Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boursin Style Cheese - Homemade and Simple

Yield: 20 ounces

16 Ozs Cream Cheese, at room temperature
4 Ozs Butter, at room temperature
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 Tsp Dried Dill
1/4 Tsp Dried Basil, 1/4" dice
1/4 Tsp Dried Thyme
1/4 Tsp Marjoram
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
2 Clove Garlic, lightly crushed
  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


3 Avocados, very ripe
2 Tablespoons white onion, finely minced
1 10-ounce can of tomatoes with chilies (Rotel is a good one)
1 medium tomato, chopped coarsely
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional to control heat level)
1/4 Cup packed, cilantro leaves, finely minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 Teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea Salt

Mash the avocados leaving some chunks. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Garnish with a sprig of Cilantro.

Chipotle Crab Enchiladas

Serves 4

Yield: 8 Enchiladas


2 cups sour cream thinned with a little milk

¼ cup milk

Sea salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 pound lump crabmeat

2 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, julienned

Freshly ground black pepper


¼ cup safflower or canola oil for frying

8 6-inch corn tortillas, store-bought

½ cup Monterey jack cheese, grated


3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

12 green onions

8 fresh green and red jalapeno chiles for making chile “flowers”, optional

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together the sour cream and milk in a small mixing bowl. Lightly salt and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan or deep skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onion, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onions are softened.
  4. Carefully check crabmeat for shells and discard. Add the crabmeat, chipotle strips, and 1 cup of the thinned sour cream, reserving the rest to use as topping. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper to taste. This can be made to this point in advance and reheated before proceeding.
  5. Heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and place one tortilla into the hot oil. Cook first side for 8-10 seconds, turn over and cook second side about 5 seconds. You just want these to soften, so do not overcook. Dab with paper towels and set aside. Cook remaining tortillas, adding oil as necessary.
  6. Place an equal portion of the crab mixture across the center of the tortilla (like a hot dog). Roll each up into cigar shape and place into baking dish right up against each other. Choose an appropriate size baking dish or pan as to not have any room left after all eight are lined up.
  7. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped cilantro.

NOTE: Mexican Rice and Guacamole are excellent sides.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vegetable Cheese Strata

Serves 8

4 Teaspoons Olive Oil
2 Cups Onions, diced, 2 cups = 1 large
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced, 1 Tbl = 3 cloves
3 C Mushrooms, sliced, 3 cups = 8 oz
1 Loaf French Bread Loaf, cubed, 1 loaf = 5 cups
12 Large Eggs
2 Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
10 Ounces Broccoli Florets
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/2 Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, thinly sliced, not oil-packed
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, minced
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  1. Steam broccoli till tender but still firm. Cool and chop
  2. Heat 1/2 olive oil in nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, 3-5 min. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Transfer the onion mixture to bowl and let coo.
  3. Heat remaining olive oil in the same skillet over med-high heat and cook the mushrooms, stirring a few times, until their water evaporates and they begin to brown. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. Coat baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange bread cubes over bottom.
  5. In large bowl, beat eggs, milk and mustard together. Add mushrooms, onion-garlic mixture, broccoli, both cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and stir to incorporate.
  6. Pour mixture over bread cubes making sure the bread gets saturated.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  8. Bake at 350 60-70 min or until light brown crust forms.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Crawfish Jambalaya Abbreviated

Cajun cooking usually is long and slow with many layers. Here is a modernized shortcut version of Crawfish Jambalaya that you are sure to enjoy.

Serves 4

1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 pound crawfish tails
1 10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 10 ounce can French onion soup
1 10 ounce can tomatoes with chilies, do not drain (Rotel is a good one)
1 1/2 cups raw, white rice, washed

Saute bell pepper, parsley, and green onions in butter or margarine. Mix the sauteed vegetables with all other ingredients in bowl. Pour into an appropriate size baking dish. Bake uncovered for 55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mexican 4-Layer Tortilla Stack

Here is a wonderful recipe adapted from a very similar recipe by my friend Kittencal

