Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Philly Lamb Cheese Steak

     Gourmet Cheese Steak!
     Philadelphia is where Cheese Steaks originated.  Thin sliced beef, onions, provolone cheese or Cheese Whiz and a Hoagie Roll is all that it is needed to make a standard Cheese Steak.  Peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce and many other ingredients are options that cost extra.
     Many Philly Cheese Steak shops offer a Chicken Cheese Steak as an alternative to beef.  Chicken Cheese Steaks are tasty too.  Other than chicken, any other alternative meat is rarely seen on a Cheese Steak shop menu.  When considering that everything from lamb to nearly any kind of wild game is available at food markets these days, the world of gourmet meat Cheese Steaks is wide open.
     Of all the alternative Cheese Steak meat options to choose from, lamb is a good choice for a start.  Lamb appeals to many cultures worldwide.  People that savor the thought of roast leg of lamb will surely enjoy a good Lamb Cheese Steak!
     Upon request, a butcher can partially freeze a boneless leg of lamb and cut paper thin slices with a meat slicer.  A cook with good knife skills can do the same thing.  There is an easier way to get paper thin sliced leg of lamb.  Asian food markets and Korean food markets sell packages of a wide variety of paper thin sliced meats for making Bulgogi and Korean BBQ.
     I purchased 1 pound of paper thin sliced lamb at the butcher shop in a Korean food market for a very reasonable price.  That was enough to make a Lamb Cheese Steak and a big Lamb Steak Burrito!
     If you like lamb, then you will surely like today's Philly Lamb Cheese Steak recipe.  As everybody knows, garlic goes well with lamb and this creates a great tasting gourmet alternative meat Cheese Steak flavor!
     Philly Lamb Cheese Steak:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty large Lamb Cheese Steak Sandwich.  
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Pour 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil on the griddle.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced green bell pepper strips.
     Add 4 coarse chopped garlic cloves.
     Grill the vegetables till they just start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Place 8 ounces of paper thin sliced raw leg of lamb on the griddle.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of oregano.
     Step 3:  Use two steel spatulas to tear and shred the thinly sliced lamb into small pieces while it cooks.
     Step 4:  Stir and toss the ingredients together occasionally
     Grill the lamb cheese steak meat till it is lightly browned and fully cooked.  (The onions and peppers should finish cooking at the same time.)
     Step 5:  Use a spatula to mound the meat and vegetable mixture across the middle of the griddle.
     Place 3 or 4 thin slices of provolone cheese on the cheese steak meat.
     Step 6:  Pour about 3 tablespoons of water over the meat and cheese.
     Allow steam to melt the cheese.   Let any excess water evaporate.
     Step 7:  Split open a 10" long sub roll.
     Use a spatula to place the cheese steak mixture into the open sub sandwich roll.
     Step 8:  Place the Lamb Cheese Steak on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs and pickles.  (Persian Pickled Wild Cucumber and Pickled Pink Turnips are a nice choice.)
     The aroma of garlic, oregano, peppers, onions, lamb and provolone cheese is too good to resist!  This is a great tasting Philly Lamb Cheese Steak!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cleveland Polish Boy!

     The Polish Boy! 
     The Polish Boy Sandwich originated in Cleveland and it is one of the most popular ballgame sandwiches of all time!  There are not many references as to who originally created the Polish Boy, but nearly every hot dog stand, burger joint and sandwich shop in Cleveland offers the Polish Boy on the menu.
     A Cleveland Browns fan that tries to describe a Polish Boy Sandwiches might say something like, "Well, what you got here is every basic healthy daily nutritional requirement, like lots of sausage, slaw and potatoes ... all wrapped up together as one on a toasted roll!"  Hardcore ballgame snack fans sure do have opinionated definition of what healthy food is! 
     A Polish Boy Sandwich is a big roasted kielbasa sausage with cole slaw and french fries on a hoagie sandwich roll with BBQ sauce or hot sauce.  Fresh Kielbasa can be used, but most folks prefer Smoked Kielbasa for this sandwich.  Obviously, fresh cut old fashioned French Fries are the best choice for this sandwich.  Mayonnaise style cabbage slaw is traditional, but some folks prefer a fancier slaw.  
     BBQ sauce is more popular than hot sauce for topping off a Polish Boy Sandwich, but because Sriracha is so popular these days, nearly every street food vender now offers this thick mild red pepper sauce.  Sriracha is perfect for topping off a Polish Boy Sandwich!  

