kosher salt

Bella’s Fault ! (“Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold”)

Greek Lamb Sandwich

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So  today, at around noon, I seasoned and seared this wonderful boneless leg of lamb I bought earlier, then put it in the oven to roast it slowly until rare, let it rest a bit, then serve with a nice salad for a great lunch.
Well, THAT did not happen ! 😦
As soon as I’d put the meat in the oven, Bella insisted that we go for a walk. I thought to myself ok, just around the corner, then back to take care of lunch.
But, as soon as we started our walk, she pulled me towards the park by the lake and I forgot all about the lamb in the oven. Needless to say, when we got back 1.5 hours later, the meat was well done. After kicking myself (mentally), I cut the leg into smaller, flat pieces, wrapped them in alu-foil and put it back into the oven at 375F for another 2,5 hours, at which point the meat was very tender and almost falling apart. I let it cool off a bit, then pulled it into fine shreds with two forks, seasoned it with olive oil, kosher salt, cumin, cayenne, oregano and voilà – the perfect topping for a Greek sandwich.
When I was an apprentice, my chef, Herr Mueller, used to say about cooking:
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” Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold. “
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And there you have it ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Lamb  on  ChefsOpinion
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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Preparation :
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Not Your Typical Poolside Snack

Stir Fried Rice Flakes With Shrimp And Spicy Sausage

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Lately, the weather has been perfect for poolside meals – not too hot, not too windy, no rain.
Bella has taken on to take a swim in the pool whenever we are in the back. She used to hate the water, but all of a sudden she has become a big fan. For me, the water is still a bit too cold to enjoy swimming, but I love to cook outside and eating al fresco next to the water. Life is Good 🙂
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Bon Appetit !  Living In Florida Is Great (Mostly)  🙂
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Click here for more  Shrimp  on  ChefsOpinion
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Stir Fried Rice Flakes With Shrimp And Spicy Sausage

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Stir Fried Rice Flakes With Shrimp And Spicy Sausage

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Stir Fried Rice Flakes With Shrimp And Spicy Sausage

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Stir Fried Rice Flakes With Shrimp And Spicy Sausage

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Preparation :
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Grilled Pork Chop, Caramelized Lemon, Baked Potato And Mast-O Klar

JUICY ! grilled pork chop, cooked all the way 🙂

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To  all the wannabe “Chefs” out there who insist that pork, poultry and fish has to be undercooked to be juicy – look at this piece of well-cooked pork, then please go back to school/apprenticeship and let a REAL chef teach you how to cook !!!
As Chef Susser used to say:
Cooking is easy – IF you know how to do it 🙂
(However, if you just happen to like the awful texture of undercooked pork – pls go ahead and enjoy) 😦
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pork  on  ChefsOpinion
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Grilled Pork Chop, Caramelized Lemon, Baked Potato And Mast-O Klar

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Grilled Pork Chop, Caramelized Lemon, Baked Potato And Mast-O Klar

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Preparation :
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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew


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Chances
 are that if you love seafood and have traveled in Spain, especially in the provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona, you have at one point or another had an encounter with the dish featured here. It represents the philosophy of both old and new cooking styles one finds all over this area and in fact, in most parts of the Mediterranean coastline – a few first-class ingredients cooked without fuss and pronto- Life is Good !
A wonderful meal, ideally shared with great company and a glass (or two) of the local wine, and, if on top of that you are lucky enough to sit in a cozy little restaurant by the sea, life is as good as it gets.
Somebody gifted me with a small bag of mussels on Sunday, which by itself would have made a great appetizer. But because I always have shrimp in the freezer (today I had two different types,  small/ peeled,/ tail-off and large/ tail-on), and because I wanted to have something a bit more substantial for dinner, I thought this seafood stew would do the trick. And indeed, it did 🙂
Great taste, easy on the eyes and a snap to prepare, both Bella and I were completely happy with the way this turned out 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Since I don’t drink/use alcohol, I have started to use apple cider as a substitute where wine is called for.
Works out great for most dishes, both in the food and with the food 🙂 Cheers !
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Click here for more  Seafood  on  ChefsOpinion
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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

Catalan Shrimp & Mussels Stew

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Flaming Hot Chili Chicken Noodle Bowl With Broccolini And Straw Mushrooms

Meanwhile - in Florida..........BBQ Floridian Style

Meanwhile – in Florida……….BBQ Floridian Style

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OK,  while you let this sink in, let’s move on to today’s featured dish :
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If  you are not used to VERY hot food, don’t try these noodles !
If you love bland and boring noodle dishes, don’t try these noodles !
If you don’t want to open your mind and taste buds to new sensations, don’t try these noodles !
But, if you love the sensation of flaming hot (spicy) food and the incomparable mouthfeel you get when the pain of the first few spicy bites subside, to be replaced by the warm, slight numbness which can only be achieved by eating large numbers of chilies, then this dish is for you. (Think Szechuan hot pot)
While I don’t eat VERY spicy food as often as I used to, once in a while I need my fix, and today was the time to get it. 🙂
A wonderful dinner, a full belly and clear sinuses – another great and very enjoyable evening !
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Flaming Hot Chili Chicken Noodle Bowl With Broccoli And Straw Mushrooms

Flaming Hot Chili Chicken Noodle Bowl With Broccolini And Straw Mushrooms

 

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Flaming Hot Chili Chicken Noodle Bowl With Broccoli And Straw Mushrooms

Flaming Hot Chili Chicken Noodle Bowl With Broccolini And Straw Mushrooms

 

 

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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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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
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And The Oscar Goes To …………This Salad

