Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich

     An Italian Style Sloppy Joe Sandwich!
     I used to make this sandwich at a café that was located next to a fine dining Italian seafood restaurant.  The two restaurant businesses were operated by the same owner and they shared the same main kitchen.  The restaurants offered two very different menus.  The Italian seafood restaurant offered formal fine dining.  The café menu offered casual trendy Italian style food.
     While working at that odd business that housed two restaurants under the same roof, most of my nights were spent cooking in the casual café.  The cafe had an open view kitchen that was located at one end of the dining room.  People used to stand by the open view kitchen and watch us cook dinner for several hundred people.
     Good food handling skills are a plus when working in a open view dining room sauté kitchen with no walls.  The chef always assigned the two cleanest looking high skilled cooks in the open view café  kitchen and one of them was me!  I happen to be one of those freaky chefs that can cook for a thousand people and never get even a tiny splatter of a sauce on my white chef jacket.
     The biggest problem in the open view café kitchen was the Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich just plain old tasted too good!  In fact, the Sloppy Giuseppe was flat out irresistible.  Grungy looking cooks from the main kitchen would walk out to the open view cafe kitchen and make a Sloppy Giuseppe sandwiches to munch on, while paying customers in the dining room were viewing.
     Imagine seeing grubby, sweaty, unshaved main kitchen cooks goofing off in the open view kitchen while eating a Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich and ogling the good looking women in the dining room.  The ambiance of the trendy open view kitchen really took a dive when the cooks from the main kitchen went on a Sloppy Giuseppe munch mission.  The chef finally noticed what was going on one night and he banned the main kitchen crew from entering the open view kitchen.

     The Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich definitely is a winner!  The flavor is so irresistible, that people rarely can eat just one.
     Sloppy Giuseppe:
     This recipe yields enough for 3 large sandwiches!  (About 26 ounces)
     Step 1:  Roast 8 ounces of Sweet Italian Sausage in a 325ºF degree oven till it is fully cooked.
     Cool the sausage in a refrigerator, so it gels.
     Cut the sausage into thin slices.
     Set the sliced sausage aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan or sauteuse pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 8 ounces of lean ground beef.  (The ground beef must be at least 90% lean, because the grease is not drained off of the mixture, after the ground beef is cooked!)
     Break up the large chunks of ground beef as it sautés.
     Sauté till the ground beef is fully cooked and browned.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced fresh plum tomato.
     Add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.
     Sauté and stir till the tomato paste gains a little bit of brown color.
     Step 5:  Add 2 cups of rich beef broth.
     Add 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ancho chili powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Add the reserved portion of cooked sliced Sweet Italian Sausage.
     Add 6 ounces of thin sliced Italian Calabrese Sausage.  (American style Pepperoni Sausage can be substituted.)
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil while stirring.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates and the sauce easily clings to the meat.  The finished thick Sloppy Giuseppe mixture should be a reddish brown color.
     Keep the Sloppy Giuseppe warm over very low heat.  Add a splash of water if the mixture becomes too thick.

     Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich:
     Split an 8" Italian Sub Roll in half and warm it in an oven.
     Spoon about 8 to 10 ounces of the Sloppy Giuseppe mixture onto the warm sub roll.
     Set the sandwich on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs, black olives and small pickled hot peppers.
     Sloppy and delicious!  Honestly, Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwiches are addictive.  Nobody can eat just one!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Scotch Egg on a Nest of Shoestring Potatoes with Fire Roasted Tomato Mint Compote

     Scotch Egg!
     Scotch Eggs originated in England back in the 1700's.  A Scotch Egg is a hard boiled egg that is coated with sausage and bread crumbs, then it is deep fried or baked.  Scotch eggs were originally intended to be a snack or a light meal for people on the go.  Scotch Eggs are usually marketed as street food fair in small shops where pedestrian traffic is heavy during the daily commute.    
     Scotch Eggs do have interesting nicknames.  Children and gimmicky restaurants sometimes call this snack a "Dinosaur Egg."  Scotch Eggs can be kind of large, so I guess the nicknames fit the bill!
     A Scotch Egg recipe requires lean un-cased sausage.  Lean sausage is best, because sausage that has too high of a fat percentage will yield a greasy Scotch Egg.  The sausage should be mixed with filler, so the sausage coating does not shrink and split open.  Adding some breadcrumbs or bread pith to the sausage filling helps to reduce shrinkage.

     Compote usually has a sweet tart flavor.  The sugar should be cooked to a soft candy stage before the fruit is added.  The molten sugar will instantly pull the flavor out of the fruit.  As everybody knows, tomatoes are actually a fruit.  Tomato is one of the most popular compote flavors.  Mint makes Tomato Compote even more appealing, because mint adds a refreshing light flavor that is welcome when eating a heavy Scotch Egg.

     Prepare one peeled hard boiled large egg ahead of time.
     *Cooking the egg till the center of the yolk is semi soft is a modern standard!  About 9 to 10 minutes of boiling will produce this effect.
     Chill the hard boiled egg till it is needed.

