Jul 192017
 

Without doubt tomatoes are the leading reason folks get up off the couch in America and out into the garden. After you’ve tasted a store bought tomato and then compared it to a home grown tomato, you will become an avid gardener and you will do so because home grown tomatoes taste so much sweeter, so much juicer and so much better than store bought.

We love tomato season and these days there are many varieties to choose from at the farmer’s market or your local grocery store and that’s fine but we also enjoy growing our own tomatoes and hands-down prefer the taste of homegrown to store bought.

We’ve had all kinds of gardens –from a tilled up spot in our backyard, to the more sophisticated raised garden beds (less weeds), to patio gardens. We’ve grown tomatoes wherever we could and in all kinds of containers. This year we’re growing several tomato plants in 3 and 6-gallon plastic pots on the front deck in full sun.

Nothing fancy about it. Our good friend, Martin, wired up some pretty neat tomato cages from a roll of rabbit wire that works well around the outside of a 3-gallon pot and fits perfectly inside a 6-gallon size pot. Both support heavy summer growth and effectively support the tomatoes while they ripen.

Now when it comes to eating tomatoes we enjoy them every way imaginable. We slice `um and dice `um for sandwiches and soups, skillet caramelizing other tomatoes to adorn rosemary focaccia, we bake them slow in the oven mixed with herbs, cheese and garlic, (http://onepotcookingformen.com/cooking/roasted-tomatoes-with-garlic-and-herbs/) but when it comes to simple, health satisfying meals nothing in our book comes close to Panzanella salad.

When we think of Panzanella Salad, we think of the perfect summer lunch or dinner.  If you search the web for Panzanella Salad you will find many versions. Most have a vinaigrette dressing, ours does not. Our version is simple and fresh – bread, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and Burrata cheese.

If you haven’t discovered Burrata cheese then you must look for it. It’s fresh mozzarella on the outside with a creamy texture on the inside. It’s truly delicious but if you can’t find Burrata, then fresh mozzarella works well too. We buy Burrata at Trader Joe’s in the dairy section in 8 oz. containers. Each container has two 4 oz. rounds and is really worth the effort if you can fine it.

 

Panzanella Salad
Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10:00 minutes
Serves 4

Tools you’ll need:

A Large Bowl for Mixing
A Screen Strainer (for rinsing the tomatoes)
A Spoon for Stirring
A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:
Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Demi Baguette – we enjoy Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat baguette, day old is best
Olive Oil (to taste)
Burrata Cheese or fresh mozzarella
Lemon Juice (to taste)
Fresh basil (to taste)

Recipe:
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. 

 First, slice your baguette in bite size pieces.

Season with olive oil.

Toast in the Oven for 10:00 or until lightly toasted

As your bread toasts, wash and slice your tomatoes into half and quarters.

Add the lemon juice.

Add the olive oil.

Add the toasted bread and combine.

Add the Burrata cheese breaking into pieces with your fingers.

Add the fresh basil, stir to combine.

Enjoy!

FYI / If you love tomatoes and have yet to try growing your own, either in your backyard or in pots on the balcony or patio, we’ve provided you with links below that will answer all your growing questions, just click and we’ll do the rest.

 

May 172017
 

This is my father-in-law’s recipe. It is the perfect light meal for a warm summer night, outdoor concert, potluck or picnic. It tastes good warm, it tastes good cold and is frankly the best room temp pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. I have no clue to the recipe’s original origins but a quick Google search revealed a bucket full of orzo recipes including one with garlic and shrimp that’s got me thinking.

My father-in-law was a man’s man, one of those guys of a certain generation who expected his wife to prepare dinner. However, when he retired his daughter, my wife, suggested he might try cooking, after all, she told him, “Many of the great chefs are men.”

And while not enthusiastically receptive at first, that chef statement stuck with him and he started watching Graham Kerr during his morning exercise. Who could deny that watching a cooking show isn’t the best thing to do while exercising? Next thing you know he’s pulling recipes off the web and well, he discovered edible chemistry!