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Salade Oscar

Salade Oscar

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No – I did not watch the Oscars tonight.
In fact, although I am a huge movie fan who watches at least one movie per day, often two and sometimes three, I stopped watching the once glamorous and exciting Oscars years ago, when it had become a boring, extremely drawn-out and pointless parody of its former glory.
So, in order to have my own little oscar celebration, I created my personal version in form of a great dinner, replacing the little statue with the best dish of the night.
While avocados, nectarines, red onions and pears in a dressing of lemon juice and sweet Thai chili sauce might not seem to be nominees that fit into the same (salad) category, here they share the top honors for my new favorite salad 🙂
For obvious reasons, I’ll call this salad “Salade Oscar”
Best supporting actor – bone-in rib eye steak 🙂
In the end, a great (show) dinner, lots of applause (Bella, for the steak) and I walking away with yet another trophy (salad) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for last years  “Oscar”  on  ChefsOpinion
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Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

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Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

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Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

Salade Oscar . Bone-In Rib Eye Steak

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Preparation :
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Gnocchi With Creamed Leeks And Grape Tomatoes

Gnocchi With Creamed Leeks And Grape Tomatoes

Gnocchi With Creamed Leeks And Grape Tomatoes

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I always  wondered why leeks are such an underrated vegetable ?
Leeks look good, taste good, are healthy, available year-round and very cheap economical 🙂
When I was a kid, braised leeks were a common side dish on most restaurant menus. I have NOT seen leeks on any menu for years 😦
So as usual, if I have a specific food craving, I have to take care of it myself. To up the ante, instead of just featuring leeks as a side dish, I made it an equal partner to the gnocchi in this dish.
And what a great dish it is !
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Gnocchi  on  ChefsOpinion
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Gnocchi Recipe:
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Ingredients:
1 lb Russet potatoes,   cooked, peeled, mashed
A/P flour,   sifted – as needed
2 Eggs,  whole, whisked
Kosher salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 0z Butter
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Method :
Add eggs, seasoning and flour to potatoes, mix lightly until smooth.
Shape into gnocchi.
Make light indentations with a fork.
Cook a sample in simmering salted water. If too soft, add flour. If too dense, add egg.
Cook gnocchi in simmering water until gnocchi float. Remove with slotted spoon into a strainer. Saute in melted butter.
Serves four.
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Gnocchi With Creamed Leeks And Grape Tomatoes

Gnocchi With Creamed Leeks And Grape Tomatoes

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Preparation :
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Pork Sinigang (Sinigang na Baboy)

Yesterday  I had a long-standing wish fulfilled 🙂
(Mind you, there are “BIG WISHES” in life and then there are “small wishes” This was a small wish, but nevertheless, I am happy that it finally came through)
For years, I wished there’d be a good Filipino restaurant in my neighborhood, but there is only one that I know of within a few miles around, and frankly, that one sucks!
I don’t want to go into details, but believe me, if it would be halfway decent I would still go there. I have tried it three times, but all three times it was VERY disappointing, so I stopped going there and gave up hope. Whenever I needed a Pinoy food-fix, I had to prepare it myself.
So yesterday I went to do some errands in a close-by shopping center to which I have been going for more than 15 years. Much to my surprise, I saw a “new” restaurant named Manila Grill&BBQ  tucked away in a corner. (I asked an employee how long they’ve been open and he said more than two years)
I had never noticed it before, maybe because what sticks out on the sign is  Grill & BBQ,  so one does not quickly associate this with Pinoy food………..
The place is very clean, simply but nicely appointed and the employees are very friendly, attentive and professional.
The food, THE FOOD 🙂 – it was absolutely delightful, very authentic, nicely presented and wonderfully tasty. The prices are moderate and overall, it was one of the best lunch experiences I had in any restaurant in Miami in years.
You can read more about it here: Manila Grill & BBQ, Pembroke Pines, Florida
So now, back to the dish at hand,  Sinigang Na Baboy
Sinigang is a sour soup native to the Philippines. Beef, pork, shrimp, fish, and even chicken (sinampalukang manok) can be used. The one featured here today uses pork as the main ingredient. One can use boneless pork, though bony parts of the pig known as “buto-buto” are usually preferred. Neck bones, spare ribs, baby back ribs, and pork belly all can be used.
The most common vegetables used are egglant, okra, onion, green beans, tomato and taro root.
The most common souring agent is tamarind juice, (sampalog), but if not available, you can use calamansi, lime, lemon,  guava, bilimbi (kamias), green mango, pineapple, and wild mangosteen (santol) To go an even easier route, you can buy instant “Sinigang Mix” ready to add to the stock while cooking. (For my personal taste this is too salty and not sour enough)
Today I went to look-up the sinigang I posted before on ChefsOpinion, but much to my surprise I could not find a single post, although I cook sinigang quite often. I then checked my folder of unpublished posts and low and behold, there was a bunch of pics of a sinigang I cooked about 6 years ago but never published. Looking at the quality of the pics I understand why I hesitated, but what the heck, here it is:
Sinigang na baboy from the distant past 🙂
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Masaya Ang Buhay !   Kainan Na !
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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Preparation :
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Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

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Seafood , wine, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, beans and potatoes give this dish that familiar taste and appearance you’ll find when ordering seafood stew along the coast of Portugal and it’s islands.
Maria and I have had this particular stew (sometimes with, sometimes without the beans) a couple of times in the home of one of our friends in Funchal, Madeira, while living there, ca 17 years ago.
Served with rustic bread and LOTS of red Douro (Portuguese wine from vineyards along the Douro river) and Madeira (fortified wine from the islands of Madeira), seafood cooked in wine has since become one of my favorite meals to share with friends, and it has been one of the foods I remember most of that happy time, that beautiful country and its wonderful people.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Food and Memories of Portugal  on  ChefsOpinion
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Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

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Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

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Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

Shrimp And Octopus Stewed In Red Wine

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Preparation :
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