ideas

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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Click here for more Twice-Baked Potatoes  on  ChefsOpinion
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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 :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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NOT !!! The Prettiest Dish Of The Day –

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– but  without a doubt one of the tastiest dishes of the day 🙂
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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Today I set out to prepare a pizza for dinner, the way I love it with very little cheese and just a bit of tomato. Then I came across this jamon serrano and brie cheese in my fridge and I thought, maybe a calzone? But I am not really a fan of the texture of a calzone, so I tried something new by mixing all the garnish into the dough before rolling it out. The result was THE BEST ….. whatever it was – Pizza? Bread? Pie? or whatever name one deems most appropriate (bread, probably?) for this sexy little thing.
At first, when I started to fold the garnish into the dough, it did not look and feel as if it would come together and I thought I just screwed it up – I should really have put it between two layers of dough (calzone style).
But after a bit of a push, it worked out just fine and although the final product would not win a beauty contest (this can easily be improved), the texture and taste were absolutely first-rate. Definitely a new standard in my ever-increasing repertoire of quirky dishes 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pizza  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Lahmacun  and  Shrimp & Sardines Pie  on  ChefsOpinion
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Pizza Dough Recipe:

Ingredients :

A/P flour,   2 cups (plus more for kneading)
Water,   3/4 cup, warm
Active dry yeast,   1 envelope
Sugar,   1 teaspoon
Olive oil,   3 table spoon
Kosher salt,

Method :

Pour water into small bowl, mix into the yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil, knead until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth. Dust with flour as you work the dough. Transfer to prepared a bowl; turn dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a moist towel. Let dough rise until doubled in volume.Punch down dough. Pull dough until desired thickness and shape is achieved. If this is too difficult, roll the dough with a rolling-pin. However, in my opinion, the pizza will turn out superior if the dough is pulled.
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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Hans’ Panzanino

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The first written recipe for  Panzanella dates to the 15th century. Originally, stale bread was soaked in water, onions added, then dressed with olive oil, salt and vinegar. This eventually morphed into the modern  Panzanella , through the addition of cucumbers and, later-on, tomatoes.
Later still, lettuce, olives, mozzarella, white wine, capers, anchovies, celery, carrots, red wine, red onion, cucumber, tuna, parsley, boiled eggs, mint, bell peppers, lemon juice, and garlic were sometimes added, although traditionalist’s still prefer the simple version of soaked bread, onions, olive oil, salt, tomatoes and sometimes fresh basil.
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The dish below is NOT panzanalla !!!
However, it shares with panzanella the rustic, vinegar and olive oil soaked bread and the fresh vegetables (and a lot of other stuff) 🙂
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Here  now is my (slightly askew and liberal) take on panzanella, sandwich and salad – all three rolled into one wonderful dish.
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Today I did not feel like cooking, so I thought I’ll have a simple “Vesper” (the Swabian word for a snack involving bread, cheese, cold cuts and sometimes onions, pickles and tomatoes)
……then I thought, why not make a nice salad of it………then I thought why not make an enriched variation of panzanella…….. then ………..
Well, here you see the final result of my back and forth considerations.
And what a great result/dish it had become. I am not sure if there was such a thing as a Panzanino in Italy before today, but in my opinion, it certainly should be from now on. Even if there was, if it does not include all the stuff you see here, it certainly would not be as splendid as the great  Hans’ Panzanino  you see here.
This dish absolutely rock’s, and for lack of a better name, I officially name it :
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“””   Hans’ Panzanino   “”””
(As in Panzanella / Panino)
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And there you have it.
A wonderful “Italian” style sandwich – born on 11/17/2016 in, of all places, Miami, Florida 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  Panzanella  on  ChefsOpinion
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Hans' Panzanino

Hans’ Panzanino

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Hans' Panzanella Panino

Hans’ Panzanino

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Hans' Panzanino

Hans’ Panzanino

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Hans' Panzanella Panino

Hans’ Panzanino

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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Tandoori Chicken cooking in a Tandoor


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Excerpt from Wiki:
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” Tandoori
chicken is a dish originating in the Indian subcontinent. It is widely popular in South Asia particularly India and Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Western world. It consists of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared.
The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture tandoori masala. Cayenne pepper, red chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue. A higher amount of turmeric produces an orange color. In milder versions, both red and yellow food coloring are sometimes used to achieve bright colors, but turmeric powder is both mild and brightly colored, as is paprika, a sweet red pepper powder.[5] It is traditionally cooked at high temperatures in a tandoor (clay oven).

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Excerpt from a previous post  on  ChefsOpinion:
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” Some  of my favorite food-memories are from my time living in Karachi, Pakistan, were my wife Maria and I had many wonderful dinners at the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, the ” Avari Towers, Karachi“.
Sadly, I understand that this restaurant has been converted into a steak restaurant by now ( after all, its been nearly 20 years since Maria and I lived there).
At the time, the roof top was a very exclusive, local-fare only, restaurant, with a tandoori oven right there on the rooftop.
Benazir Bhutto, who a few years later became prime minister of Pakistan, resided in a house just next to our hotel and came to eat at the roof top a few times while we were there, which got Maria excited each time and she actually asked Mrs.Bhutto for an autograph (which she got, despite the incredible security), which made Maria happy and embarrassed me🙂 .
Anyway, as far as the food was concerned, all the restaurants at the  Avari Towers  were in my opinion by far the best and safest places to enjoy a meal in all of  Karachi  and the tandoori dishes at the rooftop topped it all !
I had many a good tandoori dish while traveling in Pakistan and of course in India, but never did I find a good one in Florida in all the years I have resided here. While they might exist, so far they have eluded me.
So, whenever I lust for tasty, well prepared tandoori-style food that rekindles my memories of times past, I usually have to take matters in my own hands. ”
Although I don’t have access to a tandoor, this is as close as you can get to the real thing. “Faux”, maybe – but super delicious, definitely 🙂
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مزےکری  !   maze karein   !   زندگی اچھی ہے  !   

