Homemade Pita Bread With Chicken Avocado Filling

 
DSC04680.jpg

I found this recipe ages ago when I was doing research for a school project. I had to cook a meal authentic to the culture and cuisine of the country I was studying which happened to be Egypt (I don’t really remember anything I learned from the project except that Egyptians love garlic and that this recipe is the best)! I had so much fun learning to cook something I never tried before and the meal was such a huge hit with my family, I was hooked! We still love making this even now, and every time I do I remember back to that first time I made it and how much I loved cooking!

Making pitas is similar to making pizza minus the topping, if you haven’t already read my post on Making Restaurant Style Pizza at Home do it!  It has lots of tips and tricks for how to prepare pizza dough and a lot of it applies to pitas as well. Basically you will need a pizza stone, and you will need to set your oven as high as it goes! Mine goes to 550 degrees. The reason for a pizza stone is because it distributes lots of heat evenly over the dough, and the reason for the hot oven is steam. When you put your dough in the oven you want the water in the dough to steam and puff up, that’s what creates the pocket in the middle of the pita to fill.

DSC04674.JPG

Homemade Pita Bread

  • 2 ½ cup Warm Water

  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil

  • ¼ Cup Honey

  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast

  • 6 cups AP Flour (unbleached, unbromated)

  • 2 teaspoons Salt

Pre heat oven to 550 degrees (or as hot as your oven goes) Add water, honey, yeast and 2 cups of the flour to stand mixer.  Mix for 2 min. then add remaining flour, salt and olive oil. Mix for another 8 min. cover and let rest for 20 min. before use. Portion pita dough into 2 inch balls, working with one ball at a time roll out on floured surface till about ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza paddle or cookie sheet slide dough onto pizza stone and bake for 2-3 min. remove with paddle and allow to cool before filling.

DSC04677.JPG
  • Chicken Avocado Pita Filling

  • 4 Cloves Garlic (chopped)

  • 2 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1lb Chicken (cubed)

  • 3 Avocados (diced)

  • 2 Cups Chickpeas

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander

  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flake

  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Parsley

  • 1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro

  • Pinch of black pepper

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

In a sauté pan on medium/high heat add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 3 of the chopped clove of garlic (reserving one for later) cook the garlic for about a min. or till just beginning to turn golden, then add cubed chicken, season with 1 teaspoon of salt and cook through. Add chicken to a bowl and allow cool.  Once cooled add sliced olives, chickpeas, remaining chopped garlic, and all other ingredients, drizzle with Olive Oil, mix together well and fill into pita pockets

DSC04682.JPG
 

Spinach Polenta With Crispy Sauteed Mushrooms

I could seriously snack on these mushrooms all day long; they are buttery and crispy and add so much flavor and texture to creamy, cheesy polenta! Making them is pretty simple and really only requires a good pan that distributes heat really well, cast iron is my go to! Make sure you don’t over crowd the pan and don’t panic when all your butter disappears in the pan! Mushrooms are like a sponge and soak up liquid like crazy…eventually they hit a saturation point and all that stored liquid comes rushing out. This liquid will evaporate with more cooking and what is left is a concentrated, flavorful, crispy mushroom.

 

DSC04563.JPG
 

Polenta is also pretty simple and makes for a great change up if you feel like all you cook are potatoes and rice.  It’s similar to grits; both are essentially dried corn pourage. The difference is: to make grits you take the dried corn and soak it in lie, (the same way you make masa from hominy) re-dry it, and then grind it into a meal. Polenta is just ground corn (corn meal).  You get more corn flavor with polenta, but grits cook faster. I like polenta for its flavor. When buying corn meal for polenta you have two options, you can buy plain old corn meal or you can buy (usually imported) dry polenta meal which is just a slightly finer ground meal than regular corn meal.  I typically just use plain old corn meal; I did however run it though my spice grinder for a minute just to get it a little finer. 

 

Crispy Mushrooms

  • 1 package mushroom (I used Cremini Mushrooms)

  • 3 tablespoon butter

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a cast iron pan on medium/high heat melt butter, add sliced mushrooms and salt and pepper, stir till fully coated in butter.  Spread the mushrooms in the pan to ensure maximum contact with the pan and cook for about 3-4 min.  turn over mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 min. stir again and crisp for another 4 min.  or till desired crispiness. Mushrooms should be golden brown in color and smell like toasted butter.

 

DSC04573.JPG

Affiliat Links Below :) 

Spinach Polenta

  • 1 cup Corn Meal (or dry polenta)

  • 2 cups Milk

  • 1 cup Chicken Stock

  • 1 bunch of spinach (about 2 cups)

  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese

  • ½ cup Butter

  • ½ cup Cream

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor blend together spinach, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside.  In a pot with the heat off add milk, chicken stock, butter and corn meal.  Place on stove and slowly bring to a low boil/simmer, cook for 20 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking and clumping. Pull off heat and add parmesan cheese, spinach puree and cream.  Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with crispy mushrooms. Makes about 2-3 servings.

 

Potstickers With Chili Garlic Dipping Sauce

Potstickers, and really, all dumpling like foods are just so darn delicious! When I order them at restaurants there never seems to be enough of them. That’s why making them at home is the perfect solution, you can make as many as you want with no judgments 😊  they also make the perfect party fare, they feed a lot of people, they taste way better than store bought and its impressive if you can say you made them fresh!!

A quick tip about folding and wrapping your potstickers: once you have your filling in the center it’s so much easier to simply fold it over and crimp the edges, as opposed to what I did which is a fancy and kind of difficult pleating and crimping technique. It took me forever to fold them all and it was almost not worth it… so save yourself a lot of time and trouble and just fold them in half, crimp the edges and call it a day.  It all tastes the same anyways!