The man found a new passion and with it came kitchen gadgets galore, cookbooks, salmon en croute, email recipe swaps, homemade kitchen inventions such as his homemade Sausage Patty Pack designed to hold and safely dispense a single homemade breakfast sausage patty.

We all benefited from his new found passion, learned new things, ate well and probably drank too much but such is life.

This orzo recipe tastes best with tart lemons, not sweet Meyer lemons, and we use fresh oregano but of course any will do. As for the chicken, we buy smoked chicken breast from our local BBQ restaurant or a roast chicken from Costco. It makes for quick work and tastes great.

 

Orzo with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Prep Time: About 8:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 12:00 minutes

Serves 4

 

Tools you’ll need:

A Large Bowl for Mixing

A Screen Strainer

A Spoon for Stirring

A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

8 oz. Orzo – Lemon Flavored if possible

1 – 1.5 Cups Smoked or Roasted Chicken, Diced

.25 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced (add more if you like)

.25 cup Chicken Broth

1 Lemon

Olive Oil

Fresh oregano to taste

.5 cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled

 

 

Instructions:

Cook the past according to package directions, drain and place in a mixing bowl.

We found a Colorado orzo pasta that is lemon flavored, which really enhances this dish but plain orzo is good too.

Add the diced chicken and diced sun dried tomatoes and mix.

Add the ¼ cup of chicken broth. We use Wyler’s powder so you can make as much or as little as you need for a recipe. The broth moistens the pasta and adds a nice flavor but you could add pasta water if you don’t have stock.

Add the juice of half of the lemon. We like the lemony taste and frequently add more. It’s to your taste.

Drizzle some olive oil over the pasta, lightly. Note: if you used sun dried tomatoes packed in oil then you may not need to add olive oil or you can add a bit of the oil from the tomatoes.

If using fresh oregano chop and add to mixture. We use a small bunch. If you use dried oregano, start with a small amount and add more to your taste.

Add the feta crumbles and mix.  Taste and adjust seasonings – add salt to your taste and more lemon juice. You can eat it right away or chill and it’s even better the second day.

Enjoy!

Apr 102017
 

I confess that I prefer savory vegetarian meals to virtually all others. Unless we’re talking about a meat centric dish, i.e., barbeque, most meat based protein (bacon excepted) serves mostly as a seasoning deliver system.

If I want to taste sausage and eggs for breakfast, I grab the eggs, sage, thyme, garlic powder, a smidge of fennel, some black pepper and, “Presto!” a couple of shakes later and my scrambled eggs taste like sausage and eggs. I’ve scratched the sausage flavor itch without the pork fat and without stressing my body to digest several ounces of pork.

My point you ask? It’s not to convince you to stop eating meat but that’s not a bad idea. No, my point is that most meat is almost tasteless and, without seasoning is actual rather bland. What would some of your favorite meals taste like if you removed the seasoning? Think about breakfast sausage without sage, or crispy tacos without cumin and chili powder or Tandoori chicken without ginger! Pretty bland, right? Right.

My wife Stella (so not her name) enjoys ordering fully loaded mustard cheeseburgers and as soon as they arrive, removes the patty and eats the rest. She tastes the mustard, the tomato, the crisp bite of lettuce and dill pickle, the grilled onions, and the melted cheese. Without the meat, it’s just a texture difference, the burger tastes basically the same and you avoid all that extra fat.

This recipe has been a staple around here for years. Every overnight guest that has ever stayed at our house gets served some version of this quiche for breakfast. I make it up the day before, store it in the fridge and pop it into a hot oven to cook while everyone wakes-up with morning tea. It’s a wonderfully savory and satisfying breakfast and leftovers will disappear as a light dinner with a side salad.

Enjoy!

