Grab Bag

“WhatAPig” – Pork & Peppers On Baguette

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Every  so often, a quick sandwich is all I need to satisfy my culinary cravings.
The range of sandwiches I enjoy is wide and spans from a simple ham & cheese sandwich to the most elaborate lobster roll, foie gras on toast and anything in-between.
Today I feasted on such a typical “in-between” sandwich : The “WhatAPig”.
Although quick and easy to prepare, it does not lack in substance, taste and appearance and is a great meal for any occasion when sophistication is not required to impress 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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WhatAPig - Pork & Peppers On Baguette

“WhatAPig” – Pork & Peppers On Baguette

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WhatAPig - Pork & Peppers On Baguette

“WhatAPig” – Pork & Peppers On Baguette

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Preparation :
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Stir Fried Flower Mushrooms, Bok Choy And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

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This  is my all-time favorite meatless entrée. I used to special-order this in Chinese restaurants which Maria and I frequented, but now I hardly go out anymore, so special orders are not something I want to bother the chefs with in places where I only show up once in a blue moon.
So, I prepare it for myself at home and usually it is at least as good as I could hope for in a restaurant 🙂
I don’t normally plan this in advance, but when I am at my neighborhood Asian market and see fresh Shiitake , also called Chinese mushroom or black mushroom, this dish is on the table the next day. (Especially if the “Flower Mushroom”, xiang-gu or huāgū (花菇) is available).
Today I had vegetable stock at hand from vegetables I prepped, blanched and froze in the morning for the coming week, so I used that instead of the chicken stock I usually use, which actually made it suitable for vegetarians to enjoy.
So, if you are looking for a great meat-less or vegetarian dish, this delicious beauty will serve you well 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Stir Fried Flower Mushroomes, Bok Choi And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

Stir Fried Flower Mushrooms, Bok Choy And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

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Stir Fried Flower Mushroomes, Bok Choi And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

Stir Fried Flower Mushrooms, Bok Choy And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

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Stir Fried Flower Mushroomes, Bok Choi And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

Stir Fried Flower Mushrooms, Bok Choy And Carrots In Hoi Sin Sauce

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Preparation :
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Steak Salad – Just A Bit Different

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We  have come to expect a steak salad to be mostly beef and greens, usually with an afterthought of a few cucumbers, tomatoes and onions thrown in. (Myself – guilty) 🙂 😦
So today I went into a different direction, with a salad of pickled artichokes, sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, black beans and garbanzos in a delicious sweet chili, garlic confit and cilantro vinaigrette .
The result was a spectacular dish, outstanding in looks, taste and texture.
Definitely a permanent addition to my personal repertoir.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Sweet Chili, Garlic Confit And Cilantro Vinaigrette Recipe :
Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 10 cloves of garlic confit, 1 tblsp sweet thai chili sauce, 1 tblsp chopped cilantro, 2 tblsp rice vinegar and kosher salt to taste.
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Steak Salad - Just A bit Different

Steak Salad – Just A Bit Different

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Steak Salad - Just A bit Different

Steak Salad – Just A Bit Different

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Artichoke & Legume Salad

Artichoke & Legumes Salad

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Preparation :
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Mongolian Beef

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Fact: Mongolian Beef is not Chinese food.
Fact: Mongolian Beef is not Mongolian food.
Fact: Mongolian Beef is an American creation from the 40’s.
Fact: Mongolian Beef can be pretty awful.
Fact: Mongolian Beef can be pretty good.
Fact: Mongolian Beef has a million and one recipes – different beef cuts, different vegetables, different sauce, etc.
Fact: Mongolian Beef  should contain beef strips and scallions stir fried in peanut oil and finished in a savory, spicy brown sauce.
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Fact: THIS Mongolian Beef recipe is super delicious 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef

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Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef

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Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef


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Preparation :
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Beef Paillard And Chili Cheese Fries (Boss Level)

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Beef  Paillard – when was the last time (if ever) you have seen that on a restaurant menu? (Or  chicken paillard  or  veal paillard ???)
Chili cheese fries, on the other hand, can be found everywhere, at least here in America, although mostly and sadly in less than stellar variations of that beloved junk-food. Starting out with crappy fries, covered with an even crappier mountain of questionable “cheese” just does not do it for me.
On the other hand, if you follow this recipe, you will be spoiled forever and any less marvelous version of chili cheese fries will fail to accomplish the nearly impossible task to measure-up to these delicious beauties.
Here now a dish which combines both a great beef paillard and the best chili cheese fries ever 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Paillard  on  ChefsOpinionon
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Click here for more  Tonkatsu and Donkatsu on  ChefsOpinion