     Pepper Vegetable Slaw:
     This recipe yields enough slaw for 2 Polish Boy Sandwiches.
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of julienne sliced green bell pepper in a mixing bowl. 
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced carrot.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced sweet vidalia onion.
     Add 1 very thin sliced green onion.
     Step 2:  Add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of milk.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Pepper Vegetable Slaw for 30 minutes.
     Mix the slaw ingredients one more time before serving.  

     Roasted Kielbasa:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 sandwich.
     Cut a "10" to 12" long piece of Smoked Kielbasa Sausage.
     Cut evenly spaced shallow score marks across one side of the kielbasa.
     Place the kielbasa on a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with vegetable oil.
     Roast the kielbasa in a 350ºF oven till it is lightly browned.
     Keep the roasted kielbasa warm on a stove top.

     French Fries:
     This recipe yields more than enough fries for 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Cut a large russet potato lengthwise into 1/4" thick sticks.   
     Step 3:  Place a few of potato sticks in the hot frying oil at a time to reduce foaming.
     Briefly fry the potato sticks for about 30 seconds, till they are just blanched and they are still a white color.
     Use a fryer net to place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack.
     Let the blanched french fries cool.
     Step 4:  Place the blanched french fries in the hot oil a second time.
     Deep fry till the French Fries are crispy golden brown.
     Step 5:  Use a fryer net to place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Season the fries with sea salt.
     Keep the french fries warm on a stove top.

     Cleveland Polish Boy:
     This recipe yields 1 big sandwich!
     Step 1:  Split a 10" to 12" long hoagie sandwich roll open.
     Lightly toast the roll in a 350ºF oven.
     Step 2:  Spread a generous amount of the Pepper Vegetable Slaw on the toasted roll.
     Place a generous amount of french fries on the slaw.
     Place the roasted smoked kielbasa on top of the fries.
     Step 3:  Use a plastic squirt bottle to paint BBQ sauce or Sriracha Hot Sauce on the sandwich.
     Serve it up!

     A Cleveland Polish Boy is an awesome ballgame munch!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Melanzane and Arugula White Pizza

     Gourmet Italian Pizza!
     I never publish a boring pizza recipe!  Fast food style pizza with cheap toppings are taboo too.  Life is too short to settle for anything less than the best pizza!  
     New York Italian pizza is made with tomato sauce and cheese.  New York Italian pizza is what most people consider to be real pizza.  Today's pizza recipe is like the traditional pizzas that were popular in Italy long before New York style pizza came to be.  Traditional Italian pizza looks more like focaccia bread with a few select toppings.  In America, a pizza made with no tomato sauce is called a "White Pizza."
     For a white pizza, good olive oil takes the place of the tomato sauce.  A wide variety of Italian cheese can top a white pizza.  At pizzerias, the most common cheese combination for white pizza is Parmigiana, Ricotta and Mozzarella.  Some pizzeria chefs prefer a combination of Provolone, Mozzarella and Parmigiana or Romana.
    A gourmet white pizza can be made with cheese that is not offered at an ordinary pizzeria, like Gorganzola, Fontal, Asiago or any premium imported Italian cheese.  The quality and choice of Italian cheese can turn a white pizza into a truly gourmet dining experience.  
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     This recipe yields enough for 2 small pizzas.
     Step 1:  Cut a medium size eggplant lengthwise into thin slices that are about 3/16" thick.
     Place the eggplant slices on a sheet pan.  
     Sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt on both sides of each eggplant slice.  
     Let the eggplant sweat for 20 minutes.  
     Step 2:  Rinse the salt off of the eggplant slices under cold running water.  
     Pat each slice dry with a pastry towel.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat. 
     Add 1/3 cup of blended olive oil.
     Place a few eggplant slices in the oil at a time, so they sit side by side.
     Lightly sauté the eggplant slices on both sides, till a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Place the eggplant slices on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.  
     Lightly season the eggplant with sea salt and black pepper.
     Set the sautéed eggplant slices aside.

