Tag Archives: Recipes

By request: Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

I was asked to settle a debate this week and while I’m uncertain whether it was my food knowledge, my part Irish heritage, or simply my well known penchant for eating food that led them to me, I was more than happy to throw in my two cents. The question was “Is corned beef really Irish?” In fact, I told them, it is Irish but the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patty’s day is uniquely American.

Historically corned beef (named so because the salt used in the process resembled corn kernels) or salt cured beef was an export of Ireland but rarely ever was it eaten by the locals. In those days Beef was generally too expensive for the common people and a dish of boiled “bacon” and cabbage was much more customary. What they called “bacon” was pretty much any part of the pig, other than the ham, that contained a joint…typically what we know as the shoulder or the loin.

Later, when Irish immigrants came to America, beef was actually far more available than pork so they “corned” the beef and cooked it with cabbage in an effort to replicate their comfort food from back home. Loosely, this is assumed to be the origin of the wholly American tradition of corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, to this day, corned beef and cabbage in Ireland is generally reserved for the tourists!

For a great read on the subject check out Europeancuisines.com .

Through the years I tried every method known to man for preparing corned beef including boiling, stove-top braising, baking and most recently sous vide. For depth of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this slow oven braise remains my go-to recipe for corned beef. Make enough for leftovers because the sandwiches are awesome and the chopped meat makes for an incredible corned beef hash!

Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

1 – 3 to 4 pound First cut corned beef (**See note)
1 or 2 cans – Guinness draft
10 to 12 – Mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black, etc…)
6 to 8 – Cloves of garlic, smashed
4 to 6 – Allspice berries
2 to 3 – Bay leaves
1 to 2 – Star anise pods

Note: Reserve vegetables for later. These can be added and cooked with the roast for the final hour of cooking or boiled in the pot juices while the roast  rests.

1 Head – Green or Napa cabbage, quartered
3 to 4 Large, or 4 to 6 Med – Red bliss potatoes
2 Med – White onions, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the corned beef from its packaging and rinse in cold water while rubbing with your hands to remove any scum left over from the brine. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (or a pot with a tight fitting lid) and pour in enough beer to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides, sliding the roast around a little to get some liquid underneath. Add the remaining ingredients, distributing them evenly around the beef (if your roast is larger add more / if it is smaller add less of the spice).

Note: If your Corned Beef comes with a spice packet add that too…flavor is flavor!

On your stovetop over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil then cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil placing the Dutch oven lid on top of that for a nice firm seal. Place the whole thing in the oven and roast, without peeking for 3 – ½ to 4 hours again depending on the size. The beef should be very tender after 4 hours…if not put it back in the oven and check it every 30 minutes until it is very tender.

Remove the corned beef and wrap it in the foil to rest. Meanwhile, place quartered cabbage (cut side down), red bliss potatoes, and white onion halves in the cooking liquid, return to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes while the Corned Beef is resting. After 15 to 20 minutes of rest, slice the Corned Beef, across the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite Dijon Mustard.

**Note: Corned beef is generally sold as Whole Brisket, Half Brisket – First Cut (or Flat), or Half Brisket – Point Cut. The first cut (or Flat) is my favorite. This cut comes from the wide flat half of the whole brisket with the Point Cut coming from the thicker, fattier end of the Brisket. The First Cut is generally leaner and more suitable for the dinner plate. The Point Cut is “generally” fattier and more suitable for sandwiches. Hence, most of the time when you see a sale on corned beef it will be the Point Cut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the First Cut.

Enjoy,

Randy

Shepherds Pie, American Style

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I call this recipe “Shepherds Pie, American Style” because I have read or heard much debate through the years about the authentic ingredients for shepherds, or cottage pie. While it is true that many might say “this is not Shepherds Pie if it contains no lamb!” I beg to differ. Oh yes, I am well aware that because it is made with beef as opposed to lamb that it should rightfully be called “Cottage Pie”. But that’s not what they called it when I learned to love it!

