Saturday, February 20, 2016

Miso Honey 'Rooburger

     A Miso Honey Glazed Kangaroo Burger!
     Kangaroo ('Roo) has become a popular alternative meat during the the last few decades.  Kangaroo meat is very lean and it contains only 2% fat!  Kangaroo is a clean, disease free, farmed wild game meat..  Kangaroo meat is so clean, that Aboriginal Natives used to drink the blood of Kangaroo to quench their thirst in the arid outback.
     Because Kangaroo meat is so clean and lean, it should be cooked no more than medium rare.  The meat has to be brushed with oil or butter, so that it does not stick to a chargrill.
     Wild game meat and alternative farmed wild game meat definitely fits into the street food scene.  In America, vendors set up food tents and push carts at carnival and county fair events.  People that attend these events are out to have a good time and try some weird fun new food that they cannot find anywhere else.
     Down in Florida, Gator Burgers are a good selling carnival item.  Out west, Buffalo Burgers are a hot item.  In Texas, Rattlesnake Chili is a popular item at the roundup.  Where does Kangaroo fit in to the scene?  Kangaroo has the potential to be the ultimate alternative meat carnival food, because these bouncing animals naturally inspire funny thoughts.  When people see the word Kangaroo on a street food tent, the first reaction is to say "Boing!  Boing!  Boing!"      
     In the street food vending game, the crazier the name of a food product, the better it will sell.  Miso Honey 'Rooburger is a catchy name.  Everybody remembers the "Oh ... Me so horny" lyric from the classic 2 Live Crew rap band days.  The words "Miso Honey" can be twisted in a similar way.  Yes, a hoppin' good funny name does sell!
     Miso Honey Glaze: 
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (Enough to glaze 3 to 3 burgers.)
     Miso paste must be cooked over low heat or the flavor will change in a negative way! 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Gently sauté till the garlic and ginger becomes fragrant.  (About 10 seconds.)
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste.
     Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Step 3:  Whisk till the ingredients are blended.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.  
     Gently simmer and reduce till the excess moisture evaporates and the sauce is a medium thick consistency that easily glazes a spoon.
     Keep the miso honey glaze warm on a stove top.
     Miso Honey 'Rooburger: 
     This recipe yields 1 Kangaroo Burger.
     Kangaroo Burger Patties are very lean, so they cook quickly.  It is best to do a "burger setup plate" before cooking the burger patty.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron ribbed griddle or chargrill over medium/medium high heat.
     Cut a hamburger bun in half.
     Lightly brush the burger bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the hamburger bun on the grill, till it is toasted and grill marks appear.
     Step 2:  Place the burger bun on a plate.
     Garnish the burger roll with:
     - leaf lettuce
     - sliced tomato
     - thin sliced Bermuda Onion
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs and Bread 'n' Butter Pickle Chips.
     Set the hamburger "setup plate aside."
     Step 3:  Press 6 ounces of ground Kangaroo Meat into a hamburger patty shape.
     Step 4:  Brush both sides of the kangaroo burger patty with vegetable oil.
     Brush the hot grill with vegetable oil.
     Step 5:  Place the kangaroo burger on the grill.
     Season the burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Grill the 'Rooburger on both sides till grill marks appear and the burger is cooked to slightly less than the desired finish temperature.  (Rare to medium is best.)
     Step 6:  Generously brush the 'Rooburger with the Miso Honey Glaze.
     Flip the burger and brush it with glaze again.
     Grill the burger till the glaze heats and the burger is cooked to the desired finish temperature.
     Step 7:  Place the Miso Honey 'Rooburger on the burger bun on the "setup plate."
     Brush the 'Rooburger one last time with a generous amount of Miso Honey Glaze.    
     Kangaroo has a nice mild wild game flavor that is perfect for a honey sweetened miso glaze.  Kangaroo is much milder tasting than deer or lamb.  'Roo is hoppin' yummy to eat!  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Garlic Smelts, Fresh Basil and Mushroom Pizza