Affiliate Links Below :) 

Potstickers

  • 1 lb Chicken Thighs

  • 2 Cups Chopped cabbage (about ¼ large head)

  • 4 green onions

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

  • 1 teaspoon Honey

  • 1 Clove Garlic

  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 1 Package Round wanton Wrappers

  • 2 Tablespoons water (I swear by this stuff)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a food processor add cabbage, green onions and garlic, pulse until finely chopped and remove to a large bowl. Cube chicken into 1” chunks, add cubed up chicken to the food processor with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse chicken until it reaches a ground chicken consistency; add ground chicken to chopped cabbage mixture.  In a small bowl beat together 1 egg, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour over cabbage and chicken and using your hands thoroughly mix till combined.  In a small cup beat together remaining egg and 2 Tablespoons of water to make an egg wash.  To wrap the pot stickers start by adding a teaspoon sized amount of filling in the center of a wanton, dip your finger in the egg wash and gently rub it along the outside edge of the wanton (you only need to go about half way around).  Fold the wanton in half and gently crimp together.  If you want to do the fancy crimping: egg wash the outside and begin to fold in half, working from the center out make a small pleat near the top center and pinch it together repeat this three times on one side an flip it over and do the other side. Honestly it’s hard to describe so I found a video for y’all to watch   Once you have them all filled heat a cast iron pan to medium/high heat and add a little olive oil, once the pan is hot place the pot stickers in the pan leaving room for them to cook (you don’t want them to touch each other) brown the pot stickers for about  1 minute, then pour in about ¼ cup of the chicken stock into  the pan and quickly place a lid over it.  Steam them for about 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out. Remove to a serving platter and repeat till all pot stickers are cooked.  Serves about 6-8

DSC04920.JPG
 

Garlic Chili Sauce

  • ¼ Cup Oil (I used Avocado Oil)

  • 2 Tablespoons Red Chili Flakes

  • ¾ Cup Soy Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar

  • 2 Green Onions (thinly sliced)

  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Finely chop the garlic. In a small sauce pan heated to medium heat add the Oil, red chili flakes and Chopped Garlic, toast for about 2 minutes being careful not to over brown the garlic. Once toasted remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Makes about 1 ½ cups of sauce, store in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week. (Makes a great stir fry sauce) Enjoy!

Homemade Pizza (3 ways)

Ok, what follows are my tips and tricks to making restaurant style pizza at home!! Just remember Pizza is Love!!

First, use a pizza stone. Pizza stones make for the best crust and even cooking which means you can turn your oven up higher to get melty, toasty cheese without worrying about your pizza being in too long. DO NOT under any circumstances buy an expensive $30+ specialty pizza stone! Instead, do what I did and go to the hardware store and get a ceramic floor tile! They are about 12”x12” (the perfect size for an oven) which is much bigger than any pizza stone I have seen. This is nice because you don’t have to worry about placing your pizza perfectly on that small stone or it falling off leaving you with a mess on your hands. Make sure to get a tile that is high heat resistant with a smooth surface and to clean it really well be for use.

Second, use a pizza paddle! This is mostly a convenience thing; it’s so much easier to get your pizza in and out of the oven with one. But if you don’t want to spend the money you can use a sheet pan turned over with parchment paper. When you are ready to put it in the oven, carefully slide the pizza with the parchment paper onto your pizza stone. To remove pull the parchment paper and slide back onto your sheet pan. If you are using a pizza paddle the trick to removal is one quick confident fluid motion. I learned this the hard way. The first time I used a pizza paddle I got panicked and went to slow…I ended up pushing the pizza off the stone and onto the heating element...fire ensued and it was a disaster. Confidence is KEY when using a pizza paddle.

Third, hot AF (as flip) oven. Seriously, set your oven to as high as it can go! Mine goes to 550 degrees!  If you have ever been to a place that makes wood fired pizza you will know what I’m getting at, the delicious char!! Wood fire ovens can reach temps of up to 900 degrees. So crank those ovens!!

Forth, par-bake your crust. Doing this adds a few more steps but it makes the dough easier to work with once it’s partially cooked. You can load on the topping and not worry about your soft dough getting stuck to the paddle. You really only need to bake it about 2 minutes; I included this step in the recipe instructions as well.

Fifth, use a good sauce. A few tips for making good sauce: most importantly use good tomatoes! I used San Marzano tomatoes which are the gold standard in the restaurant industry. Also, sometimes canned tomatoes can have an acidic, metallic taste to them which does not make for good pizza.  Two ways to fix this are 1: use a good dash of sugar which helps bring out the sweetness of tomatoes. And 2: you can use the smallest pinch of baking soda, the baking soda will actually change the ph balance of the tomatoes from acidic to alkaline.  You will be amazed at how well this trick works! I included my sauce recipe with a contingency for both the sugar method and the baking soda method. It’s all about tasting and seeing what it needs.

Affiliate Links Below :)

Tomato Sauce Recipe

  •     2 Cans Tomatoes (San Marzano)
  •     4 Cloves Garlic
  •     1 Bunch Fresh Basil (about 4-5 leaves with stems)
  •     1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  •     ¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Optional:

  •      1 Teaspoon Sugar
  •      Smallest pinch of Baking Soda

Place all ingredients in a pot. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Pour into a blender and blend till smooth. If you like a chunky sauce chop garlic and basil finely before adding to tomatoes, no need to blend.

Pizza Dough

  •      2 ½ Cups Warm Water
  •      ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  •      ¼ Cup Honey
  •      2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  •      1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  •      4 cups White Flour
  •      2 Teaspoons Salt

Add water, honey, yeast and whole wheat flour to stand mixer, mix for two minutes then add white flour, olive oil, and salt. Mix for another 8 min. cover and let rest 20 minutes before using. This recipe uses instant yeast so it’s ready to use almost immediately.

Now that everything else is covered, here’s the actual pizza recipe:

Topping options:

  •      Tomatoes
  •      Fresh Mozzarella/ Regular Mozzarella
  •      Pepperoni
  •      Sausage
  •      Olives
  •      Pineapple
  •      Ham
  •      Basil
  •      Sliced Onions
  •      Parmesan Cheese
  •      Fresh Arugula
  •      Balsamic Vinegar
  •      Garlic Olive Oil
  •      1 Dough Recipe
  •      1 Sauce Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 550 degrees with pizza stone in oven. Pull off knob of dough about the size of a baseball and roll it out on a well floured surface using a rolling pin. Dough should be about a ¼ inch thick maybe thinner if you like thin crust. Place dough on floured pizza paddle and slide dough onto hot stone. Bake for two min. remove from oven and arrange topping of choice while crust is still on pizza paddle, once arranged slide pizza back onto pizza stone and bake 8 to 10 min.

 

DSC04481.JPG

Combination options:

Margarita

  •       Tomato sauce
  •       Sliced Tomatoes
  •       Fresh Mozzarella
  •       Basil (add fresh basil to hot pizza after it comes out of the oven)
DSC04486.JPG

Hawaiian

  •       Tomato Sauce
  •       Regular Mozzarella
  •       Pineapple chunks
  •       Ham
  •       Sliced Onions
  •       Chopped Basil

 

Veggie

  •       Garlic Olive Oil (as sauce)
  •       Sliced Tomatoes
  •       Fresh Mozzarella
  •       Chopped Basil
  •       Fresh Arugula (tossed with Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Oil, salt and pepper. Added to the pizza after baked)

Meat

  •       Olives
  •       Sausage
  •       Pepperoni
  •       Tomato Sauce
  •       Mozzarella
  •       Parmesan Cheese

 

White Chocolate Creme Brulee

When I think of fancy desserts I think of crème brulee. It’s creamy, crunchy, hot and cold all at the same time! Crème brulee is really simple to make; I think most people get scared by the idea of torching sugar but with a little practice and some practical know how you can be wowing family and guests in no time! I have included a video of how to do it, the key is rotating the crème brulee in your hand and always keeping the torch moving around the sugar, don’t linger to long in one spot or you will burn the sugar.  Just remember practice makes perfect and once you master this you will feel like a pro!

