Easy Does It

Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie


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As  I have mentioned before, I love to prepare my own pizza dough, pie dough, tortillas, fresh pasta, and a myriad of other things which are usually better (although not always) when home made.
On the other hand, sometimes this is just not very practical or sensible, for example at times when there is simply no time or space to do so.
Also, I have cooked just about anything one can cook, mostly? with good results, so I am not embarrassed to sometimes use  good- quality  convenience products, such as the crust I used for this pie. I actually bought it without a plan, just because it looked so delicious and I wanted to find out if it tastes as good and has the great texture it promised when I looked at it on the shelf in my neighborhood grocery store. Well – it did, even much better than I had expected 🙂
I absolutely love it and have used it already twice since I made this pie, once for an onion pie and once as a base for sandwiches.
It is supposed to be used for pizza, but for that, I will stick with my homemade dough for now.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Preparation :
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Easy Does It # 32 – Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers

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This  dish proves once more that the simple things in live can give us great pleasure. Unfortunately, it can also proof that even the simplest thing can easily be screwed up.
I have never ordered this in an Italian restaurant, but I remember well that Maria used to order it often and that half the time when the food arrived she was bitterly disappointed by the lackluster mess which was set in front of her.
It is my humble opinion that if a chef feels that to serve such a simple dish is below his or her culinary honor and dignity, he/she should just leave it off the menu. But, if one decides to feature it on ones menu, one might as well does ones best !
(To see what I mean, pls  click on this link  and see what some folks deem good enough to serve in their restaurant or on their dinner table – while there are of course praiseworthy exceptions, the majority looks like the disappointing stuff I remember Maria got served too many times) 😦
As for the all-important taste, use the best ingredients which are available to you, season and execute with love and you can’t go wrong 🙂
Oops,  a bit of venting here, so let’s get back to the task at hand, which is to show you how I like to prepare Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers. If done right, and with love and gusto, it is like so many simple dishes – a pleasure to look at, and most of all, a pleasure to eat.
It will be equally gratifying when served with pasta, rice, potatoes or just a hearty sour dough bread.
So, here it goes :
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Recipe for Easy Tomato Sauce
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More dishes with tomato sauce on  ChefsOpinion
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Easy Does It # 32 - Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers

Easy Does It # 32 – Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers

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Easy Does It # 32 - Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers

Easy Does It # 32 – Italian-Style Sausage and Peppers

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Easy does it # 31 – Mushroom & Gorgonzola Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

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And  the award for best twice-baked potatoes goes to…………
No need to explain the virtues of this dish, just look at it and imagine
it would be in front of you right now
(anyone for a steaming, hot beauty ?)……….. 🙂
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Mushroom & Gorgonzola Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Mushroom & Gorgonzola Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

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potato, mushrooms, onion, garlic, gorgonzola, asiago

potato, mushrooms, onion, garlic, gorgonzola, asiago

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bake potatoes until soft in center, cut in half, remove flesh, lightly mash with grated asiago and diced gorgonzola

bake potatoes until soft in center, cut in half, remove flesh, lightly mash with grated asiago and diced gorgonzola

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saute mushrooms in a sinful amount of butter, add to the potatoes, season with cayenne pepper and kosher salt, fill into potato shells

saute mushrooms and diced onions in a sinful amount of butter, add to the potatoes, season with cayenne pepper and kosher salt, fill into potato shells

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sprinkle with grated asiago, bake until golden, sprinkle with sliced scallion

sprinkle with grated asiago, bake until golden, sprinkle with sliced scallion and chili flakes

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Mushroom & Gorgonzola Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Mushroom & Gorgonzola Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

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EASY DOES IT # 30 – Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

Dear  Friend’s,
Although most of the followers of ChefsOpinion are culinary professionals, there is also a large segment of followers who are just starting to enjoy cooking on a slightly higher than basic level. I have therefore decided to publish, under the moniker “Easy Does It“,  from time to time some very basic recipe variations of dishes (and even pre-cooked dishes) which otherwise might seem too complicated to some folks. I will break them down to the easiest, most simple instructions, so that those of you who are intimidated by elaborate recipes will be able to prepare these dishes properly, adjusted to your taste and liking, right from the get-go.