     Sautéed Garlic:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 small pizzas.
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 8 to 10 cloves of fine chopped garlic.
     Briefly sauté the garlic till it becomes aromatic and so the garlic is still white in color.  (Do not let the garlic turn a golden brown color.)
     Place the sautéed garlic in a small bowl and set it aside.

     Melanzane and Arugula White Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 small pizza.  (10" wide)
     Step 1:  Coat a smooth countertop with a very thin film of olive oil.  (Just a few drops of olive oil wiped on the counter is plenty!)
     Place a mini pizza size portion of the dough on the counter top.  (A dough ball that is about the size of a softball ... 7 to 8 ounces)
     Press and stretch the dough flat.
     Use your fingertips to gently press the dough outward from the center to form a flat round pizza dough shape that is about 3/8" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the flat pizza dough on a pizza pan that is lightly brushed with olive oil.  (Re-shape the dough if necessary.)
     Brush the pizza dough with virgin olive oil.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the sautéed garlic (and its garlic oil) over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely grated Italian Parmigiana Cheese over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of grated mozzarella over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of oregano over the pizza.
     Step 4:  Arrange 5 of the sautéed eggplant slices on the pizza so they look nice.
     Step 5:  Toss about 20 arugula leaves with 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small bowl.
     Place a few of the oiled baby arugula leaves on the pizza between each of the eggplant slices.
     Step 6:  Sprinkle 3 more tablespoons of mozzarella cheese over the pizza toppings.
     Sprinkle 1 more pinch of oregano over the pizza toppings.
     Step 7:  Bake the pizza in a 450ºF oven.
     When light golden brown highlights appear on the cheese and crust, then the pizza is ready.
     Step 8:  Slide the pizza onto a cutting board.
     Cut the pizza into pie shaped slices.
     Slide the pizza slices onto a serving plate.

     This is a nice looking gourmet pizza that features a traditional Italian flavor combination!      

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Italian Meatball Sub

     Italian Meatballs!
     I worked as an apprentice in a great Italian pasta restaurant when I first started getting serious about professional cooking.  The restaurant was located in a shopping plaza.  I cooked lunch for the customers and then at 2:00 in the afternoon, the restaurant closed till 4:30 so we could prepare the food for the dinner hours.
     Afternoons were spent making bread, sauces, fresh pasta, salads and baking meatballs.  I was making over 200 fresh meatballs every two days.  The owner was a great Italian chef and his meatball recipe was phenomenally good!
     The aroma of the garlic, herbs and cheese in the meatballs was very aromatic when baking.  The air ventilation system in the kitchen would send the strong meatball aroma from the restaurant kitchen out to the plaza.  Shoppers in the plaza could smell the enticingly great meatball aroma drifting everywhere in the open air!  People would walk up to the restaurant and actually pound on the door while begging to come in for something to eat, even though we were closed till the dinner shift started.  The mouth watering aroma of the roasting Italian meatballs was like a customer magnet!

     Honestly, on some afternoons when the meatballs were roasting, it was kind of like a zombie apocalypse movie.  If one can imagine the faces of drooling zombies with their faces pressed against the glass doors while looking into the restaurant, one can easily see what is meant by the comparison!
     Just like in a zombie movie, when the pounding on the locked glass doors started, the Sicilian restaurant owner would lift his head while doing the books then say, "Oh no! ... They are trying to get in again!  They are so hungry for my great food, that they are trying to tear the door off of the hinges!"
     When the noise of the rattling loose door became unbearable, this is when the owner told a waiter to let the meatball crazed customers in and only offer them Meatball Subs.  Sure enough, as soon as the customers walked in, they said, "What are you cooking?  The aroma smells so good!"  Then a waiter would respond by saying, "You mean the meatballs?  We are closed right now, but I can get you a Meatball Sub.  The meatballs just came out of the oven!"
     The waiter's response was enough to bring the customers to their knees in thanks and Meatball Sub sales were made.  The irresistible aroma of roasting meatballs in the afternoon at that shopping plaza was best advertising campaign that Italian restaurant had!

