be kept in a refrigerator for 7 days.

     Classic Italian Sub: 
     This recipe yields 1 foot long sub sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut a 1 foot long section of Italian Sub Roll Bread.
     Turn the bread on its side and cut the bread in half lengthwise.
     Step 2:  Place a layer of leaf lettuce on the bottom half of the sub bread.
     Place a layer of thin sliced tomato on the lettuce.
     Place a few very thin slices of bermuda onion on the lettuce and tomatoes.
     Sprinkle a little bit of the Italian Sub Vinaigrette over the lettuce, tomato and onion.  (About 1 or 2 tablespoons.)
     Step 3:  Place 2 to 3 ounces of thin sliced Mortadella on the sandwich.
     Place 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of thin sliced Capicola on the sandwich.
     Place 2 ounces of paper thin sliced Volpi Prosciutto on the sandwich.
     Place 2 to 3 ounces of thin sliced Toscano Salami on the sandwich.
     Place 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of thin sliced Aged Provolone Cheese on top of the meats.
     Step 4:  Place a few thin slices of pickled Tuscan Peppers (or Sliced Pickled Banana Peppers) on the cheese.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Italian Sub Vinaigrette on the top half the sub sandwich bread.
     Place the top half of bread on the sandwich.
     Cut the sandwich in half and set it on a plate or just leave it whole.
     Garnish the plate with some Italian Parsley sprigs and a portion of Italian Giardiniera.

     Viola!  A Classic Italian Sub Sandwich!                

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lebanese Gyro

     Lebanese Style Meatloaf Gyro!
     Gyros are popular street food in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, America and just about everywhere around the globe.  In America, Gyros can be found on almost every Greek restaurant menu and this sandwich is a popular bar snack menu offering.
     In Greece, most Gryros are made with sliced roast pork and roast lamb is a popular choice too.  Schawarma is cuts of meat that are stacked on a large skewer and slowly roasted.  Carved Lebanese Schwarma on Pita Bread is similar to Roast Meat Gyros that are made in Greece.  In many Middle Eastern Countries and America, a Kafta Spice Minced Meat Kabob or Lebanese Spiced Meatloaf is used to make Gyros.            
     Many Gyro Shops have a large kabob of Gyro Meat that is mounted vertically next to heating element.  As the kabob turns, the surface of the meat cooks to a brown color.  The large highly seasoned minced meat kebab is called a Doner Kabob.  Doner Kababs originated in Turkey several centuries ago.
     In modern times, most Doner Kabobs at Gyro Shops are a manufactured food product.  The finely minced meat mixture is prepared the same way that a Hot Dog meat slurry is made and it contains a high percentage of emulsified fat.  As one can imagine, the quality leaves something to be desired.  Gyro Shops that take pride in their product actually make their own Doner Kabobs from scratch.  The difference in the flavor and texture is easy to notice.
     The highly spiced minced meat for Turkish Doner Kabobs originated in Lebanon long ago.  In Lebanon, the minced meat mixture is usually prepared as a meatloaf instead of a large kabob.  The highly spiced meatloaf is sliced while warm and placed on Pita Bread.  If the Lebanese Spiced Meatloaf is cold, thin slices of the meatloaf are cooked on a griddle till they are browned, then they are served on Pita Bread.  Lebanese Spiced Meatloaf on Pita Bread is the original version of the modern Gyro Sandwich and it pre-dates Gyros that are made with Doner Kabobs.  
     The word Kafta literally translates to meatball or a ball shape.  Lebanese Gyro Meatloaf is highly seasoned with local variations of Kafta Spice Mix.  Kafta Spice Minced Meat can be shaped as meatloaf, kebabs or meatballs.  The minced meat can be shaped around small skewers or a very large Doner Kabob style skewer.
     Many food historians say that Pita Bread (Khubz Arabi) was first created in Turkey or Persia.  Some historians say the India is where Pita Bread was first made.  The only thing that is certain is that Pita Bread was popular in Arabian countries long before it became popular in Greece or western countries.  In western countries, the name was changed from Khubz Arabi to Pita Bread for marketing purposes in the late 1900's.
     During the early 1900's in America, many Arabic immigrants from the Middle East opened Greek restaurants, because Americans had no interest in Arabic food at that time, yet Americans liked Greek style street food and Greek style comfort food diner restaurants.  My step grandfather was a great chef from Lebanon and he joked about how sometimes he had to be Greek in the restaurant business early in his career.  He then attempted to hide his big Arabic nose in a comical way to entertain us kids.  After researching the topic, I now know what my Lebanese step grandfather meant by saying, "Sometimes I had to be Greek."  This also explains why Lebanese Meatloaf evolved into what is known as Greek Gyro Meat in modern times.  
     The standard sauce for a Lebanese Gyro is Tzatziki Sauce.  Tabuli is a Syrian Arabic chopped salad of tomato, onion and parsley and it is sometimes placed on Lebanese gyros.  Most modern Gyros are just garnished with sliced onion and tomato.  In Lebanon, Gyros are considered to be an appetizer, snack or light lunch.  The enticing aroma of a good Lebanese Kafta Spice Meatloaf Gyro is what makes guests come back for more!  

