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Stout Braised Beef Short Ribs

Stout Braised Beef Short Ribs

The magic of braising, turning a tough cut of meat into fork tender, is a no brainer for me. Braising these beef short ribs in a combination of stout beer, red wine, beef stock, soy sauce, whole peeled tomatoes, a mirepoix, and creative assortment of spices make for a luscious dish. Then piling the stout braised beef short ribs on top of yukon mashes potatoes made with half & half, heavy cream, butter, paper thin red onions and a healthy drizzle of truffle oil puts it right over the top!

These stout braised beef short ribs came from Firefly Farms in North Stonington, CT. Firefly is one of two farm’s in Connecticut Certified Humane! When you are buying from a farm like Firefly, who’s practices are above and beyond, you know you are getting a product of a different caliber. The beef I used in this stout braised short ribs recipe was moist, tender, and packed full of flavorful.

We all have some idea of the instense amount of work that goes into farming but their practices at Firefly Farm take it way beyond that. Analyzing agricultural charts dating back to World War II to understand and perfect feeds for each of their endandered breeds they raise on their farm is a grand example of that. Getting the animals diets just right to yeild a most natural and high quality product.

The lard that Firefly offers makes the perfect pie crust, as shown in “Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie”. It is unsaturated because of the attention to detail of the mulefoot hogs diet, one without corn or soy. And oh boy, you should try their bacon!

The special stout I got to braise the beef short ribs was creamy and smooth bringing deep luscious flavors to the dish. The stout came from some friends who have made home craft brewing a hobby, and they call themselves The Bilco Boys Brewery. It’s like night and day to taste a fresh homemade-crafted brew. I find the beer much smoother and the flavors really fresh from citrus to notes of chocolate with a creamy mouth finish. Make sure to keep an eye out for another up and coming craft brewing show next week with The Bilco Boys!

I know you will enjoy the ease of these stout braised beef short ribs whether Flanken or English cut. The end product is the easy sell here. You should try my Homemade Caesar Salad to go along with the ribs, or how about  Spanakopita for an appetizer. If you have a little time on your hands one weekend definitely try this amazing Pickled Eggplant recipe, perfect for holiday gifts! You will need dessert too so be sure to take a look at the beautiful and delicious Pavlova or my special Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Ingredients for Beef Short Ribs:

  • 5-6 lbs Beef short ribs (Firefly Farms if possible)  Flanken Cut if you want to remove the meat as I did in show OR English Cut – 1″ X 3″ pieces
  • 2 bottles STOUT
  • 1 cup red wine, cabernet
  • 2 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lg onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
  • 1 lg carrot coarsely chopped
  • 4 lg garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Wondra flour (quick dissolve flour)
  • 1 RECIPE Yukon Mashed Potatoes
  • OPTIONAL: Truffle oil – finishing oil to drizzle over stout braised short ribs, yukon mashed potatoes and gravy

Directions for Beef Short Ribs:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Rub spice mixture all over ribs anf marinate for 4-12 hours or over night
  3. Pat dry ribs without removing all the spices
  4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or pan
  5. Begin to sear beef short ribs in pan with olive oil, you will have to probably do this in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan
  6. Sear the ribs 3-4 minutes on each side until browned
  7. Remove 1st batch of ribs, set aside in a lg bowl and brown 2nd batch of beef short ribs
  8. Remove 2nd batch of ribs to bowl
  9. Then add in mirepoix with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to dutch oven
  10. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until softened
  11. Add in 2 bottles stout, 1 cup cabernet, 2 cups beef stock, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup whole peeled tomatoes and 1 bay leaf to dutch oven
  12. Add all of the beef short ribs back into the dutch oven making sure the liquid is 3/4 up the side of the meat
  13. Bring to a simmer on the stove for 15 minutes
  14. Cover Dutch oven and place into a pre-heated 350º oven for 3 hours
  15. Every 50-60 minutes check on the ribs to fiip over and make sure you don’t need to add more liquid – it shouldn’t be dry (if it is you can add a splash of water, red wine, or more beef broth…all will work great)
  16. While the beef short ribs are braising in the oven whisk together the glaze
  17. At the 3 hour mark remove beef and place the ribs onto a cookie tray
  18. Put the oven on Broil
  19. Brush a coat of glaze on one side of the ribs and place under the broiler of 2 minutes (only 1 side)
  20. Tilt Dutch oven pan to the side to skim oil off the top of braised veggies
  21. Push all the braised veggies thru a strainer set over a bowl to catch all the juices
  22. Make sure to scrape juices on bottom of the strainer into the bowl too
  23. Add the strained gravy juices to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on low
  24. Whisk in 1 tsp of Wondra flour into the gravy and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken slightly (if it gets too thick you can add in a splash of red wine or beef broth)
  25. If you have Flanken Cut Short ribs remove meat for bones and place in heat proof pan until you are ready to place on top of pile of mashed potatoes with a drizzle of gravy and truffle oil, and a sprinkle of chives
  26. If you have English Cut short ribs place 2 ribs per person onto a pile of Yukon Mashed Potatoes with a drizzle of thickened gravy, truffle oil and a sprinkle of chopped chives, then serve… mangia, mangia!
  27. NOTE: For a finishing oil drizzle Truffle oil all over dish for an extra wow!
  28. NOTE: If you are not eating ribs right away, and want to re-heat add to a heat proof dish, add 1/4-1/2 cup of red wine and beef stock and re-heat on a 350º oven for 30-40 minutes