     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow this link to the tomato sauce recipe in this website!
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Italian Meatballs:  
     This recipe yields 6 medium size meatballs!
     Step 1:  Place 1 pound of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely minced onion.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of leaf oregano.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of basil.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely minced Italian Parsley.
     Add about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.  (to taste)
     Add about 3 pinches of black pepper.  (to taste)
     Step 2:  Add 1 whisked egg.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated imported Italian Parmigiana Cheese.
     Add 1/3 cup of fine ground plain Italian bread crumbs.
     Step 3:  Add 2 ounces of water soaked Italian bread pith that has been squeezed dry.  (Squeeze the water out of the soaked pith before adding.)
     Step 4:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients together, just like kneading bread dough.
     Step 5:  Scoop the meat mixture into medium size meatball portions.  (About 3 ounces to 3 1/2 ounces is a medium size meatball portion.)
     Step 6:  Wet your hands with water.
     Hand roll the meatballs, so they have a smooth round shape.
     Step 7:  Place the meatballs in a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with blended olive oil.
     Roast 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, so they can be turned over.
     Bake the meatballs, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.  (Do not cook the meatballs for too long, or they will become dried out.  The meatballs should be juicy inside.)
     Step 8:  Set the meatballs aside and let them cool.
     The meatballs can be chilled for later use or served right away.

     Italian Meatball Sub:
     This recipe yields 1 small 6" Meatball Sub.
     Leaving the meatballs whole instead of chopping them is the classic way to present a Meatball Sub.  
     Step 1:  Heat 1 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro in a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Add 3 or 4 meatballs.
     Add 1 tablespoon of light chicken broth or water.
     Simmer the meatballs in the sauce, till they become hot.
     Step 2:  Split a 6" Italian sub roll open on one side.
     Place the sub roll on a baking pan.
     Place the meatballs on the sub roll.
     Spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce from the pot over the meatballs onto the sub roll.
     Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella cheese over the meatballs.
     Bake in a 400ºF oven till the cheese melts.  (Do not brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
     Step 3:  Place the meatball sub on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and giardiniera.
     There is nothing better than a fresh baked Italian Meatball Sub!  The aroma of a great Meatball Sub can make anybody hungry!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cheddar Stuffed Hamburger with Portobello Mushrooms

     Cheese Stuffed Burgers!
     Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers have become very popular in recent years.  There are a few tricks to the trade that a cook must know before making one of these specialty burgers.
     First of all, the cheese has to have a high enough fat content to guarantee that the cheese easily melts at a moderate temperature.  Cheddar, Swiss, Muenster or Bleu Cheese are good choices.  The flavor of the cheese should also taste stronger than the burger itself or the cheese flavor will be overwhelmed.  Mild tasting double cream cheeses like Camembert or Brie may not be a good choice.  An exception to the mild tasting cheese rule is Mozzarella, if the burger is topped with Italian tomato sauce.
     The burger must be cooked to nearly a medium finish temperature or there will not be enough heat in the center to melt the cheese.  Cheese Stuffed Burgers that are cooked rare will not be all that great.
     The ground beef has to be fairly lean, but not too lean.  Extra fatty ground beef will shrink so much that the cheese will be squeezed out after cooking.  Extra lean ground beef, like 95% lean ground beef, may form cracks when it is cooked and the cheese will leak out.  Ground beef that is in the high 80 percent range to the low 90 percent range is a good choice.  
     Two beef patties are used to make a Cheese Stuffed Burger.  The patties have to be thick enough to prevent leaks.  The edge of the patties have to be tightly pinched together too.  As can be seen in the photos above, the cheese leaked out where the edge of the burger patties were not pinched together  tight enough.  If a cheese leak occurs while cooking the stuffed burger then there will be a mess.  If the cheese oozes out when the burger is served, the oozing melted cheese actually adds some eye appeal, so not all is lost!  

     Cheddar Stuffed Hamburger Preparation:  with Portobello Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 large 8 ounce cheese stuffed burger patty.
     Step 1:  Divide 8 ounces of 90% lean ground beef into two 4 ounce portions.
     Press the two hamburger portions into equal size hamburger patty shapes that are about 3/8" thick.
     Step 2:  Place a few thin sliced pieces of cheddar cheese on the center of one burger patty.  (About 1 ounces to 1 1/2 ounces is plenty.)
     *Be sure to leave about a 1/2 inch bare border on the burger with no cheese on it, so the burger patties can be pressed together!
     Step 3:  Set the plain burger patty on top of the burger patty with the cheddar cheese on it.
     Press the edges of the two burger patties together to seal the cheese stuffing inside.
     Chilled the stuffed burger patty till it is needed.

     Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields enough mushrooms to top 1 burger.
     Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 to 3 small portobello mushrooms that are thin sliced.
     Season with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are cooked tender.
     Set the sautéed mushrooms aside and keep them warm on a stove top.

     Cheddar Stuffed Hamburger with Portobello Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 large 8 ounce stuffed burger.
     Cheese stuffed burgers must be cooked to at least a medium finish temperature (about 140ºF) or the cheese will not melt inside the burger!  Cooking the burger rare to medium rare will not generate enough heat to melt the cheese stuffing.  For children and senior citizens, always cook burgers to 160ºF to reduce E Coli pathogen threats.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Lightly brush a hamburger bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the bun till it is toasted golden brown.
     Set the toasted bun on a plate.
     Place some lettuce leaves, tomato slices and sliced Bermuda Onion on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a parsley sprig.
     Set the "burger set up plate" aside.
     Step 2:  Season the cheddar stuffed burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Heat a cast iron griddle or a chargrill over medium/medium high heat.
     Grill the cheese stuffed burger on both sides till it is cooked to at least a medium finish temperature.  
     Step 3:  Place the cheddar stuffed burger on the bun on the set up plate.
     Place the sautéed portobello mushrooms on top of the cheddar stuffed burger.

     Warm oozing gooey cheddar cheese leaks out of the stuffed burger with every bite!  The cheese stuffing helps to keep the burger meat moist.  Portobello mushrooms are a nice topping for a cheddar stuffed burger.  If you like cheese burgers, then this Cheddar Stuffed Burger is a must to try!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Croque Madame of Smoked Turkey and Emmentaler with Szechuan Pepper Kinh Gioi Spread

     A Modern Gourmet French Croque Madame Sandwich!
     I posted a nice Portobello Mushroom Croque Madame recipe a few years ago.  Viewers liked the meatless version of a classic Croque Madame.  It just goes to show that interest in this classic French sandwich can be renewed if a little bit of gourmet influence is applied.
     Very few chefs make Croque Madame sandwiches these days.  Even fewer chefs create new modern recipe versions of the classic Croque Madame.  Items like Gourmet Burgers and Sliders have taken limelight in recent years, but there are a many other traditional sandwiches that could benefit from a facelift too.  
     Three sandwich styles that have been almost totally overlooked by chefs that create modern gourmet street vendor food are the Croque Madame, the Croque Monsieur and the Monte Cristo.  All three of these sandwiches are prime territory for creativity that inspires consumer interest.

     Both the Croque Madame and the Croque Monsieur are considered to be French fast food.  The traditional meat for both of these Croque Sandwiches is ham.  The traditional cheese is Gruyere or Emmentaler.  A Croque Madame is coated with Sauce Béchamel before baking and it is topped with a fried egg.  A Croque Monsieur does not require Béchamel or egg.  Both of these sandwiches can be served for any meal.

     For today's recipe, Smoked Turkey is a nice choice of meat for a creative Croque Madame.  Instead of flavoring the Béchamel Sauce, I added a Kinh Gioi and Szechuan Pepper flavored mayonnaise spread.  Kinh Gioi Herb is also called Vietnamese Balm, Lemon Balm or Lemon Mint.  Lemon Mint adds a nice complimentary flavor.  
     Peppery flavors are nice with smoked turkey, so I chose to add Szechuan Pepper to the sandwich spread.  Szechuan Pepper comes from Prickly Ash trees and it is not really a true peppercorn tree.  Szechuan Pepper has a unique flavor and its oil causes the sensation of taste to become sensitive or slightly distorted.  Szechuan Pepper has an interesting effect on the tongue. 

