Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Alien Scorpion Balls!

     Alien Scorpion Balls?
     Nobody in their right mind really looks forward to eating an appetizer that is made with Trinidad Scorpion Peppers.  These little red demons are the hottest chile peppers on the face of this planet.  When compared to Ghost Peppers, Trinidad Scorpions are at least twice as spicy hot!  Trinidad Scorpion Peppers can bring any avid chile pepper fanatic to their knees!  
     To officially give a food creation the "Alien" name designation, the food has to look like it came from outer space or an ingredient in the recipe has to have the word alien in the name.  Other than kid's candy items, I have found three food and beverage items that are marketed in Nevada that have the word "alien" in the product name.  Alien Tequila, Roswell Alien Beer and Alien Honey (Agave Nectar).  Any of these alien products are good choices for flavoring an alien theme appetizer recipe.  
     Alien Honey is a brand name of bottled agave nectar.  Agave Nectar is a natural high fructose syrup that was created by Aztecs long ago.  There is a bit of mystery involved with the Aztec pyramids and who built them.  Many ancient alien theorists claim that beings from outer space built every ancient landmark on earth.  The Alien Honey Agave Nectar brand name plays upon this farfetched premise.  
    Since Alien Honey and Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce were were used to make today's extra spicy hot meatballs, the title of this appetizer recipe can officially include the words "Alien" and "Scorpion!"  
     Party snack food is supposed to be entertaining and fun, especially when holiday's like Halloween or Super Bowl Sunday roll around.  Serving up a platter of Alien Scorpion Balls will literally draw both laughter and tears!  
     I do suggest warning the guests about the sting of the almighty Scorpion Pepper when serving these tiny meatball morsels, just in case a guest prefers milder tasting food.  This is a good policy, because Scorpion Peppers are capable of setting taste buds on fire for quite a spell.  

     *Single portion recipes, like today's recipe are easy to expand for a yield that will suit multiple guests.  Only addition or multiplication skills are needed.

     Alien Scorpion Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for about 6 to 12 tiny meatballs!  It just depends on whether the meatballs are minimally coated with sauce or slathered heavily with sauce!  
     Dave's Gourmet makes a good scorpion pepper hot sauce that can be used in recipes.  The scorpion pepper flavor is unadulterated.  
     • The level of spicy heat can be adjusted for personal taste, but this sauce should be at least on the top end of the medium hot range.  
     • About 1 1/2 teaspoons of scorpion pepper hot sauce will create a spicy flavor that is at the top of the medium hot Scoville range, which is just below chile pequin.    
     • About 2 tablespoons will create a super fiery hot flavor that is difficult to handle!  
     • Use your own judgement when figuring out the spicy heat limit! 
     Step 1:  Heat a small stainless steel sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of water.
     Add 3 tablespoons of organic ketchup.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of agave nectar.  (Alien Honey!)
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of malt vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 small pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1 tablespoon of mild New Mexico chile powder.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.  (To taste.  This measurement is a wide range of spicy heat, so use good judgement!)
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Gently simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a thin consistency.  The sauce should be just thick enough to cling to the meatballs.
     Place the sauce in container and keep it warm on a stove top.

     Tiny Alien Meatballs:
     This recipe yields 1 portion of 6 tiny appetizer size meatballs. 
     These meatballs have an alien flavor!
     Step 1:  Place 4 1/2 ounces of ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whisked egg.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 pinch of onion powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of galangal powder.  (Thai Blue Ginger.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add sea salt.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Divide into 6 equal size portions.
     Roll each portion into a small ball shape.
     Place the meatballs on a roasting pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.
     Step 3:  Bake in a 300º oven till the meatballs are fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Remove the meatballs from the pan and place them in a container.
     Keep the meatballs warm on a stove top.

