texture

One For The Kid’s # 6 – Banana/Walnut Cake With Figs, Raspberry Jam & Nutella

One For The Kid’s # 6 – Banana/Walnut Cake With Figs, Raspberry Jam & Nutella

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“ONE FOR THE KIDS”  is a series of Goodies which are wonderful treats for kids of all ages . They are super easy to prepare so you can ask your little ones to give you a helping hand in the production, which will make them proud and add even more happiness to a wonderful treat 🙂
(Here I used a store-bought banana walnut cake, because you don’t want to have the little ones to labor over the elaborate cake preparations).
In my area, there are many grocery chains and bakeries who sell great banana walnut cake. However, if you prefer to make your own, below is a link to a super easy recipe I’ve used in the past and which I found to give excellent results.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !

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Click here for more  One For The Kids  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Walnut Cake Recipe  on  FoodNetwork
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Click here for  more  Dishes with Walnuts  on  ChefsOpinion
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One For The Kid’s # 6 – Banana/Walnut Cake With Figs, Raspberry Jam & Nutella

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One For The Kid’s # 6 – Banana/Walnut Cake With Figs, Raspberry Jam & Nutella

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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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More  Pierogi on  ChefsOpinion
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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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Click here for more  Faux Dishes  on  ChefsOpinion
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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 :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds


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has to wonder:
Why are sweet or savory crepes not on everybody’s table at least once a week ???
I can’t recall to ever have met anybody who’d claim not to like crepes, either in its sweet or savory form, or both.
Crepes can be prepared easily by anybody, even by a child or somebody with two left hands. Even if one does not like to cook, these babies need all of a few minutes to prepare, are very economical and, have I said this already? – are easy and quick to prepare.
In its sweet, plain variation, just sprinkle some castor sugar on top and maybe a bit of whipped cream, and you have a great dessert or sweet snack.
It’s savory, plain version will make a quick meal by drizzling a bit of butter on top and serving them with a small salad on the side.
And then, you have the more elaborate stuff 🙂
Savory crepes can be filled with creamed or buttered mushrooms, vegetables, seafood, chicken, game meats, spicy sausages and a myriad of other, more or less fancy goodies.
Sweet crepes will be happy to be married to caramelized fruit, creams, chocolate sauce, puddings, cream cheese (blintzes anyone?), nutella, yogurt, nuts, etc, etc, etc.
I myself have prepared just about any combination of crepes and “stuff” under the sun. I don’t really have a favorite per se, I love ’em all 🙂
So here is a version of crepes with caramelized fruits. I have to admit that the blackberries and pomegranate are rather expensive, especially when you cook for a large family. But be assured, caramelized apples, pears, oranges, bananas, strawberries, or any other more economical fruit will be just as wonderful – yummy to taste and pretty to look at 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pancakes  on  ChefsOpinion
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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Duck  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Dirty Noodles  on  ChefsOpinion
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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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Confession Of An PT Addict

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I confess !
I am a lifelong PT addict, ever since I was a child and my mother fed me my first dose of PT ………
I will eat PT (pig’s tails) with gusto, in whatever guise you set them before me – braised in soy sauce, salted, fried, in stews, souse, soups, or just by themselves with bread and condiments, as shown here.
For today’s lunch, one bucket of 5 lbs was the exact right amount for Bella and me to pig out (pun intended). Of course, there are a lot of bones, so the actual amount of meat is not really that excessive (well, maybe a little……).
One might call this a case of “PT Overdose” 🙂
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Excerpt from an article by  Chichi Wang  on  Serious Eats :
” I want to make the case that pigs’ tails contain everything desirable in the pig, and in exactly the right proportions. Unlike ox tail, the tails of pigs come with the skin intact so that each segment is a perfect cross-section of skin, fat, tendon, and meat.
Fried or roasted, the skin of the tail is chewy and crisp, with a gelatinous layer underneath. Tail flesh is fork-tender like that of the neck bones, but meatier than trotters. There’s a modest amount of tendon around each bony hub–just enough to make the gnawing enjoyable, but not so much as to distract from the whole. All in all, a Pigs tail is a little porky universe unto itself. 
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– Looks like I am not the only “PT Addict” 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  PT  on  ChefsOpinion
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Confession Of An PT Addict