     Fire Roasted Tomato Mint Compote:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (2 accompanying portions)  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 2 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Boil till the water evaporates, and the sugar enters the soft ball stage.  (The sugar will be molten and bubbles will appear.  235ºF to 245ºF)
     Step 2:  Immediately add 1/3 cup of canned coarsely crushed seeded fire roasted tomatoes and a proportion of juice from the can.
     Allow the sugar to seize the tomatoes and do not stir.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Step 5:  Gently simmer and reduce till the liquid is a thin syrup consistency that generously coats the fire roasted tomato.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed dried mint leaves while stirring.
     Keep the compote warm on a stove top.  
     Scotch Egg:
     This recipe yields 1 Scotch Egg.
     It is best to have too much sausage coating than not enough.  Any excess sausage can be saved for another recipe.
     Uncased lean breakfast sausage is a good choice.
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of plain fine French bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and set them aside.
     Step 3:  Place 6 ounces of lean uncased pork sausage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Press the sausage into a flat wide patty shape that is almost 1/2" thick.
     Set the hard boiled egg on the middle of the patty.
     Step 5:  Pick the egg and sausage patty up together and wrap the patty around the egg.
     Gently press the sausage against the egg.
     *The sausage coating should be about 3/8" thick.  If necessary, remove any excess sausage.
     Even the sausage coating till it looks like a large egg shape.
     Step 6:  Roll the Scotch Egg in the fine bread crumbs.
     Step 7:  Place the Scotch Egg on a fryer net.  
     Use the fryer net to lower the Scotch Egg into the hot oil.
     Fry the Scotch Egg till the sausage coating becomes firm and the breadcrumbs are a light golden color.
     Step 8:  Use a fryer net to place the Scotch Egg on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Bake in a 325ºF oven till the sausage coating is fully cooked and golden brown.
     Keep the Scotch Egg warm on a stove top.
     *Keep the frying oil hot!  The Shoestring Potatoes only take a couple minutes to cook, so they can be fried when the Scotch Egg is ready. 

     Shoe String Chips:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     A French Mandolin kitchen tool is best for cutting shoestring potatoes, but care must be taken when using this dangerous kitchen tool.  
     Step 1:  Cut a 6 ounce peeled russet potato lengthwise into very thin slices.  (about 1/8" to 3/16" thick)
     Stack the slices up on a cutting board and cut them into long very thin strips.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Add a few bunches of the thin potato strips to the frying oil at a time, so they do not stick together.
     Use a fryer net to gently stir the shoestring potatoes in the oil, so the potato strips do not stick together.
     Fry the shoestring potatoes till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to scoop the finished shoestring potatoes out of the hot oil.
     Place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Season with sea salt.
     Keep the shoestring chips warm on a stove top.

     Scotch Egg on a Nest of Shoestring Potatoes with Fire Roasted Tomato Mint Compote:
     Place a few kale leaves on a plate as a bed for the chips.
     Mound a nest of Shoestring Potatoes on the kale leaves.
     Place the Scotch Egg on the nest of potatoes.
     Place a ramekin of Fire Roasted Tomato Mint Compote on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a few raw carrot sticks.

     This is a nice way to present a Scotch Egg!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Artichoke, Sun Dried Tomato and Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza

     Gourmet Pizza!
     Sun dried tomatoes taste nice with imported Italian Gorgonzola Cheese.  For this recipe, accenting the flavor of the sun dried tomatoes is important.  Tomato paste is sun baked and then passed through a strainer before the final reduction.  A high quality traditional tomato paste tastes like sun dried tomato.  A bright fresco tomato sauce or a regular Italian pizza sauce is not a good match for the rich flavor of sun dried tomato.
     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")
     This pizza sauce is designed to accent the flavor of the Gorganzola, Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke toppings.
     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 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of leaf oregano.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     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.

     Sun Dried Tomatoes:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 small pizza.
     Step 1:  Count out 10 sun dried tomato halves.
     Cut the sun dried tomato halves in half.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add the sun dried tomatoes.
     Gently simmer the sun dried tomatoes till they just start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Drain the water off of the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes.
     Set the sun dried tomatoes aside.

     Artichoke Hearts:
     Fresh steamed or boiled artichokes are best, but canned whole artichoke hearts are a nice convenience.  Some brands are better than others.  
     It is best to buy good quality canned whole artichoke hearts and then cut them into quarters.  Canned artichoke hearts that are pre-cut into halves or quarters are easily damaged in the canning process.  Good looking artichoke heart wedges create nice eye appeal.
     Cut 3 or 4 artichoke hearts in half, from top to bottom.
     Cut the artichoke heart halves into thin wedges.
     Place the artichoke heart wedges on a platter, so they are not damaged.
     Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the artichoke heart eighths.
     Set the artichoke eighths aside.

