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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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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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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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Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

A great sandwich can be a wonderful dish. Put a few good ingredients together, add some love and voilà, a quick and most satisfying meal can be on the table in minutes, without breaking the bank.
And yet, so many folks at home and in restaurants manage to screw up this simple task.
Substandard ingredients, lack of imagination and the absence of love for what you are doing will all prevent a good sandwich, but rather transform bread and stuff into bahhh……….
Not so this here baby !
While the choice of bread is purely a personal preference, I make most of my sandwiches with toasted sourdough bread or other rustic bread. I just love the texture and taste, but of course, you should use whatever bread rings your bells. The chicken can be grilled or fried, the cheese can be the one you love the most, and the veggies – well, you get the point 🙂
Just make sure you prepare it all with love and gusto, don’t skimp on the good stuff and prepare it with the respect a great sandwich (as well as any other good food) deserves 🙂
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P.S.
The chicken, while it has the taste and texture of fried chicken, is actually sauteed.
Classic French Cuisine defines sauteed :  “Cooked in fat, not covered by fat”
Classic French Cuisine defines fried :        “Cooked in fat, covered by fat”
In most restaurant settings, one would just fry the chicken in the fryer.
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Fried Chicken&Boursin Sandwich

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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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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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Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

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Stir Fried Chicken And Vegetables

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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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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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For a long time, nobody around here would touch Pork belly with a ten-foot pole.
Pork belly was deemed to be inferior, unhealthy and fattening. However, during the past couple of years, secondary meat cuts (as well as offal) have become “IN”, so all of a sudden pork belly, almost always “Asian Glazed”, has popped up on every menu in town. While this could be a good development, the sad fact is that a tiny portion of pork belly now costs as much as a steak and most preparations leave a lot to be desired.
The smart solution? Cook it at home, naturally 🙂
I grew up with pork belly and most other secondary cuts, as well as offal, so I have been eating this stuff all my life and have a number of recipes for all of them.
Yesterday I prepared pork belly in one of the most simple yet also most delicious way:
Braised in red wine and veggies, served with mashed potatoes.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to mix the mashed potatoes with fresh cabbage to make a very hearty and tasty dish. Although I don’t remember the name of this dish, it stayed in my memory because my brother and I loved it, but my Dad hated it because in his opinion it was not traditional and therefore should not be served for a proper meal. This dish approximates the Italian “Lesso di Patate e Cavolo Verza” and the Irish “Colcannon”. Apparently, my Mom was right-on with her creation 🙂
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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Malbec-Braised Pork Belly With Napa Potatoes

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Preparation :
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