etc

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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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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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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

 

Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

Here we have the perfect breakfast for dog owners (and everybody else who loves a great breakfast and can wait awhile before breakfast is ready,) 🙂
Once the prep has been done (you can do this the previous evening), just put the wrap into the oven (hot or cold), turn to 375F and walk your dog.
Make sure you are back before the hour is over and you will be rewarded with a perfect breakfast). Generally, the egg inside will take about 35 minutes for a “sunny side up” texture, while additional time spent in the heat will obviously take the egg to the next level of doneness. This doneness will depend on various factors, such as the thickness of the wrap, the thickness of the ham and tomato, the amount of cheese and /or other fillings, and so forth.
When I made this dish the first time a few years back, I took it out of the oven WAY too early, not realizing how much time the egg actually takes to cook inside all these layers. However, if you like this dish, take some notes about the time and temperature you use in order to get it right on future occasions.
Also, and this is even more important, chose a wrap which suits this preparation. If you select the wrong one, the shell will become dry and tough after it’s considerable time in the oven. But if you find the right one (see the pic below for an example), the wrap becomes wonderfully flaky, almost like a puff pastry, as is clearly visible in the pics of the cut wrap 🙂 . The reason why I use two wraps per pocket is that the (RIGHT) wraps add a great flakiness one would not get with a single layer (there is a lot of moisture inside).
I also like to emphasize the importance of the grated parmesan cheese between the moist layers to help keep a proper texture, (you don’t want a soggy mess !) and the importance of brushing the wrap generously with whole butter before baking, both for taste and texture.
As for the sauce, I love to serve this with sweet Thai chili sauce or a honey/herb yogurt. Again – serve it with whatever makes YOU happy ! 🙂
Of course, as with most of the food I publish on my blog,  I recommend using this dish as an inspiration for your very own variations of a baked wrap. I have prepared them with seafood, ground meat, chicken, veggies, with or without cheese, with or without eggs, etc. ( one of my favorites is tomato, onion, sauteed spinach, and brie). Also, although I have this usually for breakfast, it makes a great snack or meal any time during the day or evening.

Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Breakfast Of Champions # 62 – Baked Breakfast Wrap

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Preparation :
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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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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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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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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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