I apologize for bringing up my childhood twice in as many posts but is that not truly when many of our adult likes and dislikes are formed? When I was in elementary school one of my favorite, absolute favorite dishes on the cafeteria (or cafetorium) menu was named “Shepherd’s Pie” and this recipe is my rendition of that dish. This is how I remember it tasting and once again we’re talking comfort food, so this is how I prepare it.

Honestly, I won’t be insulted if you call it cottage pie; call it anything you like…what really matters to me is that it tastes good. After all if we were really going to get down to brass tacks then do you think that stuff they served at the “PTA Spaghetti Dinners” would pass as Spaghetti with a true Italian? Ha! I think not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t gobble it up with enthusiasm each and every time I ate it. I hope you do the same with this recipe.

Notes: I use a fork to “rake” the top of the potatoes because I think it facilitates browning and creates a crispier crust. I do not use cheese because they didn’t use any when I was a kid. Please feel free to add anything you like to the recipe. (On that note, I think I will add a cup of chopped green onions to the potatoes the next time around.)

Shepherd’s Pie, American Style

1 Lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Onion, chopped
32 Oz – Lower Sodium Beef Broth
2-3 Tbsp – Red wine, chilled
2 Tbsp – HP (or A1) Steak sauce
2 Tbsp – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp – Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp – Dried Tarragon
8 Oz – Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Lbs – Red Bliss Potatoes, cut in (roughly) 1 inch chunks
2 Cups – Low Fat Buttermilk, plus a little extra if needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion along with ½ Tbsp each of thyme and tarragon. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a fork while stirring to mix. Add the remainder of the thyme and tarragon along with about ¼ tablespoon of pepper and the steak sauce. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the beef has browned. When the beef has browned and cooked through, add the broth and simmer while you prepare the potatoes.

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by ½ inch. Add about 1/8 cup of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the beef & broth mixture has simmered at least 20 minutes, strain about 1 cup of the hot stock into a bowl. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cold red wine and set aside to cool while you mash the potatoes.

When the potatoes are very tender carefully drain them in a colander or strainer allowing them to sit a few minutes to steam off excess moisture. Place hot potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, dough cutter, or a large fork mash in about 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue mashing until the liquid has been absorbed, then drizzle in the second cup of buttermilk while still mashing the potatoes. If the potatoes are still too dry drizzle in a little extra buttermilk, while mashing, until the mashed potatoes reach your desired consistency.

Whisk 2 Tbsp of flour into the reserved stock and wine mixture then stir this into the simmering beef mixture along with the frozen peas. Stir gently until everything is incorporated, heated through, and slightly thickened then spoon or pour the mixture into a 9” X 13” casserole. Using a spoon and your fingers if necessary spread the potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.

Before baking, smooth the top of the potatoes, then use the back of a fork to create parallel 1/8 inch deep “grooves” along the length of the entire dish to give the topping some texture. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Randy

A Healthier Hash – Ground Turkey Hash

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

I think I have mentioned before how much I loved my Mom’s corned beef hash (topped with poached eggs) when I was a kid. She pretty much always prepared it with the canned version and even as an adult I’ve made it quite often. As my eating habits have become more conscientious though, I’ve felt more and more hesitant to use the canned stuff, especially corned beef hash. Sure, I’ll eat fresh corned beef, steaks and burgers too, all in moderation of course. But when I open that can of corned beef hash and see all that greasy looking congealed fat I can almost feel it clogging my arteries as I cook it.

So this past weekend I had a package of ground turkey that needed to be used and being that it was Super Bowl Sunday I wanted a “Super” brunch. Hence what I’ll call “A Healthier Hash” using the ground turkey along with a few other things from the pantry. In order to replicate the corned beef hash flavor I started with a few ingredients common to corned beef including allspice and bay. Then, for the sake of either color or flavor I got a little creative with the mixture.