     Artichoke, Sun Dried Tomato and Gorgonzola Cheese 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:  Par bake the pizza crust in a 450ºF oven.
     Par-Bake till the dough is firm like bread and the crust is still a white color.
     Step 4:  Place the par baked pizza crust and pan on a counter top.
     Spread a thin layer of the pizza sauce on the crust, from the center out to the pizza crust edge.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 3/4 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese on the pizza.
     Step 6:  Arrange the artichoke heart wedges and sun dried tomato quarters on the pizza, so they point outward from center.  The object is to create eye appeal!  (Refer to the photos.)
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the pizza.
     Step 7:  Return the pizza to the 450ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust gains some golden color and the cheese melts.
     *Do not let the cheese brown!  Burnt Gorgonzola Cheese tastes very bitter!
     Step 8:  Slide the pizza onto a cutting board.
     Cut the small pizza into pie shaped slices.
     Place the pizza slices on a serving platter.
     A nice looking and great tasting gourmet pizza!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vegetable Zapiekanka & Roast Pork Zapiekanka

     Polish Street Vendor Food!  
     Zapiekanka is a baguette that is split lengthwise, then topped with savory items and cheese.  Zapiekanka should be baked till the baguette is fairly crisp.  The cheese should only be melted and not browned.  Placing Zapiekanka directly on a stone slab in an oven is a good way to give the bread a crunchy texture.  
     Zapiekanka can be cut a few inches long or a mile long!  Two foot long Zapiekanka with a minimum of toppings is a good cheap street food munch.  Ketchup is often painted on this snack sandwich.  Sometimes funny sayings or a thought for the day is written on Zapiekanka with ketchup.  This adds to the fun of this casual street vendor style open face sandwich.
     When rich heavy ingredients are chosen for toppings, a hot Zapiekanka is nice for warming up on a cold day.  Lighter toppings make this hot sandwich perfect for summer.  The only required ingredient for this sandwich is cheese, but many say that vegetables are also required.  The cheese selection is usually Madrigal, Emmentaler or a fresh local cheese that easily melts.  Bleu Cheese varieties and Cheddar are not traditional, but they are an option.  
     Zapiekanka is not just street food.  It is also a favorite home cooked hot sandwich.  There are specific names for traditional Zapiekanka recipes.  Some are spicy and some are topped with meat.  One version is the equivalent of "pot luck."  Whatever topping is handy is place on the bread.  
     Vegetable Zapiekanka by far is the most popular variation.  The vegetable mixture is usually loaded with mushrooms.  The vegetable mixture for the Zapiekanka in the pictures was lightly sautéed, then braised with vegetable broth till they were tender.  Herbs that are commonly used in Polish cuisine were added to the vegetable mixture to enhance the savory flavor. 
     Wood Ear Mushrooms have many health benefits and they grow worldwide.  Wood Ear Mushrooms have a light flavor and they actually have a fairly crisp texture even after cooking, so these mushrooms are perfect for a sandwich.   
     One of the vegetable Zapiekanka above was topped with sliced roasted pork.  Country Style Pork Ribs are not really a rib section cut.  Country Style Ribs are a boneless section of pork that is cut from the shoulder section near the ribs.  This section usually has very lean thick sections of meat that is separated by thin fat and sinew.  Lean meat is usually preferred for sandwiches, so the fat should be trimmed off.  

     *This entire recipe yields: 
     • 1 Foot Long Vegetable Zapiekanka with Pork & 1 Foot Long Vegetable Zapiekanka 
     The Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms should be soaked overnight 

     Roasted Pork:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 foot long Zapiekanka.
     Step 1:  Select a 6 to 8 ounce piece of Boneless Country Style Rib.  
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Sauté the pork till it is lightly browned on all sides.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 3:  Place the pork on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Roast the pork in a 325ºF oven till it is fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 145ºF to 155ºF)
     Keep the roast pork warm on a stove top.

     Zapiekanka Vegetables:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 foot long Zapiekanka.
     Any vegetables can be used and there should be plenty of mushrooms in the mixture.  The vegetable mixture in the pictures tasted nice.  Brussel sprouts originated in northern France and Poland, so they were a natural choice.  Greens that cook quickly, like spinach, should be added last. 
     Step 1:  Soak 10 dried wood ear mushrooms in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain the water off of the mushrooms.
     Cut the wood ear mushrooms into bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Briefly sauté till the garlic is aromatic. 
     Step 3:  Add 5 or 6 brussel sprouts that are cut into wedges.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced peeled celery.
     Add 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped red bell pepper. 
     Add the reserved wood ear mushrooms.
     Sauté till the vegetables till a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of vegetable broth.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of dill weed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till only about 1/3 cup of liquid remains.
     Step 6:  Add 3 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Gently stir till the spinach wilts.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the vegetables warm on a stove top.

     Vegetable Zapiekanka & Roast Pork Zapiekanka:
     Step 1:  Cut 1 piece of French Baguette that is 12" long.
     Split the bread in half lengthwise.
     Step 2:  Spread the vegetable topping on each baguette half.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of grated Madrigal Cheese or Emmentaler Cheese over the vegetables.  (About 1/2 cup on each Zapiekanka.)
     Step 3:  Place the 2 Zapiekanka on a sheet pan.
     Bake in a 350ºF oven till the bread is crusty and the cheese melts.
     Place the Zapiekanka on a serving tray.
     Step 4:  Cut the roasted pork into thin slices.
     Overlap slices of the pork on one of the Vegetable Zapiekanka.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.

     Zapiekanka is a nice open face sandwich!