Serves 4-6

3/4 pound ground chuck (You could substitute both meats with 1 1/2 pounds of bulk hot sausage for extra flavor)
3/4 pound ground pork
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 ounces taco seasoning mix (2 envelopes)
1 1/2 cups of water or whatever amount is required by taco mix
1 10-ounce can tomatoes with chiles (Rotel is a good one)
5 10-inch flour tortillas
2 16-ounce cans refried beans, divided
1 cup sour cream, divided
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided (use more or less to taste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set oven rack on lowest position.
Grease a 10-inch round cake pan or round casserole dish.
Saute both meats together along with garlic, onion, and bell pepper until no longer pink. Drain fat and add taco seasoning mix, tomatoes with chilies, and water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Assemble in the order given, as the beans protects the tortillas from absorbing too much moisture. Place one tortilla into the bottom of the pan, and assemble layers as follows:
  • spread 1/2 cup of the refried beans on top only of the first tortilla
  • sprinkle with 1 cup meat mixture making sure the meat stays on the beans
  • spread 1/4 cup sour cream
  • sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • sprinkle 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • spread 1/2 cup of the refried beans on one side of a tortilla, turn it over and place it on the stack, then spread 1/2 cup beans on the top of the same tortilla resulting in beans being on both sides
  • repeat layering procedure 3 more times or until you run out of ingredients
  • end with the fifth tortilla with beans spread on the bottom only
Wrap in foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. Then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes or just until the cheese melts.

NOTE: I used a squeeze bottle to apply the sour cream and worked great. Also, I found it necessary to press down on the stack after each tortilla to level it out a bit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spicy Creole Deep Fried Breaded Shrimp

Make this as spicy as you like by adjusting the cayenne pepper, the shrimp is double dipped for an extra crispy thick coating…. serve the shrimp with Seafood Cocktail Sauce

Yield 4 servings


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Wondra flour
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or adjust to suit heat level)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and de-veined with tails attached
Oil for deep frying (preferably peanut oil) (Do not use olive oil as it will not withstand the high heat.)
Seafood Cocktail Sauce

  1. Rinse the peeled and de-veined shrimp under cold water.
  2. In a large resealable bag combine the flour with next 5 ingredients.
  3. Place the shrimp in the bag and toss to coat thoroughly with the flour mixture.
  4. Place the coated shrimp on a tray or plates and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from fridge and coat a second time in the flour mixture.
  6. Heat oil in a heavy skillet or a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.
  7. Place the shrimp in hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pan-Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter

Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4.

The cooking times below are for 21/25 shrimp (that is, the size of the shrimp is such that there are 21 to 25 in 1 pound). If 21/25 shrimp are not available, adjust cooking times slightly. Either a nonstick or traditional skillet will work for this recipe, but a nonstick will simplify cleanup.


Garlic-Lemon Butter

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter , softened

1 Medium clove garlic , minced

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/8 Teaspoon table salt


2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 Pounds shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined

1/4 Teaspoon table salt

1/4 Teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 Teaspoon granulated sugar

Lemon wedges , if desired


  1. Beat butter with fork in small bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in garlic lemon juice parsley and 1/8 teaspoon salt until combined. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12 inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, toss shrimp, salt, pepper, and sugar in medium bowl. Add half of shrimp to pan in single layer and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to large plate. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and shrimp; after second batch has stood off heat, return first batch to skillet along with flavored butter and toss to combine. Cover skillet and let stand until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slow Cooker Country-Style Pork Ribs

Another great Kittencal recipe.

Notes from our test kitchen; do not substitute pancake syrup for maple syrup it does not work well in the recipe, use you favorite honey barbecue sauce, do not use a smokey flavor sauce, this also works well using thicker cut pork steaks… a 5-quart slow cooker is needed for this recipe

Servings 6


1 large onion or 2 smaller onions, sliced

4 large garlic cloves, sliced in half (garlic lovers can use more)

2-1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs

1 (18-ounce) bottle of honey barbecue sauce

pinch cayenne pepper, or adjust to taste

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup spicy brown mustard (I use French’s spicy brown mustard)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste


Place the onion slices and garlic clove halves into the bottom of the slow cooker, place the ribs on top.

