Sautéed Flounder

Let’s start out with a healthy version of sautéed flounder over brown rice with some sautéed broccoli. I am trying to make things tasty and maybe a little lower in calories just for good measure! So let’s get started with this new one.

As you can see in the picture, here is a 4 oz portion of flounder I sautéed in a non stick pan with a little butter. I seasoned it with some salt and pepper along with some paprika for flavor and color.

saute flounder

It was served over a half a cup of some brown rice that was hanging around in the fridge along with a serving of broccoli that was sautéed with some salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.

So I hope you guys stick around to see what else comes about, and I am always open for suggestions for whatever you want me to cook for you with or without a healthy spin on things.

finished flounder

Enjoy~

Stuffed Mushrooms with Imitation Crab Meat

As a chef most people find it shocking when they hear that I am not a huge fan of mushrooms. Not that I dislike all mushrooms, I do really like a morel cream sauce. My wife’s family really loves mushrooms and while out at the farmers market we came by some beautiful portobello mushrooms. I love to make dishes with portobellos especially when others enjoy them. These are easy to make and you can make them ahead of time so you can spend more time with your guests. You can make them in gigantic portobello mushrooms like I did this time or regular white button mushrooms; the stuffing would be the same in either case. So let’s get to it.

First off take a red, green, and yellow pepper and one medium red onion and dice it into small pieces add a tablespoon of chopped garlic, a couple shakes of Old Bay seasoning and some salt & pepper. Add about ½ stick of butter to a sauté pan set over medium heat and cook the vegetables until they become soft. Pour them into a bowl to let them cool with 4 oz. of cream cheese while you get the mushrooms ready.

Remove the stems of the mushrooms, you can do two things now, you can fine dice it and put in the sautéed vegetables or just get rid of them, your call. I tossed them in this time.

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With a tablespoon now carefully scrape out the gills from the underside of the mushroom and discard them. You don’t want them because they taste bitter.

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Now dice up the pound imitation crab meat, you want these a little large because they will break down when you mix everything up. Toss the crab in the bowl with everything else and mix thoroughly. Here you might have to add some Italian bread crumbs to tighten up the mixture. You want the mixture to be tight enough to make a “slushy” snowball.

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In this case divide the mixture into quarters and place on top of the mushrooms. You can cover them if you want and stow them in the fridge for a day or two or place them into an oven preheated to 375F. Cook them for about 20 minutes or until the top becomes golden brown.

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~Enjoy~

Classic Hummus

I like to mix things up a little, so for an appetizer, I thought I might like to make something healthy. My wife’s brother and his wife love hummus. I thought like to show them that you can make the same stuff for a lot cheaper than you can buy it, pre-packed in some plastic container at the supermarket. Also since you make it fresh at home, you know what is inside it. This also allows you to flavor it with anything you can imagine. So here goes classic hummus made in a minute when they were here.

The main ingredient is chick peas. Regular old out of the 16oz can, rinsed and drained chick peas. To that I added 6 cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons of salt + 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 4oz of tahini paste, which is ground sesame seeds found in the super market, 2 lemons cut in half and the juice squeezed into the processor. Process on high for a few moments making sure to scrape down the sides so everything is thoroughly incorporated. You might have to add a little water if it is too thick. Adjust it to your liking. After that you should end up with something that looks like this.

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To serve, I placed some in another container had some fresh Nan bread, pita chips and some fresh vegetables arranged on a platter. Everybody was impressed by how simple and tasty it was.

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~Enjoy~

Isreal Couscous with Peppers

I like serving couscous in the summer, you don’t really have to cook it, you can make it a day ahead and you can serve at room temperature. So here is how I did it this time.

I took a red onion, red, green and yellow pepper and diced them pretty small and sautéed them in some good olive oil with some salt & pepper and chopped fresh garlic. Put that in a mixing bowl to cool while I cooked the couscous.

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I like the Israeli couscous because it is bigger than the regular one. I used two boxes this time, cooked with chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor. Cook per the instructions on the box, just be careful not to over-cook it because it will turn to mush and you really don’t want that.

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Take the freshly cooked couscous and combine it with the onion and pepper mixture. Here you might have to add a little olive oil and check your salt & pepper seasoning.

