Cayenne pepper

Cauliflower Salad “Madras”

Cauliflower Salad “Madras”

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Before  anybody get’s their knickers in a twist about “real” Curries, let me explain something.
Many years ago, whenever we used commercially available, pre-mixed curry powder in Europe, more often than not, the name of the dish included the moniker “Madras”. This made it clear to everyone and all that the dish contained stock, curry powder, cream, some fruit, and flour. There were also salads and cold appetizers using curry powder, which mostly also used to end up being called “Madras”.
Almost nobody had ever tasted a real curry, much less cooked one, so the “classique” French way of preparing “curry sauce”, (sauce au curry à l’indienne) was usually utilized.
Hence – “Madras” or Indian Style. 🙂

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Cauliflower Salad “Madras”

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Cauliflower Salad “Madras”

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Cauliflower Salad “Madras”

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Preparation :
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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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“Totopos With Shrimp And Avocado Salad”.
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The name  totopo  comes from the Aztec word tlaxcaltotopochtl. It is a combination of the word for a tortilla, tlaxcalli, and the word for thunder.
Combined, it means “tortillas that are noisy to chew”.
Originally, totopos are prepared with corn tortillas. They can be fried, as I have done here, or baked or toasted.
However, I sometimes make totopos with flour tortillas, which makes them lighter and, of course, results in a different, more delicate flavor.
They pair perfectly with this refreshing shrimp and avocado salad and make for a wonderful, tasty snack or appetizer.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Preparation :
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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato


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I have to confess – I cheated when I prepared these Vareniki 😦
Instead of preparing the vareniki/pierogi dough fresh and rolling it into thin sheets before cutting, filling, folding and sealing it, I used 1 lb store-bought fresh pasta sheets and my trusted ravioli/pierogi-mold. Not necessarily because I am lazy (well, sometimes I am), but mainly because my counter space is tiny and making fresh pasta dough and stuffed dumpling always results in a huge mess, with flour everywhere, requiring a lot of time to get the kitchen spick and span again.
(However, I do know how to make the dough fresh. 🙂
I have made it a hundred times and I am therefore not embarrassed to admit to the store-bought sheets and the mold) 🙂
The rest of the dish is as easy and quick as 1-2-3. Cook the pasta, saute everything in butter and done !
Here is the recipe for the filling and the final dish :
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Ingredients and method for filling:

Saute onions in butter until translucent.
Stir in the 2 cup mashed potatoes, grated cheese and yogurt, season with salt and cayenne pepper, mix well. Check/adjust seasoning.
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Ingredients and method for the rest of the dish:

Cut the dough sheets into rounds corresponding to the size of your ravioli/pierogi-cutter.
Top each round of dough with 1 tblsp cheese/potato filling, add ea round to the ravioli/pierogi-mold.
Moisten the dough’s edges with water, fold over, and press together to seal.
Repeat procedure with the remaining dough and filling.
Cook in boiling salted water until the dough is done, about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickest part of the dough.
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain.
Saute 2 oz chopped bacon, 1 tsp garlic paste, julienne of 1/2 onion, 6 oz fresh spinach in 2 oz butter, add 8 oz fresh spinach and 1/3 cup heavy cream, simmer 1 minute, remove from heat, add julienne of one medium size onion, 1 ea seeded and julienned tomato and the freshly cooked vareniki, check/adjust seasoning. to serve, sprinkle with grated pepper-jack.
Serves 4 appetizers or 2 main courses.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Faux Chicken Biryani


