- Put all ingredients in a large bowl together, no need to sift or premix. Use mixer on slow to medium to mix until lumps are just gone, not too long or bread will be too firm. Use baking spray on bread pans and dust with flour if desired.
- Fill pans 2/3 full.
- Bake 55 minutes at 350 degree until golden brown using the toothpick test for doneness. This bread comes out quite moist and lots of yummy banana flavor all with only the one banana!
- I put one package of defrosted chicken legs into the Crockpot
- Poured bottle of marinade sauce over chicken legs…
- Set Crockpot on low for six hours…
- Since I was home I rotated chicken legs about half way through cook time, moving the ones on the top to the bottom…
- They are so tender the meat just falls off the bone…
- Serve with pasta or rice and a veggie…
- Mid-sized Shrimps – 25 #s, peeled and de-veined
- Ripe Tomato – 3, medium
- Cooked Rice Noodles – 3 cups
- Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
- Onion – 1, large, roughly chopped
- Garlic – 3 cloves
- Peppercorns – 1/2 tsp
- Ginger – 1/4 inch
- Cashew nuts – 1/4 cup (Use Candle nuts if available)
- Spring Onions – 3 stalks, white and green parts separated (Green for Garnish only)
- Turmeric Powder – a pinch
- In a wide saute pan, add a tbsp of oil and add the ingredients under “For the curry paste” one by one.Onions must be sauteed till it is slightly browned. Then Garlic, peppercorns, Ginger, Cashew and the White part of the spring onions and finally the turmeric powder.Cool the mixture and grind it to a fine paste with a little bit of salt.
- In the same saute pan, add the remaining oil and add the chopped tomatoes. Once they are partially cooked, add the ground curry paste and check for taste. Add salt/pepper if needed and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened.
- Add the cleaned shrimp and gently mix. Lid the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer rice noodles to a plate and top if with the shrimp curry.
- Garnish with the green parts of the spring onion and serve immediately.
- Right way to cook the rice noodles – Bring plenty of water to a roiling boil in a stock pot/pasta pot. Switch off the stove. Add the noodles to the hot water and let it cook for ~5 minutes. Drain it in a colander and fluff it with a fork.
But before I do, let me introduce the recipe by describing my first encounter with authentic Lebanese shawarma. I was at the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel when I espied a crowd of people gathering around a booth. I went closer and from where I was standing, I could see what looked like a tower of meat being roasted. Luscious, tender, thinly sliced beef and lamb seasoned with lemon juice, cumin, allspice, mace and other spices was slowly being grilled in an upright rotating roaster. The meats were stacked neatly in the vertical spit with alternating layers of marinated beef and lamb. Perched like a crown of jewels, a huge tomato and an onion topped the gorgeous stack of golden brown, lightly-charred, juicy meats. The place was perfumed with an irresistible combination of spices, lemon juice and the essence of chargrilled beef. The juices of the onion and tomato dripped down and basted the meat tower The man in charge shaved the meat for each order and placed it on pita bread along with freshly shredded lettuce, beet-colored pickled turnip, parsley, onions and sliced tomatoes. A generous spoonful of creamy, garlic tahini sauce (made of finely ground sesame seeds) was added and the pita bread was folded into a sandwich wrap and handed to me. My first taste was unforgettable. …. this Beef-Lamb Shawarma was absolutely DELICIOUS, moist and very flavorful….and I was nowhere near Lebanon but in the midst of scientific conference in Montreal, Canada!
Since then I’ve been on a quest to recreate that perfect shawarma. None of the recipes I’ve tried before even came close. The recipe I recently found and adapted from The Lebanese Kitchen by Monique Zaarour is not yet perfect but it’s the best so far. Monique tailors it for the Western kitchen by pre-cutting the meat and using a regular oven as it’s almost impossible to have a counter top shawarma oven in North America.