In a bowl combine barbecue sauce with cayenne pepper, maple syrup, brown mustard and black pepper; pour over the ribs.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or until meat is tender.

Serve the meat with the sauce (you may remove the garlic halves if desired or leave them in).

Rice Pilaf with Vermicelli

Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4 as a side dish.

If you like, olive oil can be substituted for the butter depending on what you are serving with the pilaf. Soaking the rice overnight in water results in more tender, separate grains. If you'd like to try it, add enough water to cover the rice by 1 inch after the rinsing process in step 1, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature 8 to 24 hours; reduce the amount of water to cook the rice to 2 cups. For the most evenly cooked rice, use a wide-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. If you are using soaked rice for this variation, use 3 cups of water.


1 1/2

Cups basmati rice or long-grain rice

3 1/4

Cups water

1 1/2

Teaspoons table salt

Ground black pepper


Tablespoons unsalted butter


Small onion , minced (about 1/2 cup)


Ounces vermicelli , broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)


Medium cloves garlic , minced


Teaspoon ground cumin


Teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch allspice


  1. Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches; using hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a colander or fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice; place colander over bowl and set aside.
  2. Bring 3 1/4 cups water to boil, covered, in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add salt and season with pepper; cover to keep hot. Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat until foam begins to subside; add vermicelli and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove to small bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to pan and heat until foam begins to subside; add onion and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and allspice to sautéed onion; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add vermicelli and rice and stir to coat grains with butter; cook until edges of rice grains begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir hot seasoned water into rice; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 16-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and place kitchen towel folded in half over saucepan; replace lid. Let stand 10 minutes; fluff rice with fork and serve.

Double Chocolate Pudding

Serves 4 to 6.

Serve the pudding with whipped cream, if desired.


6 Ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
1/8 Teaspoon table salt
1 Cup light cream
3 Large egg yolks
2 Cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. To melt the chocolate, chop and place it in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, stirring once or twice until smooth. You can also melt the chocolate in a microwave at 50 percent power for 3 1/2 minutes, stopping to stir after 2 minutes. If the chocolate is not yet completely melted, heat up to 30 seconds more at 50 percent power. After melting, allow to cool slightly.
  2. Sift cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and salt into large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slowly whisk in light cream, followed by yolks, then milk. Stir in chocolate. (Chocolate will form clumps that smooth with cooking.)
  3. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with whisk, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Pudding will gradually darken and thicken. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring gently but constantly with wooden spoon until pudding very thickly coats spoon or instant-read thermometer registers about 200 degrees, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  4. Pass pudding through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing with rubber spatula. Leave residue in strainer. Stir butter and vanilla into pudding. Serve warm or directly cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap, cool 30 minutes, and refrigerate.

Orange and Radish Salad with Arugula

Serves 4.


3 medium oranges prepared according to illustrations below to make 1 1/2 cups

5 teaspoons lime juice from 1 to 2 limes

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander , toasted in small dry skillet until fragrant, about 30 seconds

1/8 teaspoon table salt

Ground black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 radishes , quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 1 1/3 cups)

4 ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)


  1. Place orange pieces in nonreactive mesh strainer set over bowl; let stand to drain excess juice. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, mustard, coriander, salt, and pepper to taste in large bowl until combined. Whisking constantly, gradually add oil.

  2. Add oranges, radishes, and arugula to bowl and toss gently to combine. Divide arugula among individual plates, place a portion of oranges and radishes over arugula, and drizzle with any dressing in bowl; serve immediately.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

I love the fact that Cooks Illustrated tests all recipes to find out the very best way to achieve good results. They always have informative "how to" pics.

Serves 4.