The thing that sets this recipe apart from most crème burlee is the fresh vanilla. You can get it online for pretty cheap or at most grocery stores. To remove the seeds from the bean take a sharp knife and cut the bean in half, using the back of your knife and starting at one end, scrape the seeds from the bean.  For this recipe I also used the bean steeping it in with my cream mixture. After you remove the bean from your heated cream mixture DON’T THROW IT AWAY! It can be steeped again in liquid to make ice cream or more crème brulee, another thing you can do to reuse your vanilla beans is make vanilla sugar: in a plastic container add about 2 cups or so of white sugar and toss in your dried off vanilla beans, push them down into the sugar and then just shake and mix it every now and then. You can add as many beans as you can fit and the sugar can be used in anything for a little extra vanilla flavor!

DSC04666.JPG

Another tip:  don’t worry about buying fancy crème brulee dishes! As you can see I used whatever I could find! Tea cups, bowls, ramekins, whatever works! This is a larger recipe and depending of the size of your dishes it will make anywhere from 6 to 8 crème brulee. You can always cut the recipe in half if that’s too much.

Affiliate Links Below :)

DSC04659.JPG

White Chocolate Crème Brulee

  •    10 Egg Yolks
  •    ¾ Cup Sugar
  •    5 Cups Cream
  •    10 oz White Chocolate
  •    1 Vanilla bean (or 1 ¼ teaspoon Extract)

In a pot add ½ cup of the sugar, cream, white chocolate and the vanilla bean (seeds removed with bean). Bring to a simmer and stir often. (Do not boil!) Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat and remove the bean, (if using extract add it now). In a bowl combine egg yolks with remaining ¼ cup sugar, whisk to combine.  Temper the egg yolks by adding about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs whisk together and pour back into the hot cream while whisking to combine. Pour mixture into dishes and bake at 325 degrees for 35 min.  You want them to still be jiggley in the center because they will continue to set as they cool. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight before torching them.  To torch them sprinkle evenly approximately 1 tablespoon of sugar on the top; holding the crème brulee in your hand and the lit torch in the other, quickly turn the crème brulee under the flame and as the sugar begins to melt keep rotating till all the sugar is melted. Wait a few minutes before cracking into it. makes about 6 to 8 crème brulees

Spicy Korean Chicken

There is a misconception out there that good Asian food is difficult to make at home, that it requires 101 ingredients per dish and that it will never taste as good as takeout without the MSG.  Well I’m here to tell you that is basically all lies! With a little know how and a few key ingredients it’s much simpler than you might think.

The key ingredient to this dish is gochujang paste; which is red chili paste that contains glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt, and sometimes sugar.  It’s a Korean food staple and has become one of my most favorite things to cook with! I have used it in kimchi, soups, marinades, and this spicy Korean chicken recipe. The inspiration for this recipe came in culinary school. All of us students were learning to break down chickens, having cooked the breast the day before, the thigh and drumsticks we used for fried chicken. We were left with a large amount of wings to figure out something to do with. My chef instructor Chef Kim, (who is Korean) fried up the wings and tossed them in a sauce he made with gochujang, honey, and a little salt. They were so delicious, that afterward I went straight to an Asian market and bought some gochujang paste. I jazzed up the sauce a little till I got the perfect balance of spicy, sour, and sweet! And instead of wings I use cubed up chicken thighs. This is seriously one of my family’s favorite meals.   My brothers say every time I make it “there is never enough”. In the picture it looks like a lot because I double the recipe, regularly it feeds 4-5 

Affiliate Links Below :)

DSC04437.JPG

Spicy Korean Chicken

·         5 Chicken Thighs

·         3 Tablespoons Cornstarch

·         1 Egg

·         Salt and Pepper to Taste

·         3 Tablespoons oil (cooking)

·         2 chopped green onions (garnish)

Sauce

·         2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

·         ½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

·         1 Clove Garlic (minced)

·         2 Tablespoons Honey

·         1 Tablespoon Gochujang Paste

Cut chicken into one inch pieces, place in bowl with cornstarch, egg, and salt and pepper, mix together to create batter around the chicken. Set aside. In another large bowl combine soy sauce, red chili flakes, minced garlic, honey and gochugang paste with a pinch of salt and pepper, whisk together to form the sauce. Set aside. In a frying pan heat cooking oil (I use avocado oil) to meadum/hight heat. Cook chicken in 2-3 additions making sure not to over crowd the pan, after about 3 min each side remove to paper towel lined plate. Once all chicken is cooked dump into bowl with sauce, toss together till chicken is thoroughly coated with sauce. Serve with rice and a sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Bacon Brie Sandwich With Raspberry Jam And Arugula

This recipe will up your sandwich game by half at least! After you successfully make this, you will be thinking of all kinds of new meat, cheese, and jam/preserves combinations! The possibilities are endless!

This sandwich is all about the careful balance of big flavors.  Salty fatty bacon, creamy melty cheese peppery arugula and sweet strawberry jam all living happily together between buttery, toasty, garlic infused bread.  The first time I made this, years ago as a lunch for myself while working at a restaurant, I made it without the jam, but after tasting it I realized it needed something to cut through all the richness of the butter, bacon and cheese. The arugula was just getting lost and not quite enough to balance the sandwich. So I hunted down a jar of fresh made strawberry jam, opened up my sandwich and gave it a good spread of jam.  PERFECTION! It was just what it needed to balance all the flavors! I promise you will hear a symphony in your mouth (not unlike what is depicted in the movie ratatouille) as you eat this sandwich, you will never go back to plain grilled cheese ever again! 

This recipe makes just one sandwich but can easily be calculated for more, also keep in mind you can change out things like the arugula and the jam, I would still go with a bitter green like watercress, radicchio or even spinach will work. Other jam options are anything berry or I have used citrus jellies like a mango orange before. Experiment people!!