Cooking down the broth step by step not only ensures that the potatoes get cooked through; the flavor of the dish really gets a nice boost from the broth. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, be sure to let the hash cook without stirring as often. This allows for some nice browning to form on the bottom; those crunchy bits are packed full of flavor. Lowering the heat a little will help keep it from burning as it browns. The whole process takes about an hour but for all that flavor and a whole lot less fat; I thought it was well worth the effort. I hope you do too!

Ground Turkey Breakfast Hash

1 Lb – Ground Turkey (97% Lean)
1 Cup – Yukon Gold or Red Bliss potatoes, diced ¼ to ½ inch
1 Cup – Homemade or lower sodium chicken stock, divided
1 – Medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
3 – Whole allspice berries
1 Sprig – Fresh rosemary
1 Star – Star anise
1 – Bay leaf
1 Tbsp – Ground turmeric
1 Tsp – Paprika
Kosher Salt & Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp – Olive Oil
¼ Cup – Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Pre-heat a 12” non-stick pan over med-high heat and when the pan is hot add the olive oil and swirl in the pan to coat. Stir in the potatoes, onions, and garlic then add the allspice, rosemary, star anise, and bay leaf. Cook while stirring often until the onion begins to become transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the ground turkey, breaking it up as much as possible as you add it to the pan. Stir the mixture and continue to cook about 10 minutes more, stirring often and breaking the turkey into smaller pieces as it cooks.

When the turkey is nearly cooked lower the heat to medium and add about ¼ cup of the broth along with a few grinds of ground black pepper, the turmeric and the paprika. Stir the mixture well then cook, stirring less frequently until the pan is nearly dry (about 8-10 minutes). Continue this process, adding ¼ cup of broth at a time, until all of the broth has been cooked down, the potatoes are cooked through and some browning has begun. Before finishing, remove and discard the bay leaf, rosemary sprig, star anise, and allspice.

To finish, taste for seasonings and add kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to your taste. Stir in the chopped parsley and served topped with eggs cooked to your liking.

Enjoy!

Randy

Mmm Pork! Char siu “Style” Pork and Stir Fried Bean Sprouts

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

My wife and I attended a party last Saturday night…an Annual End of Summer Turkey Fry. It was a wonderful party hosted by our friends Joe & Linda and as usual the party was a huge success. As the enthusiastic crowd lined up with their plates to sample some of the 16 turkeys (yes, I said sixteen!) it didn’t take long to notice that the one poor guy that was carving and serving as fast as he could, was very quickly getting deep in the weeds.

Well, as any food lover worth his salt would do, I sprung into action, grabbed a knife and proceeded to help break down my fair share of the steaming hot birds. By the time the dust settled and the lines had dwindled down we had carved 13 turkeys. Both the cook and the gracious hostess insisted that the carvers “must” take home some of the leftover turkey…so who am I to refuse leftovers?

I ended up bringing home a whole 12 lb bird plus a jambalaya pot full of scraps.

Why all this turkey talk in a post about pork? Well, that was Saturday, and by Wednesday night we had eaten turkey gumbo, turkey with rice & gravy, turkey panini, and turkey hash (with poached eggs of course!). After turkey for lunch and turkey for dinner for four days straight, by last night I was ready for anything but turkey…I was ready for some pork!

Char siu, in Chinese, translates to fork burn (or roast). Interestingly the word Char actually means fork and siu, to burn or roast. This is the same “roast pork” that is often used in egg rolls, won-ton, fried rice, and myriad other ways in Chinese cooking. Traditionally it is hung on a hook or fork (Char) and roasted (siu) in an oven or over an open fire. Because this recipe strays from tradition (braised and not marinated for hours) I am calling it Char Siu “Style” Pork.

Here in the U.S. much of the Char siu that I have eaten has been dry and oftentimes chewier than I prefer, so for this recipe I set out to come up with something a little more juicy and tender. I decided on braising because this cooking method has been working very well for me with the leaner boneless pork country style ribs. Because I didn’t have time for a true marinade, I felt the braise would infuse the flavors most deeply in the shortest amount of time.