     Gourmet Pizza!
     A pizza can be made from scratch in 2 to 3 hours.  If the dough is made ahead of time, then it only takes 25 minutes to make pizza.  Pizza dough can be refrigerated in a sealed container for 2 to 3 days.  When planning meals ahead of time, making a batch of pizza dough is the way to go, especially when a craving for a gourmet pizza strikes!
     Lake Smelts on a pizza?  Sure!  Smelts have a clean delicate whitefish flavor.  Garlic Smelts actually are a nice gourmet pizza topping.  Arranging the toppings in a way that creates eye appeal is easy to do when Lake Smelts are featured.
     When making gourmet pizza at home, money can be saved and guests will certainly be pleased.  I walked into a local pizza shop yesterday and the first words out of the shop owner's mouth was the prices on the menu went up by $2.  Paying $21 for a small 12" pizza with 2 toppings sounded like a rip-off, so out the door I went.
     Today's gourmet pizza is a 10" to 12" pizza, depending on how thin the dough is rolled out.  The total cost of the dough, sauce and toppings is less than $5.  When considering that the current trend of grossly inflated restaurant prices is taking all the fun out of dining out, making a gourmet pizza at home for guests really makes sense!
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough
     Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.  (Enough for 2 individual size 10" to 12" pizzas.)
     This pizza sauce is like a pizza sauce that is found at an Italian pizzeria. 
     Do not heat or cook a pizza sauce!  Classic Italian pizza sauce is a cold mixture.
     Step 1:  Place 1 3/4 cups of imported Italian canned crushed tomatoes into a mixing bowl. 
     Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt and black pepper. 
     Step 2:  Whisk till the ingredients are blended together.
     Chill the sauce for 1 hour, so the flavors meld. 
     Garlic Smelts: 
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small pizza.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic just starts to turn a golden color. 
     Step 2:  Add 6 to 8 Lake Smelts.  (Smelts vary in size.)
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté the smelts till they are fully cooked.  (This only takes about 1 or 2 minutes.) 
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the pan of Garlic Smelts aside.  
     Garlic Smelts, Fresh Basil and Mushroom Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 individual size 10" to 12" pizza.
     This gourmet pizza needs to be baked in 3 stages.
     Be sure to arrange the toppings in a way that creates good eye appeal!
     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.)
     Step 3:  Par-bake the pizza crust in a 450ºF oven.
     *Bake the pizza till it is only partially cooked and so the crust is still a white color.  The pizza crust dough will rise and it will be firm to the touch.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pizza pan from the oven and set it on a countertop.
     Spoon about 3/4 cup of the pizza sauce on the center of the partially baked pizza crust.
     Use a ladle or a spoon to spread the pizza sauce outwards from the center of the pizza.  Leave the outer crust bare.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiana Cheese on the sauce.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of grated Asiago Cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated provolone cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated Romano Cheese on the pizza.
     Step 6:  Place 10 large whole basil leaves on the pizza.
     Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of thin sliced Button Cave Mushrooms on the pizza.
     Step 7:  Carefully arrange the Garlic Smelts on the pizza.  (Handle the smelts gently so they are not damaged.)
     Spoon any excess garlic and oil from the pan over the smelts.
     Step 8:  Place long thin pimiento strips between the smelts as a garnish.
     Step 9:  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese over the pizza toppings.
     Step 10:  Return the pizza to the 450ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust is golden brown and the bubbling cheese just starts to get a few golden highlight.
     Step 11:  Remove the pizza from the oven.
     Slide the pizza onto a cutting board.
     Cut the pizza into 4 pie shaped slices.
     Place the sliced pizza on a large plate and serve.

     Viola!  A great tasting aromatic Garlic Smelts Gourmet Pizza!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cuban Sandwich

     The Cuban!
     The Cuban Sandwich originated as a street cart food item that was marketed in Cuban industrial areas.  The influx of Cuban refugees back in the 1960's brought the Cuban Sandwich to Tampa and Miami.  The Cuban Sandwich eventually became a household name in Florida and nearly every convenience store in the entire state installed a flat top grill to meet consumer demand.  
     The original Cuban Sandwich is made with slow roasted pork and onions, ham, pickles and swiss cheese.  Many old Cubans say that ham was not part of the original Cuban Sandwich.  Others say that cheap canned lunch meats, like pork loaf, was what the original Cuban Sandwich was made out of.  
     The truth is that all street vendor food has a bit of dubious mystery involved, because street vendors are notorious for marketing whatever food items that they can procure for the lowest price.  This is especially true in places that suffer from economic turmoil.  More than likely the first bunch of Cuban Sandwiches were made with whatever the street cart food vendor had on hand.  Cuba is famous for great roasted pork, so pork obviously gets the nod for being the original Cuban Sandwich meat.  

