Pork Dumplings – 猪肉饺子 – Zhūròu Jiǎozi

Steamed Pork Dumplings

Ingredients:

50 Dumpling or Wonton Wrappers
1 Nappa Cabbage (if steaming)
Safflower or Vegetable Oil (if frying)

Filling
1 lb ground Pork
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 red Chili Peppers, de-seeded and minced (include white ribs for more heat) or Jalapeño
3 Scallions, the white portion chopped (use the green portion in the sauce)
3 Tbsp Water Chestnuts, minced
1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns, coarsely ground (optional)
1 tsp Soy Sauce

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 tsp-1 Tbsp Hot Chili Oil
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Scallion Greens, chopped

Directions:

  • Prepare the Filling – Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl by hand. Let rest for 1 to 3 hours.
  • Fill the Dumplings – Line a baking sheet or table with parchment paper for Dumplings to sit on before they are steamed. Fill a bowl with cold water. Use a pastry brush or rolled paper towel to coat wrspper edges of a Wraper. Take a bite-size portion of the filling and put it in the center of the wrapper. Fold* the wrapper sealing along the wet edges, set on parchment, and repeat.
  • A. Steam the Dumplings – In preparation, put the steam basket in the pan or pot you are going to use. Add just enough water to be brlow the base of the basket. Remove the basket and line with leaves of Cabbage, not closing off all the holes. Place the dumplings on top of the cabbage, leaving space so they do not touch each other or the sides. Bring the water to a boil. Carefully set the basket in the water and cover. Cook for about 12 minutes. Remove and repeat. You can cover the cooked dumplings to retain moisture before serving. They should ideally be eaten immediately, while additional batches cook.
  • B. Fry the Dumplings – Heat a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Add a little oil. Carefully add some dumplings, and cook, lightly tossing, until the side touching the pan is a dark golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined rack to drain excess oil.
  • Prepare the Dipping Sauce – In a small bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients of the Sauce together with a fork or whisk. Adjust the taste to your liking between salty, sweet, hot, and bitter. Stir in the Dry ingredients.
  • Serve with dipping sauce on the side as soon as the Dumplings are done, especially if steaming. If you are serving later, frying is recommended over steaming.

* Folding. There are many ways tonfold dumplings, some requiring practice and skill. Round wrappers are either folded in half and crymped along the folded edge making a slight crescent shale, or the edge bunched up to the center making a tear drop.

If using square shaped or wonton wrappers, the easiest is to fold diagonally, then pull the opposing side corners together and press against the mound of stuffing–think of a person folding their arms. Another way is to pull the corners rogether resembling a hobo sack. As you work with dumplings, play with folds that you find online and feel comfortable with. The key thing is to not tear the wrapper and to make sure the insides are sealed.

Notes: These are a Chinese version known as Jiaozi 餃子 and are either boiled (水餃 water dumpling), steamed (蒸餃 steamed dumpling), or fried (煎餃 dry-fried dumpling or 鍋貼 pan-stick). They are traditionally circular wrappers folded in half and crymped along the edge to make a crescent shape.

When cooking, I do recommend using cooking chopsticks or tongs…this helps with transfering dumplings in and out of the cooking vessels…the fillings are damn hot if you try to use your fingers…so I’m told…

I should note thst dumpling dough is different than wonton dough, though you can use the more readily available wonton wrappers. Wontons are thinner whereas dumoling dough is more like ravioli pasta. The ingredients are different…maybe I will play with dough recipes, but for now, I will stick with store bought wrappers.

Stuffed dumplings are served all around the world with various fillings–perogies, empañadas, samosas, and ravioli are just a few examples that are not East Asian.

You can play with spices and fillings to suit your palate and needs. I’ve seen some with various ground meats and seafood, or all vegetables, with bean pastes, and even fusion hybrids such as stuffed with meatloaf! Often left over fillings make great snacks fried in patties or balls.


The limits are your imagination. I hope to add a few different fillings and dipping sauces as I experiment.