Affiliate links below :)

Bacon Brie Sandwich

  •       2 Slices Bacon
  •       2 Slices Brie
  •       1 Clove Garlic
  •       1 Tablespoon Jam/Preserve
  •       2 Slices Bread
  •       1 Handful Greens (Arugula, Watercress, Radicchio, Spinach
  •       1 Tablespoon butter

Set your oven to 425. Cook Bacon (you can cook bacon in the oven at this temp for 15 -20 min depending on desired doneness) set aside.  In an oven safe pan, melt half the butter and place both bread slices down in the pan. Toast till just golden then remove from pan. Take your garlic and cut in half, rub the garlic on the warm toasted side of both bread slices.  Add remaining butter to pan and place one bread slice toasted side UP to the pan. Quickly layer bread with bacon, brie, arugula and top with other piece of bread, spread with jam, (be sure to spread the jam on the previously toasted and garlic rubbed side) jam side down. Gently press sandwich together and carefully flip over. Immediately place pan in oven for 2 min. or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

DSC04508.JPG

Ricotta Orange Pancakes With Raspberry Compote

This recipe is a twist on the classic lemon Ricotta Pancakes. The orange gives them a slight floral flavor and the ricotta makes for the most amazing texture: spongy, cheesy and cloud like! Plus, who doesn’t want cheese in their pancakes? They don’t have a lot of sugar which means they can easily be eaten savory as well as sweet; we had them for dinner with bacon, raspberry compote and whipped cream. I included the compote recipe as well. Enjoy!

 

Orange Ricotta Pancakes

·         ¾ Cup AP Flour

·         2 Tablespoons Sugar

·         ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

·         Pinch Salt

·         ¾ Cup Milk

·         1 Cup Ricotta Cheese

·         3 Eggs (separated and whites whipped)

·         1 teaspoon vanilla

·         Zest of 1 Orange

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and mix till smooth. Using a spatula fold half the egg whites into batter, don’t over mix as you will deflate the whites. Add second half of whites and gently fold in.  Using a half cup measure, scoop out batter onto a hot griddle or cast iron pan. Cook about 2-3 min and flip (or until bubbles begin to form and stay on the pancake) cook another 2 min. serve hot with butter and topping of choice. Makes about 12 pancakes.

 

Raspberry compote

·         1 bag Frozen Raspberries

·         2 Tablespoons Lemon juice

·         1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (I used orange zest to complement the pancakes)

·         ¼ Cup Sugar

·         Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients into a sauce pot. Heat till just simmering and cook for 2-3 min.  Remove from heat, let cool about 10 min before serving.

DSC04457.JPG

Zuppa Toscana Soup (My Way)

When I tried the Zuppa Toscana soup at olive garden, back when I was a teenager, the first thing I did afterward was go straight home and try to recreate it! After many years and lots of research and development, I have finally arrived at a recipe I like better.  It’s super simple to make and somehow transcends the seasons, it’s a good summer soup as well as a great fall/winter soup!

As with most things in life food is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. I used fresh lacinato kale (dinosaur kale) form the garden, whole cream (from a local dairy), organic potatoes, homemade chicken stock, and fresh herbs from the herb garden on our deck. I did use canned corn because it’s all we had at the time I was making this but fresh corn cut from the cob would make it especially delicious.

DSC04203.JPG

Zuppa Toscana

  •      2 Quarts Chicken Stock
  •      Whole Medium Onion (diced)
  •      3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  •      1lb Italian Sausage
  •      ½ Teaspoon. Red Pepper Flakes
  •      3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  •      2 Bay Leaves
  •      1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (finely chopped)
  •      5-7  Potatoes 
  •      1 Cup Cream
  •      1 Larch Bunch Kale (woody stems removed, chopped)
  •      1 Can Corn or 3 Fresh Cobs (corn cut from cob)

In a large pot cook onions and garlic 1 min. on medium heat. Add sausage and brown. Add thyme, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and cook for a minute to bloom spices.  Pour in stock and diced potatoes; bring to a boil and cook potatoes at a good simmer till potatoes are tender, about 8 to 10 min.  Add chopped kale and corn cook for another 2 min. finish with cream and chopped parsley.  Serves about 6-8, soup can be frozen for up to 3 months, if you are planning on freezing it reduce the cook time of the potatoes to about 5 min.

DSC04191.JPG

Hamburgers With Caramalized Onions, Bacon And Garlic Aioli

Here are my tips for making delicious gourmet hamburgers at home!

1. The beef! Preferably you should grind it yourself, the key is freshness. A good cut to use is the shoulder/chuck region. You can really use anything, but for good flavor and texture you want something with about 15-20 % fat as a general rule. If you don’t have a grinder at home, most grocery store butchers will grind fresh whatever cuts you want. Honestly, ask them what they would recommend based on what you like: lean burgers, fatty and juicy, extra flavorful…and so on. They are the experts! J

2. Seasoning! This is kind of a personal preference situation but I only put salt and pepper on the outside of the patties. I’m kind of a purest and believe the flavor of the meat should shine through. Hamburgers are not meatloaf so I don’t use onions or any binders inside the meat like bread crumbs or eggs.  My philosophy is that hamburgers should be treated like steaks! A good salt and pepper curst, and a hot pan are all you need.

3. Forming the patties! I worked in a restaurant in San Diego and our fancy burger patty forming machine was a pickle jar lid!  It kind of blew my mind how simple it was yet how great they looked. If you decide to use this method, remember that your burgers will shrink with cooking so go with a slightly bigger lid than the size of your buns. Cover the lid in plastic wrap and simply fill evenly with meat, use the plastic wrap the lift it out and repeat till all your patties are formed. Two pounds of hamburger made about 7 patties for me it will vary based on what size of lid you go with

4. Cooking! Just like steaks, I prefer to cook hamburgers in a cast iron pan as opposed to a grill.  The biggest reason is because with cast iron you have maximum contact with the pan for browning/caramelization. The technical term for this is called the Maillard reaction. Browning (caramelization of sugars) equals flavor! With a grill you get less browning and more char…char can be good but I find its les flavorful than the browning. Make sure your cast iron pan is very hot before you add your hamburgers, look for the pan to just begin to smoke, carefully place your hamburgers and don’t touch them for at about 6 to 8 min. if you want them fully cooked. If you like a little pink flip them at about 5 min. cook them on the other side for about 5 min.  (for done through about 3-4 min.) Cooking times are going to vary based on the size of your burgers. Once you flip them, add cheese. If cheese is not melting, cover with a lid for a few min.

The two burgers I made were: a classic hamburger with all the fixings plus my sriracha aioli, and the second one was bacon, swiss cheese, and caramelized onion burger with garlic aioli. I have included recipes for both aiolis, as well as my recipe for caramelized onions.