 

Savory Quinoa, Kale and Parmesan Quiche with Brown Rice Crust

Prep Time: About an Hour

Cooking Time: 40:00

 

What you need:

A Pie Pan

A Large Skillet

A Large Mixing Bowl

A Wire Whisk

A Spoon for Stirring

A Cleaver or Kitchen Knife

 

Ingredients:

The Crust:

1.5 cups cooked brown rice

1-cup Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 TBS Butter

The Slowly Sautéed Filling:

Olive Oil

1 small red onion / dice small and sauté

Half dozen mushrooms, diced small – white or brown

1 nice clove of garlic

Kale (curly) – 1.5 to 2.0 cups, chopped fork size

 

The Cold Filling:

2 large eggs

3 triangles of Laughing Cow cheese or .25 cup cream cheese

.5 cup cooked quinoa

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese

3 or 4 nice springs of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped small

Salt and pepper

 

Instructions: / Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in the skillet and slowly begin to sauté the onions. When translucent add the mushrooms. These mushrooms add a nice meaty texture to our quiche as they cook. The water inside the mushrooms eventually burns off and they will begin to sauté. Continue to cook and when the onions start to caramelize add the garlic and chopped kale and sauté until the kale is wilted. Set off to cool.

Make the Crust:

In your large mixing bowl combine the brown rice and Parmesan Cheese; add the egg and stir to combine. Smear the tablespoon of butter into your pie pan and when coated, pour the combined rice mixture into your pan, patting the mixture into place until the bottom and sides of the pan are lined with the rice/cheese mixture.

Fill the Crust:

In the same bowl you just used to make your crust, crack the two eggs and add the Laughing Cow cheese wedges. Whisk until blended. To this egg mixture add the quinoa, cheese, fresh chopped rosemary and the entire contents of your now cooled skillet, add salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour and smooth this mixture into your prepared pie pan.

Bake for 40:00.

Enjoy!

Mar 152017
 

I don’t eat peanut butter because it’s good for me. Nor do I eat peanut butter because one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%. Every single 2-TBS serving has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. (1)

Nice, but I eat peanut butter because I love the taste. I love it as a salad dressing for gado-gado or as a dipping sauce for sate. I love it on bread toasted in the broiler until it just begins to char. I love it licked off a spoon. And it makes Jamaican Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew something to yearn for.

What I don’t love is the price of good peanut butter today. Peanut butter, like any other food product in the market place can be good, bad and a whole lot of places in between. It comes down to your goal, greed, profit margin, quality of raw materials, manufacturing methods, organic – yes, no, etc.

Just seek out a good tasting organic, non-hydrogenated, low salt peanut butter. I find that exactly in Santa Cruz Dark Roasted Peanut Butter. I think this is one of the best tasting peanut butters on the commercial market. I‘ve been a fan for many years and over those years, the price for peanut butter, like everything else, has gone up and up and up.

Today, Santa Cruz, Organic, Dark Roasted is just shy $6.00 a jar. Raw peanuts are wholesaling for $1.44 lb. but where would I put 30 lbs. of peanuts? My neighborhood Trader Joe’s sells raw and roasted, salted and unsalted peanuts in the 1 lb. bag for $2.29 and that’s what I generally buy unless I run across some organics somewhere.

And, since I have food processor I turn that $2.29 bag of peanuts into the best tasting peanut butter you’ve ever eaten. The processor makes quick work of it and we’re able to control the salt level, make it smooth or crunchy and, because we made it ourselves saved $3.70 a pound. Best of all, the peanut butter tastes really great, better than anything you can buy at the market.

Give it a try. Get yourselves some good peanuts and drag out the food processor.

You’ll never buy store bought again.

Enjoy

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Prep Time: About 8 minutes

 

What you need:

A Food Processor or blender if you have something like a VitaMix

 

Ingredients:

A 1 lb. bag of Peanuts (we use roasted and lightly salted)

 

Instructions:

Empty the bag of peanuts into the food processor.