     Alien Scorpion Balls:
     Place 6 warm Spiced Tiny Meatballs in a small mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the warm Alien Scorpion Sauce to generously coat the meatballs.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Arrange the meatballs on a serving plate.
     Spoon a little more sauce over the meatballs, if some extra spicy heat is desired!
     Spear each meatball with a fancy bamboo skewer.  
     Sprinkle a little bit of thin bias sliced green onion over the meatballs.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs or curly leaf parsley sprigs.

     Be prepared for the sting of the "Castrated Alien Scorpion!"  

Ginger Mustard Habanero Chicken Fingers

     There are many health benefits from hot chile peppers, but often the medicinal effects are overlooked.  Hot sauce fans tend to be more concerned about the flavor and spicy heat range of a hot sauce.  Some fanatics like their hot sauce as hot as it gets. 
     I have been known to occasionally make a hot sauce that is spicy enough to peel the paint off the walls!  In the past, I have worked with tough Mexican cooks in restaurant kitchens that would not even touch a hot sauce that I made.  Their reaction to being offered my hot sauce went something like:  "You know something, Mon ... I like spicy hot sauce, but you are crazy!"  
     Mexican cooks and I used to have fun baiting waiters and chefs with chicken wings that were drenched with my super spicy hot sauce.  One bite and they were in endorphin heaven!  Most could not finish eating more than one spicy chicken wing, before running to the water tank.
     One such time, I offered a spicy bite to an English Pub owner who was standing twenty feet away.  The pub owner responded with a heavy English Liverpool accent and said, "Are you bloody crazy?  I can smell that hot sauce all the way over here and it is actually burning my eyes!"  

     There are few chile peppers that are spicier than a ripe habanero.  Ghost peppers and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are at the top of the habanero varietal heat range.  Ghost peppers and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are natural hybrids or selectively bred hybrids of habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers.  Caribbean scotch bonnets are a variety of habanero.  Truth be told, the worlds hottest pepper is and most likely will always be one from this family of Caribbean peppers. 
     Standard common ripe orange colored habaneros were used to make the habanero hot sauce in today's recipe.  Ripe orange habaneros are extremely strong and the spicy heat hits the palate immediately.  Orange habaneros are intensely hot and they have a great flavor!  Orange habaneros are about as spicy as most people are willing to try. 

     Straight orange habanero hot sauce can be modified to create a secondary sauce flavor.  Mustard is popular in the Caribbean and so is ginger.  Many pre-made bottled Caribbean hot sauces have mustard and ginger in the list of ingredients.  This style of Caribbean hot sauce has a nice flavor and the spicy heat is only marginally toned down.

     Habanero Hot Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 pint of sauce.  The volume depends on whether a thin or thick hot sauce is preferred.  
     Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling habanero chile peppers.  Habaneros are super spicy hot!
     This recipe is written in a way that requires minimum direct contact with the habanero peppers.  A food processor, blender or blending wand is required for pureeing this sauce.  The sauce is pureed twice, so it becomes a very smooth consistency.
     Remove the stems from 1/2 pound of orange habanero peppers. 
     Use a knife to slice about halfway through each pepper, but do not cut the peppers in half.
     Place the peppers in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the peppers, with 2" of extra water.
     Add 4 cloves of garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3 pinches of white pepper.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Allow the ingredients to gently simmer, till the peppers become very soft.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)
     Allow the liquid to reduce.  Only add enough water to cover the peppers with about 1" of liquid.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand, a food processor or a blender.
     Return the thin puree to the stainless steel pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the puree, till is becomes a thin sauce consistency that does not look watery.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the sauce a second time, so it becomes very smooth.
     The orange habanero hot sauce should look like the finished product in the photographs above!
     Orange habanero hot sauce has a long shelf life, if the sauce is kept refrigerated. 

