Creamy Scampi & Chicken (Mild Jambalaya)

I am a Canadian of British heritage, so my stomach can’t tolerate most Cajun dishes, but my mind insists that I try.  Much to my dismay while visiting New Orleans twice in my life, I have found that “hot” spices do not make a dish tastier to my palate; they, in fact, make it intolerable. But the recipe’s are so good otherwise. The solution? A milder version. This creamy recipe uses fresh shrimp and beaten chicken to guarantee the flavor, but I succumbed to the heritage of such dishes and added a dash of Paprika and Cayenne pepper. It does elevate the dish, but for the faint of heart, it is also very, very digestible.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
1 and 1/2 tsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 lb raw shrimp
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tspn butter
1 large tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup wine
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 tspn salt
1/8 tspn pepper

METHOD

  1. Cut both chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Beat chicken until about 1/4″ in thickness
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet on med/high heat, add oil. Once hot, add chicken. Saute chicken until fully cooked an browned (3-4 min per side)
  3. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add 1 tbsp butter and shrimp to skillet. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until shrimp is cooked. Remove from skillet.
  4. In the same skillet, sute the onions with 2 tbsp butter for about 3 minutes, stirring as needed until onions are tender.
  5. Add the tomatoes, minced garlic, wine and cook for anothr 5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth, heavy whipping cream, half and half, and the seasonings. Stir and simmer 2-3 mintues, until the sauce starts to thicken.
  7. Add the chicken and shrimp back to pan. Cook until chicken and shrimp are reheated.
  8. Serve with crusty bread for dipping into the sauce

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

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Multi-Cultre Meatloaf

I call it multicultural because I have taken the best of several meatloaf recipes and come up with what I think is the tastiest, juiciest, exciting meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. It’s a little British, a little American, and a lot Italian. And it’s soooo good!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (italian or herb flavoured is okay)
  • SAUCE
  • 2 tbsp  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worchester Sauce
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 5×9 inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix the meat in a bowl with the first set of ingredients (except for sauce) then place in a bread loaf pan. (Some recipes call for forming a loaf on a baking sheet. I find it spreads too easily because of the liquids in this recipe. Stick to the loaf pan or oven proof pot)
  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix thoroughly mix the sauce ingredients
  4. Brush the sauce liberally over the top of the loaf to a level of 1/4 inch
  5. Spoon the marinara sauce over the top
  6. Bake covered in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.
  7. 10 minutes before finishing baking, add the sliced tomatoes to the top of the loaf and remove cover.

 

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Shakshuka…a delightful way to start (or end) the day

My son visited last night. He attends University in Toronto and has been integrating himself with various cultures including the middle east, the Mediterranean, and especially Israel (he lives with a Jewish family).

He offered to make this dish and since having another chef in my kitchen is a rarity, I offered him the stove. What a delight! This simple, tasty breakfast dish was amazing. If you’re a tomato and egg lover, you have to try this meal, served in a bowl with crusty bread…an Englishman’s heaven.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped, or spinach
  • 8 to 12 large eggs

METHOD

  1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the bell peppers and jalapeño and cook just until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  2.  Slowly pour in the tomatoes. Stir in the bay leaf, sugar, salt, paprika, cumin, pepper, and caraway and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes. Layer the Swiss chard leaves on top.
  3.  Crack the eggs into the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are no longer translucent.
  4. Serve in soup dishes with crusty bread and wait for the smiles!

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Fried Green Tomatoes (aka Winter Caprese Salad)

If you have a bunch of these at the end of the summer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then turn them into this with this proven, basic recipe that I call a Winter Caprese Salad. It was one of the appetizers used at the President’s Address at the end of the summer in “New York Fried” (Chapter 56).

green tomatoes1

INGREDIENTS

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

METHOD

  1. Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Scoop flour onto a plate.
  4. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper on another plate.
  5. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
  6. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain on paper towels
  7. Serve with Burrata or semi-soft mozzarella with whatever basil you salvaged before bringing the plant in from the cold. Intermix the tomatoes, cheese, and basil on a plate (as you might with a Caprese) and drizzle with Balsamic Glaze.

 

 

How do you reheat steak without cooking it further?

If you’re like me, having left over steak leaves a lot to be desired. If you cooked it perfectly the first time, then any further cooking will turn it into charcoal or thereabouts. If you try pan frying but that just turns even the best medium-rare steak into well done in seconds, especially if you slice it.