After all, just because you are not (yet ?) a professional chef should not prevent you from enjoying great food at home. 🙂
Enjoy !
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If  you are still looking for a great, delicious, good-looking and easy to prepare dessert for your upcoming x-mas feast (or any other feast 🙂 ), give this beauty a shot.
It will take all of about 15 minutes of actual prep time, yet the result is extraordinarily delicious.
I have served mine with just a bit of whipped cream, but a fruit coulis or chocolate sauce will add an extra layer of taste, texture and color.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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! Please find an update to this post at the bottom of this page !
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Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

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Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

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Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

Cinnamon Roll And Fruit-Pudding

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Following, a few pics of the leftovers I served the next day 🙂    ( With added strawberry coulis )
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Easy Does It # 29 – Home Made Chile Oil

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You  might ask yourself what’s the point in making your own chile oil, since you can buy it everywhere? The simple answer is quality and heat-level, since you have control of the quality of the chiles you use as well as the quantity of seeds you incorporate, by buying your own Chinese Red Peppers.  (Or Tianjin Pepper, sometimes you’ll also find them referenced as Tientsin Peppers, named after the province in China where they are native). They closely resemble Cayenne and Japones Chiles and come in at between 50,000 – 70,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). There are approximately 50 to 60 chiles per ounce. As with all chiles, the seeds pack most of the heat and the seeds can quickly overpower the fruit’s flavor. You might want to remove some of the seeds from the fruit in order to tone down the heat a bit. If you use the chile oil as dipping oil, you might also want to add some cinnamon and star anise for extra flavor to steep in the oil before straining. I have added neither, since I mostly use my chile oil as cooking oil and add additional flavors to the individual dishes during preparation as required.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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remove stems from chiles

remove stems from chiles

cook in peanut oil until starting to change color, remove from heat

cook in peanut oil until starting to change color, remove from heat

put oil with chiles in blender, blend until chiles are finely ground

put oil with chiles in blender, blend until chiles are finely ground

let steep overnight

let steep overnight

strain through fine mesh sieve

strain through fine mesh sieve

Home Made Chile Oil

Home Made Chile Oil

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Easy Does It # 28 – Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

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So  I am walking down the “forbidden” cake-isle at Publix, heroically ignoring every sweet temptation that beckons, almost reaching the end of the line and – BANG – there it was, the most delicious looking banana-walnut cake loaf you can imagine. Now, from my ( past 🙂 ) experiences with the Publix bakery department, their baked goods are pretty good, at least at the location I am shopping close to my home. I have been a huge fan of banana – walnut cake (and banana bread) ever since I had my first taste in the Caribbean many years ago. Sadly, I have not encountered many good versions over the years, with most of them being too sweet, too heavy, too dry and /or lacking strong banana taste or all of the above. Not so the one I got at Publix. Like so many of their baked goods, it was absolutely delicious. Very light, bursting with banana flavor and chock-full of walnuts, all for a very reasonable price.
(NO – I am not being endorsed by Publix, although maybe I should be 🙂 )
As soon as I got home, I dug into the first loaf, almost ate the whole thing and was a very happy camper (Probably shaved a day off of my life right there 😦 )
So the next day I had one more loaf and a bit from the first one. I decided to improve on a perfect thing and prepare  “Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding”.
Originally, bread pudding (or cake pudding) was prepared to utilize stale bread or cake and revitalize it with the additional moisture from the egg/milk custard. Nowadays, people are usually less frugal. However, bread pudding and cake pudding have proven to be a popular dessert in countless variations, made with any kind of savory bread or sweet baked goods, from cake to doughnuts to cinnamon rolls and so forth, and with a great assortment of different custards and different nuts, fruits, dried fruits etc. There are fantastic versions out there, impeccably prepared and a pure delight to eat. Unfortunately, as with many other such simple concoctions, a vast sea of less than stellar bread puddings and cake puddings can and will be found, ruining the reputation of this wonderful dish. Too often, it is dry, tasteless and overly sweet and the bread or cake used would have seen a more honorable end to itself by being tossed straight into the garbage.
Not so the baby you see below. It was very light, very moist, with a superb thin, crisp, caramelized crust on the bottom, not too sweet and with the added goodness of vanilla and Greek-yogurt.
All in all, definitely the very best cake pudding I have ever tasted.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
The usual practice of whisking the milk and eggs together before soaking the bread or cake results in a more firm (dry?) version, which is more suitable for a commercial application where one lets the pudding cool down a bit before cutting it into perfect shapes.
My way of soaking the cake in the milk first, then adding the eggs and mixing it all carefully to avoid the cake pieces to break up results in a much more moist cake, encased in a light custard, which together form a marvel of perfectly textured pudding ; There – I said it – perfect 🙂
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P.P.S.
Because of the moist and almost creamy texture of the pudding, I decided not to turn the raspberries into a sauce as I originally had intended, which turned out to be a wise decision.
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Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