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P.S.
Usually tandoori chicken is cut into cubes and threaded on skewers before cooking. However, sometimes whole or split chicken are cooked, hanging on hooks and wires in the center of the tandoor.
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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

The Ultimate (Faux) Tandoori Chicken

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let chicken rest in a warm place at least 15 minutes before cutting into serving sized pieces; serves 4 - 6

let chicken rest in a warm place at least 15 minutes before cutting into serving sized pieces; serves 4 – 6

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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One For The Kids # 4 – “Spaghetti Bolognese” (Spaghetti Eis)

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When  I posted  “Eiskaffee” a few days ago, one of my linkedin readers mentioned “Spaghetti Eis”, which reminded me of this, another childhood favorite of mine (of every kid?)
When I was very little, on special occasions my parents used to take my brother and I to the  “Eisdiele” (Ice Cream Parlor).
A few times, just when we were ready to order one of the ice cream wonders,  my dad dampened the excitement by declaring that because we did not yet have lunch, instead of ice cream he would have to order the only main course available, spaghetti.
This caused a short moment of bitter disappointment, only to be replaced with euphoric jubilation when THIS dish arrived. (Because I was so young, they were able to pull this off more than once 🙂
So there you have it, another happy childhood food-memory 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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One For The Kids # 4 - "Spaghetti Bolognese"    (Spaghetti Eis)

One For The Kids # 4 – “Spaghetti Bolognese” (Spaghetti Eis)

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One For The Kids # 4 - "Spaghetti Bolognese"    (Spaghetti Eis)

One For The Kids # 4 – “Spaghetti Bolognese” (Spaghetti Eis)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Eiskaffee

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During  the past few very hot and very humid weeks I went to a couple of different establishments to get a cooling drink which I have had a huge craving for lately – “Eiskaffee“.
Today, after numerous unsuccessful attempts, I finally ended-up making it myself at home, because I could not get it anywhere 😦
Maybe it’s because German “eiskaffee” translates into English “Iced Coffee”???
At different places I was served various things, none of it even close to a Eiskaffee. Most versions were simple coffee with ice cubes, some contained added cream or condensed milk, some of them cold brewed coffee with ice cubes (why waste your time and $ on cold-brewed coffee when you water it down with ice??) but none of them was the original I was craving for.
You see, Eiskaffee is usually served at a Café (coffee shop)Eiscafé or Eisdiele (Ice Cream Parlor) in Germany. There you can order a huge variety of “Eisbecher“, different concoctions of ice cream, fresh or canned fruit, whipped cream, liquors, sweet wafers, coffee, chocolate, sprinkles, etc, etc, etc……..and one of the traditional  Eisbecher  is  Eiskaffee. It’s simplicity is stunning, it’s wonderful taste and refreshingness even more so. Like all simple food and drinks, the secret in it’s greatness lies in the use of top-notch ingredients. Top of the line vanilla ice cream, best quality, double strength coffee, fresh-whipped heavy cream, great quality coco powder to sprinkle on top and, if used, good quality cognac or coffee liquor.
So simple! So Good !
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here to see a large variety of  Eisbecher
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Click here to see what’s  NOT  Eiskaffee
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Below see the real McCoy.
Two different presentations, same ingredients :
Top of the line vanilla ice cream, best quality, double strength coffee, fresh-whipped heavy cream, great quality coco powder to sprinkle on top.
Optional : A shot of good quality cognac or coffee liquor.
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Eiskaffee

Eiskaffee

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Eiskaffee

Eiskaffee

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Cucumber And Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

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It’s  BBQ time ! The perfect opportunity to shine with your favorite home made salads, sauces and condiments.
This salad is one of my BBQ standby’s, a perfect side dish to accompany hot meat just off the grill.
“Cucumber and carrot slaw in Greek yogurt dressing” is full of flavor and crunchy texture, looks great and can be made hours in advance, which makes it well-suited to take to potlucks, or before friends and family show up for a BBQ at your house.
Actually, I sometimes enjoy a large bowl of it just by itself as a light and tasty lunch on a hot summer day (As I did yesterday) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Great Salads  on  ChefsOpinion
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Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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slice 1 lb of cucumbers into thin slices

slice 1 lb of cucumbers into thin slices

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season generously with 2 tblsp kosher salt, mix well, set aside for 15 minutes

season generously with 2 tblsp kosher salt, mix well, set aside for 15 minutes

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after 15 minutes, squeeze all excess water/juices from the cucumbers, discard the liquid

after 15 minutes, squeeze all excess water/juices from the cucumbers, discard the liquid   (or add vodka and ice for a great cocktail 🙂

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add 1 lb freshly shredded raw carrots

add 1 lb freshly shredded raw carrots

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add 1 tsp sriracha, 1 tblsp garlic paste, 2 cup Greek yogurt, mix all together

add 1 tsp sriracha, 1 tblsp garlic paste, 2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup ranch dressing,, mix all together

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check/adjust seasoning

check/adjust seasoning

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Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

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Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

Cucumber Carrot Slaw In Greek Yogurt Dressing

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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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Click here for more  Steak Salad  on  ChefsOpinion
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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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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 :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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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 :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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