Process for about 8 minutes.

Time will probably vary with different processors.  Pour up and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

(1) / http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/healthy-eating-why-peanut-butter-good-you
Jan 162017
 

Recently we enjoyed a fine evening with some dear friends that featured a really great family style meal. Our friend Peg prepared baked salmon, salad and a rice side dish that I could have eaten single handedly. My wife, Stella (so not her real name) managed to maintain the appearance of propriety and limited herself to a single portion of this amazing rice dish.

I did not even try to resist. I’d never eaten anything like this rice casserole before, said so, and saw Peg’s husband, Terry, look at me with pity and sad eyes. He could see that I sadly had a rice-less casserole upbringing, so he explained to me rice dishes of this type are numerous and wonderful. Wow, what culinary rock had I been living under for decades?

I did help myself to seconds, I used a smallish serving spoon in an effort to minimize Stella’s embarrassment but as it turned out Stella was wishing she had helped herself to seconds too.

On our short drive back home that evening we talked mostly of this rice casserole dish and how we would make it. Two days later we were in the kitchen re-creating “Peg’s” Rice Casserole. We made half the recipe then convinced ourselves it was okay to eat it all because we were only each eating half of the half. (I know that’s disturbing.)

As the recipe evolved, we started imagining ways to turn it into a main course and that’s just what we did. We have no idea where the original recipe comes from but here’s Peg’s perfect side-dish recipe:

Cheese Baked Rice Side Dish

3 cups cooked rice

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

A Can Opener

1-cup cheddar cheese

Mix it all together and pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  The above recipe is delicious but here’s how we modified it, made it even easier to prepare for the out-of-time-cook and turned it into a main-dish.

 

Cheesy Green Chili Rice Casserole with Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst

Serves:
Four

You Will Need:

Large Mixing Bowl

Large Spoon for Mixing

9” x 13” Casserole Dish

Cheese Grater

Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:

2 pkgs. Pre-cooked rice (see note below)

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

1 cup cheddar cheese – or more if you want it super cheesy

2 cups diced ham, sausage, turkey, chicken, fried tofu – your choice

(For the record we used Teton Waters 100% Grass-Fed Beef, Uncured Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and it was great!)


Instructions:

Cook the rice per the instructions on the package and pour the steamed rice into your mixing bowl.

Add the green chilies to rice and stir to combine.

Add your protein choice, in this case the jalapeno bratwurst…

…and stir to combine.

Next fold in the sour cream.

When combined add the cheddar cheese.

Turn into the greased casserole dish.

Smooth out with a spoon and and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the rice is bubbling around the edges and lightly browned.

This is so easy and so tasty and a great dish to make after the holidays when you have leftover turkey or ham. And now Stella and I are imagining other creations using this recipe idea. Watch this blog for more to come.

Enjoy!

NOTE: You will find pre-cooked rice in packages in the rice section in the grocery store. There are so many varieties these days and all you have to do is pop the bag in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We used Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic, which we buy economically at Costco. Of course it is much cheaper to cook rice but using the pre-cooked rice makes this an easy dish to prepare in a hurry.

Dec 192016
 

One of our favorite places to eat in Austin, Texas is Mandola’s Italian Market. We’ve enjoyed many delicious meals there with our good friends Susan and Joe (we miss you guys). The other day my wife was longing for her favorite Mandola’s dish “Spaghettini Ortolano” so she decided to make her own version. And it was delicious. There’s a bit of chopping but this is a simple recipe. And you can vary the veggies to your own preferences.

Serves:  Two

What you’ll need:

Spaghetti Pot

Sauté Pan

Tongs

Ingredients:

6 oz brown rice spaghetti

Olive oil

½ onion – chopped

1 large garlic clove – chopped

7 Asparagus spears – cut in pieces

3 Mushrooms cut in pieces

¼ Zucchini cut into pieces

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into pieces

¼ cup frozen peas

¼ cup chicken broth

Baby spinach – a handful or as much as you want

Salt (optional)

Pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

You can prepare the veggies while waiting for the pasta water to come to a boil.