Spice Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic granuales
  • 1 tsp onion granuales
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 2  tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp blk pepper

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp kethcup
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • a few dashes of favorite hot sauce (Siracha)

Whisk in a medium bowl until combined and brush on ribs

Best Guacamole Ever!

Best Guacamole Ever!

This best guacamole ever recipe will definitely change the way you look at that mixture they call guacamole at the market. I find most of the brands out there both watery and mysterious. Why chance quality. The simple fact is, when my best guacamole recipe is so simple to make why settle for second rate! Even the amounts of finely chopped sweet onion, tomato, jalapeño and cilantro in this recipe are minimal so there’s not a whole lot of prep going on either. These amounts are just enough to add hints of lovely flavors and not take away from the sweet creamy California avocado’s.

Avocado’s are on sale just about every other week at the market so take advantage of this and load up. You can never buy too many and they don’t all have to be perfectly ripened right at that moment. They will ripen on your counter in a matter of days.

If I am not serving this best guacamole ever right away I put one of the avocado pits back into the middle of the guacamole, cover it with saran wrap and put it into the refrigerator until I’m ready. The saran wrap should go directly onto the surface of the guacamole so as not to let the dip oxidize and turn brown. If part of it does oxidize just skim that part off with a spoon and there will be a fresh green surface underneath. And, when making guacamole it’s best when it’s eaten the same day, or definitely by the next.

If you are a big fan of avocado’s you really need to try chocolate avocado mousse! My pulled beef taco’s would be incredible with the best guacamole ever. Serve up a variety of appetizer’s for your get together and add in Sweet potato fries  and salmon gravlax, both incredibly delicious and fun eats! A chocolate pecan pie just might put the party right over the top! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 3 small/med size ripened California avocado’s
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Sweet or Vidalia onion (Georgia onion)
  • 1/4 finely chopped sweet tomatoes any color (cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes…your fav)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (fill 1/4 cup first with whole leaves then chop that)
  • 1/2 of a lg jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds removed, approx. 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” – (rice wine vinegar and olive oil are my secret ingredients that give the guac that little someting extra!)
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce …I use Siracha (which is sold right next to the Tabasco)

Directions:

  1. Slice and remove avocado flesh from the skins as shown in the photo above and place in a large bowl, save one of the avocado pits to add to dip at the end
  2. Slice off any black or dark spots on the avocado’s and discard
  3. Finely chop sweet onion, tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro and add to bowl with avacado’s
  4. Add in s&p and olive oil and rice wine vinegar
  5. Begin to slice halved avocado’s with a knife to help break them up
  6. Then begin to mash with a fork and stir around all of the ingredients
  7. Lastly add Siracha (hot sauce) and 1 tsp of lemon juice
  8. Mix gently to combine and add pit to the middle of the guacamole
  9. The pit helps to preserve guacamole until it get’s all eaten up 🙂
  10. Serve with chips, turkey or beef burgers, salsa …be creative!

Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche


Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche

mixedcevicheMaking shrimp & scallop ceviche really can’t get an easier then this! Ceviche is a South American dish that’s usually served as an appetizer. The fish cures/cooks in citrus juice for an hour or two while you get all your salsa ingredients in order. The citrus curing juices are drained from the fish, leaving a tender shrimp & scallops to be tossed with salsa and voilà. The base of the shrimp and scallop ceviche here is my mango salsa recipe.