     Ginger Mustard Habanero Hot Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large portion of chicken fingers!
     Place 3 ounces of the orange habanero hot sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin puree sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Ginger Mustard Habanero Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 serving that can be shared.
     Season 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl with sea salt and black pepper.
     Cut a 6 to 8 ounce chicken breast into long thin chicken finger strips.
     Place the chicken strips in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 ounces of milk.
     Toss the chicken strips with the milk.
     Remove the chicken strips from the milk.
     Dredge a few of the chicken strips at a time in the seasoned flour.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil to a cast iron skillet, so the oil is 1/4" to 1/2" deep.
     Heat the oil to 360º.
     Pan fry the chicken fingers, till they become crispy golden brown on both sides and fully cooked.  (Try to only turn the chicken finger once!)
     Place the pan fried chicken fingers on a wire screen rack to drain on a drip pan to off any excess oil.

     Arrange the chicken fingers on a plate, so they fan out from center.
     Spoon a generous amount of the ginger mustard habanero hot sauce on the plate around the chicken fingers and spoon a little bit of the sauce over the chicken fingers.
     Garnish the plate with Italian parsley sprigs and Persian Pickled Lemon Wedges.  ( Persian Pickled Lemon is nice with spicy food.  The entire whole Persian Pickled Lemon is edible.  These are available in Mediterranean Markets.) 

     This is a spicy hot and tasty chicken finger appetizer that is perfect for a ballgame snack!  Be sure to have an ice cold beer or drink handy for when the habanero heat kicks in!

Southern Fried Chicken Fingers with Scorpion Dynamite Sauce

     There are several ways to fry chicken.  Some recipes require eggs and some require just seasoned flour.  The way the chicken is prepared for frying can be a regional tradition.  Southern Fried Chicken is almost always has buttermilk in the recipe.  
     Dynamite Sauce is a red chile, garlic, ginger, mayonnaise sauce that is used to garnish sushi rolls.  Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are the hottest pepper in the world and a little bit goes a long way.  Scorpion Peppers crank up the explosive power of Dynamite Sauce to an atomic level!  Today's recipe yields a pale looking Dynamite Sauce that is is deceptively spicy hot! 

     Scorpion Dynamite Sauce:
     This Sauce Is Spicy Hot!
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
     Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce is a pure Trinidad Scorpion Pepper puree with no extra spices.  A sauce like this is good for recipes.  This sauce can be found at specialty shops or at internet stores.    
     Place 1/3 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tiny pinch of ground celery seed.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the sauce in a large ramekin and chill till it is needed.
     Southern Fried Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer size portion of five fingers!
     Traditional Southern Fried Chicken is usually dry floured or buttermilk dipped and floured, then pan fried in a cast iron skillet.  A buttermilk flour coating turns out incredibly crispy golden brown when pan fried.  
     Any leftover seasoned flour can be sifted and frozen for later use.
     Step 1:  Place enough vegetable frying oil (or lard) in a large deep cast iron skillet, so the oil is about 3/4" deep.
     Heat the oil to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Place about 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk in a second mixing bowl.
     Step 4:  Cut a 6 to 8 ounce boneless trimmed chicken breast into 5 long finger shapes.
     Step 5:  Dredge the chicken fingers in the seasoned flour.
     Place the floured chicken fingers in the buttermilk.
     Step 6:  Dredge the chicken fingers, one at a time, in the seasoned flour and place it directly in the hot frying oil.  Get all the chicken fingers in the oil quickly, so they all finish at the same time.
     Step 7:  Use tongs to turn the chicken fingers in the hot oil.
     Fry till the chicken fingers are crispy golden brown on all sides.
     Step 8:  Use tongs to place the chicken fingers on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the chicken fingers warm on a stove top.

     Southern Fried Chicken Fingers with Scorpion Dynamite Sauce:
     Place the ramekin of Scorpion Dynamite Sauce on the back center of a large plate.
     Place the Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken Fingers on the plate, so they fan outward from the ramekin.
     Garnish the plate with pickled sweet banana pepper rings and a dill pickle.

     Good Southern Fried Chicken Fingers and Scorpion Dynamite Sauce is a combination that is hard to beat! 