After you’ve put the pasta into the boiling water, begin sautéing veggies in the order listed above,

adding each next veggie after about one minute of cooking time.

After adding the peas cover and cook about 3 minutes,

then add broth and continue to cook while you are waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. If you are using brown rice pasta, it will take about 18 minutes for the pasta to cook. If you are using regular pasta, then you might need to keep the pasta warm until the veggies are cooked. You want your veggies and the pasta to be al dente.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the veggies and then stir in the fresh spinach.

Top each serving with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Oct 262016
 

Way back in the 1960’s, when people still thought science was a pretty good idea, the Russelmann family of New York, enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon reading the Schenectady Gazette, happened upon a recipe for Choucroute Garnie. Choucroute Garnie means sauerkraut topped with sausages and layered with lots of salty meats. However in this version a layer of lean bacon is used to line a 9” x 9” casserole dish. Sauerkraut tops the bacon and is in turn topped with pancetta and sausages. Then, a couple of bottles of fine German Pils gets poured over the top for good measure and slow roasted to perfection. Sounds good.

Anita, from Texas, sent us this recipe and a photograph of her Choucroute Garnie, and we immediately gave this recipe a try. We did however get tired of mispronouncing Choucroute Garnie so we renamed the recipe, Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer.

anitas-original-color-corrected

Anita’s Photo of her Choucroute Garnie

This recipe is pure comfort food. It takes very little prep time but does require a smattering of your attention from time to time. It does take hours in the oven to cook but do not be dissuaded, this recipe is one of the best one-pot meals we’ve ever eaten and is well worth the effort. Most of the cooking time you’re free to pursue other activities.

This recipe is a modified version of the original published in the Schenectady Gazette. That recipe had you lining the bottom of your casserole dish with pork rinds rather than lean bacon, and then layering with sauerkraut, salt pork, smoked pork loin, knockwurst and pork sausage links. Yikes that’s a lot of meat. Thankfully, Anita’s version is much simpler.

Anita tells us she often uses bratwurst or a hearty German or Polish sausage ring, as they’re really good and a lot easier to find at any grocery. She made her version with Wenzel’s German sausage rings. If you’re ever in Hamilton, Texas be sure to check out Wenzel’s. Pork butt Fridays are the best.

 

Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer

Serves 4

Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 4:00 hours

 

Tools you’ll need:

A 9” x 9” Casserole Dish

 

Ingredients:

Lean Bacon

2.5 lb. Sauerkraut (Anita says the jar variety is best)

3-4 Garlic cloves, Diced

Pancetta (note this is our addition to the recipe and is optional)

4 Brats or German Sausages or Polish sausage rings (enough for 4)

2-3 cans or bottles of beer – your choice

Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

spek

Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 casserole dish with bacon.

kraut

Drain the sauerkraut. Using half, arrange the kraut in a layer in the bottom of your casserole dish.

knokflook

Sprinkle with half the chopped garlic and add pepper to taste.

pfeffer

Add second layer sauerkraut, top with remainder of chopped garlic and season with pepper to taste.

bier

Pour two bottles of beer over the casserole and cook in your oven for two-hours.

pancette

Remove and add the pancetta, returning the casserole to the oven and baking for an additional hour at 275 degrees.

wurst

Remove and add your sausage, returning the casserole to the oven for an additional hour.

sausage-title-card2

Serve with roasted rosemary potatoes, hearty homemade rye, some good spicy mustard and beer.

Note:  Be prepared to add additional beer if it begins to dry out too much. This is a great dish to make, as the weather turns cooler. Enjoy!