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Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

Salmon and Shrimp Phad Thai – กุ้งและปลาแซลมอนแผ่นไทย

905679_779815561696_389662409841940469_oSalmon and Shrimp Phad Thai

Ingredients
1 dozen Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1 8oz Salmon filet, skinned, de-boned, cubed
1 Leek, sliced in 1/8″ rounds
1 cup Red Cabbage, sliced
1/2 cup Carrot, diced or julienne
1 quarter’s width worth of Rice Pasta or Linguini
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 cup Bok Choy, chopped or Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup Peanuts, crushed
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Cilantro for Garnish
Lime Wedges for Garnish
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • If using Linguini: In a large pot bring water to a boil. Add salt for seasoning. Add the Pasta and cook till al dente, drain. Toss in olive oil and set to the side.
  • If using Rice Noodles, soak in lukewarm water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • In a wok or wide skillet, heat the Olive Oil and add the Leek, Cabbage, and Carrots. Toss until tender.
  • Stir in the Egg.
  • Add the Garlic, Tamarind Paste, Hoisin Sauce, Fish Sauce, and Lime Juice.
  • Add the Salmon, Shrimp, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin, and Crushed Red Pepper. Toss over heat until cooked.
  • Toss in the Pasta, Peanuts, and Bok Choy/Bean Sprouts until all is well coated.
  • Add salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Plate and garnish with Cilantro and a Lime Wedge.

Makes about 4 servings

NOTES: Pad Thai ผัดไทย is a common Thai dish that means “fried Thai style”. It usually consists of rice noodles, a sweet sauce, scallions, a protein, peanuts, and bean sprouts, but can also have scallions, cabbage, and other ingredients. This version is my variation, with a little heat added in the form of Ginger and Cayenne Pepper. I also varied by using Leeks instead of Scallion and offering Bok Choy and Linguini as substitutes for ingredients.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with Quinoa

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with QuinoaShrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with Quinoa

Ingredients
1 lb jumbo Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups Quinoa
2 cups Andouille Sausage, sliced
1 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Green Bell Peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Yellow Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Bay Leaf
2 tsp Thyme, fresh, chopped (if dried 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp Oregano, fresh, chopped (if dried 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, Ground
Tabasco Sauce to taste

Directions:

  • In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and brown the Andouille Sausage.
  • Add the Bell Pepper, Yellow Onion, and Celery, and saute until it is soft.
  • Add the Garlic and stir for another minute or so.
  • Add all Herbs, Shrimp, and Chicken Stock and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the Quinoa and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add Tabasco Sauce to taste–some like it hotter than others.

Makes 4-6 servings

NOTES: Jambalaya is a traditional dish from Louisiana made from rice and akin to Paella. I thought it would be fun to try this dish with Quinoa instead since I’m not a big fan of Rice. I must say I was quite pleased with the result.

You can add Chicken to this recipe, as most Jambalaya recipes do include chicken. It would be cooked at the same time as the Andouille. Some Jambalaya, especially that near New Orleans is known as “Creole” vs. “Cajun”. The only big difference I’ve been able to note, other than mild spice variations, is the use of Tomatoes in the Creole version. I chose to go with the Cajun style, lacking the tomatoes since it is the Cajuns that are my familial cousins.

Festive Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:
12 oz Egg Noodles
8 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Sour Cream
8 oz Ricotta Cheese
4 Eggs
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Mace
1/2 tsp Salt
3-4 cups Graham Crackers, crushed
1/2 – 1 cup Raisins (optional)
Water for Boiling
Pinch of Salt for Water

Directions:

  • Bring Water to a Boil and add Salt and Egg Noodles. Cook till al dente. They will cook much quicker than regular pasta, so don’t leave it unattended.
  • Drain the Noodles, and set aside.
  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Divide the Graham Cracker crumbs and sprinkle on the bottom of a casserole dish (9″ x 13″ approximately).
  • In a large bowl combine the Dairy, Eggs, and Spices (and Raisins if using them). Mix well.
  • Fold in the Noodles.
  • Pour mixture (think scoop) into the Casserole dish, and even it out with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle with remaining Graham Cracker Crumbs.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes.

Makes 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This Central European Jewish dish is traditionally served at Hanukkah, though it can be served throughout the year as a festive pudding/custard. I first learned this dish when I found evidence that a section of my family was Ashkenazim and had converted to Catholicism in the 1800s.

Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Ingredients:
6 Rock Lobster Tails, shelled, meat cut in large chunks
1 lb Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
1/2 cup Butter
2-3 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
2/3 cup Vermouth
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 cups Broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Salt
2 cups Water (for steaming)

Directions

  • Bring the water to boil and place the Broccoli in a Steamer.
  • Sprinkle liberally with Salt, and drizzle the Olive Oil over them.
  • Close and steam for 3-5 minutes or until the Broccoli begins to turn bright Green. Set to the Side.
  • Pat the Shrimp and Lobster meat dry, and sprinkle the rest of the Salt, as well as the Cayenne Pepper on all sides of the meat.
  • Melt the Butter in a large skillet, and when the bubbles die down, carefully add the Shrimp and Lobster.
  • Cook thoroughly in the Butter on all sides, about 5-7 minutes on high heat, stirring often.
  • Carefully remove the Lobster and Shrimp to a bowl, leaving the Butter in the skillet. If there are small remnants of Lobster, that is ok.
  • Add the Garlic, Vermouth, and Lemon to the Butter. Be careful in case the flame rises.
  • Cook stirring for about 6 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Toss in the Lobster, Shrimp, and Broccoli.
  • Heat for another 3 minutes, tossing well.
  • Serve as is, or over Pasta or Rice.

Makes 4 Servings, 6 if you use over Pasta or Rice.

NOTES: I love this type of buttery, velvety, lemony, goodness of a dish. I would love to know from where in the world it really came from. In America, we tend to say it is an Italian dish, but so much of our Italian dishes are really in the “spirit of Italy”. In England, Scampi is a bar food made from a Prawn that is battered and fried–nothing like the dish we think of. The name Scampi is Italian in origin, though it refers not to the method of cooking, but rather to a lobster-like curved (ref. scampo) crustacean. The American version of Scampi uses Shrimp, though one often can find “Chicken Scampi”, suggesting that in America, we’ve lost the meaning of the word and use it to refer to the method of cooking it in a garlicky, lemony, butter and wine sauce. Nothing new there.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
2 cloves Garlic, minced fine
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Heavy Cream
4 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 Tbsp Asiago vecchio, grated
1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan on medium heat, add the Garlic and Butter. Cook until the Butter is melted.
  • Stir in the Flour and make a roux, and let cook for about 3 minutes
  • Stir in the Heavy Cream
  • Add the Nutmeg, Gorgonzola, and Asiago, and heat until melted.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

NOTES: This sauce goes well with Gnocchi, Penne, Farfalle, Orecchiette, or Conchiglie–pretty much any pasta that has a place for the creamy sauce to collect. You can also make it with Shells, and bake it with a bread-crumb and herb topping. The first time I had Gorgonzola sauce was, oddly, in Stirling, Scotland. I fell in love with it immediately. I still claim that the best I ever had was at that little Italian place in Stirling.

Salade Andalouse aux Crevettes – Andalusian Salad with Shrimp

Ingredients:
1 cup Rice, cooked
8 large Shrimp, veined, steamed, cold, chopped
6-8 Pimento-Stuffed Olives, sliced
2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped
2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Chives, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Butterhead Lettuce for Plating
Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley for Garnish

Directions:

  • In a bowl, combine the Mayonnaise, Paprika, Garlic, and Chives.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Rice, Shrimp, and Olives.
  • Mix in the Mayonnaise.
  • Line the Salad Plates with Bib Lettuce.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 portions (this dish makes 4 portions, so if you have made more or less, divide the mixture into the appropriate portions.
  • Spoon the Portions on top of the Bib Lettuce. You can use pastry rings or a plastic lined ramekin stuffed with the portion of the salad inverted over the plate to make a fancier salad as well.
  • Top the Salad with pieces of Tomato, a Salt and Pepper to taste, and Fresh Parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Andalusian Salad is a French Salad that captures the romantic flavors of of Al-Andalus (الأندلس‎) region of Spain and Portugal. You can always kick up the spice by adding some Cayenne Pepper. If you prefer to serve this from a large bowl, rather than individual portions, then chop the lettuce and garnish the salad with an outer ring of lettuce, and an inner area of tomatoes, topped with Parsley in the middle.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
16 oz uncooked Pasta (Rotini or Penne)
Water for Boiling and Steaming
Iced Water in a large bowl for Shocking the Broccoli
1 Tbsp Salt for Boiling
1 tsp Olive Oil for Boiling
2 cups Broccoli Spears, cut into small pieces
2 cups Pesto, room temperature
1 cup Black Olives, chopped
2 cups marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, quartered
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Romano, grated