Buffalo Burger with Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Smoked Provolone and Gaufrette Potatoes

     An American Bison Burger With Gourmet Cheese And A Highly Prized Mushroom! 
     Buffalo is also known as American Bison.  Buffalo are a great plains animal that were cruelly hunted to the point of extinction by railroad companies in the late 1800's.
     Buffalo are now free range ranch managed livestock and these animals have been brought back from the verge of extinction.  Ranchers now raise and breed buffalo with care.  Much of the buffalo that is sold in Las Vegas comes from Native American free range ranches in New Mexico.  Some comes from Colorado and Utah.
     Why is buffalo and wild game in demand?  Health!  Free range wild game is not raised with drugs and artificial feed.  Wild game is not force fed.  Wild game like free range buffalo is lean and mean!  When eating a diet of wild game, cholesterol levels will be reduced.  The body and mind feels sharp, alive and healthy!

     Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms can be found in forests worldwide.  These cluster shelf mushrooms grow at the base of trees.  Hen Of The Woods are best when smaller ones are harvested because when they are large, these mushrooms can be tough and chewy.
     Hen Of The Woods is now a common cultivated mushroom.  Hen Of The Woods is called Maitake in Japan.  Many specialty food markets sell farm raised Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms by the name Maitake, because the Japanese name commands a higher price.
     The best deal on Maitake can actually be found at Asian food markets, because the volume of sales is higher.  Many Americans are conservative about trying unheard of food, but this definitely is not the case with shoppers at a busy large food market in a place like Chinatown, Las Vegas.  In Chinatown, exotic food is the norm!
     Hen Of The Woods is a very rich tasting mushroom and it has many health benefits.  Hen Of The Woods has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin.  It also helps to control both serum and liver lipids.   This mushroom helps regulate cholesterol and it is also beneficial for weight loss.  The nutritional value is high, like any edible mushroom.  Hen Of The Woods is a also a pretty looking  mushroom when presented as a component of an entrée!

     Some specialty food markets sell cheese wheel end scraps.  The scraps ends usually weigh only a couple of ounces apiece.  Those who like to try an unheard of gourmet cheese can do so for a nice low price when sorting through a selection of cheese end pieces.
     I actually found one small piece of a very high quality Smoked Provolone that was made by local California cheese maker.  Smoked Provolone is perfect with a Bison Burger and Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms!
     Gaufrette Potato Preparation & Mandolin Technique:
     Gaufrette potatoes are potatoes that are cut with a French Mandolin, so they look like waffle potato chips.  French Mandolins are notorious for creating severe cuts and skin grafts from the tips of fingers!  A Mandolin is a dangerous kitchen tool to use.
     A trick that I learned is to wear steel sewing thimbles over the tips of the thumbs and fingers.  A latex kitchen glove will hold all of the thimbles in place.  The thimbles will keep the fingers from being cut, if a finger slips and makes contact with the Mandolin blade!
     • The potato does not have to be peeled.
     • About 1/2 of a peeled large russet potato is needed for 1 portion of Gaufrette Chips.
     • To make gaufrette potatoes, the potato is stroked on an 1/8" crinkle cut blade.
     • The crinkle blade has to be set to a depth of 1/16" to 1/8".  Usually the first strokes require zeroing the blade in, so the waffle effect is pronounced on each potato slice.
     • After each time the potato passes the blade, the potato must be turned at a 90º angle, to achieve the waffling effect each time the potato passes through the blade.  By turning the potato back and forth 90º each time a slice is cut, it is easy to make a pile of perfect Gaufrette Potatoes.
     *If you do not have a French Mandolin, then just thin slice a potato like regular potato chips. 
     *This entire recipe yields 1 large burger platter!

     Gaufrette Potatoes: 
     Step 1:  Use a Mandolin to cut 1/2 of a large russet potato into Gaufrette slices.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360º.
     Fry the gaufrette potatoes in small batches, so they do not stick together.
     Fry the chips, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to place the chips on wire mesh roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt over the chips.
     Set the chips aside and try not to eat them all before the entrée is served!  Gaufrette Potatoes are slightly addictive to munch!

     Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushroom:
     Step 1:  A cluster of Hen Of The Woods that is the size of a large handful (about 1 cup) is needed for this recipe.
     Trim off the thick stem end at the base of the cluster.
     Gently use your fingers to separate and tear the Hen Of The Woods Mushroom into small florets.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add the Hen Of The Woods Mushroom florets.
     Sauté the mushrooms, till they start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of marjoram.
     Sauté till brown highlights start to appear on the edges of the mushrooms.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry.
     Simmer and reduce, till most of the sherry has evaporated.
     Take the pan off the heat and keep it warm on a stove top.

     Buffalo Burger with Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Smoked Provolone and Gaufrette Potatoes:
     Buffalo is very lean and it will be tough if it is overcooked.  A medium rare to medium finish temperature is best.
     Step 1:  Shape 8 ounces of ground American Bison into large burger patty shape.
     Season the burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Split a large burger bun in half.
     Brush the bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the burger bun on a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat, till it is toasted.
     Keep the burger bun warm on a stove top.
     Keep the griddle hot for the buffalo burger.
     Step 3:  Place about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Place  the buffalo burger on the griddle.
     Grill the burger on both sides, till it is cooked almost medium rare.
     Step 4:  Place a few thin slices of smoked provolone cheese on the burger.
     Pour about 1 ounce of water on the griddle by the burger and immediately cover the burger with a domed lid or a stainless steel mixing bowl.  The steam will soften and partially melt the cheese after about 10 to 15 seconds.
     Remove the lid.

     Use a spatula to place the buffalo burger on the toasted bun and set it on a plate.
     Place the warm sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms on top of the smoked provolone cheese.
     Lean the top of the burger bun against the burger, so the mushrooms can be seen.
     Place a mound of the gaufrette potato chips on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig and a pickle of your choice.
     No accompanying sauces or condiments are needed.

     This is by far one of my favorite gourmet burger creations! 

Elk Burger with Grilled Tomatoes and Artisan Smoked Provolone!

     Elk Burger! 
     I was very pleased to find Elk Steaks and Ground Elk Meat at Larry's Great Western Meats.  This butcher shop is located at Valley View and Alta in Las Vegas.  Just to let the locals that are into gourmet alternative meats know, Larry's Great Western Meats stocks wild game, great steaks and hard to find items like Rocky Mountain Oysters and Sweetbreads.
     Elk tastes like clean, lean sweet beef.  Elk is not gamey tasting at all.  In fact, Elk tastes milder than Buffalo.  Those who seek free range organic drug free meats, will certainly be pleased with Elk.

     Today's Elk Burger recipe is simple, but it has a classic gourmet burger flavor.  Artisan style Smoked Provolone Cheese tastes great with grilled tomatoes.  The smokey cheese gives the Elk Burger a nice campfire cookout flavor.

     Elk Burger with Grilled Tomatoes and Artisan Smoked Provolone:
     This recipe yields a 6 ounce burger.
     Elk is so lean, that it must be cooked no more than a medium finish temperature or the meat will be tough.  Elk also cooks very quickly, so be sure to set up the burger plate first.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick or seasoned cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush a split whole wheat hamburger bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the hamburger bun, till it is toasted golden brown.
     Set the bottom half of the bun on a plate.  Set the top half of the bun aside.
     *Leave the pan on the heat.
     Step 2:  Place a couple of Boston Lettuce leaves on the burger bun on the plate.
     Place 1 thin slice of bermuda onion on the lettuce.
     Set the burger plate aside.
     Step 3:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Grill 3 or 4 slices of plum tomato that are 1/4" thick.
     Season the tomato with sea salt, black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano on the tomato.
     Grill the tomato slices on both sides, till light brown highlights appear.
     Set the grilled tomato slices on a dish and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Raise the griddle temperature to medium heat.
     Place 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Add a 6 ounce Elk Meat Burger Patty.
     Season the Elk Burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Grill the Elk Burger on both sides, till it is cooked to a medium rare temperature.
     Step 5:  Place 2 thin slices of Artisan Style Smoked Provolone Cheese on the Elk Burger.
     Pour 1 ounce of water on the griddle next to the burger and immediately cover the the burger with a domed sauce pot lid.  (The steam will partially melt the cheese on the Elk Burger!)
     Step 6:  Remove the domed lid.
     Use a spatula to place the Elk Burger on the hamburger bun on the set up plate.
     Use a spatula to place the grilled tomato slices on the cheese.
     Lean the top half of the hamburger bun against the Elk Burger.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Place a few Bread & Butter Pickle Chips on the plate.
     This is an easy gourmet Elk Burger recipe that is worth trying!