Here are two methods I’ve used to achieve the above and stopped me from ruining a great steak the next day:

  1. IF THE STEAK WAS KEPT IN THE REFRIGERATOR  Place the leftover steak in a freezer seal plastic bag and immerse it in a pot of boiling water. After 20 minutes or so, the steak is warm enough to eat and the temperature hasn’t risen enough to change the “state” of the steak as it was originally cooked. The only problem with this method is that you recognize you’re not cooking to 160 degrees and so risk that some bacterial matter may have been introduced during the refrigeration stage.
  2. IF THE STEAK WAS FROZEN (OR REFRIGERATED OVERNIGHT) Place leftover steak in about 1/8 inch of warm water inside a slow cooker (preferably a small one) and turn the dial to “warm”. After about 1/2 hr, the steak is heated through and hasn’t changed it’s “state”. If you’re concerned about bacteria, dial it to low and the steak will cook slightly further (turning a medium rare into a medium, etc.), but you’ll still have a decent-tasting steak that has likely reached close to 160 degrees.

I find that whenever I reheat a steak, it loses a little of its original flavour, so I usually serve with a tomato/onion/feta salsa, or at the very least, a little A1 or HP sauce on the side. Even a little heated gravy or aus jus poured over the steak will not only add flavour but keep the warmth in.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

 

 

 

 

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Tomato-Butter Sauce

Since my wife and I are foodies, our recent trip to Curacao included hitting one of the ten top ranked restaurants (according to Trip Advisor) each day we were there (we managed eight).

So when I came home, my first gourmet night was a little nerve-racking: How could I compete with the extraordinary dishes we had just experienced? I couldn’t disappoint my wife that soon after such a great culinary experience.

So I decided to make my own Gnudi and see what happened. Gnudi is basically “ravioli filling without the pasta,” according to Gotham Bldg Tavern (New York City) chef, Tommy Habetz (originator of this recipe). Turns out it was a hit with a fresh, tasty dough that soaked up the sauce perfectly.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper
one 28 ounce can diced Italian plum tomatoes
salt
2 cups spinach, stems discarded
1 tub of fresh ricotta (apx 1.5-2lbs)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 cups all purpose flour

METHOD
1) In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaf and red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their  juices and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 2 and 1/2 cups (about 1, 1/2 hrs). Discard the garlic, onion and bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and keep warm. (If you desire, you can chop up the onion and put it back but Tommy prefers it sans-onion)

2) Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir over moderately high heat until wilted; transfer to a colander; let cool slightly. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop it.

3) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a food processor, combine the spinach with the ricotta, eggs, nutmeg, and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and process until blended. Add the flour in 3 batches, pulsing between additions, until almost incorporated. Scrape the ngudi dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5-10 times, until smooth.

4) Add one-fourth of the gnudi dough to a large, resealable plastic bag; with scissors, cut a 1/2 inch corner from the bag. Working over the boiling water, squeeze the dough through the corner opening and use a knife to cut it into 1-inch pieces. Cook the gnudi over moderately high heat until firm, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon or sire skimmer, transfer the gnudi to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5) Carefully transfer the gnudi to the tomato sauce and stir lightly to heat through. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve at once, passing more Parmesan at the table.

Pair with a fresh Tuscan white wine (this is a Tuscan dish), or a light Chardonnay.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Turkey scallopini in lemon sauce

This dish was inspired by our new friend, Chef Massimo Zingaro Fidale, on our recent visit to Italy. His simple but oh-so-delicious Veal Scallopini in Lemon Sauce was so tasty I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

However, as usual, I changed it; Canadianized it if you will. In my version, I use turkey scallopini and make the sauce a little heavier with the introduction of Greek yogurt. I also add a little twist with the use of Limoncello (brought home from Italy).  ‘Twas a totally new and mouth-watering experience.

INGREDIENTS

4 strips turkey scallopini
4 slices back bacon (pork loin)
2 tbsn sesame seed oil
2 tbsn plain greek yogurt
4 tbsn lemon juice
2 tbsn limoncello
1 tbsn capers (dried)
1/2 tsp fresh oregano (1/4 dried)
pepper to taste

METHOD

Brush turkey strips with lemon and saute over low heat in sesame seed oil, till browned both sides and white inside (about 4 min per side) then add the lemon and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover.

Simultaneously saute the back bacon to desired crispness. Don’t burn as it will alter the taste of the dish immensely.

While these are cooking, slowly begin heating the yogurt and (very slowly) pour in the limoncello. It may curdle but keep mixing. Add the capers, oregano, and pepper.

Place turkey in centre of plate and pour remaining lemon juice over them. Then pour the sauce on top.

I served with roasted garlic potatoes and thin slices of fresh tomatoes from our garden.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.