     Simple Cuban style slow roasted pork is the key to making a great Cuban sandwich!  A whole pork shoulder or pork butt roast is placed on a bed of sliced onion and garlic cloves, then it is smothered with sliced onion.  The pork's is seasoned and flavored with a generous amount of cumin.  The pork is slow roasted at a moderately low temperature till the meat is well beyond being fully cooked, so the meat literally is tender enough to melt in the mouth.  The slow roasted caramelized onions in the pan are almost always served with the sliced roast pork, even when making a Cuban Sandwich.

     The second necessity for making a good Cuban Sandwich is Cuban Bread.  Cuban Bread can be found in Cuban food markets and Florida grocery stores.  Mexican Bolillo and Hoagie Rolls are made with a similar dough and these breads are a good substitute.  
     Cuban Bread has a thin crust and fairly soft pith, because the dough is enriched with milk.  Cuban Bread is easy to make.  Just like French Baguette, there is no butter, lard or oil in the recipe.  To make Cuban Bread, simple replace some of the water in a French Baguette recipe with milk and use high gluten bread flour. 
     The third item that is needed is a Cuban Sandwich Griddle or a Panini Grill.  The whole sandwich is placed on the griddle with no butter, then the top half of the griddle is closed, so the weight of the griddle lid flattens the sandwich.  After grilling, the flattened bread turns into a hot crispy crust.  
     The original Cuban street cart food vendors and old time Cuban restaurants simply use an ordinary cast iron griddle to make Cuban Sandwiches.  An aluminum foil wrapped brick is used to press the sandwich flat.  When using the brick method, the sandwich will need to be flipped, so both sides are grilled crisp.  The griddle temperature should be about 275ºF to 300ºF, so the bread is not toasted too dark.

     Cuban Style Roast Pork For Cuban Sandwiches:
     This recipe yield about 20 ounces of roast pork.
     It is better to slow roast a large piece of pork than a small one.  
     Step 1:  Select a 24 ounce piece of Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder.  Only trim off some of the fat if the fat cap is extra thick. 
     Step 2:  Place 1 1/2 cups of thin sliced onion on a roasting pan.
     Place 4 to 6 whole garlic cloves on the onions.
     Place the pork roast on the onions with the fat side facing up.
     Cover the pork roast with a thin layer of sliced onion.  (About 1 cup.)
     Step 3:  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over the pork and onions.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of cumin over the onions and pork.
     Step 4:  Slow roast the pork in a 275ºF degree oven, till the pork is fully cooked and the onions are thoroughly caramelized.  
     Step 5:  Allow the roast pork to rest and cool.
     Thin slice the roast pork.  (About 4 to 5 ounces of sliced roast pork are needed per sandwich.)
     Save the caramelized onions and garlic.
     Cuban Sandwich:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut an 8" long piece of Cuban Bread.
     Split the bread in half.
     Step 2:  Place a few thin slices of swiss cheese on both halves of the bread.  (About 1 1/2 ounces.)
     Place about 2 ounces of thin sliced smoked ham on the cheese.  
     Place 4 ounces of the Cuban Style Roast Pork on the sandwich.
     Place about 1 or 2 tablespoons of the caramelized onions and garlic from the roast pork on the sandwich.
     Place a few dill pickle chips on the sandwich.  (optional)  
     Place the two sandwich halves together.
     Step 3:  *Either Cuban Sandwich Griddle, a Panini Grill or a regular cast iron griddle with an aluminum foil wrapped brick can be used to make a Cuban Sandwich. 
     Heat the griddle between 275ºF and 300ºF.  Do not brush the griddle with butter or oil.
     Place the Cuban Sandwich on the griddle.  
     Lower the griddle lid and apply pressure to flatten the sandwich.
     Grill the sandwich till the flattened bread is toasted crisp.
     *For a regular cast iron griddle, place an aluminum foil wrapped brick on top of the sandwich to flatten it.  Flip the sandwich so both sides are toasted crisp.
     Step 4:  Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut it in half.
     Place the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig and a dill pickle.
     *Serve with a cool refreshing Guanabana con Leche or a bottle of Malta. 
     I used to work with several good Cuban chefs in Florida restaurants and this is how they made Cuban Sandwiches for a lunch special du jour.  The aroma of the slow roasted pork and caramelized onions on a Cuban Sandwich is mouth watering!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Baby Clam, Garlic and Harissa Pita Pizza!