Aug 242016
 
There are a great many things I do not care for, misogynists, racists, haters, bigots, narcissists, dividers, religious fanatics of any persuasion and politicians that utter the phrase, “What the American people want.” I’ve never heard this phrase used and actually had it apply to me. Dorks.
What I do care for are things that bring me pleasure, my wife, the taste of sweet clean rainwater, good friends, good red wine, bacon, a gezellig evening, someone intelligent, acoustic guitars played well and warm sweet muffins.
In particular, Chocolate Chip Carrot and Banana Muffins with Pecans and, I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful, no pun intended. Or is it?
This recipe came about due to an Internet search looking for ways to utilize left over carrot pulp after juicing. We’re talking 5 to 10 pounds of left over carrot pulp every couple of weeks as a result of our juicing and smoothie habit.
carrot bulk
It was a horrible waste to toss all that wonderfully healthy carrot pulp into the trash so, I began searching for ways to put that pulp back into our diets.

So far we’ve used the pulp to make latkes (the carrot makes them sweet), as salad toppings, flavor and texture for dressings, added to hearty soups and even sprinkled on veggie pizza, which for the record was really great.
However, so far, my favorite use has been in muffins. The recipe below for Chocolate Chip Carrot and Banana Muffins with Pecans is really good. It started out as a basic muffin recipe with carrots but as we continued to bake these muffins, over a period of time, the recipe evolved.
One day my wife, who by the way, loves anything chocolate, suggested adding the left-over half bag of mini-chocolate chips in the cabinet to the muffin recipe. I did, it was good. Then, sometime later, a couple of over-ripe bananas softening in the fruit bowl called out and, waste not want not, they too went into the recipe and adding the pecans was a no-brainer, most everyone loves toasted pecans.
There is nothing special or exclusive about the recipe. It’s a basic muffin recipe with lots of healthy and tasty additions. While we’re certainly not the first to add carrot pulp to muffins, we do feel we’ve pushed this envelope a tad further with all the tasty additions.
It has become a favorite or ours and if you’re a juice and smoothie fiend too, this recipe will help you put that pulp to great use. Be creative, use ingredients that appeal to you and share your results with us.
Chocolate Chip Carrot and Banana Muffins with Pecans
Prep Time: 10:00
Cooking Time: 40:00
What you need:
12-Cup Muffin Tin
Mixing Bowl
A Fork
A Large Spoon
Ingredients:
1.5 Cups Organic Spelt (wheat is fine)
2 Cups Carrot Pulp (left uncovered a day in the fridge will help remove excess moisture)
1.25 cups of Soy Milk
2 Ripe Bananas
.25 cups Canola Oil
.25 Cups of Turbinado Sugar (brown is fine)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
.5 teaspoons Cinnamon
.5 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
.25 cups Mini-Chocolate Chips (it’s important to use the mini sized chips)
.25 cups Chopped Pecans
Instructions:
Preheat Oven to 375*
While the oven is preheating, oil the muffin tin.
mash banana
With a fork, mash the banana in your mixing bowl.
add carrot
Add the carrot and mix to combine.
flour
Add the flour and mix to combine.
salt cinnamon
Add the baking powder, salt and cinnamon then mix to combine.
sugar
Add the sugar and mix to combine.
chips
Add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.
pecans
Add the pecans and mix to combine.
milk
Pour in the milk and mix to combine, the mixture will be moist and thick.
Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 2.37.10 PM
Spoon the batter into the oiled muffin tin.
hot muffins
Bake for 40:00, cool 10:00 in the pan then remove to a cooling rack.
beauty shot
These muffins will keep for several days in the fridge and they also freeze well.
Enjoy!
Jul 112016
 

A good road dog can tell you the best places to grab a meal when you’re marking a lot of time on the highways of this continent. We’re talking everything from fondue at Banff’s legendary Grizzly House in the province of Alberta, Canada to JD’s Burger Barn in Mesquite, Texas. Both delivered a satisfied smile.

Some years ago we drove to Key West to spend a few days. We’d arranged our drive to take us through New Orleans where we’d spend the night, then the next morning head over to Brennan’s for a rare breakfast of Eggs Hussarde.