Would I recommend using this same recipe and marinating the pork overnight? Absolutely! I probably will do exactly that the next time around. But, for the relatively short (two hours overall) cooking time that I had, I think I was able to produce a reasonable Char Siu “Style” pork. It tasted right, was moist and quite tender and I was happy with the results. And, it wasn’t turkey!

Of note: This pork would also be quite good finished on the grill instead of the final uncovered baking. Look for the bean sprouts to be hot, with a little browning on the outside, but still crispy on the inside. You don’t want them to be limp. If you like a little heat try adding a tablespoon of sliced bird (or Thai chili) peppers at the same time as the green onions.

Char Siu Style Pork with Stir Fried Bean Sprouts

For the pork…

1 Package – Boneless Pork Country Style Ribs (About 2 Lbs)
1 Med – Yellow onion, sliced thick
¼ Cup – Shaoxing wine
½ Cup – Hoisin sauce
¼ Cup – Light soy sauce
2 Tbsp – Dark agave nectar
1 Tbsp – Fish sauce
¼ Tbsp – Toasted sesame oil
1 Med. Clove – Garlic, very finely minced
½ Tsp – Fresh ginger, very finely minced

For the bean sprouts…

4 Cups – Mung bean sprouts
4 – Green onions, cut in 1” to 1-1/2” pieces
1 Med. Clove – Garlic, very finely minced
½ Tsp – Fresh ginger, very finely minced
2 Tbsp – Sesame oil
¼ Tsp – Toasted sesame oil

To prepare the pork…

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a Dutch oven or a large, deep sauté pan with the sliced onions. Add the Shaoxing wine and bring to a mild simmer over medium heat.

Combine the Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, agave nectar, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Stir until well incorporated. One at a time, dip each rib into the sauce mixture to coat, then nestle them onto the bed of onions already in the pan. Place the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for later use.

When all of the ribs are coated and placed evenly on top of the onions, cover the pan firmly with aluminum foil before placing on the lid. Bake at 325 for 1-1/2 hours.

After 1-1/2 hours remove the ribs from the oven. Carefully remove the lid and the foil and then “very” carefully pour off most of the liquid (reserving the liquid for later use). Brush the remaining sauce mixture on the ribs and return them, uncovered, to the oven for 30 minutes more.

Remove the ribs from the oven and allow them to rest while you prepare the bean sprouts.

To prepare the bean sprouts…

Heat a wok (or sauté pan) over high heat until very hot. Add the oils, shaking the pan to distribute. Add the green onions, garlic, and ginger and cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add roughly 1/8 cup of the reserved cooking juices from the pork, then the bean sprouts and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Let this sit 30 seconds without stirring then remove from heat. That’s it…You’re ready to serve!

To serve…

Place about a one cup serving of the bean sprouts on the plate then fan sliced rib meat even on top. Garnish with (roughly) 1” pieces of julienned green onions and serve with a little of the cooking liquid as a dipping sauce.

Enjoy,

Randy

Fish 101 – Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

Once upon a time I loved salmon; then 5 or 6 years ago my family passed around a particularly bad stomach virus. The night it nailed me, what do you think I had for dinner? Why salmon of course. After that night I swear I could hardly even look at cooked salmon without feeling a little lightheaded, let alone eat the stuff! As the years went by though I slowly regained my taste for cooked salmon; a little at first, sampling small bites here and there, then by preparing my childhood favorite, salmon cakes. Before long I was actually cooking and enjoying salmon again.

My wife came down with that nasty virus that same night and she too refused to touch cooked salmon for even longer than I did! In time, she came around and once again she too enjoys cooked salmon (especially that crispy skin). So what is the point of my story? Well I believe that salmon, more than any other fish, is an acquired taste. Like coffee, caviar, and even beer; salmon is one of those foods that, for many people, seems to be an acquired taste. My wife and I learning to love salmon all over again is a perfect example.