The chicken breasts will be easier to slice into cutlets if you freeze them for 15 minutes until firm but not fully frozen. To slice in half, place one hand on top of the breast to secure it, hold a chef's knife parallel to the cutting board, and slice through the middle of the breast horizontally. Note that 1/2 ounce of Parmesan is grated on the smallest holes of a box grater (or Microplane rasp grater); the remaining 6 ounces are shredded on the largest holes of the box grater (see photos below). We like the flavor that authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano lends to this recipe. Less-expensive DiGiorno Parmesan cheese can also be used, but the resulting cheese crust will be slightly saltier and chewier. Serve this chicken with a simple salad. Although the portion size (1 cutlet per person) might seem small, these cutlets are rather rich due to the cheese content. To make 8 cutlets, double the ingredients and cook the chicken in 4 batches, transferring the cooked cutlets to a warm oven and wiping out the skillet after each batch.



boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), tenderloins removed, breasts trimmed of excess fat and halved horizontally

Table salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup), see note above
3 large egg whites
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives (optional)
6 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups) see note above
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 lemon , cut into wedges


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even 1/4-inch thickness. Pat dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.

  2. Set wire rack on rimmed baking sheet. Whisk together 1/4 cup flour and grated Parmesan cheese in pie plate. In medium bowl, whisk egg whites and chives (if using) together until slightly foamy. In second pie plate, combine 2 cups shredded Parmesan and remaining tablespoon flour.

  3. Using tongs and working with 1 cutlet at a time, coat chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Transfer chicken to egg-white mixture; coat evenly and let excess run off. Coat chicken with shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so that cheese adheres. Place on wire rack.

  4. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 2 cutlets in skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook until cheese is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. While chicken is cooking, use thin nonstick spatula to gently separate any cheesy edges that have melted together. Carefully flip cutlets and continue to cook until cheese is pale golden brown on second side and meat is no longer pink in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towel and return to medium heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cook remaining 2 cutlets. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Two Ways to Cut the Parmesan An ideal crust requires cheeses of two different textures. A base layer of finely grated Parmesan cut on the smallest holes of a box or Microplane grater (left) is paired with an exterior layer of coarsely shredded Parmesan cut on the largest holes of a box grater (right).



When Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Goes Bad

Gummy: Baked chicken has a pale, damp, and gummy cheese coating.

Patchy: A spotty, uneven crust is the result of using the wrong "glue."

Dark and Bitter: A dark brown crust looks appealing but tastes bitter and burnt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

The difference between this chocolate chip cookie recipe and most others is the method. Do not omit the chilling period, it is significant.

1 Cup Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/4 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Cups Pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 Cups Chocolate Chips
  1. Combine all dry ingredients and sift with whisk.
  2. Beat butter in mixer with paddle at medium speed until light (about 2 minutes).
  3. With speed on medium, add both sugars in a steady stream. Continue to cream sugars for 4-5 minutes, scraping down bowl twice.
  4. Whisk eggs and vanilla together. Keep on medium speed and add egg mixture to sugar mixture very slowly. It should take 3-4 minutes. Mixture should be fluffy.
  5. Reduce speed to lowest setting and add dry ingredients until well incorporated.
  6. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix briefly.
  7. Using #24 scoop, place balls right next to each other on a sheet pan and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  8. Remove and let come to room temp (about 30 min).
  9. Put balls on sheet pan and flatten to about 3/4" thick. Try to keep edges straight up and down. Make slight depression in center with finger.
  10. Bake in conventional oven: 400 F, 8-10 minutes or in convection oven: 375 F, 7 minutes.
  11. Edges should be golden brown, but 1" circle in center should be pail.
  12. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to rack.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seared Scallops with Gingered Celery Root Puree and Leek Confit

Recipe by Chef Benjamin Cadmus, Executive Chef to the U.S. Senate

Leek Confit
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
5 sprigs thyme, picked and finely chopped
4 shallots, sliced thinly

Melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks and shallots; stir to coat. Stir in wine and salt, pepper, and thyme. Cover pot, reduce heat to low. Cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Uncover and cook to evaporate excess water, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Gingered Celery Root Puree
6 Cups chicken stock
2 large celery roots (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 medium russet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
5 shallots, peeled and halved
1/8 nob fresh ginger, peeled
5 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pieces
Ground white pepper/salt
1/8 Cup olive oil
1/8 Cup heavy cream

Bring stock to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add celery root cubes, potato cubes, and shallots; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, discarding liquid.