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Hans’Special Fries Recipe :
What makes these fries “special” is the fact that I fry them only once instead of the usual required two times. I start them in cold duck fat or goose fat (if you must, substitute with peanut oil) and let the temperature slowly rise to 385 F. By the time the oil is hot and the fries are golden brown, they will be creamy on the inside and very crisp on the outside. Season them with both fine salt and sea salt. The fine salt adheres better to the fries while the sea salt add’s the superb taste and crunchiness associated with sea salt.
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P.S.
Please make the effort to serve this dish with  tonkatsu sauce  instead of ketchup – I promise the effort will be worth the extra few minutes prep-time 🙂
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Tonkatsu sauce  (my way) :
Mix 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tblsp soy sauce, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tblsp white wine (or sherry), 1 tsp sriracha and a few drops of maggi seasoning.
Note: I love this dipping sauce and use it for lot’s of other fried, grilled and sautéed dishes.
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Beef Paillard And Chili-Cheese Fries (Boss Level)

Beef Paillard And Chili-Cheese Fries (Boss Level)

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Beef Paillard And Chili-Cheese Fries (Boss Level)

Beef Paillard And Chili-Cheese Fries (Boss Level)

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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  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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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 56 – Steak And Egg

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If  you feel you need a breakfast that will prepare you for a special day ahead, be it a tough work-day or a fun play-day, this tasty beauty will probably fit the bill. Even if you are a vegetarian, just omit the steak and you will still have a dish that is full of flavor and texture, pretty and just – yummy 🙂
Good morning and have a great day !
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  Sauce Mornay Recipe
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Note: Although only 2 eggs are needed for this recipe, I usually cook one extra egg, just in case one breaks……(better safe than sorry)
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Steak and Egg

Breakfast Of Champions # 56 – Steak & Egg

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Breakfast Of Champions # 56 - Steak & Egg

Breakfast Of Champions # 56 – Steak & Egg

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Preparation :
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Chicken And Waffles

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Chicken And Waffles  are deeply rooted in the American south and have become a staple  Soul Food  item. More commonly made with fried chicken and served with gravy or honey and butter, I never really understood the attraction of the dish. However, my own version presented here, with very crisp waffles, sautéed boneless chicken breast and smothered onions in cream sauce has fully won my heart and will be a new standby in my home-kitchen repertoire.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  Waffle Recipe

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Click here to learn how to cook  Perfectly Juicy, Tasty Chicken Breast
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Chicken And Waffle

Chicken And Waffle

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Chicken And Waffle

Chicken And Waffle

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Preparation :
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Portuguese Eggs

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While Maria and I were living in Funchal, Madeira, we became friends with a wonderful local couple, Balduino and Felicidade. They invited us to their home often, where we usually had an early brunch and then set out to explore the island, usually by car and sometimes by scooter. After a while this became a wonderful routine and it was Balduino’s pride (and our enjoyment) to prepare a different variation of “Portuguese Eggs” each time we met at his house. Over time, we were able to enjoy this dish with squid, octopus, lobster, shrimp, espada (the most popular local fish), chorizo, ham and different greens and herbs. He sometimes sprinkled grated local cheese on top of the eggs before baking, but he never included the more common ricotta cheese. Always accompanied by hearty, home-baked bread and local wine, it was the perfect delicious and fortifying meal to keep us going for hours on our expeditions around the island 🙂
(To be truthful, sometimes we replaced the tours with more wine and a bottle of port and just talked about past and future island-explorations).
Let me say here that Madeira is one of the most beautiful places Maria and I had the luck and privilege to live together 🙂
Here now is today’s version of “Portuguese Eggs” in memory of great friendship, great places to live, happier times and the great love of my life, Maria, who passed away exactly 3 years ago.
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Love ……….
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Click here for more memories of  Madeira  on  ChefsOpinion
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Portuguese Eggs

Portuguese Eggs

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Portuguese Eggs

Portuguese Eggs

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Portuguese Eggs

Portuguese Eggs

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Portuguese Eggs

Portuguese Eggs

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Portuguese Eggs

Portuguese Eggs

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Preparation :
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Soufflé Chocolate Cheese Cake

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Way  back when I was a chef and young cooks asked me for suggestions and advise what to cook during competitions or job-interviews, the most difficult suggestion was usually the dessert course.
Most young cooks (and many old chefs) are not very skilled in pastry, so a quick, easy, foolproof, yet impressing and delicious dessert is usually a problem.
(When I was judging applicants both for sous chef positions and for chef instructor positions, 99 out of 100 desserts presented was  crème brûlée) 😦
As for myself, although during my 3.5 year apprentice ship I was schooled for 6 months in classic french pastry, preparing the stuff was never something I enjoyed a lot.
(On the other hand, eating it is a whole different story) 🙂
The following little gem – Soufflé Chocolate Cheese Cake is a wonderful solution to the dilemma and it helped many of the cooks I mentored to be able to serve a dessert that could stand up to the rest of their presentation. It is so simple and quick to prepare that to this day I prepare it often for myself at home. Besides being easy to prepare, it also lends itself to variations, such as adding fruit, dark chocolate instead of white, or eliminating the chocolate altogether and replacing it with condensed milk. You can also use a spring mold instead of muffin cups to make it into a super-light, regular-sized cake. Because I had a bit of leftover chocolate pudding in the fridge from yesterday, I added it to 3 of the 6 mini-cakes.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

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Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

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Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

Souffle Chocolate Cheese Cake

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Preparation :
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