When I thought of making ceviche this week, sombrero popped into my head! I went to several store’s, costume store’s included which don’t exist anymore, and was out of luck. I then called my dear friend Maria who to my surprise had an authentic sombrero for me to borrow that her parents had picked up on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. I have to say it is a very cool hat, not to mention really beautiful. Although it has some weight to it so your neck gets a bit of a work out and you have to be careful not to knock into the walls because depth perception can be deceiving.

When I make this shrimp & scallop ceviche. or any ceviche for that matter, I like to cure my fish in lime juice and then drain that juice before adding the fish to my salsa ingredients. In my opinion, the flavors stay fresher that way. By draining the fish juice that’s released from the shrimp and scallops in the curing process it keep’s a better balance between fish and salsa. There are some recipe’s that have you toss everything into one bowl but I feel it taste’s better when you drain the curing fish juices prior to adding the fish into the salsa.

Since the texture’s of shrimp & scallops are a little different I have you cut the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally, and then dice, so the needed curing/cooking time between the two is closer. You could always change up the fish in this recipe to and go with all scallops or another favorite flaky fish. It’s all about being creative and using what’s freshest at the market!

Remember, always when preparing a fish dish, you will want to serve it the same day you make it and odds are there won’t be any leftovers! You may want to make it a party theme of appetizer’s to go along with this shrimp & scallop ceviche, and serve something like buffalo chicken dip, salmon BLT slider’s, fresh pesto, mozzarella and roasted tomato on a crostini, or shrimp & mango in wonton’s and end it with a dessert that will have everyone talking...fresh berries in a dreamy cream topping made from melted cream cheese and fluff that’s an incredible taste SENSATION!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. lg shrimp, peeled and deveined, 1/3″ diced
  • 1/4 lb of sea scallops, 1/3″ diced
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet mango
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion – Vidalia onion -finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini cucumber diced 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped (1/2 cup after it’s chopped)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced cherry tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely diced avocado
  • 1 jalapeno finely chopped without the seeds
  • juice from 1 lime – for the final ceviche
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice – for the final ceviche
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar – (“seasoned”)
  • juice from 4 limes for the shrimp/scallop for the curing marinade
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of Tabasco
  • Bag of blue corn chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and devein the shrimp
  2. Wash the sea scallops and remove little fibrous side muscle that’s attached to the scallop
  3. Pat the shrimp and scallops dry on paper towels
  4. Cut up the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally and then into 1/4″ pieces
  5. Slice up the scallops in 1/2 horzintally and then into 1/2″ pieces
  6. Put them into the same bowl… a non-reactive bowl like a glass bowl
  7. Roll the limes to soften them up
  8. Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp and scallops
  9. Make sure there is enough juice so all the shrimp and scallop pieces are submersed in the lime juice and place into the frig until they are opaque…and place into the frig for 1- 2  hours
  10. NOTE: you should check the fish at 30 minutes intervals to see how it’s curing/cooking …depending on the coldness of the fish, kind and size it wil be ready at different time’s but it’s EASY – if it’s opaque then it’s done!
  11. Finely chop the tomatoes, jalapeno, sweet onion, cucumbers, mango and cilantro and set aside in a large bowl
  12. Drain all the liquid out from the shrimp and scallops and discard
  13. Add the shrimp and scallops to the large bowl with the salsa, add in juice of 1 tbsp lemon juice, juice from 1 lime, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, dash of Siracha, salt and pepper to taste
  14. Put back into the fridge for 15 minutes for flavors to marry
  15. Serve in martini glasses with blue chips…YUM!

Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa


Pulled Beef Taco’s & Mango Salsa

Just wait until you taste the flavors in this pulled beef taco dish that ONLY uses three ingredients! Yes, that’s right we only use three ingredients… red wine, Trader Joe’s Autentica Salsa and a chuck roast that braises in the oven for two and a half hours with the cover off. I almost feel like we are cheating here by only using these three items because it seems as though something this amazing in taste, similar to Boeuf Bourguignon, should involve way more effort and ingredients. I think it’s important here to use the oven instead of a crock pot because the dry heat helps to caramelize the beef really building on all those layers of flavors.

This is the perfect dish for having groups of friends over because it’s a total make ahead dish. You can even make my mango salsa the day before. If you are really in a pinch for time you could always buy fresh made salsa at the store. I personally like to make this homemade pulled beef the morning of the party so that the house fills with all the aromas of the braising chuck roast, red wine and tomatoes. Really gets the juices flowing!