2 lbs beef sirloin, cut into strips (or beef+lamb or chicken)
3 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp allspice (I added a more of this)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp mastic, crushed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 Tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
2 garlic cloves crushed
5 Tbsp lemon juice
thinly sliced onions
thinly sliced tomatoes
finely chopped parsley
- Mix the seasonings and rub into the steak strips. Marinade the beef for six hours, stirring every hour.
- Place the seasoned meat in a rimmed baking dish then cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (475 F) for about 40 minutes.
- Combine tahini sauce ingredients in a food processor and set aside. Pour tahini sauce over the meat and serve on a plate or as a sandwich with shredded letttuce, onions, tomato and parsley. Enjoy!
- NOTE: My son prefers cheese with his shawarma so I add it even if it is not authentic Lebanese.
It is not a risotto, but a simple plain boiled rice, light and flavourful. Choose an excellent Batavian Endive, better if organic, and a superior quality extravirgin olive oil, you’ll feel the difference.
- rice, 350 gr
- Batavian endive, 1 head
- extra virgin olive oil (an intense and fruity extravirgin olive oil)
In another pot bring 2lt of water to the boil. After 5-7 minutes rinse rice under running water and pour it – once strained – over the endive.
Pour a few ladlefuls of boiling water over rice and stir lightly. Let it cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, let it rest a few minutes and serve with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Today hasn’t gone as planned. That’s okay, know why? Because that’s kind of like romance and relationships. Things don’t always go as planned.
As you may recall, tonight’s dinner was supposed to be my friend and I cooking dinner for our ladies to celebrate Valentines, his recent engagement, and my 15th Anniversary. He and I had already picked the menu. We went to Fresh Market on Friday to get the groceries. It was all in place.
Unfortunately, Robert got hit with a malevolent stomach virus about 24 hours ago, so the whole “guys cooking for the gals” deal wasn’t going to happen. That’s okay, know why? Because I just shifted to family mode and cooked the dinner for Alexis and the two boys. I just kept the original menu which was all new recipes for me.
It was still very romantic, because I blew her socks off with this meal. As soon as I am done here, I’m going to work on the rest of her clothing! (What? That was funny!)
Mixed Spring Greens with Roasted Raspberry Chipolte Vinaigrette
This was easy, just a spring mix salad, red onion and the dressing. I made the dressing by mixing a bit more than 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with a bit less than 1/2 cup of Fischer and Wieser’s Rasberry Chipolte sauce. Then I whisked in a cup of olive oil. It was “easy, peasy, goodness – Weezy!” It was the last of the bottle, so I rinsed it out and used it to hold the vinaigrette. Alexis LOVED it.
Crab Cakes with Sweet Red Bell Pepper Sauce
This one is from Wolfgang Puck’s Live, Love, Eat! and the sauce is different than the one he has posted by the same name on his website. I’d post it all but the crab cake alone has 18 ingredients and was the most complicated thing I cooked all day. It was the best crab cake I’ve ever made. I’ll post the sauce which is excellent and would work with many other dishes. I added cayenne pepper just for a little extra kick. It’s sweet and spicy, just like a relationship should be.
Sweet Red Bell Pepper Sauce
5 Tablespoons butter
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
leaves from 2 springs of thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1/2 medium lemon
Melt 3 TB of the butter over medium low heat and saute the pepper, onion, garlic, and thyme until softened (about 8-10 minutes). Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the cream and return to a simmer then remove from heat.
Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. The recipe calls for straining, but I didn’t find it necessary, the texture was perfect. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to serve, place back over medium heat. When warm, add the other 2 TB of butter and lemon juice.
Asparagus in a Fig Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette
This is a cold asparagus dish courtesy of Fresh Market’s 25th Anniversary cookbook. Here’s a link to the recipe but I do recommend this cook book, it’s full of good recipes. I liked the mix of green and white asparagus, it is symbolic for the “ying & yang, give and take, opposites attract” of relationships. This pic was before I added the blue cheese (I skipped the walnuts).
Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage in a Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce
Another good one from Fresh Market (recipe here).