With a grater, grate ginger finely into mix and olive oil. Add heavy cream. Combine vegetables and butter in processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

3-4 pounds Scallops, Dry Packed, clean of all membranes
Freshly milled Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Place a medium sized cast-iron skillet on flame with the heat on high. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sear the scallops to golden brown on both sides. Once all scallops are seared, leave in cast-iron skillet and place in 425-degree oven for 3-5 minutes.

Serve when ready.

Watermelon & Cucumber Gazpacho with Blackberry Jalapeño Pico

Recipe by Chef Benjamin Cadmus, Executive Chef for the U.S. Senate

5 Cups Chopped Seedless Watermelon
1 Medium Cucumber, Peeled & Seeded
1/2 Cup Orange Juice without Pulp
1 Ounce Olive Oil
1 Shot Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt & White Pepper to Taste
1 Ounce Honey

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high speed until uniform. Then cover and refrigerate for an hour.

1 Pint Blackberries
1 Jalapeño, Seeded & Sliced on a Bias
1/2 Bunch Mint, Picked
2 Scallions, Cut Thinly on a Bias, Both White & Green Parts
12 Red Grape Tomatoes, Halved
12 Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Halved
1/4 Red Onion, Small Dice
Juice of 1 Lime
1/2 Ounce Olive Oil
Salt to Taste

Gently toss ingredients together and spoon in the middle of bowl. Then pour soup mixture around it in bowl.

Lobster Chinois Salad

This recipe is from Chef Benjamin Cadmus who is the Executive Chef for the United States Senate. His recipes can be sampled at the weekly Chef’s Table every Wednesday afternoon in the cafeteria of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Stop by to say hello and try one of his unique dishes.

6-8 Lobster Tails
Zest of 3 Lemons
8 Ounces, Olive Oil
3 Ounces, Cajun Seasoning
6-8 Teaspoons Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Begin by cutting the lobster tails in half down the middle, but not ensuring to not cut all the way through, keeping the tail as one piece. Then fold each tail open so that the flesh is exposed. Season with olive oil, lemon zest, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Then grill flesh side down, cross hatching the flesh. Turn over and lower the heat, adding a teaspoon of butter to each lobster.

1 Head Napa Cabbage, julienne
1 Head Romaine Lettuce, julienne
2 Cucumbers, julienne
2 Red Peppers, julienne
2 Carrots, fine cut with a mandoline
1 Bunch Scallions, cut fine on a bias, leaving 1/4 on each side

Combine all salad items in a bowl and reserve.

Honey Mustard Dressing (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons Pommery Mustard
2/3 Cup, Low-Fat Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1/2 Cup, Toasted Sesame Seeds
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Pinch Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add dressing to the bowl with the salad items and add the lobster tails to the top of the salad.

Cajun Potato Salad

2 Lbs Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 Med Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp Green Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Tbsps White Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsps Creole Mustard
1/2 Tsp Cayenne
1/4 C Olive Oil
1/4 C Parsley, leaves
4 Ea Bacon, cooked crisp
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from pan and dice. Place in a medium bowl and add tomatoes green onions, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss gently. Set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl combine vinegar, mustard and cayenne pepper.
  5. Add oil in a thin stream, heating constantly.
  6. Stir in parsley.
  7. Add dressing and bacon to potatoes and toss gently.
  8. Allow potatoes to absorb dressing at least 15 minutes before serving.

Asian Chicken Slaw

Using a prepared coleslaw mix and cooked deli chicken makes this a snap to prepare and may also be served as a wrap!

Servings 8-10


1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix

1 pound cooked chicken , shredded

2 cups small broccoli florets, lightly blanched and drained well

1 cup sugar snap peas

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 green onion, chopped

salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cashews (can use peanuts)


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil


In a large bowl toss together the coleslaw mix with chicken, broccoli, snap peas, red bell pepper and green onions.

In a medium bowl whisk the soy sauce with vinegar, peanut butter, sugar, garlic and ginger until smooth and well combined; slowly whisk in he canola or vegetable oil and sesame oil until thoroughly combined.

