garlic paste

Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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“Totopos With Shrimp And Avocado Salad”.
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The name  totopo  comes from the Aztec word tlaxcaltotopochtl. It is a combination of the word for a tortilla, tlaxcalli, and the word for thunder.
Combined, it means “tortillas that are noisy to chew”.
Originally, totopos are prepared with corn tortillas. They can be fried, as I have done here, or baked or toasted.
However, I sometimes make totopos with flour tortillas, which makes them lighter and, of course, results in a different, more delicate flavor.
They pair perfectly with this refreshing shrimp and avocado salad and make for a wonderful, tasty snack or appetizer.
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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Preparation :
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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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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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Faux Chicken Biryani


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It looks like biryani.
It tastes like biryani.
It smells like biryani.
Alas, it’s not biryani.
As usual when I cook for Bella and myself, a few days ago I cooked too much jasmin rice. The next day, my usual train of thought at first led me to either one of two leftover dishes – fried rice or congee. But I did not really feel like either one of those, so my next choice was this very easy to prepare “faux biryani”.
While a “real biryani is easy enough to prepare, this one was even easier and of course, with the pre-cooked rice at hand, this was the perfect way to utilize the rice and at the same time get a dish that is wonderful, flavorful and beautiful. Naturally, the texture of the rice was different from the real deal, (not inferior, just different), but nevertheless, the dish was a great success, fully enjoyed by Bella and myself 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Usually, one would steep the saffron in ghee, but because of the relatively high-fat content of the chicken skin which will render into the dish, I replaced the ghee with milk.
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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Preparation :
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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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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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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Onion soup is a vegetable soup made of sauteed onions and stock. Onion soup was traditionally served in poorer households and lower-class restaurants.
Onion soup is, and was, found in many countries, prepared in many different variations. What all recipes have in common are the onions and stock. From there on, anything goes……….:
Added red or white wine, beer, egg yolk, flour, cream, cheese, herbs, bread, vinegar, sugar, caramelized onions, sauteed but kept-white onions, puréed onions, sliced onion, diced onions, shallots, sausages, sherry, carrots, and probably another thousand different additions, depending on where in the world you encounter your onion soup.
Names/variations include “Pfälzer Zwiebelsuppe”, “Soupe Soubise”, “Schwaebische Zwiebelsuppe”, “Cipollata”,  “Cherbah”, and countless more.
And then, of course, there is the queen of all onion soups! –
Known and loved most everywhere in the world, it is “French Onion Soup” (Soupe à l’oignon / Soupe d’oignons aux Halles/ Soupe à l’oignon gratinée)
What makes this variation so special is the addition of bread and gruyere to the top of the onion soup, then it get’s some time in the oven or under the broiler until the top is a bubbly, fragrant, addictive, gooey mass of melted bread and cheese.
Each heavenly spoonful should contain some of the bread and cheese, some soup, and some onions.
Voilà, now you know why “French Onion Soup” is the best onion soup in the world 🙂
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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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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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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 :
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Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

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Duck and noodles – what’s not to like about that ? 🙂
Since I prepare roast duck often, duck soup is naturally on the menu just as much. Even just a few bones, skin, scraps, innards and the neck from one duck, added to chicken or vegetable stock and seasoning, is enough to prep a rich, tasty soup. Any veggie, pasta, even rice thrown-in, and you’ll be rewarded with a tasty and economical meal. You can also strain the stock and use it to fix a great congee for breakfast, just add some scallions and fried shallots and voilà, another satisfying quickie. ( Meal, that is ! ) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  ROAST DUCK – PART ONE – “DUCK WITH DIRTY NOODLES”

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Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

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Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

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Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

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Roast Duck – Part Two – “Duck Soup With Rice Sticks And Baby Bok Choy”

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Preparation :
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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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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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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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