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Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Shepherds Pie  is such great comfort food.
Meat sauce, mashed potatoes, and cheese – who could resist ? 🙂
However, there is one flaw in shepherds pie which diminishes its enjoyment a bit for me – it is entirely soft in texture and usually, the sauce is a bit bland and the whole thing, therefore, often resembles baby food 😦
Let me come to the rescue with this new recipe.
Instead of mashing the potatoes to a puree, just break them up a bit into med-sized chunks. Adding the peppers and lots of onions and garlic to the meat sauce will further increase the taste and texture of the filling of the potato shells, which will result in a dish who’s taste still resembles shepherds pie but at the same time is so much more interesting and TASTY !
Overall, this “fully loaded” baked potato is without a doubt one of the tastiest incarnations of the lowly baked potato as well as the ordinary shepherd’s pie.
While I have prepared and created dozens of variations of twice baked potatoes over the years, some more, some less exotic, some over the top and some down to earth,  using all kinds of additions to the stuffing, such as shrimp, smoked salmon, ham, different vegetables, cheese, yogurt, herbs, etc, etc., the ones I prepared today are the very best of the best 🙂
Although very simple and easy to prepare, the texture, taste, and looks are just perfect and go to show that uncomplicated food, if done right, can take the price over complicated and elaborate any time ……..
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Preparation :
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East Meets West – Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

East Meets West - Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

East Meets West – Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

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I could  have named this dish “Chinese Beef Stir Fry With Vegetables”, and it would also be absolutely correct.
However, I named it  “Sautéed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoi Sin Sauce”, because I wanted to emphasize the fact that naming a dish that one creates, even if similar recipes exist, leaves one free to use words that best describe the methods and ingredients so that one knows what to expect when reading about it or ordering it in a restaurant.
This is usually not necessary when preparing/serving well established dishes, such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Midnight Lake Soup, Sweet& Sour Chicken, Consomme Celestine, Veal Chop Milanese, Chicken Kiev, Chinese Pepper steak, etc, etc, etc.
However, when changing the ingredients or methods of a well established dish, we should explain it in the name in order to respect the original ! and to avoid confusion or even disappointment when the altered dish arrives.
(And yes, there are a few exceptions to that rule, such as when the “original” is not well known or not popular in it’s original version. After all, restaurants are businesses and we must sell whats popular in the particular market we try exist in and to prosper.) 🙂
Change and improvement is sometimes good and commendable, as long as the change from the original/classic is well documented.
I remember not too long ago to read a post of a very popular lady-cook who has a rather popular TV cooking show and published a bunch of cookbooks, who told her readers about a “smart “risotto recipe where one does not have to stir the rice and liquid constantly. It sounded really good and tasty, but that is NOT ! a risotto.
Or to be served a pesto with cilantro and walnuts which, incidentally, I love and make frequently at home. Nothing wrong with it – as long as you don’t just label it “Pesto”, which let’s one expect the classic version. Just name it what it is : “Walnut And Cilantro Pesto” and we are square. Or, as in this recipe, when both the French “sauteing” and the Chinese/Asian “Stir Frying” cooking method is the correct description of the cooking method used – choose one that fits the location, clientele or whatever seems correct and/or appropriate.
As for the potatoes, I had them in a Chinese dish for the first time when I worked in Singapore back in the early 80’s. After a long day at work, I usually told the night-cook to send me something tasty to my apartment at around 1.oo am. More often than not, he sent me a stir fried seafood dish with either noodles, potatoes or both, thinking that since I am German, the potatoes would comfort me (they did) 🙂
But besides that, Yunnan province and other areas of China, (mainly in the north-east), feature plenty of dishes containing potatoes. My absolute favorite and probably the best (only?) known in the West is probably :  酸辣土豆 / suān là tǔdòu (hot & sour shredded potatoes) or, with added pork juliennes: 土豆肉丝 (tǔdòu rou si)
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So there you have it, my own philosophy (the short version) of naming dishes I create or modify to my taste, availability, affordability and/or popularity with my guests, be it at home or in a commercial environment.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
This dish had more sauce than usual, because I wanted to have the leftovers the following day over pasta or rice ……
Also, it is one of the most delicious dishes I have prepared in the past few months, perfect in taste, quality and looks and very affordable and easy to prepare 🙂
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Click here to see the most popular  Chinese Potato Dish
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Click her to see “Beef Stroganoff: (NOT?)  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here to read more about :
Can A Classic Dish Be Altered If The Name Clearly Indicates That The Dish Is  In The Style Of……….  on  ChefsOpinion
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East Meets West - Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