Think about how many people you know that love fish yet claim to hate salmon. Curiously, I also know those that would tell you that salmon is the only fish they will eat! Why? Because for whatever reason salmon is a fish they developed a taste for or for those that hate it; maybe they never ate enough salmon to learn to like it. Which brings me to my final point, that salmon is one of the healthiest and sustainable foods in the ocean…it is well worth giving it another chance!

If until now you’ve avoided salmon I encourage you to give it try. If you’re ready…here are a few ideas on how best to enjoy this wonderful fish.

What to choose…

When it comes to fish, I have been known to preach about freshness and with salmon, freshness is paramount! Why? Simply put, the fresher the salmon is, the sweeter and milder the flavor will be. If you’ve had unpleasant, strong tasting salmon it may be that it wasn’t the freshest. When buying fresh salmon look first for whole fish with bright (not cloudy) eyes, and skin that is so moist that it has a sparkle to it (never dry looking!).

The gills should be bright red or healthy pink (not dull or off-color) and if you poke the fish in the shoulder (I’m snickering at the mental image of poking a salmon in the shoulder but it works!) the flesh should spring back firmly rather than leaving a divot. Finally, there should be no “fishy” smell. A fresh fish should have little smell, perhaps only the pleasant scent of the mist from a breaking wave or an ocean breeze, if any smell at all.

Once you’ve found your perfectly bright, moist, firm, and nice smelling whole salmon, most fishmongers will be happy to fillet it for you. But, you’re not always going to be able to find whole salmon…the next best thing to whole salmon is fresh, skin-on, salmon fillets. Again, look for firm, moist (the skin helps retain some of that moisture) fillets with little or no smell at all. I often buy fresh salmon fillets at Costco and I have no qualms at all about opening one little corner of a sealed package to sniff the fish for freshness. If it smells fishy…don’t buy it!

What about frozen?

Salmon actually freezes quite well and I often buy frozen salmon when fresh fish is not available. Look for a package that states the salmon is ICQ or “Individually Quick Frozen”. (These fillets are usually flash frozen while still very fresh, sometimes even still on the boat.) It’s ok if the fish portions are individually wrapped…I actually prefer it since I’m usually cooking for only two.

Frozen salmon to avoid would be whole fillets that are packed loosely, fillet portions that are not individually wrapped and are all stuck together in one big frozen lump, or any fillets that have frost directly touching the flesh. If the only salmon fillets you can find fit any of the descriptions in this paragraph; now might be a good time to go with the canned salmon!

To thaw frozen fillets, move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to cook them. In a pinch, if you forget to thaw your fish ahead of time, you can also thaw them quickly by placing them in a cold heavy bottomed steel pan. Cast iron works very well for this but a good heavy stainless pan will work too. The metal of the pan draws the cold out of the frozen fish and will thaw frozen salmon portions completely in about ½ hour or less. (This is also a good trick for quick thawing frozen boneless chicken breast.)

OK, I’ve got my fish…now what?

Now that you have found your salmon, treat it with respect and do not overcook it! For the best flavor, cooking the fish properly is nearly as important as freshness. When overcooked, salmon dries out very quickly which ruins both the texture and the taste. It’s actually amazing to me how often restaurants serve dried out, overcooked salmon. It’s so rampant in fact that I would bet many of the people that do not like salmon have simply never had a piece that was perfectly cooked.

Salmon should be cooked just through to the center leaving just a trace of pink in the very middle. There is really no trick to it, just keep a close eye on the fish while it’s cooking and when you think the fish is almost ready, use a fork to test for doneness. When the fish is done the flesh will flake easily but still hold together towards the center. It’s important to note: If you wait to remove it from the heat, until the fish flakes all the way to the center, then it will likely end up overcooked. This is because residual heat will continue to cook the fish for a little while, even after you take it off the heat.

Again, baked salmon, like most fish, is done perfectly when you can flake it easily with a fork, but the flesh still holds together towards the center. Below is a rough guideline for baking your salmon. Remember, this is strictly a guideline so start checking your fish early…if you let it go too long it will overcook.