You can use your favorite hard taco shells to serve up the homemade pulled beef, corn and flour tortilla’s or even serve it on a bed of lettuce with shredded cheddar cheese and my mango salsa! I would also offer sour cream and Siracha in the side fixin’s and just let people go to town making their own creations. How fun is that?
You may just want to make my decadent Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake for dessert! You won’t believe how EASY it is to make! You could also try my Chocolate Crackle Cookies that melt in your mouth. Then there always Fresh Berry Granita or Berries in a Dreamy Cream for dessert too. You’ll be able to actually relax and have lots of fun with your family and friends.

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Ingredients for the Pulled Beef Taco’s:

  • 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast (look for some good marbling)
  • 1 bottle of red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s Salsa – Autentica
  • 3 tbsn olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º
  2. Slice  the chuck roast into 6 pieces
  3. Salt and pepper the pieces
  4. Add 3 tbsn of olive oil to a large pan on med/high heat and begin to add the beef pieces
  5. Turn up the heat to high and quickly sear all sides til browned – this takes 10 minutes
  6. Add in 3/4 of the bottle of red wine (be careful of steam here) and the whole jar of salsa
  7. Bring to a simmer and pop into the oven for 2 1/2 hrs.
  8. Every hour turn the beef pieces over so the other sides can caramelize
  9. At 2 1/2 hours take the braising meat out of the oven and begin to remove the beef to a dish wear you can start to pull apart the beef pieces
  10. Tilt the braising pan to the side so that you can skim off the fat that rendered out of the meat
  11. Pour the left over juice onto the pulled beef and serve with taco shells and my mango salsa…enjoy!

Ingredients for the Mango Salsa:

  • 2 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cubed – (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno (2-3 tbsn)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips too
  3. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  4. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

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TIP:  There is an easy way to get the pit out of a avocado which I have displayed in the pictures above.  After running the knife around the flesh of the avocado against the edges of the inside pit… put the knife down and twist the avocado halves and pull apart. Then stick the knife into the pit and do the same thing holding on to the knife with one hand and carefully twist the avocado pit and it will pop right out.  Then knock the pit off onto the board away from your hands.  This can be a little tricky the first time so I would advise that this would be for an adult to try.   Finally, Insert a large spoon and scoop the avocado along the edge of the avocado skin to remove avocado flesh.

Gourmet Frittata

Gourmet Frittata

The Frittata first came about as practical dish in theory for using up those leftovers in our frig but when adding in some lovely melting cheeses and a pinch of dairy it turns into something much more then that. Not to mention this Italian egg dish is just as delicious served room temperature as it is warm.

Making a gourmet frittata is as easy as can be leaving you with lots of room to be creative. The measurements do not have to be exact at all to get wonderful results. You can use 10-12 eggs, and mix in heavy cream, half and half, sour cream, or even creme fresh. You can also change out the cheeses to one that you prefer. Use feta or goat cheese, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper jack, Colby-jack, Swiss or Gruyère, Parmesan and so on. It’s nice to mix it up too using a combination of these cheeses. I really love using up the leftover veggies in the fridge and don’t mind sautéing up one or two more to enhance the leftovers.

By no means does this homemade frittata have to remain a vegetarian either! Pack in the meat using chunks or slices of ham, cooked sausages, bacon, steak and well that list goes on too. I think the trick here is not to fuss too much, be sure to add a little dairy and be sure not to over cook the frittata thinking that it’s not done enough because you see a little movement in the center when taking it out of the oven. Remember it will keep cooking after you take it out of the oven and it will also congeal a bit with the cooling process. Enjoy the show and making this yummy gourmet frittata! You may want to try some grilled Asian Salmon or Caesar Salad with this frittata too.

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Ingredients:

  • 12 extra-lg eggs
  • 1/2 cup half & half, heavy cream or creme fresh
  • 1 1/2 cup gruyere cheese ( 1/2 cup is for the topping) OR 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 gruyere with addtional 1/2 cup mix of each for the topping
  • 1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 8 oz. pkg baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped or sliced onions
  • 6 small tomatoes sliced 1/8″ thick to decorate top of frittata before you bake it
  • 1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp into eggs & 1/4 tsp each for onion/mush. and 1/4 tsp when you add kale)
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Siracha (or more…to taste)