DSC04582.JPG

Ingredients

  •       Formed Hamburger Patties
  •       Cooked Bacon
  •       Swiss Cheese
  •       Cheddar Cheese
  •       Lettuce
  •       Tomatoes
  •       Caramelized Onions
  •       Brioche Hamburger buns
  •       Sriracha Aioli
  •       Garlic Aioli
  •       Fresh Onions (sliced)

 

Caramelized Onions

  •      2 onions, Sliced
  •      3 Tablespoons butter
  •      2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
  •      Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan on medium to high heat, melt butter. Add onions and salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and let onions cook down stirring every now and then.  It will take about 20 to 25 min. to fully caramelize onions. Once onions reach an amber color drizzle in your balsamic vinegar and stir to reduce and combine. Remove from heat and let cool a little bit.

 

Garlic Aioli

  •       1 Cup Mayo
  •       1 -2 cloves garlic (if they are small cloves use 2)
  •       Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  •       Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, mix thoroughly. Let sit a few min to allow the garlic to permeate the sauce.

Sriracha Aioli

  •      1 Cup mayo
  •      1 Clove Garlic
  •      1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  •      2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce
  •      Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and mix thoroughly.

 Arrange your burger how you like it and enjoy!

Cardamom Spiced Shortbread Cookies with Dark Chocolate

If you were to back me against a wall and force me to choose a favorite spice I might say something silly like, “one could no sooner choose a star among the heavens” (name that movie lol) But if you really pushed the matter I would probably choose cardamom. Cardamom is such a beautiful spice; it has a sweet minty aroma with a mild black pepper finish, its nutty, floral, and just plain delicious! Cardamom works in both sweet and savory preparations, it comes in two ways: the whole pod or the ground up black seeds inside the pod. The whole pods can be used in marinades and steeping but the outside husk is not really edible, so use it kind of like a bay leaf.  Ground cardamom can be used in really anything, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

If you really want to experience the full flavor of cardamom these short bread cookies are a perfect choice. The toasty buttery flavor goes so well with the floral sweetness of cardamom.  The recipe is really simple and kind of self explanatory, the only thing I will say is the longer you refrigerate the dough (up to 2 days) the better the flavor, the flour has a chance to soak up the butter fat and when baked makes for a delicious toasty flavor that is irresistible.  For an extra special touch, dip the cookies in melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt!

DSC04733.JPG

Affiliate Links below :)

Cardamom Spiced Short Bread Cookies

  •      ¾ Cup AP Flour
  •      1 Tablespoon Cardamom
  •      ¼ Teaspoon salt
  •      ½ Cup butter (room temp)
  •      ¼ Cup + 1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar
  •      ½ Teaspoon Vanilla

In a bowl whisk together the flour, cardamom and salt. In a separate bowl beat together room temp. butter and sugar till smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low till fully combined. Shape dough into log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Pre-heat oven to 375˚ line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice refrigerated dough into ¼” slices and place on baking sheet, spacing evenly. Bake cookies for 20 min. till golden brown around the edges. Makes 24 cookies.

*chocolate dipped option: melt one cup dark chocolate with 1 Teaspoon coconut oil in the microwave for 12 min. at a time being careful not to overheat. Once cookies have cooled dip half the cookie into the chocolate and place on parchment paper to cool, sprinkle with sea salt. ENJOY!!!   

DSC04732.JPG

Sea Scallop Pasta With Spinach And Pistachio Pesto

Pesto is one of the best things to have on hand for delicious meals in a pinch. When I make pesto I like to make a large batch and freeze it for later.  Another thing I love about pesto is how versatile it is, it’s so easy to exchange ingredients for different varieties and flavors, for example I have used walnuts or pecans in place of the classic pine nut. I have also experimented with the basil, trading it out for parsley, kale, green peas and even nettles (which was delicious).  For this recipe I used spinach and tarragon for the greens and pistachios for the nuts.

When making pesto its easiest to use a food processor, though you can manually chop all the ingredients if you don’t have one. I basically just throw all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in the food processor and pulse till fully combined and until it's the consistency I want, (I like it with some texture, not completely smooth) then I add in the olive oil at the end and mix it slowly. Sometimes if you over mix olive oil it can taste bitter that’s why I mix it at the end.

A few tips for cooking scallops: I used small bay scallops because that’s what was good at my grocery store. These tips also apply for cooking larger diver scallops as well (maybe ever better). Make sure you clean and dry them really well, a dry scallop is critical for searing an browning, all the excess liquid will end up only steaming and you won’t get any color. Salt and pepper them lightly and make sure you pan is hot!! If your pan is not hot enough they will stick bad! Don’t over crowd your pan, they need room for the steam to dissipate or again, you won’t develop color. Scallops cook really quickly and because they are so small they carryover cook after you remove them from the pan so only cook them for no longer than 3 min. on each side depending on the size. For my small scallops I only cooked them about a min on each side.

DSC04922.JPG
 

Spinach Pistachio Pesto

  •       2 Cups Packed Spinach
  •        ½ Cup Tarragon Leaves
  •       3 Cloves Garlic
  •       ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
  •       1 Cup Roasted (unsalted) Pistachios
  •       ½ Olive Oil
  •       ½ teaspoon Lemon Zest
  •       1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  •       Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add all ingredients except for the oil, pulse till combined and the texture you like. Add the oil and pulse to combine. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

Scallop Pesto Pasta

  •       1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  •       ½ Cup Pesto
  •       ½ Cup Cream
  •       1lb Scallops
  •       1 Package Pasta (about 12 oz dried)
  •       ¼ Cup Reserved Pasta Water
  •       Salt and Pepper To Taste

Cook Pasta as directed on package with plenty of salt in the water. Heat cast Iron pan (heavy bottomed pan) to medium/high heat, add a little oil and gently layer in washed and dried scallops. Cooking in 2 to 3 additions, sear the scallops for about 1-3 min (depending on size) gently turn and cook another 1-2 min. remove to a plate and cook the rest of your scallops. In the same pan add in the cream and stir to remove and dissolve the bits from the pan. Add in the pesto and pix till sauce comes together, add in the cooked pasta and toss in the sauce. Add a little pasta water to loosen in needed. Top with cooked scallops and micro greens. Serve immediately. Make about 5-7 servings.