     Mediterranean Style Pita Pizza!
     Many people work all day and live a very busy lifestyle.  These people tend to seek food that provides instant gratification.  Settling for fast food or grabbing a quick bite to eat from a food truck becomes a daily routine.  Busy people often get so caught up in the rat race, that they only seek convenience and they simply forget all about quick easy recipes that can be cooked at home.
     Back in the 1970's, making Pita Pizza in a toaster oven was a popular snack food craze.  Busy people that worked two jobs each day, just to make ends meet, really liked Pita Pizza because it could be topped off with just about anything and it only took a few minutes to make.  Pita Pizza also was cheap to make.  For the cost of a greasy fast food burger, a cook in a home kitchen could whip up 2 or 3 Pita Pizzas for the same price.  Pita Pizza definitely was a healthier food choice that was cost effective.

     Pita Pizza was a success in home kitchens, but when marketed on a bar snack menu, Pita Pizza was a flop.  I worked at a bar & grill back in the early 1980's that offered Pita Pizza with standard pizza toppings.  Customers never ordered the Pita Pizza, because they knew that they could make the same Pita Pizza at home for a fraction of the menu price.
     If that same early 1980's bar & grill offered a few select Pita Pizza menu items that had interesting gourmet toppings, then the sales numbers probably would have been good.  Offering unique gourmet style Pita Pizzas that have interesting cuisine themes and catchy names is a far better marketing strategy than directly competing against home cooks that make Pita Pizzas with ordinary toppings in a toaster oven.  Gourmet Pita Pizzas would have generated consumer interest at that period of time and more than likely, Gourmet Pita Pizza would have become a profitable trendy food fad for several years to come.  

     When designing a gourmet traditional pizza or a new unique Pita Pizza, it pays to think outside the pizza box!  Serving the same old Pita Pizza with the same old toppings will result in consumer burnout or bored party guests.  Pita Pizza is such an easy creative medium to work with, that there really is no excuse to not let it all hang out when experimenting with a new flavor theme.
     Today's Pita Pizza recipe is a good example of thinking up an interesting Pita Pizza topping theme and just going with it.  Clam Pizzas are popular in old school Italian pizzerias, so a Pita Pizza with a clam topping is guaranteed to be a winner too.  Tomato pizza sauce is an easy choice, but making the Pita Pizza with Harissa Sauce kicks the flavor up a notch and it supports a simple Mediterranean theme.  Adding extra garlic powder is easy to do, but using thin sliced garlic cloves brings this Pita Pizza up to a gourmet level.  
     Baby Clam, Garlic and Harissa Pita Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 individual size Pita Pizza.
     Harissa is fairly easy to make, but the bottled or canned Harissa products are more cost effective.  Canned Harissa Paste can be diluted with water to make Harissa Sauce.  Jars of ready to serve Harissa Sauce are even easier to work with.  
     Canned or bottled Harissa products and great fresh Pita Bread are available in Mediterranean food markets.  For today's recipe, I used a jar of good Harissa Sauce that was made in Turkey.
     Small cans of Baby Clams are available in common grocery stores.  One small can is enough for 1 or 2 Pita Pizzas. 
     Step 1:  Open a small can of baby clams and drain off the liquid.  (About 3 to 4 ounces of drained baby clams are needed.)
     Place the baby clams in a mixing bowl.
     Add 4 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon pomace olive oil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Set the clam topping aside.
     Step 2: Brush an 8" to 10" pita bread with virgin olive oil.
     Spread a thin layer of harissa sauce on the pita bread.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of coriander on the harissa.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of oregano on the harissa.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese on the pita pizza.
     Place a generous amount of the Garlic Baby Clam & Olive Oil Mixture on the pita pizza.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 2 to 3 more tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese on the baby clam topping.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley on the pita pizza.
     Step 5:  Place the pita pizza on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350ºF oven, till the cheese melts and the ingredients are hot.  (Try to not excessively brown the cheese or the clams will become tough as rubber!)
     Step 6:  Slide the pita pizza onto a cutting board.
     Cut the pita pizza into 4 pie shaped slices.
     Place the pita pizza on a plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This is a great tasting gourmet Pita Pizza!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Arugula Pizza