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It looks like biryani.
It tastes like biryani.
It smells like biryani.
Alas, it’s not biryani.
As usual when I cook for Bella and myself, a few days ago I cooked too much jasmin rice. The next day, my usual train of thought at first led me to either one of two leftover dishes – fried rice or congee. But I did not really feel like either one of those, so my next choice was this very easy to prepare “faux biryani”.
While a “real biryani is easy enough to prepare, this one was even easier and of course, with the pre-cooked rice at hand, this was the perfect way to utilize the rice and at the same time get a dish that is wonderful, flavorful and beautiful. Naturally, the texture of the rice was different from the real deal, (not inferior, just different), but nevertheless, the dish was a great success, fully enjoyed by Bella and myself 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Usually, one would steep the saffron in ghee, but because of the relatively high-fat content of the chicken skin which will render into the dish, I replaced the ghee with milk.
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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Preparation :
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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Visiting my Asian food store is such a great food shopping experience. I usually go to stock up on sauces, Asian noodles, special veggies and the occasional specialty item I can’t find at my regular hunting grounds.
However, as it is usually the case when I go shopping for “just a few things, necessities”, I always end up buying too much stuff I did not set-out to get. That’s how I ended up with 2,5 lbs flash-frozen baby octopus, without a plan (yet) how to prep them. Alas, it really does not matter for me how baby octopus (or any other octopus, for that matter), is prepared, I love them any which way – so, or so, or so 🙂
Lately, I ate grilled steak and sautéed meat cuts with potatoes and rice quite often, so it was time to go back to pasta and lots of good sauce. Here now is how these tiny, frozen, beautiful creatures transformed into a most lovely dish, served over a heavenly  “crisp on the outside, soft on the inside”  egg noodle pillow 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
I like my noodle pillows “crisp on the outside but soft on the inside”. If you prefer more crispness towards the center, cook the pillow in 3 cups of oil instead of the two tblsp I used here, and raise the temperature of the oil so the noodles are actually frying instead of sauteing, as I did here. (Either way, good stuff)  🙂
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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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plate the crispy noodle pillow, top the pillow with the octopus and sauce, garnish with chives

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Preparation :
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Steak Salad – Recipe # 1379

Paintings below, including all the paintings displayed in the living room, are by Hans Susser (Soupi)
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Since I got old, occasionally my mind starts wandering aimlessly all over the place, sometimes I’ll get these “WOW” moments, when I realize the obvious………. 🙂 .
Such as this bonbon :
“When I create a dish I have not seen, prepared or eaten previously, it feels nearly the same as when I used to create a beautiful painting”.
I utilized canvas (the serving dish), paints (the ingredients), garnish/final-touch (the varnish) and, most important, a picture of a finished painting in my mind (a picture of a finished dish in my mind).
And there you have it – creativity, skills, and experience, applied to very different mediums 🙂
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(I used to paint in my spare time and was rather successful at selling my art for rather good $$$. Maria used to gold-, silver- and bronze-leaf the raw-wood frames for these paintings, as well as bespoke frames for other artist’s paintings.
For a few years, this provided us with a handsome, additional income, until I started my web business and, later on, this blog). 🙂
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But back to the present time and the dish at hand.
This steak salad recipe makes for a super delicious entrée for lunch or dinner, a light snack or anything else you want it to be (Buffet, anybody?).

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Instead of the more traditional croutons, I used tarallini  (Small  Taralli , (sometimes marketed as “Italian Love Knots”)

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Preparation :
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Curried Shrimp With Potatoes & Garbanzos

 

Curried Shrimp With Potatoes & Garbanzos

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Today, I like to share a dish with you that I have prepared in its basic version hundreds of times over the years. It is a “a la minute” dish, so it requires no prolonged cooking and can be prepared on short notice (a la minute) and in just a few minutes of prepping and cooking.
The ingredients for the sauce are always the same – clarified butter, curry powder, turmeric powder, cumin, garlic paste, grated ginger, kosher salt, chicken, beef or vegetable stock, and heavy cream.
On the other hand, besides the sauce, anything goes. You can replace the potatoes, chick peas and shrimp with anything your heart desires and your belly craves – any poultry, any seafood, beef, veggies-only to make the dish vegetarian, even potatoes and tomatoes only (one of my favorites), and so forth…..
The sauce is what makes this dish so delicious and unique and I usually make more than the dish actually needs, so I can use the leftover sauce to flavor some rice or pasta, usually for a simple breakfast or a tasty midnight snack 🙂
The ratio of the ingredients for the sauce is also flexible and depends on the main ingredient you use.
While the basic sauce for two portions requires 1/2 cup stock, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 pinch of cumin, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp garlic paste, 1/4 tsp grated ginger and kosher salt to taste, I like to use more curry powder for beef and chicken dishes, more  cumin for lamb, more liquid for starchy dishes, less liquid for vegetable variations, etc.
As usual, please let the recipe I give you here serve as a guideline, which you can/should adjust according to your own preferences 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Curried Shrimp With Potatoes & Garbanzos