 

DSC04942.JPG

Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Salsa Verde

Don’t tell my mom, but I have never had better Mexican food then when I loved in San Diego! Everything was so fresh and authentic. I worked as a pantry chef In a high end restaurant, everyday someone in the kitchen was put in charge of what’s called “family meal” using up any leftovers he or she makes a meal for everyone on staff before dinner service starts. Usually nothing fancy but always delicious! Especially when our Sou chef was in charge! He was form Mexico and learned all he knew from his grandmother and years of hard work in restaurants all over Mexico and California.  I learned this salsa Verde recipe from him.  This recipe is basically a combination of my mom’s tried and true enchiladas and the salsa verde tricks I learned in the restaurant. 

Last summer we had jalapenos coming out of our ears; we made a LARGE batch and bottled it!  It’s been the go to quick and easy meal option all year!! Also as a disclaimer I don’t traditionally roll the enchiladas like most recipes call for.  We layer everything together almost like a lasagna. This trick I credit to my mother who having 6 hungry children needed to get dinner on the table fast! The method stuck mostly because it is fast and easy and it all tastes the same no matter how you roll it…or don’t……

DSC02899.JPG
 

Salsa Verde

  •       1 bunch Cilantro stems and all
  •       1 large Onion
  •       5-6 Cloves Garlic
  •       Juice of 1 Lemon/Lime
  •       5-6 Jalapenos (Seeded if you don’t like it to hot)
  •       Large pinch of salt

Rough chop everything, place in blender with the lime juice and salt to taste, blend till smooth. At this point you can eat it with chips, put it in your tacos or make enchiladas with it!

  • Chicken Enchiladas
  •       1 package corn tortillas 
  •       3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  •       1 recipe salsa Verde
  •       1 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
  •       5-6 large chicken breast (if thighs use 7-8)
  •       1 teaspoon chicken base (better then Bullion)
  •       2 tablespoon corn starch (mixed in to your sour cream)
  •       1 can black olives (chopped)

Set oven to 375. In a large pot cook off the chicken on medium to high heat with a little olive oil, add in the salsa Verde, sir to combine. Add sour cream and corn starch mixture to chicken. Cook for about 3-4 min to allow sauce to fully thicken. Take off heat. In a 9” by 13” baking dish spoon a little of the sauce (without chicken bits if you can) in the bottom of the pan. Layer in tortillas to fully cover the bottom of the pan. Add about a 1/3 of the chicken mixture and spread it around. Sprinkle on about 1/3 of the olives. Sprinkle on a thin layer of cheese (saving most of it for the top) add another layer of tortillas and repeat till pan is full. I usually get about three layers of everything. Cover with remaining cheese and bake at 375 for 20-30 min. (every oven is different) 

DSC02904.JPG

Easy Fried Rice with Leftovers

Fried rice is the perfect dish for using up leftovers, that’s basically how it came into being; traditionally in china fried rice was made with the leftover ingredients from other meals, now it’s pretty much one of the most popular street food out there with nearly endless meat and vegetable variations. You can use really anything you have in your fridge, peas, corn, celery, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, shrimp, chicken, or beef.  I happened to have leftover cabbage from fish tacos, and a few leftover slices of ham, add a carrot and a few green onions and you are set! Even the rice need to be a day old for it to work, if you use freshly cooked rice it will just steam instead of stir fry. That’s what gives the rice the perfect chewy texture.  

I’m adding my method for cooking the rice because it adds a lot of flavor to the finished fried rice.  For everyone cup of dried rice you will need 1 tablespoon butter and 1 large clove of garlic (chopped). In a pot add rice, butter and garlic, cook on medium/high heat for about 3-5 min. add a good dash of salt and pepper. (My culinary instructor taught me this “ancient Chinese trick” for cooking rice perfectly without measuring the rice or the water. Using your finger, just touching the top of the rice fill with water to the first knuckle joint of your index finger. This works every time for me!) add water and fallow cook times on package of rice.

Fried rice is best cooked in a wok, to get that crisp chewy texture you want high heat but you need to move it constantly, a wok accomplishes this perfectly. If you don’t have a wok, (like  me) use a cast iron pan or something with a heavy bottom that retains heat really well.

 

DSC04404.JPG
 

Fried Rice

  •       4 cups cooked rice (see above)
  •       3 green onions (sliced)
  •       1 cup chopped cabbage
  •       1 medium carrot, grated
  •       1 cup chopped ham
  •       2 eggs
  •       2 tablespoons soy sauce
  •       2 tablespoons oyster sauce (don’t skip this it makes it!)
  •       2 tablespoons cooking oil
  •       2 teaspoons sesame oil
  •      Salt and pepper to taste

In a hot wok or cast iron pan, stir fry cabbage, carrots with 1/3 of the cooking oil reserving the rest for later, add ham and cook for about a min.  Add in another 1/3 of the cooking oil and add rice, stirring constantly cook the rice for about 2-3 min. add soy sauce and oyster sauce and salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper stir to combine and cook another 2 min.  make a well in the center of the rice and pour in the remaining 1/3 cooking oil, crack in your two eggs and scramble and cook the eggs being sure not to incorporate the rice till the eggs are almost cooked. Remove from heat and drizzle on the sesame oil, (sesame oil should only be used as a finishing oil, you destroy the delicate flavor with high heat) sprinkle on sliced green onions stir one last time to incorporate the sesame oil and onions and enjoy! Sunnyside up egg optional! Serves 3-4 (in my house barely two teenage brothers.)

What variations would you come up with?

DSC04417.JPG

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Walnuts And Sea Salt

Cookies are basically the perfect dessert! Crunchy, gooey, chocolaty, salty, toasty, nutty and sweet! Everyone has their favorite variation. Our house is divided when it comes to the perfect cookie, some family members like them salty and gooey, “so gooey they fall through your fingers” others like them crisp and sweet, “crunchy enough that when you dip it in milk it soaks it up like a sponge”. Others still like them with raisins (yuk).  I like them crisp, salty and with lots of dark chocolate! I really like this cookie recipe because it somehow pleases everyone, (with the exception of the crazy raisin lovers), it’s all of the above in one cookie.

I have made this recipe so many time I have it memorized, however I never seem to make it the same way twice. Sometimes I’ll use pecans and milk chocolate, cocoa nibs and dark chocolate chunks, white chocolate and hazelnuts, one time I added fresh vanilla from the bean on top of the vanilla it calls for it was amazing! The sky is the limit!

Here is a few of my sure fire cookie tips.

Make sure you don’t over cream the butter and sugar, adding lots of air like that can make your cookie fluffy and cake like, so unless that’s what you are going for cream the butter and sugar till the butter looks like pea sized chunk.

The bigger the cookie the more gooey the center. I like to make them bigger, when I do I turn the oven up to 375, it makes for a toasty outside and a gooey inside.

If you love a crisp and toasty cookie refrigerate the dough over night or 24 hours before baking. This allows the flour to really soak up the fat form the butter which makes the cookie have a toasty, rich, butter flavor.

