Cayenne pepper

Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Shank’s of beef, veal, lamb, or game is perfectly suitable to be braised slowly in wine. The cooking liquid and gentle heat of slowly simmering breaks down the collagen, producing a wonderful texture and great flavor, unlike any other part of the animal. One can use the shank meat for stews, soups, goulash, bulalo, braised whole, or, as shown here, braised sliced/cross-cut. But remember, no matter which dish or cooking method you choose, DO NOT overcook the meat. A big part of the appeal of shank is the superb texture of a tender, but NOT falling apart piece of muscle meat. Therefore, simmer the shank very slowly. It might take a long time, (after all the shank is pure muscle), but you will be rewarded with a spectacular texture and mouthfeel which no other cut of meat possesses 🙂
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P.S.
Traditionally, the bone marrow is incorporated into the sauce.
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P.P.S.
But, also traditionally, the wise cook steals the bone marrow and prepares himself a great snack of “Bone Marrow On Toast” 🙂 .
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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Sliced Beef Shanks Braised In Merlot

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Preparation :
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Enjoy A Super-Delicious Dish For $ 1.00 !

Chicken Liver Mousse

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No, this was not at a hawker cart in Singapore, nor was it on the side of the road in Manila, it was not in the bush in Zanzibar and certainly not on the beach in Goa. This was in Miami, at “Chez Bella”.
All the ingredients for 4 portions came to about $ 4.00, which, yes, I carefully and meticulously calculated it, comes to about a buck a portion. 🙂
In all my years living in America,  I have realized that the majority of Americans say they don’t like liver or any other dish prepared with offal. However, serve them a slice of “Foie Gras” in a fancy restaurant where they are too shy to ask what they are being served, and all of a sudden you get all ahhh’s and ohhh’s. And it’s usually the same with chicken liver mousse, terrine or pate. Serve it on little canapes, put a cherry or grape on top and all of a sudden it becomes great.
Speaking of chicken liver mousse and parfait. Sadly, most of what’s being served in restaurants these days can at best be described as utter garbage. I know, because I love chicken liver mousse and have tried it a hundred times, in fact, I almost always order it if I come across it on a menu. Low-quality liver, too many distracting ingredients, overseasoned, underseasoned, grainy, broken, too long in the fridge, off-putting color, you name it.
So then, for those of my readers who share the love with me, I give you a recipe which is pretty much foolproof, as long as you use top quality liver.
Of course, you can use this recipe to make any other liver mousse. Pork liver, veal liver, duck liver, game liver. You can also, if you must, add a few additional flavors, as long as you take it easy and don’t overpower the fine taste of the liver. Armaniac, calvados, grand marnier, cognac, diced apples, garlic, herbs, sauteed shallots, orange essence, etc. You can even call it a parfait if you want to, since this recipe provides a mousse so fine, it appears to have been strained through a fine hair sieve.
All in all, a spectacular tasty dish, easy to prepare, cheap economical, and definitely better than most of the stuff you can buy ready-made or in most restaurants.
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P.S.
This amount of mousse serves 4 main courses or 8-12 snacks/appetizers
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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Chicken Liver Mousse

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Preparation :
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Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

Does stir fried chicken ever get old? Not in my book, for sure 🙂
Its beauty lays in large part in its versatility.
Not only can it be served with or without sauce, but there is no limit to the number of variations with which you can prepare the sauce. If you choose to prep it with sauce, you can include hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fermented bean sauce, oyster sauce, chili sauce, yuzu-soy sauce, kecap manis, etc, etc. You can serve it over stir fried noodles, fried noodles, steamed rice, fried rice, steamed buns; with a myriad of different vegetables, mushrooms and even potatoes (in some part of China potatoes are rather common).
When I cook stir fried chicken at home (or most other stir fries, for that matter), it rarely has the same ingredients twice – if ever.
But, all stir fries (and any other dish) I prepare at my home have one thing in common – I put a lot of love in them, therefore they all are delicious 🙂
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Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

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Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

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Preparation :
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Roast Cornish Hen With Hearty Veggies (5/60 Dish)

Roast Cornish Hen With Hearty Veggies

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This is one of those dishes I call a  “5/60 Dish“, which, especially for a home cook, are the most rewarding in terms of the ratio of time and effort to final delicious result.
It simply means that it will only require 5 minutes of preparation and 60 minutes of total time, from the start of prepping to having the dish plated and ready to enjoy.
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Roast Cornish Hen With Hearty Veggies

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Roast Cornish Hen With Hearty Veggies

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Preparation :
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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Crayfish must be one of the most under-appreciated seafood on the market. I assume it has to do with the fact that it takes a while and a bit of practice to peel them efficiently. There is also the misconception that they are expensive, which, in my opinion, they are not. One pound costs about $ 5.00 and is enough for a generous portion).
Another sad fact is that outside of their harvesting areas and outside of harvesting season, it is not easy to come by great quality crayfish. The reason for this is mostly bad handling, so in order to ensure good quality, make sure the fishmonger lets you stick your nose into (or at least close to) 🙂 the ice box in which they are kept, and always ask to give you the bottom layer, closest to the ice.
This, of course, is an important step in buying any seafood, including frozen or “previously frozen”! Please remember – expertly flash-frozen seafood can be as good as fresh seafood, provided it is handled, stored and defrosted properly.
Much seafood which is labeled fresh or never frozen is, in fact, inferior to properly preserved seafood, due to the length of transport, lack of proper or inconsistent cooling and general lack of proper handling.
But as I wrote earlier, the smell test will easily reveal if you should buy or forget 🙂
Needless to say, the little beauties I used for this meal were fresh, yummy and pretty, so this dish was an all around success 🙂
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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Spinach Tagliatelle With Crayfish In Garlic/Chili Butter