Pour the dressing over the slaw mix and toss to combine.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chopped cashews on the side as a crunchy topping.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Roast Lemon Chicken

Here is a recipe and "how to" pics from Cook's Illustrated that I thought was worth repeating. Sometimes we just have to get back to basics.
Roast Lemon Chicken

Serves 3 to 4

Avoid using nonstick or aluminum roasting pans in this recipe. The former can cause the chicken to brown too quickly, while the latter may react with the lemon juice, producing off-flavors.

1 whole chicken(3 1/2- to 4-pounds), backbone removed and butterflied (see related Step-By-Step)
tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 3 lemons
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1. SEASON Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine lemon zest, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Following photo 2 (of step-by-step), rub 2 tablespoons zest mixture under skin of chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. (Seasoned chicken can be refrigerated for 2 hours)

2. ROAST Whisk broth, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and remaining zest mixture in 4-cup liquid measuring cup, then pour into roasting pan. (Liquid should just reach skin of thighs. If it does not, add enough water to reach skin of thighs.) Roast until skin is golden brown and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 20 minutes.

3. MAKE SAUCE Pour liquid from pan, along with any accumulated chicken juices, into saucepan (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Skim fat, then cook over medium-high until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with remaining water in small bowl until no lumps remain, then whisk into saucepan. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and parley and season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce at table.

Step by Step

Butterflying the chicken may be unfamiliar, but this surprisingly simple process makes it easier to flavor the chicken with lemon—and it speeds roasting, too.

1. Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press to flatten the breastbone.

2. Carefully loosen the skin, then rub zest mixture into the breast, thigh, and leg meat.

3. Roast the flattened chicken in the lemony sauce so that its flavor can permeate the meat.

NOTE: Wish you had lemon zest on hand all the time? Well, it will soon be available at The site is not up and running yet, but we are working hard on it. Check back with us.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chocolate Fondue Recipe

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord.

Fondue has finally made a comeback, as most culinary fads eventually do, but this time with a bit of spark. Back in the seventies a party wasn't groovy unless a fondue pot was rolling. Nowadays, fondue fountains and fondue restaurants are all the rage but few people seem to be doing them at home, which is a shame considering how easy (and cheap) it is. Fondue gatherings are also a great chance to be interactive at the table and even those who don't cook can enjoy the simple play of dipping and eating.

Chocolate fondue in particular is laughably simple. Melted chocolate becomes the base for infinite varieties of dippables. Plus the chocolate can easily be flavored to perk the senses and create astounding flavors and variety. While great for a party, chocolate fondue is also the perfect way to end a romantic meal at home. The set up can be done way in advanced and the only thing you have to do later is turn on a little flame to get your own flame burning.

Using a fondue pot isn't mandatory, but it does make it easier and adds a certain sense of class. If you are using a regular pot, once the chocolate is melted put an oven mitt down on the table and place the pot on top and begin to dip. The chocolate may cool rather quickly if it is in a regular pot. However if you are using a fondue pot, with a little flame underneath it, the chocolate will keep nice and warm, and melted much longer.

As for what to dip feel free to pick and choose; many people enjoy baked goods such as brownies, pound cake, marshmallows, and the ever lovely ladyfinger. Fresh fruit such as strawberries, pears, or bananas are always romantic and a bit healthier. And as always dried fruit such as apricots or large chunks of candied ginger make for a nice set-up.

  • 12 ounces of dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped if from a block)
  • 8 ounces of heavy cream
  • A pinch of salt
  • Dippables such as strawberries, banana pieces cut into 1-inch chunks, dried appricots, candied ginger, apple pieces
  1. Warm the cream over moderate heat until tiny bubbles show and begins to lightly and slowly boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and full incorporated.
  2. Immediately transfer to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot.
  3. Arrange the dippables on a platter or plates around the chocolate pot. Use a fondue fork, bamboo skewer, seafood fork, or salad fork to dip the fruit pieces and other dippables into the hot melted cream chocolate mixture. Eat immediately.
  4. If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of heavy cream and stir. It will help it go a little longer. Eventually, it will cook down though and you may need to start a new pot.


Add a tablespoon or two of Bailey's Irish Cream to the chocolate. Other liquors such as Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Kirsch are equally yummy.

Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ancho chili pepper for a nice Mexican Chocolate.

The contents of a vanilla pod or some vanilla extract are always a decadent touch to chocolate.

A good pinch of espresso powder can do wonders!

Orange zest or grapefruit zest is nice way to create a slightly fruity chocolate.

A few tablespoons of Torani flavoring syrups (the kind used for coffee or Italian sodas) can add a nice dimension of flavor as well.

White chocolate is always a nice change, and spiked with a little liquor or citrus zest becomes heavenly.

Steeping the cream for an hour beforehand and while heating it can add a nice subtle flavor, lemongrass for white chocolate or a bag of Earl Grey tea for dark chocolate are particularly stylish and contemporary.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Focaccia with Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Rosemary

Serves 12

1 1/2 Cups Water, warm (about 110 degrees)
1/4 Ounce Dry Yeast, 1 enveloope
1 Teaspoon Sugar
3 3/4 Cups Bread Flour
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt
1/2 Cup Black Olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Romano Cheese, freshly grated

  1. In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of the warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Let stand for five minutes, or until foamy. Add the remaining one cup water, the flour, 2 tablespoons of the oil and the salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (dough will be soft), about seven minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl. Add the dough and turn it to coat evenly with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it stand in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles, about 1 hour.
  3. Lightly oil a 15½-by-10½-inch jelly-roll pan. Punch the dough down and pat into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles, about 45 minutes. Blanch rosemary needles for 20 seconds then sprinkle them on the dough. With your greased fingertips, make deep indentations, about 1 inch apart, over the entire surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spoon the olives and dried tomatoes evenly over the dough. Bake on the bottom rack until the bottom is crusty and the top is lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Sprinkle with the Romano cheese. Slide the focaccia from the pan unto a wire rack to cool before cutting to serve.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Red Rice with Chicken

This hearty, well-seasoned dish is budget friendly as well as delicious.

Makes about 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ pounds chicken pieces of your choosing

¾ to 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning (to taste)

3 large red bell peppers, seeded, cut in strips

1 large onion, cut in strips

8 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon paprika

1 ½ cups long-grain white rice

2 cups (or a little more) chicken broth

2/3 cup cream of tomato soup

1 ½ cups frozen small peas, thawed

1/4 cup parsely, chopped

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with Cajun Seasoning. The 15-minute pre-cook: add the chicken, and cook for 10 minutes, then add bell peppers, onion, garlic and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Mix in the paprika and rice and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer until the chicken and rice are tender and the liquids are absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Add more broth if the mixture becomes dry during the cooking time. Stir in the peas and parsley and add more Creole Seasoning if desired. Cook until the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve

NOTE: Since red bell pepper are $1.50 each in my local supermarket, I substitute green bell pepper.

If you choose skinless, boneless chicken pieces, cube them and reduce the pre-cook time from a total of 15 minutes to 5 minutes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pork and Chorizo Burgers With Poblano Mayo

Emeril Lagasse said this is one of his favorite recipes in his new cookbook, "Emeril at the Grill." The poblano mayo can be used for other applications, too.

Makes 4 servings

8 ounces chorizo, casings removed, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 ½ pounds ground pork

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ teaspoons Creole Seasoning

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

4 large hamburger buns or 4 (6-inch) lengths French bread, split in half horizontally

1 cup coarsely grated Pepper Jack cheese (optional)

Poblano mayo (recipe follows)

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Place chorizo in a food processor and process until finely chopped (the sausage should appear crumbly). Transfer to a large bowl and add pork, garlic, Worcestershire, Essence, salt and cayenne. Mix gently but thoroughly, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Form the mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties, about 8 ounces each, and place them on the grill. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees, 5 to 7 minutes per side. During the last 2 minutes, toast the buns. If desired, sprinkle the cheese over tops of burgers and cook until melted.

Place burgers on bun bottoms and set them on plates. Generously top each with 2 tablespoons of green chile mayo, and place the tops of the buns over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Poblano mayo

Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 cup good-quality mayonnaise, preferably homemade

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine mayonnaise, garlic, chile and lime juice in a food processor, and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps up to 1 week.