Nutty Monkey Milkshake

     Relief From The Heat!
     It is summer and the temperature is hot.  Record high temperatures will be broken just like every year in the desert southwest.  
     Seeing mirage illusions while suffering from heat exhaustion does happen here in the desert.  Hallucinating a gigantic ape making a milkshake at a malt shop while suffering from the extreme heat in the Mojave Desert can only mean one thing.  It is time to chill out, soak up some air conditioning, sit down and get hydrated.  After recuperating, doing some dream interpretation to figure out the meaning of the giant gorilla working at a malt shop vision could possibly lead to one conclusion.  Its time for a Nutty Monkey Milkshake!

     It has been many years since I made a milkshake.  I forgot one important detail when I assembled today's Nutty Monkey Milkshake.  After a milkshake is blended, the ingredients become aerated.  All of the chilled tiny air bubbles and liquid expand rapidly as the temperature rises by only a few degrees.  I made the mistake of putting too much milkshake in the glass.  The aerated milkshake expanded and started to overflow.  The whipped cream and fruit topping actually was pushed out of place by the explosive milkshake.  
     I immediately realized the mistake that was made, but the minor overflow disaster was already taking place.  Instead of a clean looking milkshake presentation, the effort got a bit sloppy.  Only a few photos could be taken before the volcano erupted.  Of course correcting the overflow problem was noted in the writing of today's simple recipe.

     Today's milkshake recipe was designed to be easy to make.  All of the ingredients and garnishes can be purchased pre-made and ready to go at a grocery store.  The idea was to remind folks how much fun making a milkshake can be.  Going wild with the garnishes and painting the inside of the glass can impress guests.  "Wow!  A gourmet milkshake!"  

     Hot Fudge Painted Milkshake Glass:
     Pre-made hot fudge topping was used to garnish this milkshake.  Some ice cream topping brands are better than others and it does pay to read the label.  Choosing pre-made ice cream toppings that do not have a long list of artificial ingredients is best.  
     Step 1:  Freeze a large 24 ounce lager glass or milkshake glass.• Chocolate fudge topping works better for painting a frozen glass than chocolate syrup.
     Step 2:  The chocolate fudge has to be warmed in a microwave or double boiler.  The chocolate fudge should not be hotter than 99ºF or the frozen glass might crack from making contact with hot liquid.  Allow the hot fudge to cool to just above room temperature (about 80ºF). 
     Step 3:  Place the warm fudge topping in a plastic squeeze bottle.
     Step 4:  Remove the frozen glass from the freezer.
     Hold the glass at an angle.
     Use the squirt bottle to paint streaks inside of the glass, while turning the glass.
     Place the glass back in the freezer till the milkshake is ready.

     Whipped Cream: 
     Frozen whipped cream topping is as artificial as it gets.  Canned pressurized whipped cream is about the same.  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.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of cream in a chilled mixer bowl.
     Add 4 drops of pure vanilla extract.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Whisk till medium stiff peaks appear.
     Step 2:  Load the whipped cream into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep it chilled till the whipped cream is needed.