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Preparation :
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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil


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friend Peter came over for lunch today. Usually, he is a big fan of down to earth home cooking, never getting enough meatloaf, pasta, potatoes, stews, pigs feet, tripe, and other offal.
However, right now he is on a strict diet, so he asked me to prepare something gluten-free, starch-free and sugar-free. This tuna steak with salad was the result of his request, which made him happy and content (or so he said).
I, on the other hand, feasted on some left-over pork belly with potatoes, which made me happy and content 🙂
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1 cup EVO, 2 ea garlic confit, 2 ea scallion, kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste

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5 ea grape tomatoes, 1 ea quintisho chile, 3 slices lemon; simmer slowly on low heat while basting with the oil until tuna is cooked to your preferred temperature; serve with a salad of your choice

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Tuna Steak Poached In Olive Oil

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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For a long time, nobody around here would touch Pork belly with a ten-foot pole.
Pork belly was deemed to be inferior, unhealthy and fattening. However, during the past couple of years, secondary meat cuts (as well as offal) have become “IN”, so all of a sudden pork belly, almost always “Asian Glazed”, has popped up on every menu in town. While this could be a good development, the sad fact is that a tiny portion of pork belly now costs as much as a steak and most preparations leave a lot to be desired.
The smart solution? Cook it at home, naturally 🙂
I grew up with pork belly and most other secondary cuts, as well as offal, so I have been eating this stuff all my life and have a number of recipes for all of them.
Yesterday I prepared pork belly in one of the most simple yet also most delicious way:
Braised in red wine and veggies, served with mashed potatoes.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to mix the mashed potatoes with fresh cabbage to make a very hearty and tasty dish. Although I don’t remember the name of this dish, it stayed in my memory because my brother and I loved it, but my Dad hated it because in his opinion it was not traditional and therefore should not be served for a proper meal. This dish approximates the Italian “Lesso di Patate e Cavolo Verza” and the Irish “Colcannon”. Apparently, my Mom was right-on with her creation 🙂
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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Preparation :
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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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This is one of these dishes which, at least in my humble opinion, actually benefits from the usage of smaller shrimp, compared to the larger shrimp we usually prefer for a great dish. While you can make a perfectly wonderful fried rice with large shrimp, the smaller ones can be used in abundance for the same price as a few large ones will cost. The mouth-feel is just better when the ratio of shrimp to rice is 50/50 🙂
In the past, when the only shrimp available to me were large ones, I actually cut them into smaller pieces to get that specific mouth-feel. (For a more impressive presentation, you can always put a few uncut  biggies on the top) 🙂
I enjoyed today’s fried rice as my breakfast, although it is an appropriate meal for any time of the day. I love rice for breakfast, usually in the form of congee with whatever is available, a tasty rice bowl (with whatever is available) or, as today, fried rice (with whatever is available) 🙂
“Whatever is available” can range from meats, seafood, fresh or pickled vegetables, eggs of any type, or – you guessed it – whatever else is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard 🙂
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to serve, sprinkle with more scallion, add fried shallots and pickled mild chillies

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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

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Preparation :
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Another Day, Another Wonderful Salad (Plus A Great Grilled Chicken Breast)

Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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In my ongoing (and admittedly, so far not very successful) quest for a more healthful lifestyle, I do eat a lot more vegetables and salads.
Unfortunately, most of the time when I choose a healthy dish for one meal, I offset the good effect with a not so healthy dish for the following meal. But, I keep trying………
Today’s lunch was a rather salubrious choice, grilled lean meat, accompanied by a delicious vegetable salad with olive oil dressing and, for a bit of extra zing, a few pickled chilies and a herb-laden chimichurri.
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Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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Grilled Chicken Breast With Red Beet/Broccoli Salad And Chimichurri

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Red Beet/Broccoli Salad

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Preparation :
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Salad & Bread

Spinach Salad with Grapefruit Filets, Shrimp, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes, dressed with Honey/Citrus Vinaigrette, accompanied by Garlic/Chili Pita Bread

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“Spinach Salad with Grapefruit Filets, Shrimp, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes, dressed with Honey/Citrus Vinaigrette, accompanied by Garlic/Chili Pita Bread”
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Once in a while, “just” a salad is all I want for lunch. Today was such a day and this salad satisfied all the needs and wishes I had for such a lunch.
Light, refreshing, pretty and very flavorful, I recommend this for anybody who “just” wants a salad as a wonderful meal 🙂
As an added bonus, the garlic/pita bread was exceptional and I added it to my regular repertoire.
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Spinach Salad with Grapefruit Filets, Shrimp, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes, dressed with Honey/Citrus Vinaigrette, accompanied by Garlic/Chili Pita Bread

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Garlic/Chili Pita Bread

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Spinach Salad with Grapefruit Filets, Shrimp, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes, dressed with Honey/Citrus Vinaigrette, accompanied by Garlic/Chili Pita Bread

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Spinach Salad with Grapefruit Filets, Shrimp, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes, dressed with Honey/Citrus Vinaigrette, accompanied by Garlic/Chili Pita Bread

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Preparation :
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