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Sous Vide Brown Sugar and Basil Marinated Chicken Thighs

This is an experiment. I read about another similar recipe and liked the flavor combo but didn’t have all necessary ingredients. You can find the original herehttp://damndelicious.net/2014/11/29/garlic-brown-sugar-chicken/. My version is marinated, cooked sous vide, and broiled in the oven instead of pan fried and baked. Start with a large bowl and add: 

  • Large cup of light brown sugar, free of clumps
  • Large squeeze of minced garlic from the tube
  • Large pinch of freeze dried basil and Cilantro each
  • A little avocado oil or olive oil (¼ teaspoon)
  • Dash of white wine(I used Riesling) 
  • About a Teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Several turns of freshly ground pepper
  • Dash of aged balsamic vinegar
  • Long squeeze of honey
  • Butter, small pat for sauce to finish

Combine well with whisk or use electric beaters set on low. This marinated about 8 thighs. 

Marinate Chicken

Set up your sous Vide cooker to 140 degrees and let chicken thighs marinate while the water heats up.  When ready to cook, prepare your sous Vide bags by vacuum sealing the thighs in the marinade and placing in a second air tight bag for cooking. 

Insert package into the water bath when water reaches temperature. After about two hours raise the temperature to 165 and cook for 45 minutes longer. You can leave it for about three hours, but I don’t recommend much longer. With sous Vide, the meat will be cooked thoroughly and only the skin will need to brown and crisp. 

Submerge chix in water bath

Set up an ice bath for removal of chicken from water bath. Allow chicken to cool for about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, remove chicken from  marinade and transfer chicken carefully to pan with tongs when ready to broil. Preheat broiler to 400, line pan with parchment or foil and line up the chicken, reserving the juice in small pan. 

Use heavy object to fully submerge

Broil chicken for 6-8 minutes and allow to rest for a few more minutes, until just blackened. In pot, reduce juices by half and serve with broiled chicken on the side. Stir occasionally and add salt or pepper if needed. Finish by adding butter to sauce with heat off and incorporate. Spoon over chicken and enjoy! 

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Building a fruit and cheese platter

hard cheese with bluberries, pomegranate and salami

It is to say the least, edible art. I find myself building platters all the time. In culinary school, I did a cheese and wine pairing for my final project. The cheeses all had little name tags and mini pewter cheese knives used appropriately(which I still have!), layered on a platter and elegantly paired with Waterford Crystal wine glasses. It was fun to gain knowledge and learn the history of regions represented by the cheese and wine respectively, and I gained a better understanding of what was being eaten. Some of those picks are my top fivers today, easily. In work, it was my job to find a way to display various seafoods and meat cases attractivly for customers, to build deli and seafood trays, and package and wrap portions. At home, we often eat cheese platters with lovely fruits and vegetables found locally. By having a nice variety of crackers and nuts will provide enough dietary fiber and protein boosts. Providing a variety of cheeses will also add to style, taste and texture, and will surely be a conversation piece.

spinach and artichoke dip with bread and crudités

Its always wonderful to wash and treat the vegetables to a cool ice bath,  but really, simplicity is key when prepping for a party or work function. Try not to take on too much and enjoy your party! The key to building a fabulous party tray is to know what ingredients you are using, a sufficient platter to mount on, plenty of ramekins for height differentiation, and a beautiful kale or romaine lettuce leaves to line the plate. I tend to mix up the cheese and do one or two soft ripened, one or two semi hard and sometimes a fresh or semi hard variety. Some olives or cornichons are also a nice accompaniment. A great resource for cheese is cheese.com, it covers all types!

Lastly, make sure to include some protein in the form of thinly sliced aged salumi, or a paper thin sliced prosciutto, or pate made of game meat. It will help to keep a balanced meal, but most importantly, keep your palate busy with all the tantalizing flavors. Build your platter with grounded purpose, a focused eye, and an vision of how you want it to look. You may feel free to garnish with edible flowers or sprigs of green parsley.

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Baked Figs with Boursin Frosting

Baked Fig with Boursin Frosting

This idea came to me like a flash in the night! My 5 year old daughter had been home from school sick, and we were talking about what to eat for dinner, when I asked her if she wanted me to save the last two figs. She said yes, but that she wanted them hot. Well, I had had a box of Boursin Shallot and Chive soft cheese in the fridge for what seemed like forever(6-8 months) and all of a sudden it just fell into place.