Directions :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Wash and dry kale leaves
  3. Remove kale leaves from the ribbing (stalk) as shown in show
  4. Slice mushrooms, onions, kale and tomatoes – set aside
  5. Whisk 12 eggs, then whisk in 1/2 tsp salt. 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper and half and half
  6. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to 10″ cast iron pan or oven proof pan on med/high heat
  7. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes
  8. Add mushrooms to onions and 1/4 tsp salt, then sauté another 5 minutes on med/high
  9. Add in kale when juices begin to release from the mushrooms along with another 1/4 tsp salt and sprinkle of pepper, and a few shots of Siracha
  10. Sauté kale mixture for 5 minutes while stirring just to wilt slightly
  11. Add 1 cup of gruyere and 1/2 cup of parm to egg mixture and give it a quick stir
  12. Turn off heat on cast iron pan and add in egg mixture
  13. Give it a stir to the veggies and egg mixture
  14. Then top with 1/2 cup more gruyere cheese and decorate with sliced tomatoes
  15. Put into the oven and bake for approx. 23 minutes
  16. Take a peak at the 20 minute mark to make sure that the top hasn’t gotten golden
  17. You only want slight golden on outer edge
  18. Take out frittata and let sit for 20-30 minutes
  19. NOTE: the frittata will keep cooking after you remove it from the oven
  20. Slice and serve with a sprinkle of grated Reggiano Parmesan on top

Homemade Pasta Fagioli

Homemade Pasta Fagioli

This homemade pasta fagioli dish is a traditional Italian soup where the recipe differs from family to family and region to region. Every single version is different which makes it nice because it’s very personal that way. It’s what ever you were used to having in your own home or at your relatives growing up. Originally, pasta fagioli was made without meat, then there were versions that started the dish off by sauteing pancetta and now there are so many different recipes floating around. It’s what ever floats your boat really! It’s supposed to be easy gourmet…what ever you have in the pantry and refrigerator will work.

Pasta fagioli is a savory comfort food that I just love. It consist of several universal ingredients like ditalini pasta,  cannellini beans, some kind of tomato base and a liquid of either chicken, or vegetable and I have even seen water used. It’s been considered a soup which is perfect for dunking that crusty bread but there are versions that make it more like a thick saucy “pasta” dish. The liquids do evaporate quickly after the pasta is added to the pot and cooked through so you have to be careful at this point to keep an eye on that if you want it to have a looser soup-like consistency.

The pronunciation of the word has evolved to “pasta fazool”. Then again, there are many variations of that as well 🙂 So enjoy this Italian soup…I know you will love it. If you need an appetizer to go with this gourmet homemade pasta fagioli you may want to check out my sea scallops wrapped in bacon, scallop cerviche, or even a refreshing fennel and citrus salad with tangerine dressingAnd how about some Pavlova with fresh pineapple and berries for dessert!

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INGREDIENTS For Pasta Fagioli (makes enough for many…15-20 side dishes):

  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup ditalini pasta ( 1/2 if you want it looser soup-like consistencey …remember it just keeps getting thicker even after you take it off the stove as the liquid evaporates)
  • 1 qt. (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine-pinot grigio or what ever you are drinking -(1/2 to deglaze pancetta and veggies and 1/2 when you add stock
  • 1/3 cup each diced carrots, celery and onion
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes with some juice, broken up with your hands – NOTE: USE 3 cups if you are not using a cup of “leftover pork & sauce”
  • 1 cup pork in tomato sauce OR 1 lb. sausage taken out of the casing ready to sauté OR omit all together
  • 2 1/4″ sliced of pancetta diced up
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and 2 of fresh thyme tied in up with string
  • Fresh basil -julienne to add at the end
  • grated Reggiano Parmigiano and some to shave for decoration
  • good olive oil to drizzle at the end
  • 1/2 tsp salt -add 1/4 tsp at the addition of sauteing veggies and 1/4 tsp when you add beans and broth
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes if you like a pinch of HEAT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add diced pancetta to a large pan and begin to sauté for 8 minutes on med heat
  2. Add in broken up sausage to brown with the pancetta If you do not have “pork in sauce”
  3. On med/low heat add diced carrots, onion, celery and garlic with 1/4 tsp salt (along with 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes if you want a little heat) to the same pot with 1 tbsp olive oil extra – sauté til veggies are tender 10 minutes
  4. De-glaze with 1/2 cup white wine and simmer 5 minutes
  5. Add in beans, pork-sauce, whole peeled tomatoes, herb bouquet, chicken stock, 1/4 salt, 1/4 pepper and simmer for 30 minutes
  6. Remove herb bouquet from soup
  7. Take 4-5 ladles of beans out of the soup to puree for a little creamier then adding back in
  8. Simmer 5 minutes and add in 1/2 cup ditalini pasta
  9. Cook til pasta is cooked – approx 7 minutes
  10. Plate up and drizzle olive oil, sprinkle parmigiano cheese and fresh basil and mangia mangia!

