Saturday, February 25, 2017

Prawn Provencale – Eating the 80’s

I’m not sure these are actually prawns, and I’ve never been to Provence, but this great appetizer was called Prawn Provencale when I learned it working for a caterer, back in the 80’s. It was a crazy time, or so I’m told, and this delicious garlic and herb shrimp pop is one of the more vivid memories I have.

It does take some time to butterfly the prawns, but as I mentioned in the video, everything can be done ahead of time, including the crumbing. Just pan them up, and bake them off, once your guests arrive. Preferably in waves, so they can be enjoyed warm.

In case you’re wondering, while biologically different, culinarily speaking, shrimp and prawns are the same thing. I used to know the difference a long time ago, like in the 80’s, but my brain must’ve erased it for more storage space.

One major tip here is to be sure and season your breadcrumb mixture very well. You can season the shrimp also, but I don’t, and instead make sure the mixture has plenty of everything. Once they’re baked, you can serve with any number of dips, or just some fresh lemon. So, whether you’re making these for a party or not, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 pounds shrimp (about 32 pieces)
2 pounds shrimp (16-20 per pound), butterflied
olive oil for brushing pan

For the breadcrumb mixture:
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed fine with dried herbs and salt)
kosher salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/3 cup Italian parsley
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, or as needed

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Picadillo – Close, But No Cigar

I’m not sure if you’ve had picadillo before, but I’m very sure you’ve almost had it before. This Cuban creation is one of the world’s great ground meat dishes, and fairly similar to sloppy Joes, as well as bean-less chili, or as a chili connoisseur would call it, “chili." 

I went with beef here, but pork can be added, as well as chorizo. Often fillers like diced potato and squash are added, but since I serve this over rice, I typically don’t include those. I used to be more into hot, starch-on-starch action when I was younger, but these days, not so much.

As I mentioned in the video, many consider the olives optional, but for me, they’re one of the keys to the dish. Those briny bites reset your palate as you eat, which makes every bite seem like the first. Having said that, not everyone does olives, but I still really hope you give it a try soon – with capers. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85/15 lean/fat)
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup sliced green olives, or to taste

Friday, February 17, 2017

“One-Step” Chicken Noodle Soup – For When You’re Sick of Following Recipes

Or, just plain sick. Yes, I’m a little under the weather, but as they say, the show must go on, and that “show” ended up being me just throwing all my chicken noodle soup ingredients into a pot, crossing my fingers, and hoping for the best.

And while I know this method didn’t produce “the best” chicken noodle soup, I was amazed at how really good it was, and how remarkably close it was to a certain canned variety. I can’t give brand names, but it rhymes with Frogresso.

If you do decide to use this one-step approach, there are a few things you need to pay attention to. You’ll want to use a pasta or noodle that’s at least a large as the fusilli I used so it doesn’t completely break down; as well as, to be sure to dice/slice your veggies nice and thin, so they get tender relatively quickly.

I just used a knife, but I bet you have one of those vegetable slicers somewhere, and this would be the perfect operation to use it for. Above and beyond that, feel free to add in other “medicinal” ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, and hot chilies. But whether you embellish or not, or you’re sick, or feeling just fine, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
1 pound raw or cooked chicken meat (I used 2 cubed-up breasts)
1/2 cup dried fusilli pasta (corkscrew pasta)
1/3 finely minced onions
1 carrot, very thinly sliced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 fresh thyme sprig, or pinch of dried thyme, optional
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Norwegian Butter Sauce – Better Know as Sandefjordsmør

My Norwegian pronunciations aren’t any better than my French ones, but as challenging as saying, “Sandefjordsmør,” may be, this amazingly simple butter sauce is not very challenging to make. 

People get nervous about butter sauce, since many types can easily “break,” which means the butter separates, but because of the cream, this is extremely stable, and very user-friendly. As long you don’t dump all the cold butter cubes in at once, and just toss them in a few at a time, your sauce will not break. 

Along the same lines, if you make the sauce early, be sure to keep it in a warm spot, since if it gets cold and solidifies, and then you try and reheat it, the butter will most likely separate. Above and beyond being easy, and relatively sturdy, this Sandefjordsmør is also quite versatile.

Not only is it wonderful on all types of fish, but also works beautifully with shrimp and lobster. Speaking of versatility, the same goes for changing up the herbs. So, no matter how you flavor it, or what you spoon it over, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons cold unsalted, grass-fed butter, cut in cubes
salt and cayenne to taste
2 generous tablespoons chopped Italian parsley