This is Alexis’ hands down favorite dessert ever and I never made it before tonight. What the hell is wrong with me? Plus, I got to play with my MAPP gas torch to caramelize the sugar.
It was a long day with some unexpected turns but seeing how much Alexis absolutely enjoyed every bit of it made it well worth it.
The most memorable moment came about 6:00pm, just before dinner. We took a quick break to bathe, change clothes, and just get cute. It occurred to me as we were “primping”, that we were still trying to impress each other even after 15 years of marriage.
Sigh….I’m a lucky dude.
When I sat down to prepare these two posts for Valentine’s Weekend I was initially unsure of what kind of menu to put together.
Romantic foods? Hmmmmm
Sure, there is that unforgettable kitchen scene from the movie Nine and A Half Weeks. But that was all lust rather than romance. Plus it wasn’t very sanitary 😉
I think most people see “romance” as a means to an end, how to woo the one that has stolen your heart. But my idea of romance these days (we’ve been married 15 years as of this week) is that it is the outward evidence of true love. You can’t “see” true love but you can see the gestures and expressions that true love creates, right?
For example, Alexis was off of work yesterday and I knew I was going to be off today. So before I left the office, I wrote 2-3 “love you” type messages and hid them on her desk where I knew she’d come across them during her day today. Simple gestures, huge sentiment.
So it’s only natural that food is linked to romance. It’s one of my ways of showing my love day in and day out. When it came to creating this brunch menu, I kept it simple and just thought of things that I’ve made for Alexis that she loved.
These are one of Alexis’ all time favorites when we’d eat at Village Inn in Jacksonville Beach or Perkins here in Knoxville, so I finally learned how to make it for her this year. I hadn’t before mainly because I didn’t know how to poach an egg. I found out that I actually LIKE poached eggs…..who knew?
- Proper temperature is the key. Use an instant read thermometer to get the water to exactly 200f.
- Fresh, cold eggs retain their shape better when poached. Tip courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School: Place raw egg in bowl of cold water. If it lays flat, it’s fresh. If one end floats up, it is older (good for boiling). If the entire egg floats, it should be discarded.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt to your simmering water to help speed the coagulation of the egg white (keeping it’s shape better)
- Poach 3-4 minutes for soft, 5-6 for medium, and 7-8 minutes for hard poached eggs.
- I used a packet mix to make my Hollandaise sauce the first two times I made Eggs Benedict, just so I could focus on getting the eggs poached correctly.
- If you don’t want to do the traditional free floating method of poaching eggs, they now have cool silicon “boats” that you can use to poach eggs.
Alexis LOVES rich flavor. I surprised her with this one for Mothers’ Day 2003 and she adored it.
8 ounces butter
3 cups beef stock
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 1/2 ea onion, diced
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 cloves of roasted garlic
1 can artichoke hearts with juices (about 2 cups)
1 cup spinach, fresh, rinsed and chopped
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Whisk in flour over low heat and whisk constantly for 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in beef stock after that. Then add celery, onions, green onions, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes.
Finely chop artichoke hearts, chop the spinach and add to the mixture, continue simmering another 30 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and then puree it in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.
Add cream, wine, Tabasco, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring back just to a simmer, garnish with whatever you like (croutons, fried leeks, sour cream, etc), and serve. Today used fried leeks and thyme.
Mini Monte Cristo Sandwiches
This is another dish that Alexis enjoys unabashedly. It’s a finger food variation of the Croque-monsieur. It is basically a ham n swiss sandwich given the french toast treatment. Sounds odd but try it. It’s amazing.
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
8 Slices white bread
4 ounces swiss OR fontina
4 ounces cooked ham
3 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 Env. Golden Onion Soup Mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Equally top 4 bread slices with cheese and ham; top with remaining bread, buttered side down. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Beat eggs, milk, and golden onion recipe soup mix until well blended. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, coating well. In large skillet, melt 1/4 C butter and cook sandwiches over medium heat, turning once, until golden. Makes about 16 mini sandwiches
The KEY part that they left out is the dipping sauce. Warm raspberry preserves over low heat and serve in a sauce cup, it makes the dish.