 

BEST Manicotti Ever Recipe

BEST Manicotti Ever Recipe

Yes, I am giving up the good’s on this one and I know you will appreciate it because this is one of my very favorite secret recipes that has been in our family for generations! My mother Maria taught me how to make these homemade gourmet manicotti when I was young and now I am thrilled to pass this very special dish on to you.

These are the BEST homemade manicotti I have EVER tasted and I know you will love them too. They are a poured pasta, a crêpe so to speak and are light and fluffy.  I’m partial to Liuzzi’s homemade whole milk ricotta, and I user a mix of mozzarella’s from Scamorza, which is a slightly salted/dryer mozzarella to whole milk and skim milk mozzarella. I start off with either my tomato-basil pasta sauce or my pasta sauce 101 for the homemade manicotti. These are an especially festive and a special dish to make for the holidays.

This manicotti batter is poured like a crêpe. It’s light and airy like a crepe but definitely different in texture. The texture of the crêpe is a pasta texture, creamy and soft. These manicotti shells (crêpes) are truly gourmet and you’ll will appreciate how delicate a dish this really is when you make them for your own family and friends. My turkey meatballs would go great with this holiday dish also.  A spread of spiral ham or roasted lamb with gourmet manicotti and turkey meatballs …who’s better than you?!

It’s nice to serve a refreshing salad with pasta like my Caesar Salad then maybe an appetizer like crab cakes and sides like Roasted Beet Salad with Mint and Feta or Yogurt Chicken Kabobs. A light pavlova dessert with fresh pineapple and berries would make the perfect end for this manicotti dinner.

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Ingredients:

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 Tsp salt
    • 4 extra large eggs
    • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 3 lbs. Liuzzi whole milk or “fina style” (a finer ricotta), or your favorite
    • 5 0z. shredded whole milk, 5 oz. park skim and 5 oz. Scamorza mozzarella mixed together
    • (you can also do 8 oz. whole milk and 8 oz. part skim shedded and mixed)
    • 5″ cast iron pan or 5″ non-stick pan
    • Baking pan approx. 11″ x 16″

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl whisk 1 cup flour, 1/4 Tsp salt with 1 cup water (approx. 20 whisks)
  2. Add in 1 egg at a time and whisk about 5 whisks per egg
  3. Put cast iron pan on stove on medium/high heat (a 7 out of an 11)
  4. Put a couple of Tbsp of olive oil in a bowl with a paper towel
  5. Rub pan with olive oil-saturated paper towel in between cooking poured pasta batter
  6. Pour in a ladle of batter into hot pan, approx. a little less than 1/4 cup laddle
  7. Pick up pan and swirl around 3 times and place back down onto stove
  8. Wait about 25 seconds and flip pasta crepe over, you can use a flexible pastry knife to help you get under it…it will be easy to flip and will not ever be stuck
  9. You never want the pasta crepe to be golden on the edges-that would be over cooking them…they should look like the photo above light in color
  10. Immediately flip over onto floured board and flip a couple of times to cool a little
  11. Repeat dredging saturated paper towel into pan to coat and then pour another 1/4 cup ladle of batter into pan.
  12. Repeat this over and over until you run out of batter…this amount will make 16 manicotti
  13. When you are done lay out a work board to roll manicotti’s on
  14. Put ricotta in a bowl so it’s easy to work with
  15. Pour about 2 cup of tomato sauce into the baking pan
  16. Lay out manicotti crepe and scoop 1/4 cup ricotta going across the center of the circle as shown in the photo
  17. Lay a piece of mozzarella in the center and roll up manicotti
  18. Place rolled manicotti on top of sauce in pan and continue on until all the pasta crepes are done
  19. Pour another 2-2 1/2 cups of sauce on top of roll manicotti’s, sprinkle with parmesan and cover with foil
  20. Place in frig until you are ready to bake
  21. Or cover with saran and then foil and put into the freezer until your event is near and then pull out two nights before and put into the frig to thaw
  22. When you are ready to bake your manicotti put into a 350º oven and bake for 45 minutes
  23. The manicotti will be bubbly when you take it out of the oven and need to rest for 5 minutes before serving

Black Bean Salsa & Swordfish Recipe

Black Bean Salsa & Swordfish Recipe

2015 is here so let’s not procrastinated and get right down to business with some refreshing and heathy dinners. You can’t beat this black bean salsa & swordfish with its nutritional values and taste to boot! It’s so nice to brighten up our menu after the starchy celebratory holiday meals. With this black bean salsa you still get that “comfort food” feeling because the black beans are so creamy and filling. Black beans are considered to be the best “meat-free” sources of protein serving up 15 grams each of protein and fiber per 1 cup…not to mention black beans have the highest antioxidant level of all beans!