     Nutty Monkey Milkshake:
     This recipe yields almost 4 cups or enough for 1 Belly Buster Milkshake!  Making a little bit of extra milkshake and serving it on the side in a separate cup is a malt shop tradition!  
     A Nutty Monkey Milkshake is made with fresh banana and peanut butter!  
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of French vanilla ice cream in a milkshake blender.
     Add 1/2 cup of chilled milk.
     Add 1/3 cup of natural peanut butter.
     Add 1 sliced ripe banana. 
     Step 2:  Blend until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and smooth.
     Step 3:  Pour the milkshake into the frozen painted glass, till the milkshake is about 3/4" from the top of the rim.  (The empty space at the top of the glass will prevent overflow, when the aerated milkshake expands!)
     Step 4:  Use the pastry bag to pipe some whipped cream topping.
     Insert 2 banana end pieces in the shake.
     Use the squeeze bottle to pain some chocolate fudge on the whipped cream and bananas.
     Step 5:  Garnish with strawberry slices.
     Garnish with fancy cake sprinkles of your choice.
     Serve any extra milkshake on the side in the blender cup.  

     A fancy milkshake is a nice treat at the end of a hot summer day! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Elvis Panini!

     The King Lives On!
     Elvis Presley had a favorite snack sandwich that is still occasionally served in Las Vegas restaurants.  The Elvis Sandwich has a flavor combination that is difficult for the uninitiated to imagine.  The original Elvis Sandwich was made with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey on Wonder Bread.  The sandwich was grilled in bacon grease till it turned crispy golden brown.    
     Many people say that honey was added to the Elvis Sandwich recipe sometime after the basic original version was created.  Some people say that Marshmallow Spread was part of the original Elvis Sandwich recipe, but there is no confirmation.  Marshmallow spread?  Peanut butter and marshmallow spread sandwiches used to be a popular item back in the 1960's, so it is possible.  
     In modern times, the ingredients that are used to make the Elvis Sandwich have been recognized as a classic flavor combination.  Las Vegas still honors Elvis to this day and many Vegas chefs have used the Elvis Sandwich ingredients to create many new recipes.  For example, I had Elvis Ice Cream for dessert at the Rio Casino Seafood Buffet a few years ago.  The ice cream was flavored with peanut butter, bananas, honey and bacon.  Needless to say, the Elvis Ice Cream tasted so good that it was practically addictive! 
     Everything and anything is possible with the Elvis Sandwich flavor combination.  This sweet, savory, fruity combination is perfect for anything from truffles to cheesecake.  As far as sandwiches go, the Elvis flavor combination works best with a grilled sandwich.  Since a classic Panini is a grilled sandwich that is made with Ciabatta Bread, the Elvis flavor combination is the perfect choice.       
     Panini sandwiches are made with a sandwich grill press.  The grill surface can be flat or ribbed.  Panini sandwiches are only lightly pressed and not much pressure is applied.  At the opposite extreme, when making a Cuban Sandwich, a lot of pressure is applied so the Cuban Sandwich is pressed as flat as a pancake.  Panini sandwiches are also grilled dry.  In a way, an Elvis Panini is a healthy version of the Elvis Sandwich, because no butter or bacon grease is used to grill the sandwich.  Because Ciabatta Bread is very porous, the honey easily saturates the bread and this adds to the appeal.     
     Elvis Presley liked his grilled sandwiches cut into triangle shapes.  Oddly enough, panini are traditionally cut into triangle shapes too.  I guess that one would say that the panini version is simply a natural progression of the original Elvis Sandwich recipe!  

     The Elvis Panini:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Grill 4 slices of hickory smoked bacon till they are crisp.
     Set the crisp bacon strips aside.
     Step 2:  Pre-heat a Panini Sandwich Grill to medium/medium low heat.
     Step 3:  Cut a 6" to 8" long piece of Italian Ciabatta Bread.
     Cut the bread in half horizontally.
     Step 4:  Spread a generous amount of peanut butter on both halves of the bread.
     Place a layer of thin banana slices on the peanut butter on one of the sandwich halves.
     Pour 2 tablespoons of honey over the banana slices.
     Place the 4 crisp slices of smoked bacon on the honey and bananas.
     Place the top half of the sandwich bread in place.
     Step 5:  Place the sandwich on the hot panini grill and lower the lid.
     Lightly press the sandwich in the panini grill, but do not flatten the sandwich.
     Grill the sandwich till the bread is lightly toasted and the ingredients are warm.
     Step 6:  Place the Elvis Panini on a cutting board and cut it into triangle shapes.
     Place the Elvis Panini triangles on a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Garnish with pickles of your choice.  (Pickled okra halves and small dill gherkins are a nice choice!)