Directions:

  • Cook the Pasta in a large pot wit the Salt and Olive Oil. You want al dente. When you reach al dente, quickly drain and run cold water through the Pasta.
  • In a second pot, steam the Broccoli spears till bright green (about 4 minutes), drain and shock with ice-cold water.
  • Combine all ingredients except the Romano in a large bowl. Mix Well.
  • Sprinkle the top with the grated Romano.

NOTES: This is one of the simplest Pasta Salads you’ll ever make. I always make my own Pesto, since it is cheaper and yields more flavor than most store bought Pestos–that and some of the jarred kind is nasty-oily and looks like it was made from reconstituted dried herbs rather than fresh Basil. You can modify the ingredients based on your tastes for the Salad. Some folks may add fresh Tomatoes instead of the Sun-Dried, or cut up Mozzarella in cubes. Really, it is all up to you.

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare all’Arrabbiata – Seafood Fra Diavolo

Dedicated to Alex Merati, Epicurean

Ingredients:
6-8 cups Arrabbiata Sauce
1/2 cup White Wine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
12 Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
6 Sea Scallops, quartered
12 Little Neck Clams, cleaned
12 Mussels, cleaned
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 lb Linguine
1 tsp Salt
Water for Linguine

Directions:

  • Prepare the Arrabbiata Sauce in a large sauce pan.
  • In a separate pot bring the Water and Salt to boil and cook the Linguine till al dente.
  • Drain the Pasta and set aside.
  • Using the same pot, add the Olive Oil, White Wine, and the Seafood and cook until the Clams and Mussels have begun to open, about 5-7 minutes. Stir so that all sides cook.
  • When the Clams and Mussels have stopped opening, discard the unopened ones.
  • Add the Arrabbiata Sauce to the Seafood and mix well.
  • Remove from heat and plate on the Pasta, using the Parsley as garnish.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: The variation of the amount of Sauce is dependent upon how much you want with your pasta. Americans tend to like more than Europeans, in my experience.

Seafood Fra Diavolo

Arrabbiata Sauce – Fra Diavolo Sauce

Ingredients:
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp Oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a Saucepan with the Garlic, Parsley and Oregano on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Onion and sauté until near translucent, stirring continually.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the Bay Leaf before serving.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.

NOTES: The best pasta to use for this is Penne Rigate because it absorbs the sauce well. Arrabbiata is a red sauce that is spiced with Crushed Red Pepper flakes meaning roughly “Angry Sauce” though I’ve been told it has the connotation of “Pissed-Off Sauce”. It is often called Fra Diavolo meaning “Brother of the Devil” in America, though when so called, a protein like Seafood or Chicken is added.

I grew up with Arrabbiata Sauce as my main pasta sauce but it was called Marinara and it was spicy. In reality we were eating Arrabbiata Sauce instead and just didn’t know the name difference. My Italian side of the family is from the Molise region of Italy, in the town of Campobasso.

Mediterranean Braised Chicken with Couscous

Ingredients:
6 Chicken Thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 cloves Garlic, slivered
2 Shallots, diced
1 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Rosemary, diced
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, minced
1/2 cup Manzanilla Olives, minced
1 cup Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp Capers
1 cup Couscous

Directions:

  • In a deep saucepan, cook the Chicken thighs in the Olive Oil on low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. The more color, the more flavor you’ll get.
  • Remove the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Shallots and Garlic to the Oil, and lightly saute.
  • Deglaze with the Pinot Grigio and Chicken Broth.
  • Return the chicken to the saucepan, and add the Salt, Rosemary, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers.
  • Simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of Couscous to the pot, and turn off the heat.
  • Cover for 5 minutes, as the Couscous absorbs the liquid.
  • Serve.