I first learned how to make salsa almost 20 years ago from a Chef in San Franciso name Barclay. He was a chef at one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco called Bix (on Gold St.) Bix had foie gras that was to die for and the most outrageous bar burgers that had to be made from filet mignon because they melted in your mouth like butter! Needless to say Barclay made a killer salsa and I’m thankful to him for starting me out on the right path when it came to making salsa.

This black bean salsa is almost identical to my “best mango-avocado salsa ever” on my website except I minus one mango and add 2 cans of Goya black beans. This is a such a quick and easy recipe and if you don’t have time for the chopping you’ve got to check out the produce department at your local store because most of them do offer a section of pre-chopped vegetables or you could pre-chop everything yourself the night before you put this dinner together.

Fresh swordfish is now being caught off the Carolina’s so it’s an ideal fish to buy. Swordfish is a hardy kind of fish and eats like a steak so it is very filling. The oils in the swordfish are also as nutritious for you, if not more, as eating that black bean salsa. So what a team this black bean salsa & pan seared swordfish makes…you just can’t beat it! The best thing is it doesn’t have to be summer to whip this meal up either…enjoy. Make sure to watch my YouTube cooking show that goes with this recipe and don’t forget to subscribe on my YouTube channel so that you can receive my latest cooking show releases!

You may want to try baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, or roasted chick peas for an appetizer and the chocolate avocado mousse for dessert to go along with this dinner.

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INGREDIENTS: You need approx. .30 lbs per person for the swordfish

NOTE: CLICK HERE If you need some guidance on cutting up the avocado and or mango AND look to directions in that recipe

  • 2 cans Goya black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cube
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1 cup or 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1 cup or 1/2 extra LG Vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P
  • 1-2 lbs of fresh swordfish cut up into .30 lbs pieces per person

DIRECTIONS: Pre-Heat oven to 350º

  1. Add all of the salsa ingredients ( all the first items in the list except the fish) into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Cut up the swordfish into .30 lb pieces and salt and olive oil them
  3. Heat cast iron pan or heavy bottom pan to med/high
  4. When pan is hot add in swordfish and sear 3 minutes on each side and then put into the oven for 5 minutes to finish
  5. Spoon up salsa in the center of the plate and place a piece of swordfish on top
  6. Squeeze a piece of lemon over the top and mangia mangia : )
  7. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips.
  8. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  9. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

 

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes, any way you cook them are simply a treat because they are a seasonal veggie here on the east coast. 100 percent of all artichokes that are commercially grown in the U.S. come from California where you can pretty much buy them year round. My artichoke recipe is a tasty concoction of shrimp, sea scallops, fresh spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic, Reggiano Parmesan, bread crumbs, red wine, extra dry vermouth and chicken broth. They are a lot of work granted but it’s not like you make these all the time and once you taste them you’ll want to set aside time in the future to plan for these babies!

The Artichoke is actually a relative of the thistle so if you ever see one fully mature they open into this incredibly gorgeous giant purple flower. That’s where the choke comes in because it’s a cluster of immature florets at the center of the artichoke which is not edible. This hairy-like choke in the center MUST be removed when you stuff them. I show you how to prep the artichokes and scrape out that choke in the photos below. This seafood stuffed artichoke recipe is delicious with my sun-dried tomato aioli sauce for dunking the leaf ends and heart and you can make this aioli dip a couple of days ahead. After these stuffed artichokes you may need a sweets recipe that you can make the day before like pavlova with fresh pineapple and berries, or chocolate-avocado mousse.