Sprinkle cookies with salt! Salt really sets off the sweetness of cookies.  Salt is a sweet enhancer, you can actually add less sugar to things if you add salt. For example if you are making a smoothie and it’s just not sweet enough but you don’t want to add any sugar try adding a pinch of salt, you might be surprised at how well it works. I never make a cookie without a sprinkle of salt on the top! It just makes it better! 

Affiliate links below :)

DSC04307.JPG
 

Chocolate Chip Cokkies

  •       2 cups white sugar
  •       2 cups brown sugar
  •       1lb butter (cubed)
  •       4 eggs
  •       6 cups AP flour
  •       4 cups chocolate chips
  •       2 cups chopped walnuts
  •       1 tablespoon vanilla
  •       1 teaspoon baking powder
  •       ½ teaspoon baking soda
  •       1 teaspoon salt
  •       Flaked sea salt for sprinkling

In a stand mixer or large bowl cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until butter is roughly the size of peas.  Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt then add to mixer. Mix to form a dough. Add chocolate chips and walnuts, mix to combine.  Spoon out dough (about 2 tablespoon sized balls) onto sheet pan bake at 350 or 375 (based on desired crispness) for 15 min. sprinkle with sea salt and let cool on sheet pan for 2 min. before removing them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

What variations of this recipe would you make?

DSC04330.JPG

Buttermilk Biscuits with Maple Glaze and Cracked Black Pepper

Making biscuits has almost become therapeutic for me, I mostly find myself making them on rare lazy Saturdays after a long week of work. There is something about using my hands to cut the butter into the flour, then folding and working the dough by hand, finding the perfect spot to make the first biscuit cut.  It really makes me feel like I’m making something special even though it’s just simple biscuits. My family loves them and even the hint that I might make them turns my brothers into giddy children.  We usually have them with homemade sausage gravy or sometimes we fry up eggs and bacon for a breakfast sandwich.  They are really simple to make and with only a few tips and tricks you can look like a pro!

1)      Make sure the butter is cold before you cut it into the flour.  The reason for this is steam! When the biscuits go into the hot oven the butter melts quickly and releases its water content in the form of steam, this steam pushes up each layer of dough as it cooks to form flakey layers.

2)      If you don’t have buttermilk, not to worry you can use milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Make sure you use lemon juice as the baking soda must have acid to properly react. Buttermilk has enough to make this happen but milk by its self needs lemon juice! I recommend letting the milk and lemon sit together at room temp for about an hour before making the biscuits. Trust me on this!

3)      Once the dough is formed and on your work surface flatten the dough into a rectangle about 2 inches think. Next fold over one end onto itself and flatten back down to about 2 inches repeat this 4 to 5 times. This step is CRITICAL for flakey biscuits in essence you are creating the layers of the biscuit! Make sure not to do any more than 5 folds you still want the dough to be tender and over working it will make for tough biscuits.

4)      I sometimes skip this step for time but it does make a difference. After you have cut and placed your biscuit on a baking sheet refrigerate for 1 hour before baking. This ensures the butter is very cold when the biscuits go into the hot oven, and it also allows for the fat to really coat all the flour which helps with browning as well as flaking. 

Buttermilk Biscuits

  •        3 cups (384 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
  •        3 tablespoons sugar
  •        1 tablespoon baking powder
  •        1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •        12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for searving
  •        1 1/4 cups cold buttermilk
  •        pure maple syrup, for rubbing the biscuits
  •        nice sea salt or coarse freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling

Instructions

1.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 425

2.       Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Using your fingers, work in the butter just until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs with some pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk just until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

3.       Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and pat into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold it in half once so that it's 1-inch thick. Do this three more times to create layers in the dough. Then roll the dough out to about a 1-inch thick.

4.       Using a lightly floured 3-inch round cutter, cut out the biscuits (in one motion — do not twist the cutter), as close together as possible, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet leaving 2 inches between them. Gently pat the dough scraps together (do not overwork the dough), reroll and cut out more biscuits. (Note: You could just cut the rectangle into 8 squares, which will leave you with no scraps to reroll.)

5.       Brush each biscuit with maple syrup and sprinkle with crushed black pepper and sea salt.

6.       Bake for 15min.

 

biscuit23.jpg

Classic Hollandaise With Eggs Benedict

We can’t talk about hollandaise without talking about the mother sauces; there are 5 mother sauces in classic French cuisine: Béchamel, Veloute, Espangnole, Sauce Tomate, and Hollandaise.  The name mother sauce is meaningful because they are all base sauces from which a myriad of other sauces can be made from its “mother” for example, béchamel alone is used in things like  lasagna but once you add gruyere and parmesan cheese to it, you have a new sauce called mornay sauce. Bechamel is the foundation or mother sauce to cheese sauces, mushroom and alfrado sauce.  A secondary sauce to hollandaise is a béarnaise sauce which is basically the addition of white wine vinegar, chopped shallot and fresh tarragon.  Bearnaise sauce is a fantastic sauce with baked salmon and even grilled steak.

DSC04684.JPG

Hollandaise is a very delicate sauce, it’s the only mother sauce not thickened with a roux, instead, it uses an emulsification to stabilize two things that normally won’t stay together. Because it’s so delicate you will need a double broiler to provide indirect heat to your sauce. You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy one though, for years I used a medium pot with a bowl resting on top, (a glass or metal bowl, no plastic for obvious reasons).  You will need to fill your pot with about 2” of water. You don’t want too much water that it touches the bowl but you need to make sure you have enough so it does not steam out during the cooking process.

A few tips: make sure you keep the heat on medium, you want the water in the double broiler to lightly simmer and create steam to gently cook your egg yolks, a raging boil would be to hot and you will probably end up with scrambled eggs. If you feel like your sauce is getting to hot at any point don’t bother with adjusting the heat just lift off the bowl and whisk to cool your sauce down a bit. The consistency you are trying to reach with your eggs before you start adding the butter is something like a Dijon mustard, thick but still smooth.

A few fun hollandaise sauce variation ideas are: cajan hollandaise with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, southwestern hollandaise with chopped jalapenos, and basil hollandaise with chopped basil. What kinds of variations on this classic mother sauce would you come up with?