NOTES: You can always cook the Couscous separately from the dish, however I like to absorb the chicken broth and wine into the couscous to add some extra flavor. If you desire, you can chop up the chicken thighs; additionally if you cannot get boneless chicken thighs, you can use them. The important part is not the bones or size, but that it is the flavorful chicken thigh meat.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Maple Sage Sauce

Ingredients:VegetarianNut Alergy Warning
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Maple Sage Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Sage, minced

Garnish:
1 cup Walnuts
Grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • In a saucepan, start heating the stick of Butter on low heat. Use low heat to prevent smoking
  • As the Butter melts, it will start to caramelize along the edges.
  • Stir in the Maple Syrup and the Sage, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or so.
  • Pour on the Gnocchi, and garnish with Walnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi. This is a dish that is great for an Autumn night. I recommend it with a side of green beans.

Fennel Chicken with Couscous

Dedicated to Christopher S.

Ingredients:
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1 tsp Salt
4 boneless, skinless, Chicken Breasts, butterfly cut
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 Fennel Bulb, halved and sliced (1/4″ slices)
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 cup uncooked Whole-Wheat Couscous
2 cups Water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon

Directions:

  • Combine the Spices and Salt in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle over the Chicken breasts, making sure to get the spices on both sides.
  • In a skillet, heat the Olive Oil on medium heat and add the Chicken, cooking for 5 minutes each side.
  • Remove from the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Garlic, Onion, Fennel, and Lemon Zest, cooking until the Fennel is tender or about 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl whisk together the Cornstarch and the Chicken Broth, then add to the Fennel.
  • Heat for another 7-10 minutes, allowing a sauce to form.
  • Heat the Water in a sauce pot.
  • When boiling, remove from the heat and add the Couscous.
  • Fluff the Couscous with a fork, adding the Lemon Juice and Olive Oil.
  • Serve the Chicken on a bead of Couscous with the Fennel sauce over it.

NOTES: Couscous كسكس is a pasta that is common in northern Africa and the Middle East. Near East® makes a good whole wheat Couscous. Also, I prefer small grained Couscous, as it feels fluffier than the larger versions.  This dish is also very tasty without couscous over a bed of Spinach. I have made this recipe suitable for those on low-carb high-protien diets at the request of my bud Christopher S.

Chicken Castellina

Chicken CastellinaChicken Castellina

Ingredients:
2 grilled Chicken Breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
5 oz Pancetta, diced
1 cup prepared Artichokes, chopped
3 Tbsp Capers, drained
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, diced
2 cups Alfredo Sauce
2 cups Penne pasta
Water for the Pasta

Directions:

  • In a Sauce pan, brown the Pancetta.
  • Add the Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Grilled Chicken, and Artichokes.
  • Saute for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Pour the Alfredo Sauce in.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins, stirring to prevent burning.
  • In a second pan, fill with water and heat for Pasta.
  • When boiling, add the pasta with a dash of salt, and strain when pasta is al dente.
  • When pasta is finished, plate and pour the Sauce over it and serve.

NOTES: You can find this dish in most Olive Gardens, but I’ve added a twist with my Alfredo sauce and the addition of Capers.

Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:Vegetarian
1/4 cup Butter
4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Sherry
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Romano, grated
1/2 cup Asiago, grated
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan, combine the butter and Flour.
  • Heat on low heat stirring constantly for 3 mins.
  • Add the Sherry and Cream, stirring constantly; heat for 10 minutes
  • Add the Garlic, Nutmeg, and Cheeses.
  • continue to cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted.

Makes about 4 servings.

Serving Suggestions:
Pour over Fettuccine or your favorite Pasta.

Pasta al Pesto con Gamberi e Asparagi – Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Shrimp and Asaparagus Pesto Fettuccini
Shrimp & Asparagus Pesto Fettuccine

Ingredients:Shellfish Alergy Warning:
1 lb jumbo Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
1-2 cups Asparagus, cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 cup Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Pasta (Linguine or Penne are best)
1 cup Pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Water for boiling
Salt for Pasta water

Directions:

  • In a large pot, add Water and Salt.
  • When boiling, add Pasta, and cook till it is al dente; strain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat Olive Oil on low heat and add Shrimp, Asparagus, and Garlic.
  • Heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The Shrimp is done when completely pink, and the Asparagus is a bright green.
  • In a serving bowl, toss the Pasta with the Pesto sauce.
  • Add the Shrimp and Asparagus with oil, continuing to toss.
  • Top with Parmesan cheese.