East Meets West – Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

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East Meets West - Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

East Meets West – Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

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East Meets West - Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

East Meets West – Sauteed Beef With Bok Choy, Onions And Potatoes In Hoisin Sauce

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Preparation :
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“Dish At The Bottom Of This Page” 
Guess who got the beef and who got some of the raw bok choy 🙂
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SINGAPORE NOODLES (SINGAPORE MEI FUN) 新洲米粉, 星洲炒米, 星洲米粉)

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Having  traveled the world long before I moved to Singapore to live and work there in the early 80’s, I remember how much I was looking forward to finally learn how to prepare “real” Singapore Noodles. By then I had enjoyed them in many Chinese restaurants all over the world and they had become a trustworthy (most of the time, anyway) shoe-in if nothing else appealed on the menu to my at that time still rather newfound love of Chinese food . Much to my surprise, there were no Singapore Noodles to be found anywhere 😦
It then did not take me long to find out that Singapore Noodles are NOT a Singaporean dish but have probably been invented years earlier in Hong Kong.
(As far as I know, the verdict of its true origin is still not entirely agreed upon) 🙂
While there are many different variations, the most common one I have encountered in my travels and here in the USA contain rice sticks, curry, scallions, soy, garlic, ginger, vegetables, shrimp and chicken or pork.
The following version is more or less the one I have cooked for many years, only making slight changes to the ingredients if something is not readily available or leftovers beg to be utilized, such as roast pork, squid, bok choy, celery, etc.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles

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Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles

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Singapore Noodles

Singapore Noodles

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Preparation :
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Tostadas Al Pescado (Fish Tostadas)

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When  you decide to make tostadas, the biggest decision will be if you want to prepare  your own tortillas and fry them to a flat crisp or buy packaged tostada shells, which you can buy in any supermarket nowadays’, most of excellent quality. After that, the most sensible thing is to put the tostadas on a platter in the center of the table, arrange all the toppings in bowls around them and let everybody assemble their own favorite. Traditionally, refried beans, cotija cheese, a simple salsa and sometimes seafood are the main ingredients/toppings.
But, as you can imagine, tostadas, like most other dishes with a long culinary history, have evolved and advanced to be more adventurous and varied. Anything you fancy is allowed to grace your tostada, as long as it is delicious and makes you smile 🙂
Refried beans, shredded lettuce, sour cream, any cheese, any seafood, sausage, meat, grilled vegetables, any salsa, guacamole, etc, etc.
I happened to have some fresh Swai fillets at hand as well as white cabbage for a tasty cabbage slaw.  Added some guacamole, salsa Mexicana and a bit of sour cream and BINGO ! – exiting lunch served in a snap 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Swai  on  Chefsopinion
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Click here for more  Tostadas  on  Chefsopinion
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Click here for  Guacamole Recipe  on  ChefsOpinion
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Salsa Mexicana Recipe:
2 medium tomatoes- diced; 1 med white onion- diced, 3 jalapeños- chopped, 1/3 cup cilantro- chopped; lime juice and kosher salt- to taste; combine, check/adjust seasoning.
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Tostadas Al Pescado (Fish Tostadas)

Tostadas Al Pescado (Fish Tostadas)

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Tostadas Al Pescado (Fish Tostadas)

Tostadas Al Pescado (Fish Tostadas)

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Preparation :
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Best Snack – Ever !?