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Curried Shrimp With Potatoes & Garbanzos

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Curried Shrimp With Potatoes & Garbanzos

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Last week I came across a special at my grocery store –   $ 10.50 for a whole duck, compared to the usual price of around $17.00 for the same size bird.
Of course, I bought two, because duck – anytime 🙂
After I defrosted the first one, I realized that it might be a good idea to prepare the duck in a way which will be more suitable to a bird which had probably spend a bit of extra time in the freezer (hence the special 🙂 ) , rather than just plain roasted and eaten without any additional preparation.
(I will post part two, “Roast Duck – Part Two – Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”, within the next few days)
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Roast Duck

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Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Roast Duck – Part One – “Duck With Dirty Noodles”

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Dirty Noodles

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Roast Duck Recipe:
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Ingredients:
1 med size duck
Kosher salt to taste
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Method:
Preheat oven to 400F
Prick skin and fat of duck all over, remove excess fat-flaps
Season duck generously inside and out side with the salt.
Place duck breast-side down on a wire rack which rests on a sheet-pan.
Place into oven, immediately turn temperature down to 300 F
Roast duck for 3 hours and 45 minutes, turning duck every 30 minutes
After 3 hours and 45 minutes, increase heat to 420F, roast duck breast side up until skin is very crisp and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Let the duck rest for 10 minutes before carving.
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Preparation :
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Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

A great sandwich can be a wonderful dish. Put a few good ingredients together, add some love and voilà, a quick and most satisfying meal can be on the table in minutes, without breaking the bank.
And yet, so many folks at home and in restaurants manage to screw up this simple task.
Substandard ingredients, lack of imagination and the absence of love for what you are doing will all prevent a good sandwich, but rather transform bread and stuff into bahhh……….
Not so this here baby !
While the choice of bread is purely a personal preference, I make most of my sandwiches with toasted sourdough bread or other rustic bread. I just love the texture and taste, but of course, you should use whatever bread rings your bells. The chicken can be grilled or fried, the cheese can be the one you love the most, and the veggies – well, you get the point 🙂
Just make sure you prepare it all with love and gusto, don’t skimp on the good stuff and prepare it with the respect a great sandwich (as well as any other good food) deserves 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
The chicken, while it has the taste and texture of fried chicken, is actually sauteed.
Classic French Cuisine defines sauteed :  “Cooked in fat, not covered by fat”
Classic French Cuisine defines fried :        “Cooked in fat, covered by fat”
In most restaurant settings, one would just fry the chicken in the fryer.
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Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Life is Good ! – Sunday Lunch By The Pool – “Grilled Shrimp Brochettes On Honey/Rum-Macerated Fruits”

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Life is Good ! – Sunday Lunch By The Pool – “Grilled Shrimp Brochettes On Honey/Rum-Macerated Fruits”

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Summer has hit our little part of paradise, Florida, over the head with a vengeance.
While the first three weeks of official summer were pure liquid sunshine, with all the flooding and whatever else goes with torrential rain, now the real sunshine has finally arrived.
Alas, as usual, we all complain that it is too hot. When it rains we complain that it is too wet. Outside of summer, we complain it is too cold, and all year-long we complain about the traffic, the tourists and our mothers in law 🙂
One just can’t make us Floridians unconditionally happy, no matter what.
But the one thing that will make us feel good, at least for a while, is a BBQ by the pool.
Good, simple food, a few cold brewskies and good company and the world is fine for a few hours.
As for me, I do have good company in Bella, my brew is iced tea and Madam and I enjoy our time alone by the pool, (of course, the damn water in the pool is too warm this time of the year) 😦
But, the tranquility and peace, some great music from the boom box and wonderful food are all we need for now 🙂 .
How times have changed……..
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Life is Good ! – Sunday Lunch By The Pool – “Grilled Shrimp Brochettes On Honey/Rum-Macerated Fruits”

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Honey/Rum-Macerated Fruits

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Life is Good ! – Sunday Lunch By The Pool – “Grilled Shrimp Brochettes On Honey/Rum-Macerated Fruits”

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Preparation :
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To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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