NOTES: Shrimp and Asparagus are an exceptional paring of flavors, probably one of my favorites. If you do not have Pesto available, use fresh Basil and Parsley.

Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients:Shellfish Alergy Warning:
2 lbs Shrimp, shelled and deveined.
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
6 Tbsp unsalted Butter
1-2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Vermouth or Dry White Wine
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped fine

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a large skillet and cook the Shrimp and Garlic on low heat.
  • In a bowl combine the Butter, Cayenne Pepper, and Cornstarch.
  • Add the prepared Butter, Vermouth, Lemon Juice and Salt to the pan.
  • Simmer for 2-5 minutes.

NOTES: This is an Italian-American recipe and should be differentiated from English Scampi which consists of breaded Lobster tail meat.

Serving Suggestions:

  • As an Appetizer
  • On top of Pasta or Rice
  • On a Salad

Tuna Casserole – Tuna Mornay

Ingredients:
1 pkg Egg Noodles, cooked al dente, drained
4 cans Tuna, flaked
4 cups Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 cups Sweet Peas, (best to use thawed frozen variety)
3 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
2-3 cups Potato Chips, crushed

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large casserole dish, combine Tuna, Peas, Egg Noodles, Parsley, Cayenne Pepper, and 2 cups of the Cheese, mixing well.
  • Pour the Cream of Mushroom Soup over the mixture.
  • Top the dish with the last cup of Cheese, and sprinkle with the Potato Chip crumbs, liberally.
  • Bake in the Oven for 30 minutes.

NOTES: If on the go, and using canned soup, use 2 cans of it, and add 2 cups Milk, as the canned soup is generally condensed.

Tuna Mornay, is the Aussie version of this same dish, where a Béchamel Sauce is utilized in the same manner as the Cream of Mushroom Soup.

This was one of my favorite meals when I was a child.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
1 handful of Fettuccine (could use Farfalle, Penne, or Spaghetti)
1 cup Zucchini, cut into half-rounds
1 cup Broccoli cut into small florets
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Peas (frozen is best)
1 cup yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Tomato, diced
1 cup fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup fresh Basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or shaved
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (and Salt for water)

Directions:

  • Fill a pot with water 3/4 the way full, and add 1 Tbsp Salt. Bring to a boil.
  • When boiling, add the Pasta and cook until al dente, draining and leaving un-rinsed in the colander.
  • In a skillet, add some of the oil, the garlic, Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli. Saute until tender, being sure to stir and not burn the Garlic, about 3-5 minutes.
  • In a serving bowl, place the herbs and Parmesan cheese.
  • Add the Pasta and mix the herbs and Parmesan Cheese using the Olive Oil to lubricate.
  • Add the Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli mix as well as the Tomatoes to the pasta and mix well.

NOTE: Some people prefer to julienne their vegetables when using long pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti, but I don’t. I think the chunks of vegetables is more natural. Not all Pasta Primavera’s are the same. The American versions tend to add cream, making an almost Alfredo sauce. This style was developed in New York in the 1970s, inspired by dishes similar to that above.

Variations:
The vegetables one uses is up to taste. You can use Carrots, Asparagus, Eggplant, Yellow Squash–your tastes are the limit. To be true Primavera, though an emphasis on Spring and early Summer vegetables should be observed…though I won’t tell if you don’t.

American Style:
Add 1/c cup Cream to the Oil and Garlic in the pan

With Chicken/Shrimp:
Add 1 cup sauteed Chicken or Shrimp (think bite size pieces)

V›Ɣ – Leave out the Parmesan Cheese.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef (you can use sliced beef too, cut into bite-size pieces)
1/2 cup White Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 cups Button Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Dill
1/2 tsp Cardamom
1 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/2 cup Beef Broth

Egg Noodles, cooked al dente, drained

Directions:

  • In a large Skillet, melt the Butter and add the Onions, Garlic, and Beef.
  • When Beef is browned, add White Wine, Beef Broth, Spices and Mushrooms. Let cook down for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Sour Cream and incorporate into the whole mixture.
  • Season to Taste (you can add more Dill or Cardamom if desired).
  • Serve over Egg Noodles.

Variations:
Substituted Ground Chicken or Ground Turkey to cut down on the fat.