We arrived in New Orleans that night late and hungry. It was close to ten o’clock in the evening, closing time was just around the corner. As it happened, so was K-Paul’s Restaurant and we decided to take a chance and see if we could manage a seat. We had our doubts but hunger herded us across the street and it was a shade before ten-o’clock when we joined the small line out front.

Moments after we took our place in line a staff member came out, ushered us all inside and placed a closed sign on the door. We’d squeaked into K-Paul’s by the skin of our teeth. It was a chance taken that really paid-off. Chef Paul Prudhomme even stuck his head out of the kitchen and greeted the crowd while smoking a cigarette.

The Classic Crawfish Étouffée served that evening was exceptional (I started to say sublime but the word just sounds so pretentious I can’t use it). So, for the record, the étouffée was good, really good.

A road weary day of driving closed out with an amazing meal at K-Paul’s. Everything seemed right with the world and hand in hand we strolled back toward the hotel to pick up our car with very happy tummies.

Sounds romantic, right? Hand in hand, strolling New Orleans at midnight after a late night dinner. Well, what you don’t know is that the valet at the Royal Hotel, where we decided to park in an effort to be safe off the street, kamikazed Stella’s (no, not her real name) new shiny red Honda into a support post in the garage, tearing off the side molding and creating a large crease in the front side panel and door.   Then in an effort to hide the damage, the valet ran around and opened the banged up door with the hope my wife would find his gallantry charming and mindlessly sit down inside the car. Stella (totally not her real name) decided to just take a look around the car to ensure all was well. As you know it was not and the events that followed, as they say, is another story.

As time passed Stella prepared, changed, modified and tested many easy étouffée recipes – an “easy-fix” version that does not require a lifetime of sacrifice creating the “perfect” roux. Then her sister shared a recipe that was too easy to pass up. Stella calls it “the canned soup étouffée recipe.” She’s made a few modifications to the original recipe to keep it lower in fat but this recipe produces an étouffée that is hearty and comforting, really quite good and best of all quick and easy to prepare.

In the accompanying video we use langostino “little lobster tails”. Fortunately our local Trader Joe’s market sells one-pound bags of langostino, which are a great substitute.

 

Langostino Étouffée

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 30:00 minutes

Serves 4-6

 

Tools you’ll need:

A Dutch Oven

A Spoon for Stirring

A Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

1 med. onion

2T flour

1T butter

1 can chopped ROTEL

1 can diced Italian tomatoes

1 can Light Cream of Celery soup

1 package (1lb.) frozen, cleaned cooked crawfish or langostino

1t cumin

1t garlic salt

Pinch of thyme

Instructions:

title card

Sauté onion in PAM or other oil spray until clear.

saute onion

Add butter and melt.

1 tbs butter

Add the flour to brown for roux.

add flour

Stir in ROTEL,tomatoes, celery soup, crawfish or langostino, cumin, salt and thyme.

seasoning

Simmer 30 minutes.

serve

Enjoy!

May 262016
 

In my LA play the game days I found myself in Rosarito Beach, Mexico one weekend with an insanely clever West Coast oil trader who was really quite unhinged when it came to having a good time. Our wives were with us, and much to my surprise, everyone seemed to have an itch to scratch.

We drove south from LA into the San Ysidor district of San Diego, which is immediately north of the US-Mexico border. After crossing the border we drove south on the Carretera Ensenada Tijuana twenty-three miles to the city of Rosarito Beach, Mex. Here, life is as good as the lobster and the lobster is great.

We told everybody and ourselves we were going down to run a 10K, and we did, and we wore the hell out of the freebie t-shirt they gave us for crossing the finish line to prove it. But as it turned out what we really went to Mexico for was to go absolutely nuts, I didn’t know this at the time, but while there I did witness a whole new level of nuts. The kind of nuts that have built great Mexican fortunes off the entertainment dollars gringos eagerly spend for a few hours of distraction.