     Béchamel Sauce:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny and not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir till the roux become a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add thick slice of onion.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Szechuan Pepper Kinh Gioi Sandwich Spread:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1/3 cup.  (Enough spread for about 3 to 4 sandwiches.)  
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced Kinh Gioi leaves.  (Vietnamese Lemon Mint)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Szechuan Peppercorns.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Step 2:  Use a blending wand or food processor to puree the ingredients.
     Place Chill the Szechuan Pepper Kinh Gioi Sandwich Spread in a container and chill till it is needed. 

     Croque Madame of Smoked Turkey and Emmentaler with Szechuan Pepper Kinh Gioi Spread:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut 2 slices of French Boule Loaf Bread.
     Spread a thin layer of the Szechuan Pepper Kinh Gioi Mayonnaise on both slices of bread.
     Step 2:  Place 3 or 4 thin slices of Emmentaler (Swiss cheese) on both sandwich halves.
     Place 3 ounces of thin sliced smoked turkey on one half of the sandwich.  (Sliced smoked turkey breast from a delicatessen is fine for this recipe.)
     Step 3:  Place the 2 sandwich halves together.
     Place the sandwich on a baking pan that is brushed with melted butter.
     Spread a thin layer of Béchamel Sauce on the top of the sandwich.  (About 2 tablespoons.)
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated Emmentaler Cheese over the Béchamel.
     Step 4:  Bake the sandwich in a 350ºF oven till it is toasted crispy golden brown.  (The bread should be toasted crunchy crisp!)   
     Shortly before the sandwich is done baking, cook 1 sunny side up fried egg in a non-stick sauté pan with unsalted butter over medium low heat.
     Step 5:  Place the sandwich on a plate.
     Place the fried egg on top of the sandwich.
     Garnish the plate with sweet gherkin pickles and an Italian Parsley sprig.

     A Croque Madame is a knife and fork style of sandwich.  As far as creative Croque Madame Sandwiches are concerned, the flavor of this sandwich is a winner!  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hawaiian Shake

     A Cool Refreshing Hawaiian Style Milkshake!
     When somebody says pineapple, the chances are that the listener will think of Hawaii.  This is because Hawaiian pineapple is featured on the labels of many food products and Hawaiian pineapple is a selling point in advertising campaigns.
     Hawaii produces megatons of pineapple each year.  From what I can gather after talking to many Hawaiian friends, too much of a good thing does start to get old fast.  Many Hawaiians say that they really dread the thought of eating pineapple, because there is so much of it.  There are also ecological reasons why the locals frown upon pineapple farming too.
     Becoming burnt out with a local harvested food product happens in many regions.  Some people in Florida who have eaten tons of stone crab over the years, never want to see another stone crab as long as they live.  Believe it or not, there are people in Maine that are totally over the thrill of lobster.  Corn on the cob in Indiana?  Local people have had enough for three lifetimes.  Food burnout happens anywhere that too much of one product is produced.
     Trying to bring some excitement back into common food items that become burnt out by creating new recipes sometimes works.  This idea can reach a dead end, if a person has had so much of a particular food item during their lifetime, that every new idea has already been exhausted.  Even a fancy presentation of the food may not help the cause.

     There is one recipe to resort to that never seems to burn out in popularity.  That is unless a person works in an ice cream parlor.  Milkshakes seem to be an indulgence that people are always willing to sip on, no matter how many milkshakes they have had over the years.
     Health food nuts curse milkshakes as being an evil temptation.  People on a diet usually have their willpower broken by a craving for rich fatty food.  Milkshakes happen to be the number one weight loss diet killer.
     I honestly cannot count how many times that I have heard somebody on a weight loss diet say, "You know what?  I need a break from this diet ... I am going to have me a milkshake!"

     Today's milkshake recipe is obviously made with fresh pineapple.  Instead of wasting a perfectly good looking pineapple shell, why not use it for a milkshake glass.  In the tropics, cocktails are often served in hollowed pineapples or coconut shells.  A Hawaiian Milkshake in a pineapple shell adds to the irresistible charm.
     When making a Hawaiian milkshake, one must simply go all the way.  Going all the way also means topping the Hawaiian Shake off with fresh whipped cream, maraschino cherries and a teeny little cocktail umbrella.
     The sight of a cocktail umbrella instantly brings back memories of vacations in sunny places and smiling faces.  To many people, a drink is not a tropical drink unless it has a teeny little umbrella garnish.  It does not matter if the drink is a fruit punch or whether the drink is a piña colada, it has to have a teeny little umbrella garnish if the drink is served to tourists on vacation.  Fun is what teeny little umbrellas are all about!   