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Let it cool and then cover it and store it in the fridge.

Enjoy ~

Beef Eye Round

Once again we were having a few people over and this time they mentioned that they have never tried an eye round cut of beef. So I said bring some red wine over and I’ll show you what to do and we will put it on the rotisserie and enjoy the sun set! So we headed to the kitchen and here is what we did.

First, take the meat out of the plastic it’s wrapped in, I like to rinse off the blood, plus it makes it less slippery when you are handling it.

Trim off the silver skin but try to leave the fat strip intact. While cooking, the fat will melt and baste the meat as it spins around.

Fire up the rotisserie burner, close the lid and preheat the grill for twenty minutes.

This is where I cheat a little; I already have marked the rod so I know where the meat should be and I season the meat on the grill because it keeps the mess out of the kitchen and whatever doesn’t stick just falls into the grill anyway.

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So I rub some oil on the meat, slather on some finely chopped garlic and some Montreal Steak seasoning outside, then check that it spins freely.

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Forget about it for about an hour. After an hour take a meat thermometer and insert it in the middle of the meat ½ way between the outside and the rod in the center. You are looking for about 110F degrees if you like rare meat. If you test out at 110F turn off the burner but let the meat keep spinning for about 20 minutes. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the meat so when you slice it the juices don’t leak out onto the cutting board.

Honestly I think I served the meat with some basmati rice, some grilled vegetables and some fresh homemade horseradish sauce. Good friends, good conversation and good wine led me to forget to take a finished picture after all. Trust me it was delicious!

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Enjoy ~

 

Arroz con Pollo

In English, chicken & rice, another good cold weather meal that makes the house smell so good and is relatively easy to make. So here we go.

I started with bone in chicken thighs that I generously salted and peppered and cooked skin side down first in a heavy pot until golden brown and then took them out and set them aside on a plate for a few minutes.

salt pepper chicken browned

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up 2 medium onions, 1 of each green and yellow peppers into medium-sized pieces. Once the chicken was out of the pot, leave the fat that has collected in the bottom. Add to it the onions and peppers plus two tablespoons of each tomato paste and chopped garlic and cook for about two minutes. At this time I added 2 cups of brown rice instead of the usual white.

cut up veges

cooking veges

added rice to veges

Now for the secret ingredient, I had some saffron in the cabinet so I threw in a very health pinch of it. You don’t have to but it just gives the dish an indescribable flavor coupled with the brown rice.

Now that everything is coated and stirred around with the oil from the bottom of the pot add your 5 cups of chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil. After it boils reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pot and put the lid on. Now the hard part, you have to wait about 40 minutes or so until the rice cooks. For the brown rice it takes almost an hour. Taste the rice to make sure it is done. Also you will see the chicken resting on a bed of rice in the pot. By then the chicken is cooked all the way through.

chicken in pot

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Here are few shots of the juicy chicken on top of a bed of rice with all the soft and flavorful vegetables mixed in. Go pour yourself another glass of wine and dig into the goodness.

arroz con pollo 1

arroz con pollo 2

Enjoy~

Spicy Shrimp and Polenta

My wife and I were discussing how much she likes grits for breakfast and I asked her if she ever has had polenta.  She said no, so I suggested that I make her some for dinner.  Dinner? As she looked at me funny, I said I bet you will like it, it would be my take on Southern shrimp and grits.  So this is what I did.

Start out with good polenta.  Make it to the directions on the package substituting one cup of water for one cup of heavy cream, add one stick of butter. Stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

polenta

cooking polenta

Pour off about half of the mixture into a buttered shallow pan if you have one. We are going to save that for another day. We will use this over the weekend for breakfast. Let it cool completely then cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Back to dinner now.

polenta in a pan

Take the shrimp you are having for dinner and marinate them in some olive oil, and whatever spices you like to make them spicy say some crushed red peppers, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

seasoned shrimp

With the rest of the polenta in the pot add about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and mix in until its smooth, if necessary loosen the mixture a little with some more heavy cream. You are looking for a consistency of very thick applesauce. Put the bowl off to the side over very low heat and cook the shrimp.

cooked shrimp

Heat a non stick pan to medium high, add the shrimp, and cook a few minutes a side just until done. Scoop some of the hot cheesy polenta into a bowl and top with the spicy shrimp. Serve with a nice cool glass of your favorite white wine. As for my wife she now likes polenta just as much as grits.

plated shrimp

Enjoy

Oxtail Stew

I know that there was a request for this item a while ago but I had to track down a Jamaican woman that used to work for me who made this dish and it was always really good. So here we go. My take on oxtail stew.