You will need :

 1~ 5.2 oz box of Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese

 1~8 oz container Creme Fraiche

 2-3 oz local honey

 2-3 tablespoons Mango Fruit Pulp Vinager

Heres how to make the frosting

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whipped boursin frosting

Add a ½ container of creme fraiche, a long squeeze of honey, and a smidgen of the Mango Pulp vinegar and stir with whisk to combine, and voila! We have Boursin Frosting! If you would like to, you can use the rest of the creme for a smooth and velvety texture. Figs are then quartered with a pairing knife,then got a spoon full of frosting, and and finished by wrapping  with a piece of stretched out thick bacon, and sat on top of a bed of brown sugar. Once the pot was filled(4)  I sprinkled a bit more brown sugar on top and added an extra bit of frosting and covered. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until bubbly and the bacon has started to render. Uncover and let brown until service.  Plate with a large dollop of frosting and some of the pan juices.

 

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Baked Mac Nut Crusted Cod

This is a super easy recipe if your looking for a quick way to spruce up some boring old fish. Debone your fillet of cod, and portion in to small 4 oz(or so) pieces. Just pulse some raw macadamias(about 3 cups) until a fine meal forms(I used the dry attachment on the vitamix) and add to about two cups of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or Panko. Whip up a couple of eggs(duck in my case) with a splash of whole milk. Season breadcrumbs as you like. Line a pan with parchment paper and set your breading station up. Start with eggs, coat the portion well, and move into a large bowl. Spoon and press the macadamia bread crumbs, on both sides. If you wish you may  double coat the fish. Set on baking pan a few inches apart and put into 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. Watch closely so the topping doesn’t burn. You may turn the oven down but not less than 350 degrees.  Turn the pan once so as to brown evenly. I served this with an Asian slaw salad and buttered carrots and snap peas.

You will need:

  • One serving each of cod per person,  about 4-5 ounces each
  • 3 cups macadamias
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs, or Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • A dash of milk
  • Your favorite seasoning for fish

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Beef Chuck Stew with Rainbow Carrots, Mushrooms and Caserecce Pasta

My little sister came for a visit and about two hours before I had to go get my daughter from school, I realized I had nothing planned and no money for take out. I could, however, whip up a beef stew in the pressure cooker. Got a giant 3 pound boneless chuck roast, a bag of rainbow carrots, about 8-12 large brown crimini mushrooms, some beef stock, preservative free tomato paste, can of charred tomatoes, diced, a diced white onion, Caserecce Pasta(you could substitute some fusilli or other thick durum wheat pasta) and some elephant garlic(diced)  and lots of Penzy’s spices. You can find the spices here: penzy’s.com. It is also important to have a good pressure cooker that you trust. I use the same cuisinart unit my mom has, and it has a simmering or browning feature. Here is the product page. Electric pressure cooker

  • First, it’s important to break the chuck roast down into sizable pieces, and season them well with lots of garlic, salt and pepper, I used a teeny bit of the Bourbon Smoked Paprika sissypoo got us last year(ok, the last of it!) and some Foxpoint and Sunny Paris seasoning from Penzys, with about ½ a cup of whole wheat flour(sifted) in a large gallon sized ziplock bag. Turn to coat the meat evenly. Brown in avocado or olive oil on all sides until crispy and remove to a towel clad plate to drain and hold. (At this point I had to leave for a bit, but I put the meat in the oven on very low degree and just went with it) Reserved flour for later. 
  • Chop your onion, garlic, carrots, mushroom in to large chunks. I found it helpful to get them lined up in order, saving the mushroom until the onion and carrot are soft. Season with a little salt and pepper, a hefty pinch of oregano and marjoram, and little more of the Sunny Paris and Fox Pointe seasonings. Add a splash of wine and stir, simmering for about three minutes. Add meat, stir to combine. 
  • Next, add the tomato paste, and diced fire roasted tomatoes. Combine. Add ¾ of one box of beef broth(try to use low sodium broth) and homemade stock is certainly a good substitute. Place cover on pressure cooker and set on high for 35 minutes. 
  • After the first round is done pressuring, release the steam and lid, adding about a cup of small diced snap peas and about 20-30 cherry tomatoes, and the pasta(about a quarter cup). Replace lid, set to pressure on low for 16 minutes. To my horror, I opened the pot boiling and about to spill over, but the contents were perfect. Meat and veggies were extra tender and the sauce was thick and flavorful after a good stir. Stir in reserved flour and a splash of balsalmic vinager just before service.