     The Elvis Panini has a flavor that must be experienced to be believed!  

Cajun Beer Batter Smelts with Louisiana Green Mayonnaise

     Spicy Beer Batter Lake Smelts!
     As the old fry cook saying goes, "We beer batter anything!"  There actually are restaurants that will literally beer batter anything.  A famous restaurant in Boston offers only beer batter food and they will beer batter anything that customers request.   Beer batter pizza slices, beer batter cheeseburgers and even beer batter wedding cake is served at this place.  That definitely is thinking outside of the beer batter to-go box!
     Cajun style beer batter appeals to those who get a kick out of spicy food that has a lot of flavor.  Cajun beer batter is seasoned with traditional Louisiana Cajun herbs and spices.  Cayenne Pepper gives this beer batter a healthy spicy kick!
     Louisiana Green Mayonnaise is actually a component of a traditional Louisiana Green Potato Salad recipe.  Green Mayonnaise is flavored with green peppers, green onion and fresh green herbs.  A small dab of Creole Mustard gives Green Mayonnaise a zesty flavor.
     Smelts are a small fresh water fish that are netted in the Great Lakes region.  There are several species of smelts worldwide and there are salt water species in South America.  Smelts are also caught in brackish river mouths on the northeast coast.  Smelts are usually cleaned and boned before being sold.  Asian style smelts usually have the head attached, while most commercial smelts in American food markets have the heads lopped off.
     Smelts have a nice light clean whitefish flavor.  Fried smelts are a favorite at seafood restaurants and they are offered as finger food at bar & grill restaurants.  Smelts can be beer battered or breaded and fried.  Smelts are sustainable, so they are guilt free snack food.

     Louisiana Green Mayonnaise:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.  (4 portions.)
     Fresh herbs are best for this recipe.
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of mayonnaise in a food processor.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Louisiana Creole Mustard.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.    
     Step 2:  Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green onion top.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped green jalapeño.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced capers.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped dill weed.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon pinch of chopped oregano.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped marjoram.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped basil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced thyme.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 to 3 pinches)
     Step 4:  Pulse the food processor till the ingredients are blended smooth.
     Step 5:  Place the Louisiana Green Mayonnaise in a container.
     Chill for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Cajun Beer Batter:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large portion of smelts.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of lager beer in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough flour while whisking to make a thin batter.  The consistency should be like a thin pancake batter.
     Step 2:  Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Step 3:  Whisk the ingredients together.
     Chill the beer batter till it is needed.

     Cajun Beer Batter Smelts with Louisiana Green Mayonnaise:
     This recipe yield 1 large appetizer portion that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 2:  Weigh an 8 to 10 ounce portion of cleaned boned smelts.
     Dredge the smelts in flour.
     Step 3:  Dip a few smelts in the Cajun Beer Batter.
     Place a few beer batter smelts in the pot of hot oil at a time, so the smelts do not all stick together.
     Continue adding a few at a time till all the smelts are in the hot oil.
     Use a fryer net to gently toss the smelts in the hot oil to separate any smelts that may have stuck together.
     Fry the Cajun beer batter smelts till they are crispy golden brown and fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to remove the smelts from the hot oil.
     Place the smelts on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 5:  Place a bed of Italian Parsley sprigs on a plate.
     Place the ramekin of Louisiana green mayonnaise on the plate.
     Mound the Cajun beer batter smelts on the plate and serve!

     Hot fresh spicy Cajun Beer Batter smelts have a very nice aroma and flavor!  Louisiana style Green Mayonnaise is a tasty dipping sauce!