"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Meatless Monday – Spicy Wontons

    Seems I have several clients popping by the lair today, one is not a real issue as they are omnivorous, the other is vegan and craves spicy food. For this I am thinking crispy, spicy, and gooey. Maybe a “Masquerade” in the form of veggies, foldied into cheese, stuffed into a spicy Jalapeño pepper, wrapped in a wonton skin and then fried, and served with my sweet chili sauce…..

    Wikipedia says:

    A wonton is a type of dumpling commonly found in a number of Chinese cuisines.

    Cream cheese, jalapeño peppers, garlic and onion make these tasty appetizers.

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  • Fajitas

    A Classic, Steak Fajitas, with Pico de gallo, Guacamole, saute’d peppers and onions. Served with Tortillas, Tortilla chips, salsa and a good cervesa. This is a meal to be shared.

    Notes / Comments on Fajitas ….
    Texas (my home state) would love to be able to lay claim to having originated fajitas, but (regrettably) the ownership goes to the south-of-the-border vaqueros who learned to make use of a tough cut of beef known as skirt steak. Before fajitas became popular throughout the US, skirt steak was a cheap cut scorned by all but the most dedicated beef eaters, since then the price of skirt steak has more than doubled.

    Fajitas are a wonderful entree for an informal dinner party. There is something festive about them and their side dishes. Or perhaps it’s the margaritas and Mexican beer that so often go with this Tex-Mex treat. Whatever. Don’t settle for some watered-down, cable TV, chicken version of fajitas. Enjoy the experience make your own fajitas. Read the rest of this entry »

  • First Grill Of the year – Bavette

    grilled-flank-steak

    This is a wonderful recipe, a bit of a asian-fusion, a bit old style fajitas, and just all around good.

    Background
    The flank steak or bavette is a beef steak cut from the belly muscles of the cow. Long and flat, the flank steak’s best known application is London Broil — a misnomer, as the dish did not originate in London. The popularity of London Broil has driven up the price of flank steak over the past few decades. It is significantly tougher than the loin and rib steaks, therefore many flank recipes use marinades or moist cooking methods such as braising.

    The French are quite partial to this cut, known as “Bavette”. It is quickly seared in a hot pan and eaten rare to maintain its tenderness. Bavette is frequently served in Parisian bistros with shallots – “Bavette a l’échalotte”. Strips of flank steak, known as arrachera, are very popular in Mexican cuisine and may be used to fill tacos, or served in large pieces as a main course. Flank steak used in Mexican cuisine may be tenderized by a marinade, or by mechanical tenderizing, using a machine similar to that used to produce cube steaks.

    Flank steak is best when it has a bright, red color. Because it comes from a strong, well-exercised part of the cow, it is best prepared when cut across the grain. Additional tenderness can be added by marinating the meat in a tenderizing liquid, including acids like tomato-based products, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, pineapple or ginger.

    Because the marinades in Asian cuisine tend to be tenderizing, flank steak is frequently used in this cuisine.

    In Chinese markets, the flank steak is often sold as “stir-fry beef” because it is how it is usually prepared. Most stir-fried beef dishes in Cantonese restaurants are prepared with this cut of beef.

    Flank steak (Spanish Arrachera) is the regional term in northern Mexico and South Texas for the popular fajita Tex-Mex dish. Once cut into strips it was then called “fajita”.

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  • Butter Chicken and Naan

    Every so often I have a taste to eat something with lots of sauce for sopping. And this is special made for Naan, fresh naan…

    Butter Chicken is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It is a full flavored dish that complements the chicken well. It can be made as mild or spicy as you wish by adjusting the cayenne. Serve with basmati rice and naan bread

    Dressed chicken is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili. The chicken is then grilled, roasted or pan fried, depending on convenience or the chef’s preference.

    Makhani, the sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker.

    Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked till the gravy and chicken have blended. Garnish it with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and crushed fenugreek leaves.

    Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice. It is also confused with Chicken tikka masala.

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  • Cast Iron Flat Bread

    As I have said before I am a bread junkie. And I truly love flatbreads, with just a dash of ghee, or a stuffed prata, a puffy pita, or buttery naan. These go so well with hummus, and used as a wrap for chicken schwarma they are sublime.

    A superb flatbread is basically like a glorious steak; a crusty outside and a tender, just-cooked inside. The best steaks come out of a burning hot cast-iron skillet, so why not flatbreads? They are thin enough that while the surface is being crisped / charred up by intense heat the interior dough will cook enough to a just cooked but still tender fluffy goodness.

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  • Black Bean Hummus

    As one of our oldest and most loyal critics is in the hospital for heart surgery, perhaps a bit lighter touch is appropriate. Something to help balance all the rich and hearty meals, but something with taste texture and just that special mouth feel. (The primary item wrong with “health food” is the lack of taste / umami.)

    On special note … “GET WELL, I can not afford to loose that much of my readership”

    Background
    Hummus is a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is a popular food in various local forms throughout the Middle Eastern world. While cuisine-related sources carry forward a folklore which describes hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods, its historical origins are unknown with a long history in the Middle East which stretches back to antiquity. It is probable that is only dates back some 2000 years or so.

    As an appetizer and dip hummus is scooped with flatbread (such as pita). Hummus is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or Baba Ganoush. Garnishes include chopped tomato, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, ful, olives and pickles. Outside the Middle East it is sometimes served with tortilla chips or crackers. In fact it is almost as ubiquitous as peppers in Thai cooking, and acts as a “velcro” to allow many disparate food items to blend together to form a pleasing meal.

    It is written that some early Jewish settlers in modern Israel rejected everything that reeked of Diaspora and an eager, almost childish, embrace of the Levant. The infatuation with falafel and hummus, staples of Arabic cuisine, started there. The outcome, according to others, was that “Shawarma, falafel and hummus soon became “sabra” foods,” a part of everyday meals in Israel. Many restaurants in Israel are dedicated to hot hummus, which may be served as chick peas softened with baking soda along with garlic, olive oil, cumin and tahini. One of the more upscale hummus versions available is made with lemon-spiked tahini garnished with whole chick peas, a sprinkling of paprika and garnished with hot-peppers and drizzled with olive oil.

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