     Arugula Pizza!
     The peppery flavor of arugula is perfect for a pizza.  Arugula Pizza was offered as a speciale del giorno at a family style Italian restaurant that I worked in early in my career.  The Italian owner treated the Arugula Pizza like it was gold.  One taste of an Arugula Pizza and you will see why!
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 small pizzas.  (10" to 12")
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of tomato paste in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Whisk till combined.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of imported Italian crushed tomato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of leaf oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed red pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic.
     Step 3:  Slowly add 1/3 cup of pomace olive oil while whisking.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil, while whisking.
     Step 4:  Place the pizza sauce in a container.
     Chill the sauce for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Arugula Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 small 10" to 12" pizza.
     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.)
     Step 3:  Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce on the dough.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese over the sauce.
     Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups of grated mozzarella cheese on the pizza.
     *It is not necessary to smother a pizza with cheese, like American fast food pizza shops do!  
     Step 5:  Cover the cheese with arugula leaves.  (About 2 to 2 1/2 cups of loose packed large leaves.)
     Step 6:  Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the arugula leaves.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of sea salt over the arugula leaves.
     Step 7:  Bake the pizza in a 450ºF oven, till the crust and cheese are golden brown.
     Step 8:  Place the pizza on a cutting board.
     Sprinkle 2 teaspoons  of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese over the hot pizza.
     Cut the pizza into slices and slide the pizza slices onto a plate.

     The peppery flavor of arugula is nice with the cheese, olive oil and the rich tomato pizza sauce!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Drunken Polish Sandwich!

     Kielbasa Sandwich With Fries and Bier Sauce!
     The idea was to create Polish Kielbasa Sausage Sandwich with an Eastern European Style Beer Sauce that would appeal to football fans.  Today's Drunken Polish Sandwich definitely hit the mark!
     Piling french fries on a sandwich is an old tradition that almost vanished during the peak of the health food cuisine trend.  Fortunately, not everybody is into health food, especially on game day.  Nowadays, modern chefs have once again started piling French Fries on gourmet sandwich creations.  Even sweet potato fries and fresh made potato chips have made their way back into modern sandwich recipes.  A pile of fries on a sandwich looks great and it keeps hunger from returning anytime soon.

     In many big cities, a Kielbasa Sausage is more often just called Polish Sausage.  In Chicago, a "Polish" refers to a sandwich that is made with Polish Sausage.  When looking at the word Polish on a menu, everybody knows what this item is and what the options are.  The Polish options include plain on a bun, with sauerkraut, with peppers & onions or Chicago Style, just like a Chicago Hot Dog. 
     There are also two kinds of Kielbasa.  Fresh Kielbasa or Smoked Kielbasa are the two basic choices.  The basic sausage seasoning mix is only salt and pepper, but a few common Eastern European spices are usually added.  Garlic powder and onion powder almost always flavors the sausage mixture.
     Kielbasa can be made with almost any kind of ground meat.  Beef or pork kielbasa are the most common.  Smoked Kielbasa is usually sold in long rope lengths, so this sausage can be cut to the exact length of a sub sandwich roll or the sausage can be cut oversize to create more eye appeal.
     A Kielbasa Sandwich of any kind goes well with beer.  This is what makes a Polish Sausage Sandwich so popular with the working class on game day.  Polish Sausage also tastes good with an Eastern European style beer sauce.  Today's mustard flavored beer sauce tastes great with both fries and Kielbasa.  
     Mustard Beer Sauce: 
     This recipe yields 1 generous portion.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 teaspoons of whole mustard seed.
     Gently sauté, till the seeds finish making a popping noise.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 3 tablespoons of chopped Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced green onion.  (only the white section of the green onion)
     Gently sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of Pilsner Beer.
     Add 1/3 cup of light chicken broth or light pork broth.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Smooth German Style Deli Mustard.  (Or Russian Mustard for a spicier flavor.)
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Gently boil and reduce the sauce till about 1 cup of liquid remains.
     Step 5:  Mix about 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour with 1/3 cup of water to make a thin slurry.
     Add just enough of the slurry, while whisking, to thicken the beer sauce to a very thin sauce consistency.  (Any extra slurry can be saved for another recipe.)
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a medium thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The finished volume should be about 3/4 cup.)
     Step 7:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian parsley.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add water if the sauce gets too thick.