If baking at 400 degrees salmon fillets 3/4” to 1” thick should be done in 8 to 10 minutes, 1” to 1-1/2” thick, 10 to 12 minutes, and 1-1/2 to 2” thick, 12 to 15 minutes.

What else?

Quite often salmon fillets will have small pin bones running along part of the center line. These should be removed prior to cooking. To easily remove pin bones, drape the fillet skin side down, over an inverted bowl. This will arch the fillet so that the pin bones stand out making them easy to find and remove using just your fingers or a pair of kitchen tweezers. Needle nose pliers will even work in a pinch.

Are you ready?

This is a super easy recipe, so easy actually, that for just the two of us, I baked it in our toaster oven!

I sprinkled my fish with a little dried dill but you can use any herb you like. Fresh rosemary or parsley would also be good with salmon and even a little lemon zest would be nice…don’t be afraid to use your imagination. On the plate pictured, I served the baked salmon over a bed of fresh spinach sautéed with just a little olive oil and lemon juice. Along side is a white bean puree topped with a few green onion curls, lemon wedges, and a little creamy dill sauce. Dinner was on the table in about ½ hour and was elegant enough to serve to company.

Salmon is a versatile, healthy, and delicious fish that can be very easy to prepare. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried it…I hope you will give it another try! 

Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

2 to 4 – Salmon fillets, 3/4″ to 1 inch thick, in 4 – 6 oz portions
Olive oil
Lemon juice
White wine
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Dried dill (or your herb of choice)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and thoroughly dry your salmon portions by patting them with a paper towel. Cover a ½ or ¼ size baking sheet with aluminum foil and place your fish on the sheet with plenty of space in between. Drizzle the salmon evenly with roughly ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, turning it over a time or two just to coat. With the salmon skin side down, drizzle with roughly ½ tablespoon each of the lemon juice, then the wine.

Sprinkle the fish with a pinch of kosher salt and approx. ¼ tsp each of fresh ground black pepper, and dried dill. Place the fish in the pre-heated oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking for doneness after 8 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven when the flesh flakes easily with a fork but still holds together slightly towards the center.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Randy

Sometimes Simple is Best – Florida Lobster Rolls

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

South Florida sportsmen enjoyed the Lobster mini season this week and I managed to get my hands on a couple of nice plump Florida spiny lobster tails. Having only two, I was at odds as to how to prepare them until I spoke to my wife who without hesitation exclaimed “Lobster Rolls!” Well, who am I to disappoint? Lobster Rolls it was.

This presented something of a challenge considering that she was talking about the highly regarded Maine tradition of a simple “Maine” lobster salad stuffed into a wonderfully fresh, soft hot dog roll.

Florida spiny lobster, quite a different animal from the Maine lobster, is also very different in both flavor and texture. I love them both but I wasn’t about to try to make my Florida lobster taste like the Maine version. Instead I set out to simply turn my lobster tails into the best lobster salad sandwich I could make and where does any good sandwich begin? With the bread of course!

I have enjoyed some great Maine style lobster rolls and for me, the thing that always stood out was the foundation this sandwich was built upon; that sweet, soft, impeccably fresh hot dog roll. Not having access to any impeccably fresh hot dog rolls it occurred to me that I work right around the corner from Direct From Philly, a very good, authentic Philly cheesesteak shop that uses rolls shipped in from the famous Amoroso’s bakery in Philadelphia.

The owner of Direct From Philly obviously appreciates good food and he loved the idea of the lobster rolls and very happily sold me a couple of fresh Amoroso’s rolls. So while they weren’t impeccably fresh hot dog rolls; I had found my foundation!

Next up was getting the lobster ready. In Maine the lobsters are typically boiled or steamed until just cooked. Since these were Florida lobsters I decided to broil them as I like the way broiling intensifies the “lobstery” flavor. I also tried making my own mayo but decided against using it because I used extra virgin olive oil and the olive oil flavor of the mayo came out a little too strong. Next time I will stick to the recipe and use lighter flavored oil. (I did use the homemade mayo in the cole slaw though!)

