Category Archives: recipes

Recipe: Wild Mushroom Bisque

A spectacular winter dish, this simple wild mushroom bisque is rich yet elegant.

Slow roasting intensifies the flavor of mushrooms, giving this soup a rich, earthy flavor. Madeira is a sweet wine made in Portugal. Sherry makes an excellent substitute.

Wild Mushroom Bisque

wild mushroom bisque. sourdough croutons, applewood smoked bacon

Ingredients:  (serves 6-8)

  • 1 pound fresh portabellos- stemmed, dark gills removed, caps cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms stemmed, caps cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Madeira or Sherry wine
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup organic whipping cream
  • 1/4 sourdough croutons, crushed
  • garnish option: chopped cooked bacon

To prepare:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the mushrooms between prepared baking sheets. Drizzle the mushrooms with the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the mushrooms are tender and still moist, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly. Reserve any liquid from the roasted mushrooms

2. In a food processor or blender, combine half of the mushrooms with 2 cups of the broth and process until smooth.

3. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sherry wine and simmer until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

4. Add the remaining 3 1/4 cups of broth, organic milk, and fresh thyme. Stir in the remaining cooked mushroom pieces and the mushroom purée. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and ladle into serving bowls or demi-tasse coffee cups. Top with a little dollop of the whipped cream, sourdough croutons and some porcini powder (or any dried mushroom ground in a spice mill or coffee grinder) and the bacon.

Additional Notes:
• Almost all mushroom varieties are very absorbent and will soak up any moisture that’s available. Moisture causes mushrooms to decay rapidly, so the single most important aspect when cleaning them is not to soak them in water.

• Before you clean mushrooms, trim off the ends of the stems and any clumps of dirt that may be clinging. A soft-bristled brush or damp cloth can usually clean most of the dirt off of mushrooms. If the mushrooms are a little damp, use a clean cloth to dry them.

• Don’t discard the stems of fresh mushrooms like shiitake and Portobello. Use them to flavor stocks, soups, and stews. Wrap them in a square of cheesecloth and add them to a simmering liquid. The stems will release their flavor in about 20 to 30 minutes, then discard the cheesecloth bundle.

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Huevos Rancheros, A Fiesta Of Flavors

Huevos rancheros is a popular breakfast dish consisting of eggs served in the style of the traditional large mid-morning fare on rural Mexican farms.

The basic dish consists of fried eggs served upon lightly fried corn tortillas topped with a tomato-chili sauce. Refried beans, Mexican-style rice, slices of avocado, or guacamole are common accompaniments. Share your version of this classic dish with us!

Back Road Journal

The classic Mexican dish, Huevos Rancheros,  Is A Fiesta Of Flavors.  Fried eggs sitting on top of corn tortillas and served with a rustic tomato chili ranchero sauce can be found all over Mexico. If you travel there on vacation, you will find this dish at a simple  cantina as well as at famous beachside resorts. It is a delicious way to start your day.

What is especially nice about this classic egg dish is that it doesn’t have to be relegated to just an early morning breakfast although it is quick and easy to prepare. Countless people celebrating Cinco de Mayo with friends love serving this dish as part of a Mexican themed brunch along with pitchers of Margaritas. But we also know that eggs aren’t just for breakfast any more, and I like preparing huevos rancheros for an evening meal.

Ask a hundred cooks or chefs how…

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Recipe: Key Lime Tartlets

Recipe: Key Lime Tartlets.

Key Lime Tartlets

Recipe: Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cakes are a vital part of history of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new small plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.
Note: Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow, or hide an orange wedge or 3-4 pecan halves inside the cake (avoid items that may hurt someone’s teeth) and then simply place the honorable toy baby outside on the top of the cake for all to see and adore!