Start with 2.5 to 3 pounds of oxtails washed and dried and dredge them in a mixture of 50% flour 50% sugar and sear them in a hot pan on all sides. When done set aside for a few minutes.

oxtail seared

seared oxtail

To the hot pot add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 2 Tbsp of chopped garlic, some fresh thyme, 17 whole allspice, and I had a scallion kicking around the refrigerator, so I threw it in too. Cook together making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.

celery and allspince

all veges and spices searing

Put the meat back into the pot and the juices. Now add ½ cup of red wine, 2 cups of water, a quart of beef stock, 3 tbsp of soy sauce, 3 tbsp of ketchup, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp brown sugar and one whole scotch bonnet pepper. Even though I had 2, I only used one, being this is the first time making ox tails. In retrospect, I should have used them both for more spice.

scotch bonnet pepper

Here is the easy part, put the lid on, turn the pot down to the lowest simmer your stove allows and let it cook for the next 4 hours. Stir once in a while and you will see the broth reduce and thicken by itself.  Now add 2 cans of drained and rinsed cannelloni beans, stir them in and let simmer uncovered for about an hour. About this time make some rice to serve with the stew. I made brown rice in this case.

oxtail cooking

This dish made the house smell so good. When eating just watch out of the little bones, the meat is tasty and just falls off the bone. So sit back, grab a bowl and Enjoy!

oxtail stew on rice

Chicken Pot Pie

There was a “cold front“ that came through Florida last week and as a tribute to my wife’s New England upbringing I thought I would make my version of chicken pot pie. So I started poking around the fridge and here is what I came up with.

1 large onion, 3 medium carrots, 3 celery sticks all chopped into medium pieces and set aside.

cut veges

Cut 4-6 red potatoes into small pieces, boiled them for about ten minutes then tossed them into some ice-cold water to stop the cooking because we are going to cook them again with everything else.

potatoes

Start with four 6 oz chicken breasts and cut them into uniform chunks like in the picture.

whole chicken breast

chopped chicken brast

Dust them in some seasoned flour and sear them off in the pot you will be making the stew in then remove and set aside on a plate.

floured chicken

seared chicken

Now take the vegetables you already cut and sauté them with some garlic, when soft add the potatoes and the chicken cook for a few minutes. Add a quart of chicken stock or broth and a cup of heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for about an hour uncovered, stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. It will thicken as it cooks and makes the house smell really good.

Before serving, taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

chicken pot pie in a bowl

As a side note, by using the potatoes instead of puff pastry you are saving some calories so you can have another bowl or two.

Enjoy

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

For a nice weekend brunch or even a light weeknight dinner a quiche always works. You can change the fillings and spices to have something different every time. My wife makes the dough as she enjoys baking.

For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter cold – cut into small chunks
  • 4 tbsp shortening cold – broken up into small chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together. Add in, alternating, the butter and shortening into the flour. Using a dough blender or a fork, combine until the dough is coarse pebbles. Add in 4 tbsp of milk and bring the dough together in a ball, if it is still dry, add more cold milk. Take the dough and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill.

Roll out the dough and place in a nine in pie plate.

peppered pie doughFor the filling:

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan cook the bacon until crispy, place them on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. Do not discard the bacon grease left in the pan. Chop the bacon into chunks.

In the saucepan add in the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Remove from pan.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in salt, pepper, onions and garlic.

eggs, onions, galic, milk

Place the egg mixture in the rolled out dough in the pie plate. Place the chopped bacon, cheese and spinach carefully in the egg mixture.

Cook at 375 F for about 35-45 minutes until eggs are set.

quiche in oven

Enjoy!

cooked quiche

plated quiche