dinner

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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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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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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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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Grilled Veal Breast, Sauteed Potatoes, Chimichurri

Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes And Chimichurri

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Sliced veal breast is a cut I use often at home, mainly for these three reasons:
1.- It’s cheap. 1 lb costs around $2.50.
2.- It tastes great.
3.- I love the texture.
Since veal breast is not a very tender part of an animal to begin with, most folks would braise it for a couple of hours to reach the tenderness they are accustomed to. While this will produce a great dish if properly done, it will lose most of that special veal flavor that some of us cherish. But if you prefer to grill or saute the veal breast, you must make sure that you do it right, otherwise, it will end up being dry and tough.
However, if you sear the meat at high heat, then cook it VERY ! slowly for the rest of the cooking process, you will be rewarded with a very fine piece of veal, full of flavor, juicy and tender. The veal breast slices I used for this dish cooked on each side for about 35 minutes until they were medium-well, then I let them rest another 10 minutes before cutting into them. They were perfect and an absolute delight 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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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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Gravlax

Gravlax

I have prepared gravlax a thousand times over the years, starting at the beginning of the 70’s when I worked in  Torekov/Sweden  for the first time, and usually, it comes out perfect, or at least close to perfect. It is one of those dishes which actually require an effort to mess it up. So every time I prepare it, I am sure that the outcome Is a predictable “10” on a scale from 0 to 10. But then came this baby !!!
I had to increase the scale by another point to accommodate its level of excellence. It was so off the chart, in taste, texture, and color. Just a perfect “11” 🙂
It was probably a combination of the quality of the fish, the freshness, the amount and quality of the dill, the ratio of the ingredients of the brine and finally, the time I left the salmon in the brine to cure. Whatever it was, this gravlax is the one all future gravlax will be judged by.
But, I can not give you the EXACT amount of time or ingredients, only approximates. Like with most savory cooking, recipe-measurements and times can only serve as guidelines. Usually, there are too many variables to cook EXACTLY by a recipe. (I am sure you have often heard folks say “I followed the recipe to the dot, but it did not turn out to be like in the picture or in the book or the video?- well, that’s the reason why – too many variables. It is also the reason why a professional chef “interprets” a recipe because, with his/her experience over many years, he/she has learned to factor-in these variables and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.
To quote myself – “Cooking is easy – if you know how to do it !” 🙂
So here now is the recipe I used for this specific gravlax. Again, there are a million and one recipes out there. Every Scandinavian cook, housewife and home cook guards at least one gravlax recipe they swear by, and most of them are pretty awesome, just slightly different from each other.
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2 lbs raw salmon, skin on
2 cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 jigger vodka
1/2 cup sliced dill leaves plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup red beet juice
2 tblsp dijon mustard
1 tblsp fresh-cracked>
black pepper
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Dill/Mustard Sauce
(Traditional condiment for gravlax)
Good quality mustard, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, neutral tasting oil, sugar, fresh dill leaves, pepper(optional), mix all ingredients well.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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Gravlax

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add the salmon and onions (for a prettier presentation / restaurant presentation) put the egg and capers together with the onions on top of the salmon, however, the way I did it here will keep the capers and egg from rolling off when you eat the sandwich)

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Preparation :
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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

At least once a month it’s sinigang-time at my house. The protein I use most often is pork, but sometimes I use shrimp (Sinigáng na Hipon), fish (Sinigáng na Isdâ), beef (Sinigang na Baka) or chicken (Sinampalukang Manók). One can use any part of the pig for sinigang, but my personal favorite cuts are the ribs and/or tails. This morning I found fresh ribs at my butcher, which I turned into this not-so-ordinary sinigang (chard and lotus roots are not commonly used in sinigang).
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

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Pork Ribs And Lotus Roots In Tamarind Broth (Sinigang Na Baboy)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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