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Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

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Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

Banana-Walnut-Cake Pudding

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Easy Does It # 25 – Griddle Ham & Cheese Sandwich

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Let’s  face it and admit to the truth – no matter how passionate we are about good food, not all meals we consume must be and can be culinary masterpieces or be completely homemade in order to make us happy.
In cooking, as with love, sometimes a loving hug will do it instead of a few hours of passionate love-making (Well, sometimes…….. 🙂
I have posted some pretty simple stuff in the past and judging by the positive responses, posts about simple food are as welcome as the more complex meals.
So, I feel confident that mixing a few very simple, basic dishes into my usual mix of international food posts will be a welcome addition to the folks who are still learning their way around the kitchen, as well as for the more seasoned cooks who will be reminded that sometimes, depending on our mood, the time and/or budget, simple means best 🙂
I believe today’s dish is a perfect example of how to lift a usually mediocre dish up to new hights by choosing top-ingredients and preparing the food with love and care.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
If you replace the mayo with the more customary butter and grill the sandwich instead, you will miss out on the best part of this sandwich – the wonderful crust which the mayo helps to provide.
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More  “Easy Does It”
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Griddled Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Griddle Ham & Cheese Sandwich

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Griddled Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Griddle Ham & Cheese Sandwich

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Griddled Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Griddle Ham & Cheese 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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EASY DOES IT # 24 – Potato Salad

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This  potato salad is a far cry from the one I usually make at home, which is “Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat” (Swabian Potato Salad), which does not contain Mayo or any other “stuff” besides potatoes, onion, stock, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar and sometimes herbs and/or bacon.
This one is a VERY different baby, but just as delicious 🙂
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Link to more Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat
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Creamy Potato Salad

Creamy Potato Salad

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Potato Salad

Potato Salad

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Preparation :
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Easy Does It # 23 – Pickled Cauliflower And Pickled Broccolini

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Pickled  vegetables are so easy to prepare, they stay fresh in the fridge for day’s and they come in handy any time of the day as a snack, or just as an refreshing side dish.
While you can pickle just about anything with great results, cauliflower and broccolini are my favorites, closely followed by mushrooms and cabbage.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Link to more “Easy Does It”
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Link to “Pickled Cabbage Rolls”
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Link to “Chinese Pickled Cucumbers”
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Link to “Pickled Chicken” (Pollo En Escabeche)

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Pickled Cauliflower

Pickled Cauliflower

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Pickled Broccolini

Pickled Broccolini

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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EASY DOES IT # 22 – Quiche Lorraine

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This  dish will make you the hero at the next pot luck party, office party or any other gathering where the usual (tired) contribution is chicken salad, spinach dip or potato salad (nothing wrong with those – but………..)
A properly prepared Quiche is elegant, beautiful and delicious, done with a minimum of effort, cooking skills, time and $.
It will be a guaranteed success for any occasion, because it’s easy to make, has no boundaries for your creativity and can be served cold (room temperature), warm or hot. So at a fancy or basic cocktail party, in the office, at the beach or when you bring a snack to my house – go ahead, make my day 🙂
As for creativity, step up a basic Quiche lorraine (bacon, Swiss cheese and onions) by adding / replacing the standard ingredients with the following goodies:
Roasted, small diced vegetables or potatoes, seafood (no cheese in this one please), pickled onions and feta cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed ham, small diced corned beef, lots of  fresh herbs, etc, etc.
The constant in any Quiche should be a great pie crust and a mixture of 3/4 whisked whole eggs / 1/4 half & half, seasoned with salt, pepper and a small amount of nutmeg, everything else is up to your fancy and willingness to experiment 🙂
As for myself, I love a warm Quiche with lots of bacon, onions and cheese when sitting in front of the TV and watching a great movie, always pairing the Quiche with a salad of simple greens and usually washing it all  down with a torrent of iced peach tea.

Blind-bake the pie crust until golden.
Add dry ingredients, add egg mixture, bake until a toothpick inserted in the filling comes out clean. DONE !

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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more “Easy Does It”
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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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