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Confession Of An PT Addict

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serve with fresh pretzel bread (laugenstangen), hot and mild chilies and mustard (or fresh horseradish if available)

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Confession Of An PT Addict

a bucket of heaven……

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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  Bulalo  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Shank  on  ChefsOpinion
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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 :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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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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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Liver  on  ChefsOpinion
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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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To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Grilled Veal Breast, Sauteed Potatoes, Chimichurri

Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes And Chimichurri

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Sliced veal breast is a cut I use often at home, mainly for these three reasons:
1.- It’s cheap. 1 lb costs around $2.50.
2.- It tastes great.
3.- I love the texture.
Since veal breast is not a very tender part of an animal to begin with, most folks would braise it for a couple of hours to reach the tenderness they are accustomed to. While this will produce a great dish if properly done, it will lose most of that special veal flavor that some of us cherish. But if you prefer to grill or saute the veal breast, you must make sure that you do it right, otherwise, it will end up being dry and tough.
However, if you sear the meat at high heat, then cook it VERY ! slowly for the rest of the cooking process, you will be rewarded with a very fine piece of veal, full of flavor, juicy and tender. The veal breast slices I used for this dish cooked on each side for about 35 minutes until they were medium-well, then I let them rest another 10 minutes before cutting into them. They were perfect and an absolute delight 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Grilled Veal Breast, Sautéed Potatoes, And Chimichurri

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Preparation :
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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July, “Independence Day”, Americas most celebrated public holiday.
And what better way than to rub it into the 400-year-old wound of the British than to celebrate this glorious occasion with this most typical of British desserts, the English Trifle 🙂
Well, just kidding. We are of course thankful that the Brit’s left us with this superbly wonderful dessert
(But mostly with the fact that they left us) 🙂 .
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Excerpt from “The Spruce”:
>>An English Trifle is the quintessential pudding that has graced British tables for more than four centuries.
The blousey looking, decadent, rich dessert is simply luscious. There are so many variations in the traditional recipe; some will boast jelly in their trifle, some not; fruit is a must-have for some, for others, no way. This is my recipe and one I have been making for many years. Essentially a trifle needs a sponge soaked (if for adults) in sherry, a thick layer of creamy custard and a deep layer of lightly whipped fresh cream. The rest is all about personal preference. My favorite trifle recipe is made with jelly as it is even more appealing to children though if so, do leave out the sherry. If you prefer a trifle without jelly, simply omit and proceed without, this will be quicker to make as it will not require setting in the fridge. You choose, they are all delicious.<<
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Vanilla pudding recipe:
1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, pinch of salt, 2 cups milk, 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten, 2 tablespoons softened butter, a dash of vanilla extract.
1) – In a 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Simmer and stir 1 minute.
2) – Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Simmer and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
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P.S.
You can easily control the texture of your trifle by adding more or less cake, more or less fruit or jello, more or less whipped cream, more or less pudding and by soaking the cake with more or less liquid (booze for the grown-up’s, juice or honey for the kids)
(I personally prefer a lighter texture – more pudding, more cream, more fruits, easy on the cake).
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P.P.S.
I would usually use a bright red jam for a trifle, but when I started to prepare this one, I realized that I forgot to buy the jam. After an agonizing 2 seconds of mental deliberation, I decided to save myself a 5 mile trip to the store and instead use the apricot preserve I had in the larder. Less color, same great flavor.
And there you have it 🙂
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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY !!!
(Great Britain rejoice, you still have Gibraltar) 🙂
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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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Fourth Of July – Celebrating The First Brexit Of 1776 (English Trifle)

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