Once the lobster was cooked I chilled it for a half hour to get it to the right temperature for a salad. Then, following the lead of our friends in the great state of Maine, I kept it simple. Using just the minimal ingredients to compliment, allowing the flavor of that lobster to be the star.

If you try the recipe I recommend using the tender, white celery branches from the inside of the celery so you don’t have to worry about peeling. Also, if you really want to put a Florida spin on this sandwich; try a little key lime juice instead of the lemon. So what was the final verdict from my wife? “Mmmmm” was pretty much all she said…she was just too busy enjoying her fresh “Florida” lobster roll to do much talking!

Florida Lobster Rolls

2 – Sub or hot dog Rolls (Find the freshest softest rolls you can find!)
2 – Florida spiny lobster tails
1 – Celery stick, chopped (about two tablespoons)
2 to 3 Tbsp – Mayonnaise
1 squeeze – Fresh lemon juice
¼ Tsp – Dried tarragon
¼ Tsp – Kosher salt
1 Pinch – White pepper
2 Tbsp – Butter, plus enough to butter the bread

Pre-heat the broiler then split the lobster tails, brush with 2 Tbsp melted butter, and broil until just cooked through, being careful not to overcook. Remove the lobster meat from the tails and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before continuing.

When the lobster is chilled, split your bread and spread it with butter then place in the toaster over or broil to toast. Remove the bread and cool slightly before adding your lobster salad.

While the bread is cooling use your fingers (and a knife) to pull your lobster into bite sized pieces and chunks. Toss the lobster meat in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, using just enough of the mayonnaise to coat the lobster.

Fill each sandwich with a generous portion of the lobster salad, trim the ends of the bread just up to the edges of the filling, and serve.

Serves 2

Enjoy!

Randy

Mother’s Day Brunch – Tuna Soufflé Bake

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

For my third installment in the Mothers Day brunch series I am revisiting my youth once more. The recipe I’m posting below is verbatim from an old, yellowed, newspaper clipping I found in one of my mother’s recipe boxes:

I remember the recipe well and I loved it as much for dinner as I did (leftover) for breakfast. So as a nod to my mom and her wonderful ability to always provide us with the tastiest meals, even when times were a little tight, I felt this one very appropriate.

The dish is definitely a budget meal like so many of the recipes from that era, and it’s more of a “strata” than a “soufflé” as it contains more bread than eggs but I don’t think they were shooting for gourmet status when they published it so many years ago. Rest assured, it was gourmet to me back then and today I still enjoy it exactly as written.

Another beauty of the recipe is that the variations are endless; if you don’t want to use tuna, try crumbled and browned breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, or go meatless for that matter. Some of the combinations I can envision are Italian Sausage with fontina and swiss chard, feta cheese, with tomatoes and spinach, and how about chili & cheese? Yum! See what I mean? This is also a versatile and inexpensive weeknight recipe with many possibilities.

Getting back to the brunch though…I did substitute whole grain bread (crust included) and unsweetened almond milk in the soufflé pictured and it could have used a little more moisture. I think next time I would soak the bread in an extra ½ cup of the milk before assembly just to get the texture and moisture a little closer to the original. (If you use a white bread this extra step should be unnecessary.) Otherwise, use your imagination a little and have fun with the recipe. I’m sure your mom will appreciate the effort!

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

 Tuna Soufflé Bake

8 slices – Day-old bread
1 Can (7 oz) – Tuna, drained
2 Cups (8 oz) – Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Can (4 oz) – Mushrooms, drained
3 – Eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon – Prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon – salt
1/2 teaspoon – Onion salt
1/8 teaspoon – pepper

(Preheated 325 degree oven – 2 Quart Casserole / 6-8 servings)

Trim crusts from bread: cube. Place ½ of bread cubes in casserole: add tuna, mushrooms, and cheese. Top with remaining bread cubes: then remaining cheese. Blend together eggs, mustard, salt, onion salt, and pepper: add milk. Pour over casserole. Bake 60 – 70 minutes or until set.