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Pork Rinds, Pork Skins, Pork Scratchings, Pork Crackling, Chicharrones, Scrunchions, Oreilles de Christ, Chicharrón, chicharrón con Gordo, Gratons, Khaep Mu,  Tóp Mỡ, škvarky,  Grieben, Griaba, Torresmos,  Couratos,  Knabbelspek, Flæskesvæ, etc, etc, etc.
Fried pork skin is eaten in most if not all areas around the world where pork is consumed. (Many other animal skins, ears and intestines are also used to make cracklings, but today I just want to talk about pork skins, most widely known as Chicharrones, but also by the many other names listed at the beginning of this post.
I sometimes buy them ready-made in bags and have found a few very good brands in the supermarkets around here, especially in the Latin-Markets. But nothing comes close to the freshly made homemade stuff, still warm and with a texture, flavor and aroma which you just don’t get from a bag. I happened to have some pork skin in the fridge which I removed from a pork butt I cooked yesterday, anticipating the chicharrones I wanted to prepare today. (I usually cook the butt skin-on).
However, pork skin is widely available from butchers and markets so you should have no problem sourcing it.
The process is very simple :
To fry the skins, use duck fat, pork fat or peanut oil. Simmer the skin in salted water until very tender, drain, let dry for a couple of hours. Cut into strips or cubes and fry at low temperature until very crisp. Remove to absorbent paper and season to your liking. Just plain kosher salt will do, but you can experiment with additional seasoning, such as cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, curry powder, za-atar, old bay seasoning, or my favorite,  five spice powder, which I have used in today’s dish. I also like to sprinkle finely sliced scallions and chili flakes over the cracklings and use a dipping sauce of chili oil and hoi sin sauce.
WARNING !!!!
I recommend to cook the chicharrones outside in the open air; splattering of fat WILL occur !
In any case, no matter if you cook the chicharrones inside or outside, cover the fryer 3/4 with a lid while frying to minimize the fat going all over the place and possibly ignite on the hot stove.

To sum it up – making chicharrones at home is like making love :
– if you know what you are doing, the rewards can be wonderful 🙂
– if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might get burned 😦
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Chicharrones

Chicharrones

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Chicharrones

Chicharrones

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Pho

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While  Pho comes in many variations and can be served with a plethora of sides, such as finely sliced onions, chili peppers, culantro, lime, bean sprouts, Thai basil, etc, I kept today’s lunch relatively simple but nevertheless very rich and delicious. Preparation was lightning quick, since I had a strong beef stock leftover from yesterday’s “beef and vegetable stew”.
If you prefer your beef paper-thin, you might want to put it in the freezer for a few hours before slicing, but I prefer the texture of the beef the way I sliced it, slightly thicker than usual and thus with a bit more bite to it. Certainly not “original”, but, in my kitchen, cooking for myself and Bella – anything goes. (Well, almost anything 🙂 )
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Bon Appetit !    Life is Good !
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All about  Pho
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Pho

Pho

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Pho

Pho

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Preparation :
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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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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

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Preparation :
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Salad Portuguese

H'LHCF Logo?
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This  beauty of a salad will conclude Week One of “Hans’ Lighter, Healthier Comfort Food” meal plan. (There will be an initial 4 week plan)
For everybody not yet interested in a bit of a healthier lifestyle, I suggest you try this salad anyway. Healthier and lighter food in my case does certainly not mean tasteless and boring. 🙂  (As is the case with so many other lifestyle food suggestions out there) 😦
Now, I understand that sardines are not everybody’s favorite seafood, but as usual, feel free to replace them with the seafood of your preference, such as shrimp, lobster, sole, salmon, clams, mussels, scallops, crab meat, etc.
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
So far I have lost 12 lbs in two weeks of “Hans’ Lighter, Healthier Comfort Food” meal plan.
I feel much better, sleep much better and on top of all the benefits of living a bit more on the sensible side of life, I eat as much as I want. (Except on the two days of the week which allow me a dinner of anything I crave, although in much smaller portions).
If you want to read more about my new, very much improved lifestyle, click HERE.
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P.P.S.
ChefsOpinion will of course keep its original format, content and attitude 🙂
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Salad Portuguese

Salad Portuguese

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Salad Portuguese

Salad Portuguese

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Preparation :
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