To serve, I garnished with a teeny dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkled with Bonnes Herbs, though you could just use chives or parsely.  The creaminess of the creme fraiche really brought the dish together! It was so good and hearty!! And the slight bit of pasta was perfect, slightly al dente, but still filling.  

  
For best results, I recommend letting it sit over some time to soften the meat up some, but at this point I would say, Bon Appitite!  The wine of choice was a very nice Pinot Noir from Diamond Ridge from the year which my daughter was born and was full of rich flavors. 

 

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Avaleigh turns 5 on Molokai’i

 

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My daughter, Avaleigh turned 5 in Hawaii this year, on the island of Molokai. With my parents, cousins and close friends, we celebrated with an amazing feast. We had Ono ceviche, Venison Carpaccio with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, Venison Backstrap two ways, grilled asparagus, grilled apples and papaya, bacon wrapped tenderloin, duck egg Caesar salad, and Lemony Carrots.
img_1911-1 And then there was the cake…. I’m not really all the proficient with creating cakes but when brainstorming about how to provide Avie a birthday cake on this tiny remote island, I was basically reduced to making it with her little plastic Sofia characters. I had a vision and went with it! It is a chocolate cake base with guava butter and icing filling, brownie layer with lilikoi butter filling, then two round cakes stacked and carved to create a tiered appearance. It was so hot I had to keep the icing in the freezer! However as much as I tried to hide it from her, lil miss smarty pants figured it out all to easily and said she loved her cake. I couldn’t be happier!

 

a family of chefs(and pup pup!)

I would like to also publicly state that none of this would have been possible with out the tireless efforts of my dear husband who pounded out(literally) one of the most amazing meals we have ever had the pleasure of making for our friends and family! Also to Captain Cuz(John Hanchett) for procuring the venison and my parents for accommodating our needs. You are all amazeballs in my book! Mahalo, tak, gracias, merci beau coup to infinity!  

 


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Classic Avgolemono Soup

  
Typically, Avogolemono is served with shredded chicken. A classic Greek preparation, it is simply flavored with lemon and egg and chicken broth or stock, brought together in harmony with a simple liason. In this version, the egg whites are beat to a stiff peak before completing the soup and I also add the fragrant zest to the egg whites for total utilization of the lemon. You will need:

  • 2~ 32 ounce boxes of your favorite chicken stock(low sodium is best)
  • 1½ cups orzo
  • 3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 to 2 large lemons, zest and juice from all, separate
  • Salt to taste

Begin by bringing orzo and broth to a boil. I suggest using a large stock pot for this one! Beat the egg whites with a wisk or electric whisk until stiff peaks form, in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the lemon zest into the whites. Slowly add egg yolks and lemon juice(they can co mingle for a little bit), ramping up spead until the its all incorperated evenly. Ladle out a spoonful of the hot stock, into a side dish and SLOWLY add to eggs until gone. This is called a liasion and is a thickening technique. Next, add the liasion to the hot soup slowly, and stirring continuously. At this stage, you’ll be glad to have a large stock pot in use as it will swell, even doubling. Don’t stop stirring until fully bubbling. Turn off the heat. By whipping the egg whites, there is literally no need to add cream, it should thicken straight away. Remove from heat and serve immediatly, with or with out meatballs. 

  

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Lamb and Veal Meatballs with Spring Onions 

 

These wonderful meatballs are great by themselves or paired with a light and airy Avgolemono soup. Actually, I came across the idea of pairing a meatball with this classic greek preparation somewhere on the internet and basically ran off with it to make one of my favorite quick and easy meals.  For the meatballs you will need:

  • 1# ground lamb
  • 1# ground veal
  • one small bunch of fresh spring or green onions, thinly sliced
  • large handful of dried peppermint or spearmint
  • large handful of Aleppo Pepper
  • pinch of marjoram
  • large shake of Sunny Paris Seasoning(includes purple shallot, chives, green peppercorns, french basil, french terragon, chervil, bay leaf and dill weed), but no more than a ¼ cup
  • a dash of red wine and or worchestershire
  • salt to taste
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, depending on oven(mine has convection bake so it browns real nicely). Combine all dry ingredients and the ground meat together, well. Add egg, wine and/or worchestershire and mix to combine. The mixture should be kinda wet so as to dehydrate the herbs and shallot. Let sit for about ten minutes, then roll into meatballs with your hands and line on parchment paper on a sheet pan. Bake until brown on top, then use tongs to flip the balls over and bake on other side, removing once to check doneness, if you like em extra crispy you can return to oven, but take care not to over cook them. Remove and set to side. 