     Lebanese Gyro Meatloaf: 
     This recipe yields 1 large 15 ounce Gyro Meatloaf.  (Enough for 3 or 4 Gyro Sandwiches.)
     Step 1:  Place 8 ounces of ground lamb in a mixing bowl.
     Add 4 ounces of ground beef.
     Add 1/2 cup of fine plain French bread crumbs.
     Add 1 whisked large egg.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic paste.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely minced white onion.
     Step 3:  Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced mint leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 teaspoons of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of black pepper.
     Step 4:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Place the spiced minced meat mixture in a container.
     Refrigerate for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Step 5:  Lightly brush a deep roasting pan with blended olive oil.
     Place the minced meat mixture in the roasting pan.
     Shape the minced meat into a rectangular meat loaf shape that is about 6" wide and 1 1/2" thick.  (The length can vary.)
     Step 6:  Place the roasting pan in a 300ºf oven.
     Slowly roast till the meatloaf is fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Allow the meat loaf cool to room temperature.
     Cover the meatloaf with plastic wrap.
     Place the roasting pan with the meatloaf in a refrigerator for 24 hours.
     *The meat loaf must be refrigerated, so the juices gel.  This step will keep the meatloaf from crumbling, when it is thinly sliced!  The flavors will also mellow after 24 hours.

     Tzatziki Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.  (Enough for 4 Gyro Sandwiches.)
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of finely minced peeled seeded cucumber in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 cup of plain Greek style goat milk yogurt.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely minced mint leaves.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  *Check the consistency.  The Tzatziki should be a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  If necessary, add just enough warm water, while whisking, to thin the Tzatziki to a medium thin sauce consistency.  Be careful not to add too much water!
     Step 3:  Place the Tzatziki in a container.
     Chill the Tzatziki Sauce in a refrigerator for 1 hour.

     Lebanese Gyro: 
     This recipe yields 1 Gyro Sandwich.
     The thin slices of Lebanese Gyro Meatloaf can be warmed in an oven or they can be cooked on a seasoned cast iron griddle till they are browned.  When cooked on a griddle, it is best to cut the meatloaf slices paper thin.
     Step 1:  Cut about 7 long thin slices of of the Lebanese Gyro Meatloaf.  (A 5 to 6 ounce portion is plenty.)
     Place the meatloaf slices on a roasting pan.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Reheat the meatloaf slices in a 300ºF oven.
     Gently roast till the meatloaf slices are warm.
     Step 2:  Warm an 8" to 10" Pita Bread (Khubz Arabi) in the oven.
     Step 3:  Place the pita bread on a cutting board.
     Place 4 or 5 thin slices of tomato on one half of the bread.
     Place 1 thin slice of onion that is separated into rings on the tomatoes.
     Place the warm Gyro Meatloaf slices on top of the tomato and onions.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Tzatziki Sauce over the Gyro Meat.  (About 3 tablespoons.)
     Step 4:  Fold the Pita Bread in half over the meatloaf slices.
     Pin the sandwich together with a long toothpick or bamboo skewer.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Step 5:  Place the gyro on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig and pickles of your choice.
     *Persian Pickled Wild Cucumber, Persian Pickled Pink Turnip and Arabic Scratched Green Olives garnish the plate in the photos.

     This is a great tasting Lebanese Gyro!