     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.

     Drunken Polish Sandwich:
     Step 1:  Split an 8" to 10" whole wheat sub sandwich roll open.
     Brush the roll with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the roll on a griddle over medium/medium low heat till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 2:  Place a generous portion of French Fries on the sub roll.
     Place the Roasted Smoked Kielbasa on the fries.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Mustard Beer Sauce over the Kielbasa.
     Step 3:  Place the sandwich on a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.

     Viola!  A tasty tavern style Kielbasa Sandwich that is perfect for a football party!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Susamli Tavuk

     Turkish Sesame Seed Chicken!
     There is a lot of great food that is cooked around the world and there is no reason to be stuck eating the same old thing everyday.  The country of Turkey has a long history of outstanding food.  Many common food items that people see in the grocery store actually have roots in Turkish cuisine.  
     In plazas, shopping areas and nearly any place in Turkey where there is a high number of pedestrians, vendors market casual street food.  Many vendors operate a small shop that only has countertop window that faces the street and there is only room enough to sell a few select specialty food items.
     Customers purchase items at one street food shop window to the next, then they sit on a park bench or at a plaza table and enjoy their meal.  Most of the street food is finger food, pastries or sandwiches that is served with strong tea or coffee.  Munching on great street food in a busy place while socializing and people watching is a Turkish pastime.
    Today's Turkish Sesame Seed Chicken recipe is very simple to make.  Susamli Tavuk is a popular Turkish street food item and it is also a popular item to serve to guests at home.  
     One thing that you learn as a chef is that some recipes are so simple and uncomplicated, that they seem to not make sense.  Such is the case with Susamli Tavuk.  After glancing at the recipe, the first thought will be that it is impossible for the bread crumbs and sesame seeds to stick to the chicken if only milk is used, especially if the cooking method requires no pan frying.
     As the old saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding!"  One look at the photo examples above proves that this simple Turkish recipe actually works.  Not only does this recipe work, Susamli Tavuk is practically fat free, so it is some very healthy street food!
     Susamli Tavuk: 
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Select a 6 to 8 ounce chicken breast filet and trim off any fat.
     Bias slice the chicken breast into long flat strips that are about 1/4" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the chicken breast strips in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Toss the chicken strips with the milk.
     Step 3:  Place 1/2 cup of sesame seeds into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the dry ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Dredge 1 milk coated chicken strip in the sesame seed mixture at a time.  Be sure to completely coat each piece of chicken.
     Place each sesame chicken strip on a sheet pan that is lightly brushed with vegetable oil.
     Step 5:  Bake the sesame seed chicken in a 350ºF oven.
     Carefully turn the chicken pieces once or twice so they cook evenly.
     Bake the sesame seed chicken, till the chicken is fully cooked and the sesame seed coating is toasted to a light golden brown color.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Place some Italian Parsley sprigs on a plate as bed for the Susamli Tavuk.
     Arrange the Susamli Tavuk on the parsley, so it looks nice.
     Serve with a small ramekin of honey.
     Susamli Tavuk can be served as an appetizer, light lunch or a snack.  This is some healthy Turkish cooking!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cajun Blackened Patty Melt with Louisiana Remoulade