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Lobster and Shiitake Risotto

This is decadent. It is full of subtle flavors and buttery lobster. I have been craving this for a few weeks, and this recipe was enough for a large batch( I used a whole box of risotto!). Again, not much measured.  

   You will need: 

  1. 1 box of aborio rice, or 500 grams
  2. Avocado oil or light olive oil
  3. 10-15 shiitakes, diced medium
  4. Minced white onion or shallot
  5. 4 large lobster tails
  6. Garlic paste(from a tube)
  7. 2 boxes of chicken stock
  8. Saffron
  9. Bonnes Herbs(penzys) 
  10. Marjoram 
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
  12. ¼ cup half and half
  13. Splash of dry cooking sherry(x2) 
  14. Shredded truffle cheese or sharp cheddar, about 2 cups
  15. Butter 

Split lobster tails in half, remove meat from shell(SAVE!) and set aside. Pull dark vein out and rinse gently. Pat dry and cut into medium dice. Set to side. 

Start by pouring some oil in to a hot pan. Toss in lobster shells, brown until evenly red all over. Remove shells. Add onions/shallots, a fairly good squeeze of garlic and let sautée. After 2-3 minutes, add diced mushroom and let soften. Add dry rice to toast some. S&p to taste. And nice fat pinch of saffron. Stir to combine, let stick to pan until au sec, or dry. Deglaze with sherry. Combine and let simmer. When it’s almost dry again, add ½ box of chicken stock. Bring to full simmer, stirring occasionally. Leave uncovered. When au sec again, add more stock, repeating until both boxes are used. 

In separate pan, melt some butter(⅓ stick) and add some more garlic. Add lobster meat, cook until just barely opaque. Add Bonnes Herbs, a pinch of lemon let sautée for a few moments. Deglaze with a splash of sherry. 

When all of the liquid has evaporated from the rice, add all of the lobster contents and stir to combine. Follow with half and half or heavy cream, let cook for about three minutes, stirring frequently. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly. Turn off heat. 

Add cheese while still hot, stirring to combine well. Bon appétit! 

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Chicken Paprika

  
This will have the procedure for making the chicken paprika. No measurements, just by sight. The spices are the stars here. I use chicken thighs but you could do quarters or even just legs. I prefer thighs because they have the most skin and are the most flavorful.

Preheat oven to 375.  For the spice rub you will need: 

  1. Paprika, roughly 2 cups. I split between smoked and sweet paprika but if you like extra heat use a little spicy paprika too. 
  2. Garlic powder 
  3. Marjoram 
  4. Dry ground mustard seed
  5. Bonnes Herbs(penzys) 
  6. Salt & pepper 
  7. Aleppo pepper(penzys)
  8. Oregano 
  9. Dried lemon zest if on hand

If you have the time and equipment, grind together well for approximately 20-35 seconds. 

Arrange chicken in a glass baking pan, separating the skin from the meat.  Coat chicken with avocado oil or light olive oil. Spoon spice mixture on and rub in well, making sure to get under skin and underside. Bake uncovered for roughly 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove chicken and turn over to coat skin with juice drippings. Repeat for all in pan, then return to oven for approximately 35-45 minutes, reducing heat to 275 or lower(depending on when dinner is it can stay low for 3-4 hours). 

Turn to coat again at service and spoon extra drippings on plate. ENJOY! 

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Bacon-wrapped Chorizo Stuffed Dates

Dabbling In Food Porn

So, not gonna lie, I totally ganked this off Pinterest. The stuffed dates can take a simagemidgen of time to prep for, but I swear to you: it’s worth the wait! This picture was from a party at my friend Brooke’s house(ever hear of Pure Romance?) and we were a bunch of hot and bothered gals looking at adult toys, so something sweet and salty and meaty was just right. Accented with the finest of maple syrup and some vibrant cilantro for a surprise kick, I absolutely suggest making a few extra, a pound of bacon can usually make around 24. There are tons of variations on stuffed dates, but this one just makes so much sense!

You will need:

  • About 24-30 medjool dates, sliced open once along the side
  • 1# cooked ground chorizo(skin removed) in a bowl.
  • 1# bacon, thick. Stack high and cut evenly in half.