DSC04691.JPG
DSC04695.JPG

Classic Hollandaise

  • 3 Egg Yolks

  • 3 cubes Butter (Sliced)

  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a double broiler (off the heat) combine egg yolks and lemon juice, whisk to combine. Bring water to simmer while whisking yolks. Once yolks begin to heat up they will become thin and runny, keep cooking and whisking till they become thick and smooth, about the texture of Dijon mustard. Begin adding one chunk of butter at a time to yolks waiting till fully incorporated before adding next chunck. Once half the butter is incorporated you can begin to add multiple butter chunks at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated season with tabasco, salt and pepper. Sauce will last a few hours if you can keep it warm but once it’s cooled you will not be able to re-heat it without separation. To keep it warm serve it from your double broiler.

 

Eggs Benedict

  • 5 English muffins halved and toasted

  • 10 slices ham or Canadian bacon

  • 10 poached or fired eggs

  • 1 recipe hollandaise sauce

  • Chopped parsley

Toast English muffins, fry eggs or poach (ain’t nobody got time for that…lol). Heat the ham in a frying pan. To assemble, layer ham and egg on top of toasted muffin pour over with freshly made hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!

Lacto Fermented Sauerkraut

This recipe belongs to my wonderful mother!  She is the genius behind the best sauerkraut I have ever had.  My favorite part about this recipe is that it uses lacto fermentation as opposed to a vinegar pickling.  Lacto fermentation is a little trickier, but much healthier as it is loaded with good probiotics (like yogurt) and good bacteria that help promote gut health.

A few key things to know before we get into the recipe: 1. don’t use any metal when making lacto fermented anything, it can react with the acid and end up tasting bad. No metal bowls or spoons, I used a glass bowl and a wooden spoon. 2. Don’t use salt with iodine or anti-caking agents in them, it can prevent/kill the fermentation process altogether, I used sea salt. 3. Make sure to use filtered water (if you end up needing it) for the same reason as the salt, chlorine and other water additives can slow down or stop the natural fermentation. 4. You always want your sauerkraut submerged in liquid, it keeps it crisp and fresh. If you notice your sauerkraut looking dry on the top as it ferments add a few tablespoons of lightly salted water to the top until it covers all the cabbage.

Sauerkraut is one of my favorite foods!! I eat it with breakfast all the time and I basically can’t eat hotdogs without it anymore! What things would you put sour sauerkraut on?

DSC04530.JPG

Sauerkraut

  • 1 medium head of cabbage

  • 1 medium onion

  • 4-5 cloves Garlic

  • 1 ½ tablespoon Sea Salt

Using a round cutter cut out 2 circles from larger outer leaves of cabbage, set aside. Thinly slice the rest of the cabbage and place in a non metallic bowl. Add salt and stir using a wooden spoon till salt is all mixed in, set aside to rest for about 10 min. to allow salt to draw out moisture. Chop garlic and onion finely, add to cabbage and stir together. Using a clean and dry quart mason jar, fill with cabbage mixture about 1/3 of the way full and pack down using a blender tamper, make sure not to overly smash and just gently compact the cabbage (you want to begin to pull more juice out of the cabbage).  Fill jar another 1/3 and pack down again, repeat till jar is full, leaving 1 ½ inch head clearance at the top. Place your circle cut leaf on top and depending on juiciness add a little salt water to the top just till cabbage is covered. Screw on lid. Repeat with second jar.  Place jars on a towel (for possible leakage) on counter top, let sit at room temp (about 70 degrees) for 10 days. In the winter and colder temperatures it will take up to 2 weeks and in the summer when it’s warmer the time will be shorter. If you are not sure if it’s done just taste it, when it sours to your liking its done. Once it’s done it will continue to sour at a very slow rate in the refrigerator and as long as it is submerged in its liquid it can last up to 10 years!!! 

DSC04551.JPG

Halibut Fish Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Sauce

I am a sucker for anything in a corn tortilla, but especially fish!  Fresh caught halibut lightly pan fried with crunchy cabbage, cilantro and onions, crisp radishes, sriracha aioli and cilantro avocado sauce makes this taco extra delicious.  I came up with this recipe after living in San Diego and tasting some of the best fish tacos of my life! I was instantly inspired, and came up with my own version of street tacos, after a few years of tweaking I have decided that this recipe is very nearly as good as the fantastic tacos I had in San Diego.

 

This fish taco recipe is super simple to make and you can easily substitute the halibut for cod, or any other white fish you enjoy. Just keep in mind cooking times will be slightly different for each fish.  Halibut is a dense and meaty fish that is very sturdy when cooing, it’s fairly easy to work with and has excellent flavor making it perfect for tacos! A few tips for cooing halibut are:  Make sure your pan is not too hot. I cook most fish at a lower temperature than other proteins, mostly because fish is very delicate and fast cooking; a rule of thumb would be watch the color: nothing darker than a light golden color on the batter is perfect.  To keep the fish crispy, place your cooked fish on a wire cooling rack for service.  The fish will continue to steam and if it’s on a plate the breading will likely become soggy form contact with the plate. Just make sure to serve it quickly as it will cool fast.

DSC04875.JPG

Most of the prep for this recipe can be done ahead of time:

DSC04880.JPG

Cilantro Avocado Sauce

  • 1 Avocado
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Clove Garlic (chopped)
  • ½ Cup Lightly Packed Cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a food processor blend avocado and lime juice till smooth. Add in sour cream, garlic and cilantro, blend till cilantro is chopped and well incorporated. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Makes about 2 cups of sauce and will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

 

Sriracha Aioli

  • 1 Cup Mayo
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sriracha Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and mix thoroughly. Makes about 1 cup sauce (I usually double it) keep refrigerated for up to a month.

 

Halibut Fish Tacos

Breading: 

  • 1 lb Halibut
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 4 Tablespoons Corn Starch

Tacos:

  • ¼  Head of Cabbage (thinly sliced)
  • ¼ Cup Cilantro
  • ½ Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 6-8 Corn tortillas
  • 1 lime for squeezing
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking

Thinly slice cabbage and radishes. Chop onion and cilantro, in a bowl combine the onions and cilantro. Set aside. Warm tortillas in a pan or in the oven wrapped in tinfoil. (keep warm) Clean and portion fish into this slices about ½” thick, place in a bowl and add chopped garlic, salt, pepper and lime juice. Mix to coat fish in seasoning. Add in the egg and corn starch, mix gently with hands until a light batter forms around the fish. If the batter is to thick or thin add a tablespoon more of cornstarch or a drizzle of water according to need.  In a cast iron pan heated with olive oil to medium heat cook fish in two additions for about 3-4 min on each side being careful not to over crowd the pan. Remove to cooling rack and cook second addition of fish.

To assemble tacos place a piece of fish on a warmed tortilla, top with cabbage, cilantro onion mixture and radishes. Top with cilantro avocado sauce and sriratcha aioli, squeeze with lime juice and ENJOY!