     A Classic Patty Melt Gone Cajun!
     The Patty Melt is a classic American diner style sandwich.  A traditional Patty Melt is a grilled cheese sandwich with a hamburger patty and grilled onions.  Thousand Island dressing is an optional ingredient, but many people say this sauce is required.
     Patty Melts were a good selling American diner sandwich till the dining public started to prefer healthier food back in the early 1960's.  Many people that liked the old fashioned Patty Melt switched to ordering a Tuna Melt, because Tuna Salad was considered to be healthier back in those days.  Looks can be deceiving, because a Tuna Melt Sandwich actually contains nearly as much fat and calories as a Patty Melt, especially if a cook at a greasy spoon diner has a heavy hand with the melted butter brush!    
     Obviously, a Patty Melt is not something that should be eaten everyday, because of the high cholesterol content.  Even so, few sandwiches satisfy a craving like a good old classic Patty Melt can.  Adding a little bit of Louisiana Cajun magic to the recipe increases the appeal even more.  Today's Cajun style Patty Melt recipe definitely is a winner!

     Louisiana Remoulade is usually identified by its color.  Classic French Remoulade is a pale white color or a light yellow color, depending on whether yellow curry powder was added to the recipe.  French Remoulade is usually offered at Louisiana French restaurants.
     Pink or orange color remoulade is unique to Louisiana.  The addition of ketchup gives white remoulade a pink color or it can turn yellow remoulade into a bright orange color.  Louisiana Remoulade is served with everything from crab cakes to salad greens.  Louisiana Remoulade is most often used by street food vendors as a sandwich spread.     
     Louisiana Orange Color Remoulade:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.
     This is an orange colored remoulade that tastes spicy! 
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of organic ketchup
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Creole Mustard.  (If Creole Mustard is not available, then coarse German Mustard or Dijon Mustard is a good substitute.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Louisiana style Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
     Mix the wet ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon each of these finely minced ingredients:
     - Capers
     - Onion
     - Green bell pepper
     - Green onion
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped cornichons or dill gherkins.
     Step 3:
     Add 2 pinches each of these herbs and spices:
     - Basil
     - Oregano
     - Marjoram
     - Tarragon
     - Thyme
     - Minced curly leaf parsley
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Yellow Curry Powder.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Cajun Remoulade in a refrigerator for at least 1 hour, so the flavors meld.  (A remoulade tastes best when it is refrigerated for nearly 1 day.)
     Stir before serving.

     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix:
     This recipe yields enough to coat 2 to 3 burger patties.  
     This is a basic Cajun Blackening Spice Mix.  Some chefs add many dried herbs to the basic mix but that is not necessary for today's Patty Melt recipe.
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.
     Add 3 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Grilled onions:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Patty Melt.
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced onion.
     Sauté till the onions are lightly caramelized.
     Keep the grilled onions warm on a stove top.

     Cajun Blackened Patty Melt with Louisiana Orange Remoulade:
     Step 1:  Press 6 ounces of lean ground beef into an oval patty shape.  (The patty should be about the same size as the sliced sandwich bread.)
     Place the burger patty on a platter.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of the Cajun Blackening Spice Mix on both sides of the burger.
     Gently press the spices onto the burger meat.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     Pour 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Place the Cajun Spice Burger Patty on the butter.
     Blacken both sides of the burger, but only flip the burger once.
     Cook the Cajun Burger Patty to the finish temperature of your preference.
     Set the Blackened Burger on a pie tin and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 3:  Heat griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush 2 slices of whole grain wheat bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the bread on the hot griddle.
     Place 2 thin slices of cheddar cheese on both slices of bread.
     Step 4:  Spread a thin layer of the Louisiana Remoulade on the cheese on both slices of bread.  
     Place the grilled onions on 1 slice of bread.
     Place the Cajun burger patty on the other slice of bread.
     Step 5:  Grill the bread till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 6:  Use a spatula to place the sandwich halves together.
     Use the spatula to set the Patty Melt on a cutting board.
     Cut the sandwich in half and set it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with tomato slices, sport peppers and a parsley sprig.  (optional)
     This Cajun Blackened Patty Melt will satisfy a spicy craving!