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Carrots with Lemon, Honey and Spearmint

IMG_0777

This is my go to easy veg. Great with baby carrots, or large rounds, it can be fixed in about 30 minutes. The only ingredients you need are:

1-2# carrots

2 large pats of butter

Lemon juice, splash or one whole lemon(save zest)

Big squeeze of honey

Dried mint, or other green herb

Instructions: fill pot small pot of water with carrots, boil until water reduces by half. Add juice of lemon, honey, butter, and reduce further. When most of the liquid is reduced, add herbs. Sizzle in pot while stirring occasionally, and voila!

****With the reserved zest, spread out on parchment paper and let dry for one to two days. Can be saved in a glass jar and used like an herb for various applications.

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Lobster Wellington

IMG_0771This is an original take on the classic beef Wellington recipe I learned in culinary school. It’s a smaller portion, but packed with loads of flavor and is a fantastic way to incorporate surf with turf. Because it is so rich and buttery, I recommend some fresh crisp  green asparagus to accompany, but it sits nicely on its own as well with a good prime rib or steak. I prefer to use the pre fab pepperidge farms puff pastry cups. Also ideal for holiday preparations. Serves 6-8 individual portions.

Lobster Wellington 

4-6 4oz Lobster Tails, meat pulled from tails and diced

1 pound of your favorite wild mushrooms, diced. I like chanterelles and shiitake

Several pats of soft butter, olive oil.

shallot and elephant garlic, finely diced.

sherry or white wine to deglaze the pan.

Parsely, thyme, chive for color

6-8 puff pastry shells, baked and hollowed out.

Gruyere or Gouda Cheese finely shaved.

Start by sautéing the shallots and garlic until soft and slightly colored in oil. Add diced mushrooms, and let sweat until reduced by half. Remove mushroom mixture to a plate and set aside. Add butter to pan, then add diced lobster to butter. Gently poach the lobster meat in the melted butter until cooked thru, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, and mix to combine. Turn up heat and let the mixture sizzle some before adding sherry or wine, Scrap all the browned bits off the bottom and let reduce for about  3 minutes or until there is very little liquid. Add your green herbs, toss to combine. Next, get your puff pastry ready to fill. Spoon in a few tablespoons,then set aside on a baking sheet, and top with finely grated cheese. if you have left over herbs, you can top the Wellington too, if you like. Bake briefly in 375 degree oven, just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

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Mothers Salmon Recipe, all jazzed up.

    Copper River Salmon with Honey Dijon Glaze & Spinach Salad with fresh raspberries and slivered almonds.

IMG_0135               My mother used to make this amazing salmon entree when I was growing up. It was minimally seasoned, but had this delicious topping of Honey Dijon Mustard that was broiled and gooey. One day, I was messing around, and I got it just right. I decided to top it on a spinach salad that came with a strawberry dressing and itty bitty dried strawberries in a kit, but added toasted almond slices, and whole raspberries. The berries complimented the freshness of the exquisite Copper River Salmon, a seasonal delicacy, and in addition, the heat from the broiled salmon gently wilted the baby spinach and the toasted almonds gave good crunch factor.  The following is procedure for making the salmon.

  Preheat oven to high broil, around 450 degrees F. Place rack on the top shelf.  Make sure to pull any pin bones from the salmon with proper tweezers, and scale the skin of the fish. Rub generously with olive or avocado oil. Sprinkle the flesh with your favorite seasoning, such as Old Bay or Nantucket spice blend(Penzeys). Heat a cast iron pan or calphalon pan (make sure it can go from stove top to oven) on high heat, and place seasoned flesh side down for 2-3 minutes, or until a crust forms. With a flat spatula, flip the fillet over, and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until the skin is crispy. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, it may still be somewhat raw in the middle. This is exactly what you want.  With a spoon, add a thin layer of the mustard to the salmon, and remove to oven. Broil for approximately 3 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling and browned on top. Remove from the broiler. Do not walk away, it can scorch very easily. I also recommend propping the oven door open for easy viewing. Let sit for 2-3 minutes before serving.

    This is method of cooking is great for salmon. It helps achieve a crispy outer layer while keeping the inside moist. The honey Dijon adds piquaint-ness and sweetness. Copper River Salmon is considered top of the line, running as high as $29.99 a pound, and is only available for a few weeks in early spring. I recommend any sockeye, king, or other wild variation if unavailable. Please enjoy!