Mardi gras king cake

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter
FROSTING:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon to 2 water
MISC:
2 smalls plastic dolls (from party supply store)
green sugar
yellow sugar>
purple sugar

Preparation

1. Scald the milk, then remove from heat and stir in the butter. cool the mixture until it reaches room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, approximately 10 minutes.
3. When the yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Beat the flour in, adding 1 cup at a time.
4. Once the dough has formed, put it on a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Lightly oil a large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it to coat the dough with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, approximately 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in half.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper.
7. Make the filling: combine brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour the 1/2 cup of melted butter over the mixture and mix until crumbly.
8. Roll out the dough halves into large rectangles (approximately 10 x 6 inches). Sprinkle the filling over the dough and roll the dough up like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form two oval shaped rings. Put each dough ring on a prepared cookie sheet. Use scissors to make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.
9. Bake the rings in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove cakes from oven and press a plastic baby doll into the bottom of each cake.
10. Mix the confectioners sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and frost the cakes while warm. Decorate with green, yellow, and purple colored sugars.
ENJOY!

Recipe: Citrus Infused Duck Confit

Confit (pronounced con-fee) originated as a French method of preserving meat. Nowadays, it’s mostly used as a way to make delicious, fall-off the bone duck. In our version of duck confit, duck leg quarters are cooked slowly in rendered duck fat, fresh herbs, orange peel and spices resulting in an incredible flavor. This method also works well with chicken, pork and goose. Great with a salads, sandwiches, charcuterie and more. Lots of options!

The flavorful fat from the duck confit may also be used in many other ways, as a frying medium for sautéed vegetables, potatoes, savory toasts, scrambled eggs or omelets, and as an addition to short crust paste for tarts and quiche.

Some of the more classic recipes call for you to fry or grill the duck legs in a bit of the leftover fat until they are well-browned and crisp, or to  roast potatoes and garlic as an accompaniment. The potatoes roasted in duck fat to accompany the crisped-up duck confit is called pommes de terre à la sarladaise. Duck confit is also a traditional ingredient in many versions of cassoulet.

Duck Confit with pommes de terre à la sarladaise & sun-dried cherry-port sauce

Duck Confit
1 dozen Duck Leg Quarters (frenched)
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
6 T Whole Peppercorns
5 Bay Leaves
5 Juniper Berries
3 Tbsp Coriander seed
3 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
1 bunch fresh Rosemary
stems from 2 bunches fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh Thyme
Peels from two large fresh oranges-pith removed
Rendered Duck Fat to cover

duck leg quarters

ready to cook the duck confit

Combine herbs, spices, salt, orange peels & bay leaves. Rinse duck legs, dry, place in  large roasting pan or oven proof casserole pot, & cover with rendered duck fat, gently stir to mix ingredients. Cover pan & place in 225 degree oven for 7 – 8 hours or until duck is tender and falling off the bone (test by using tongs to lift a duck leg by the bone and gently shaking). Leave duck in the fat & allow to cool overnight. Remove from fat, heat and caramelize in 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

finished duck confit

Spiced duck confit, caramelized onion tart, thyme infused balsamic syrup

duck confit

quack, quack!

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Recipe: Mango Salsa

The mango is a very common tropical fruit usually found in Southern Asia, especially in Eastern India, Philippines, China, Burma, Andaman Islands and Central America. It is cultivated and grown vastly in many tropical regions and widely distributed in the world.

Mango is one of the most extensively used fruit for food, juices, flavor and coloring making it as the most functional fruit. The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe, depending on the cultivar. When it is ripe refreshingly sweet taste that varies from every variety. Its flesh has its fibrous and some are soft and pulpy texture.

One of my favorite uses for mango is fresh salsa. It makes a great accompaniment to all sorts of grilled fish and chicken recipes.

Ripe Mango

cubed Mango for salsa

Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
  • 2 peeled, pitted and diced small
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 Tbsp medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 /2 small european cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp chopeed scallion
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted mustard seed
  • Salt and Pepper
Directions:
  1. Chop mango, red pepper, cucumber, scallion and red onion and combine in a bowl.
  2. Mix lime juice, olive oil, sugar mustard seeds & salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.
  3. Mix into salsa.
  4. Add chopped cilantro and stir until combined.
  5. Enjoy with fresh tortilla chips, on grilled fish or chicken or as an accompaniment to a fresh green salad

mango salsa

History of Mango:

Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C.

The Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D. It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.

Ripe Mango on the vine

Source: Julia F. Morton’s “Fruits of Warm Climates”: Mango

Note: There are a few vari­eties of mango that are com­monly found in Amer­i­can gro­ceries stores. The most com­mon are the Haden, Tommy Atkins, and  Kent vari­eties, all of which have yel­low or green skins with a red­dish blush to them. If you do find an Ataulfo or Cham­pagne mango, it will have a smaller, kidney-like shape, yel­low skin, and small pit, so use 5 or 6 for this recipe. To choose a ripe but firm (com­mon) mango make sure it has a red­dish blush and firm skin. The mango should give slightly when squeezed and be fra­grant. If you acci­den­tally peel a mango that is too green, no wor­ries, cut it into small slices, sea­son with lime juice and sprin­kle with salt. You’ve just made man­goviche! Deli­cious!

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Recipe: Gulf Shrimp Ceviche

As a young man growing up in Key West Florida, I was exposed to a variety of fantastically flavorful ethnic dishes from an early age. Dishes that I would, over the years, constantly try to recreate or infuse into new ideas. South Florida in general is home to a diverse multi-cultural landscape of people, rich in tradition and passionate about the foods of their homeland. The bounty of both fresh produce and super fresh seafood readily available in Florida at any given time gives chefs the opportunity to come up with almost limitless inspiration and flavor combinations. Bahamian Conch Ceviche, Cuban Ropa Vieja, Puerto Rican plantain mofongo, Hatian Oxtail stew, these are all dishes that take me back to my childhood. One preparation always stood out for me, especially because I tend to go for fresh and spicy, flavor packed foods with a simplistic approach…seafood in particular, it was Ceviche. Fish, Shrimp, Conch, whatever…I LOVED ceviche.

Long before I ever dreamed that I would end up being a chef, I had the good fortune to eat many, many times at a little place called Louie’s Backyard in Old Town Key West. You see, my mother was a huge foodie and luckily for me, introduced me to all kinds of strange and exotic foods from an early age. The owners of Louie’s had recently brought in a young chef named Norman Van Aken, who would soon blaze a trail for what would one day become known as “New World Cuisine”, he was and still is the father of it…a new world Escoffier of sorts…Norman is obviously a culinary genius, few would argue that.

I used to love the irreverent cooking style and seemingly bizarre, yet playful flavors Norman created and there was definitely a buzz going around about his cooking from very early on. After finishing culinary school, I sought Norman out at his restaurant in Coral Gables and hung around until I was able to work my way into the kitchen, it was a brief time that would change my perception of what food could really be and how far an idea could be taken. Hopefully Norman knows what an incredible impact he has made on so many young chefs, including me…I doubt I could ever really fully thank him in a way that sounds as good as it does in my mind but, thank you Norman.

Now,  looking back on a successful career as a professional chef for the last 15 years, I have begun to seek out the flavors that remind me of my childhood. Afterall, isn’t that one of the great things about food? The fact that one bite can transport you back to a certain time and place…remind you of good times or bad, connect you with a family memory or simply remind you of sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Food connects us with our roots in a way that few other things in life can and I think that any great cook, at any given time, draws inspiration from or strives to re-create dishes that remind them of something dear to them.

My take on a wonderful recipe by Chef Rick Bayless– Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, creator of  Frontera Gourmet foods, cookbook author and host of “Mexico One Plate at a Time“. This recipe is from his cook book “Mexico One Plate at a Time.” A must-try!

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 generous pound unpeeled, smallish shrimp
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1-2 Tbs vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
  • About 2 Tbs olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
  • 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or  ½ cup of each)
  • 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • Salt
  • Several lime slices for garnish
  • Tostadas or tortilla chips for serving

Directions

  1. To cook the shrimp, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 Tbs of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein shrimp. Toss the shrimp with remaining ½ cup lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jicama and avocado. Taste and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
  3. Serving: spoon ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips.

ENJOY!

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

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