My wife and I were probably among a very small percentage of race participants not hung-over the morning of the race, we really did go down to run the race but, while there, we noticed most folks’ perceptions were altered to include a let it all hang out point of view. Whatever floats your boat is my motto but I know for a fact our early morning sobriety afforded us a much easier run than the guy next to us who barfed on his Nikes that morning.

During the race we dodged cars and huffed lead fumes because for some reason autos were allowed on the road at the same time as the foot racers. It made for quick reflexes and chances taken but all in all it was a fine day. Of course, we still managed to come in at the back of the pack but that was our plan all along.

After the race we discovered numerous street tacos stands – grills made out of 55-gallon drums, turned on their side, split down the middle supported with make shift legs holding a belly full of white-hot hardwood coals grilling up the best pork tacos any of us had ever eaten.

Remember the old Lay’s Potato Chip ad that bets you can’t eat just one? Well that ad campaign applies to Rosarito Beach street tacos, which are equally addictive. Grilled to perfection, served small, wrapped in fresh handmade corn tortillas cooked on the grill until chewy and hearty.

We washed these wonderful tacos down with cold beer, which was served in paper cups because the Rosarito Beach Police Department will write you a citation muy pronto for drinking beer or anything else with alcohol on public streets.

Since that race we’ve grilled flank steak, stewed pork shoulder, smoked chicken, stir-fried red snapper and baked everything from tofu to turkey in an effort to re-create just a hint of these wonderful flavors at home. Of course at no time did we ever run across ground turkey tacos in Rosarito Beach. The below recipe is our healthy version of those wonderful street tacos and will appeal to the healthy kitchen foodie.

Our Rosarito Beach Street Tacos are made with fresh ground turkey, our own homemade low-salt taco seasoning and oven-roasted corn tortillas. For this video we used 99% lean turkey breast in the recipe but feel free to substitute your favorite meatless alternative. Our favorite is Helen’s Kitchen Organic Veggie Ground. It takes to the below recipe beautifully.

 

turkey spoon

 

Rosarito Beach Street Tacos

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 20:00 minutes

Serves 4-6

 

Tools you’ll need:

Skillet

A Sheet Pan

A Spoon for Stirring

A Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

16 oz. Lean Ground Turkey (such as Jennie-O Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast)

1 TBS Olive Oil (additional for the tortillas)

3 TBS Low-Salt Taco Seasoning (recipe below)

½ Cup Water

Corn Tortillas  (Get extra so you can have leftovers for breakfast – stir in several eggs for a good scramble and you’ve got a quick and delish breakfast taco.)

 

Toppings:

Real street tacos are usually served with chopped onion, cilantro, grated cheese and lime slice but add any toppings of your choice:

Grated cheddar cheese

Chopped tomatoes

Shredded lettuce

Fresh Salsa (Click Here for our Roast Tomato Salsa Recipe)

garlic spoon

Taco Seasoning Recipe

2 TBS Chili Powder

2 tsp Onion Powder

2 tsp Cumin, Ground

2 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Pepper

Stir to combine.

 

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil and sauté the ground turkey 5 or 6 minutes until the pink of the meat is gone.

turkey white

Sprinkle the turkey with the taco seasoning and continue to stir-fry until the herbs are fragrant, be careful not to burn the herbs.

add season

Add the water, stir and cover to simmer for twenty-minutes.

simmer

While the tacos simmer, grab a sheet pan, oil up your tortillas and pop them into a 300-degree oven.
sheet pan tortilla

We enjoy roasting our tortillas until they have an almost brittle on the outside yet chewy on the inside texture but that’s us, we know you’ll do what’s right for you.

A lot of people enjoy masa or wheat tortillas and they do have a place in every lover of southwest cooking’s larder but, for authentic street tacos you’ll want to serve yours with corn tortillas.

Good Eating!