NOTE: Poblano Mayo will soon be available at The site is still under construction. It will be ready very soon, I hope.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cafe Reconcile Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

This recipe for one of their featured desserts recently was shared by Cafe Reconcile. Founder Craig Cuccia and past chef Don Boyd collaborated on its creation. A variation of the sauce has bananas in it. The secret ingredient of the restaurant version might be the Leidenheimer French bread.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 loaf stale French bread, or more, to fill pan

3 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup rum

1 ½ tablespoons banana extract

4 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons butter


¼ pound butter (1 stick)

¼ cup light brown sugar

¼ ounce rum

¼ ounce banana extract

*Optional: 1 sliced, medium-ripe banana.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat a 12- by 12- by 2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces, enough to fill the pan.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 ½ cups sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, cream, ¼ cup rum and 1 ½ tablespoons banana extract.

In a saucepan, bring milk just to a boil and melt butter in it. Temper* egg mixture into milk mixture. Pour liquid over the bread and fold in thoroughly. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then foil. (The plastic wrap keeps the moisture in and it does not melt.)

Place the baking dish into a larger baking pan and carefully add enough water to come 1 inch up the sides of the baking dish, to create a water bath.

Bake for an hour. Remove foil and plastic. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with caramel sauce.

To make caramel sauce: Melt a stick of butter on low heat in a saucepan. When butter is melted, add a quarter- cup brown sugar. Stir well and continue to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, or until brown sugar begins to caramelize.

(Optional: Add banana a couple of minutes before removing sauce from the stove.) Add ¼ ounce rum and ¼ ounce banana extract. Stir and serve warm.

*Tempering is a technique that lets you raise the temperature of eggs gradually by adding hot liquid. If the liquid is added too quickly, the eggs could curdle. In this recipe, drizzle a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk constantly. Continue to slowly add the hot milk while whisking into the eggs, until all the milk is incorporated. Once half of it is incorporated, you can add more of the liquid at a time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Almond Biscotti

Recipe Courtesy of Darlene O'Connor Raiente (Bridgeport / Stamford, CT)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds (toasted)
2 teaspoons milk


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture. Stir in almonds. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease foil. Divide dough in half; spread into two 12-in. x 3-in. rectangles on foil. Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees F. Lift rectangles with foil onto wire rack; cool for 15 minutes. Place on a cutting board; slice diagonally 1/2 in. thick. Place slices with cut side down on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake 10 minutes more. Turn oven off, leaving cookies in oven with door open to cool. Store in airtight container.

Optional: Melt some chocolate chips over a double boiler and dip cookie in on one side or the whole bottom of the cookie to make it look fancy.

Cream Cheese Icing by Shirley Corriher

Yield: 3 cups

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 2-TBL size pieces
  • 16 ozs cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBL orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  1. In large mixing bowl, beat butter until soft.
  2. Add cream cheese and beat until blended and smooth.
  3. Blend in confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and orange-flavored liqueur.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Parmesan, Walnut and Arugula Baskets

Prep/Total Time: 30 Minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe Source: Anna Maria Wharton of Staten Island, NY by way of Taste of Home April/May 2009


1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons finely chopped walnuts


4 cups fresh arugula or spring mix salad greens

½ cup green grapes, halved

2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon raspberry vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoons pepper


Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 3 Tablespoons cheese and 1 teaspoon walnuts over the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 seconds.

Using a spatula, carefully remove cheese mixture and immediately drape over an inverted glass with a 2”-diameter bottom; cool completely. Repeat with remaining cheese and walnuts, forming 6 baskets.


In a large bowl, combine the arugula, grapes and walnuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; pour over arugula mixture and toss to coat Place ½ cup salad in each basket Serve immediately.

MAKE AHEAD – Store baskets between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

TIP – Try baking smaller rounds of the cheese mixture on parchment paper in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Shape over smaller glasses to fill for appetizers. Or, leave flat and use as a garnish for soup or potatoes.

VARIATIONS – Add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite spice or fresh herbs. Caesar salad garnished with a small piece of roasted red bell pepper in these bowls is fabulous.