Alexis is a certifiable grapefruit freak and just Thursday I received a shipment of California oranges and grapefruit from a family member, so I just had to include those. I was going to make this citrus salad but Alexis didn’t like the sound of the recipe so I went with a basic sectioned grapefruit. Nothing sexy but she loves them.
Come on, it’s brunch. mimosas are obligatory.
Part II – The Valentine’s Dinner
This is coming tomorrow, but to give a little preview, here is the premise: My martial arts instructor has been learning to really cook for the past year. He recently got engaged. My 15th anniversary is this week. So he and I are cooking Valentine’s Day Dinner for his fiance and my wife!
Oh, BTW, hi again, Dave here from MY YEAR ON THE GRILL. The resident cook in training, famous for three puffed pastry postings in a row. 3 puffed pastry, Brussels Sprouts and now I’m goin’ Cajun… Today is an exciting day for me. The suburbs of Kansas City is hip and happening in a far out way, last night, my neighborhood celebrated “Mardi Gras in the Cul de Sac”! Counting drinks, 13 menu items, to feed 10 people… Laissez les bons temps rouler indeed! I got to spend the day cooking, have fun with my friends, and my proposal to take part in the 24,24,24 FOODBUZZ challenge was accepted. I want to thank the girls from Our Krazy Kitchen for letting me take an extra day beyond my normal Thursday to tell you all about my first ALTON BROWN RECIPE!
Hopefully, you all know Alton Brown. Alton is host of “GOOD EATS“ on the FOOD NETWORK. I have two shows that I never miss (thanks to DVRs), and “GOOD EATS” is one of them. A cross between Julia Child and Mr. Wizard, Mr. Brown educates me (I need that), and is very entertaining!
“GOOD EATS” recently featured a recipe for that quintessential Cajun dish, RED BEANS AND RICE! No Mardi Gras celebration (nor Superbowl party (as I write this, the New Orleans Saints are one game away from the big show… go Saints)) would be complete without red beans and rice…
Here’s the recipe courtesy of the Food Network…
For red beans:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces, recipe follows
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 quarts water
- 1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.
Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking the beans. Place the water into an electric kettle and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil place the butter into a 3-quart saucepan, set over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the water over the rice and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beans over the rice.
I actually made a version of dirty rice. Dirty rice has nothing to do with the cleanliness of (or lack of) your kitchen, it is rice made with a flavored liquid and bits of meat to give it a dark color and additional flavor. I substituted 1 and 1/2 cups of water with the flavored stock from the cooking beans and pork. I also took one of the pieces of pork and diced it up as fine as I could. I added this to the 1 and 1/2 cups of water and cooked the rice with these extra flavoring agents… My rice was indeed, GOOD EATS, and went well with the Red Beans and Pork!
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 8 ounces ice
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
Combine all of the ingredients except the ice and the pork in a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the ice and stir. Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid. Remove as much air as possible; seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove from the pork from the brine and freeze.
The dish is not very pleasing colorwise nor in texture. It’s beans and gravy after all. BUT, OMG… The pickled pork is so tender, the beans have all those flavoring accents and spices. If you toss on some extra goodies, like some slices of Andouille sausage grilled up and added as accents certainly makes the dish look more appealing. But, once you dig into the dish, all problems with the looks are instantly gone. It is simply that good. My first Alton Brown recipe, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I CAN COOK THAT!
Now, being from Kansas, I don’t have access to very many authentic Cajun items. Fortunately, the good folks from Cajun Grocer: Authentic Cajun Products have all the mail order products, recipes and ideas for hosting your own AUTHENTIC Cajun party… even in the Cul de Sacs of Kansas. I got a batch of Andouille sausage, as well as a king cake from them. Even Alligator tail meat (made a great etouffee)!
Come take a look at my site today. I will have plenty to post about all the different foods… Everything that worked great (and maybe a couple that I need to revisit later). See you all Thursday!