     Pineapple Shell Preparation:
     There actually is a special kitchen tool for hollowing a pineapple, but it is not commonly available.  A boning knife is what most chefs use to hollow a pineapple.  A sharp edge scoop spoon can also be used, but it does rough the fruit up.
     • Care must be taken not to poke the knife through the shell, or the milkshake will leak all over the place.
     • First, cut vertically and parallel to the outer shell to create 3/8" to 1/2" border.  The border will be the thickness of the pineapple cup.  A firm pineapple only needs a thin wall, while a soft ripe pineapple will require a thicker wall when used as a cup.
     • The pineapple fruit can be carved out by cutting vertical slices in a "tic tac toe" pattern, then a spoon can be used to break large chunks of fruit out of the shell.  The spoon can be used to break the core free from the bottom of the pineapple cup.  The spoon can be used to smooth the inner surfaces, so the pineapple cup has a uniform shape.
     • Dent de loup is a French precision knife cut.  Dent de loup translates to wolves tooth.  Dent de loup knife cut refers to "V" shaped notches.  Use a paring knife to cut "V" shaped notches on the rim of the pineapple cup to create a nice looking effect.   
     • Trim all of the fibrous pineapple core off of the pineapple fruit pieces that were removed from the shell.  Place the pineapple fruit pieces in a container and set them aside.
     • Chill the pineapple shell in a refrigerator till it is needed.
     • Trim the green pineapple top, so it looks like a long triangular spear.  Chill the pineapple top spear till it is needed.

     Pineapple Coconut Puree:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large milkshake.  (About 1 1/4 cups.)
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/3 cups of chopped fresh pineapple in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of grated coconut.
     Add just enough water to cover the pineapple pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer till the pineapple becomes very tender.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool.
     Puree the pineapple coconut mixture.
     Step 4:  Return the pineapple puree to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the excess liquid evaporates and a thick puree is formed.  Stir occasionally.
     Step 5:  Place the coconut pineapple puree in a container.
     Chill the puree to less than 41ºF.
     Whipped Cream: 
     This recipe yields about 2 cups of whipped cream.
     Frozen whipped cream topping is junk.  Its not even whipped cream.  Canned pressurized whipped cream is only slightly better, but it is convenient.  A gourmet milkshake is better with fresh whipped cream.
     Whipping fresh cream with sugar in a chilled bowl produces the best whipped cream.  A cake mixer with a whisk attachment works best.  Whipping cream for too much time will produce butter.  Stop the mixer when stiff peaks first appear.
     Place 1 cup of cream in a chilled bowl.
     Add 4 drops of pure vanilla extract.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Whisk till medium stiff peaks appear.
     Load the whipped cream in a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep it chilled till the whipped cream is needed.

     Hawaiian Shake:
     This recipe yields 1 extra large milkshake or 2 medium size milkshakes.
     Making a little bit of extra milkshake is a tradition!  Fancy milkshakes have to be assembled quickly, so be ready to work fast.
     Step 1:  Place 20 ounces of French Vanilla Ice Cream in a milkshake blender.
     Add 5 ounces of chilled coconut milk.
     Add all but 2 tablespoons of the reserved concentrated pineapple coconut puree.  (Leave 2 tablespoons in the container for later in the recipe.
     Blend till the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
     Step 2:  Pour the milkshake into the chilled pineapple shell cup, but leave a 1/2" empty space at the top.
     Step 3:  Spoon the reserved 2 tablespoons of pineapple coconut puree on top of the milkshake.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe some whipped cream on the milk shake
     Step 4:  Insert the pineapple green leaf top spear garnish, so it stands straight up.
     Place a few maraschino cherries on the milkshake around the whipped cream.
     Step 5:  Spear 1 maraschino cherry with a teeny cocktail umbrella.
     Place the cocktail umbrella garnish on top of the whipped cream.
     Serve any extra milkshake on the side in the blender cup.

     Break out the Hawaiian music and grass skirts!  This Ninth Island style Hawaiian Shake is pure tropical heaven!