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Ingredients – Serves 4 People at 1 Stuffed Artichoke Each:

  • 1 recipe of sun-dried tomato aioli sauce
  • 4 large artichokes
  • 3 large sea scallops cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10 lg shrimp cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 1/2 lb)
  • 3 strips of Boars Head Bacon
  • 6 button mushroom caps sliced thinly and then chopped
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach leaves coarsely chopped (a handful less than a bag)
  • 1/2 large spanish onion or Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves put thru the garlic press
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine (1/4 cup to deglaze onion/mushroom mixture and 2 Tbsp in the stuffing and 1/4 in baking dish with vermouth and chicken broth)
  • 3/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tsp salt (1 Tsp for boiling the artichokes)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and sliced up lemon
  2. Cut the ends off of the artichokes
  3. Cut 1  1/2 ” off the top
  4. Using your thumbs in the center of the artichoke pull apart as much as you can to loosen the inner layers a little
  5. Insert pointy spoon and begin to dig in to the center removing the purple pointy leaves and keep digging til you reach the hairy choke and then remove all of that too
  6. Rinse the center holes of the artichokes to fully remove any left over choke
  7. Always keep the all the artichokes in the lemon water bowl while working on them (it helps them from not turning too brown)
  8. Pour the whole bowl of lemon water and artichokes into a large pan and add 1 tsp salt
  9. Bring to a boil ( this will take about 15 minutes) and then simmer for 30 minutes
  10. Drain Artichokes and turn them upside down in a baking dish to further drain
  11. Cook up 3 pieces of Boars Head Bacon til crispy, chop and set aside
  12. Sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms caps and garlic cloves put thru press in 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 Tsp salt til golden about 12-15 minutes
  13. Add in 1/4 cup red wine to de-glaze pan, let reduce for 1 minute
  14. Add in fresh chopped spinach and cover for 2 minutes
  15. Mix spinach with tongs and take sauteed onion/mushroom/spinach mixture off of the stove  and put into a fresh bowl to let cool
  16. Wash, dry and chop sea scallops and shrimp to 1/2″ pieces
  17. When onion/mushroom mixture is cooled add in scallops, shrimp, Gruyere, Parmesan, chopped bacon, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp red wine
  18. Mix items gently together
  19. Turn artichoke over in baking dish, drain any water left over at the bottom
  20. Stuff the artichokes with the seafood stuffing making sure to add in to all the layers of leaves going around the artichoke as shown in the photo
  21. When the artichoke is stuffed add in 3/4 cup extra-dry vermouth, 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup red wine to the bottom of the baking dish
  22. Cover the Artichokes with foil and bake for 35 minutes
  23. Take Foil off and bake 5 minutes more
  24. Serve with sun-dried aioli sauce on the side for dipping the leaves and dunking the heart …mangia!

Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s

Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s

These baked spinach wrapped Reuben’s from St. Patrick’s Day leftovers just melt in your mouth. They are zesty, creamy and tangy made with thousand island dressing  & horseradish, melted Swiss cheese, thinly slice tomatoes and drained sauerkraut. They almost make you want to skip the bland corned beef and cabbage and call it a wrap! In this version of my thousand island dressing I add in prepared horseradish which compliments the corned beef so well, and I substitute 1/2 the mayo for Greek yogurt.  It’s quite good, in fact it would be a great addition to a turkey, roast beef or fish sandwich and it will keep nicely in the frig for several days. These baked spinach wrapped Reuben’s would be delicious with my baked Yukon potato fries and zucchini torta!

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Ingredients for Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish:
(makes 1 3/4 cup of sauce…keeps for several days in frig)

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp prepared hosreradish (Inglehoffer cream style)
  • 1/3 cup drained pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh zested or grated spanish onion
  • 1/2 Tsp Tabasco

Directions to Thousand Island with Horseradish:

  1. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk, set aside

Ingredients for Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s – makes 4 Wraps:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced and chopped leftover corned beef
  • large spinach wraps
  • 1 cup drained Boar’s Head Sauerkraut
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • 4 small tomatoes thinly sliced (with out juice and seeds)
  • 1 recipe Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish (above)

Directions for Baked Spinach Wrapped Reuben’s:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º
  2. Lay out 4 spinach wraps
  3. Lay down 2-4 pieces of Swiss cheese as the base layer
  4. Spread 3 Tbsp Thousand Island Dressing with Horseradish sauce all over each wrap, keeping sauce in 1″ from the edges
  5. Put 3 or 4 slices of tomato down right across the middle
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup corned beef next running across middle to bottom…closer to to the bottom edge of the circle
  7. Add in 3 Tbsp drained sauerkraut to the middle of the wrap on top of the tomatoes
  8. Fold in the sides and begin to roll up from the bottom
  9. Place seem side down on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes
  10. A tiny bit of the stuffing will be sizzling out at the ends but that’s ok
  11. Use a spatula to remove spinach wrap and place on serving dish, cut in 1/2 and serve with the homemade thousand island dressing with horseradish and my baked Yukon potato fries and zucchini torta!