Friday, June 10, 2011

Italy inspired meal

So the 3 1/2 year old son is away with grandma for the week, and to celebrate some peace and quiet my lovely wife and I decided to do one of our favorite meals for dinner. It is inspired by the Italian way of eating... My wife and her family went to Italy a few years ago to eat and travel. One of the things my wife brought back with her was a new love for all things food and Italy. So occasionally instead of really cooking for dinner we put together a spread of good eats including an assortment of olives, cheeses, ciabatta and garlic breads, wine, a NY strip steak, arugula, an assortment of tomatoes, salami's, and prosciutto. Something about the combination of all the flavors, the wine, and jazz music that really makes this special.

So instead of posting a recipe I think i will let you find your own inspiration. Remember food is joy and you must follow your joy.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

homemade pizza

I love pizza. I can't think of anyone I know who does not like pizza. Most folks get there pizza out of the frozen section at the supermarket when they decide to cook pizza at home. I tend to want better, not that the Red Barron is a bad guy I'm just not sure his pizza is all that great after spending month after lonely month in your grocer's freezer. So I prefer to make my dough and sauce from scratch. All of my toppings consist of fresh ingredients prepared very carefully, while the dough is rising. So whats my obsession with making everything from scratch? Well it all comes down to quality, flavor, and the never ending quest for the perfect homemade pizza. The better the quality the better the flavor. There are some key ingredients I use when making pizza and they are specific brands. The flour I have found to work the best and deliver the best tasting crust is King Authur Bread Flour. The tomatoes I use for the sauce come in a can, they are Mur Glen crushed tomatoes. The other key is fresh basil and the right oven temp.You need a really hot oven to make a pizza come out like a real pizza should. You need a $10 pizza stone which you can at Wal-Mart, and you need to set you oven to 525 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people also falsely believe that they need some fancy stand mixer to make the dough themselves but this is just not true.You can do it perfectly well by hand. So gather your passion and imagination and ingredients and make some real pizza already! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

shrimp scampi

Ahh shrimp... what a versatile item to cook with. To me it is similar to chicken just because there are so many applications. Scampi is one of my favorite dishes it is fast cooking and super easy to pull off. I also enjoy doing a variation of this dish using chicken. I will post the recipe for chicken scampi at a later time. I like to make a lemon butter garlic sauce first and then use that as a base to cook my shrimp and finish the dish. There are numerous recipes out there such as Emeril's scampi with onions and Rachel Ray's Greek style scampi, but my recipe is pretty simple and straight forward. Whatever you do try not to overcook the shrimp, unless you enjoy eating rubber. So check out the recipe below and get your scampi on....


1 Lemon
1 Stick of butter (unsalted)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried or fresh basil
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

12-24 medium sized shrimp peeled and deveined  (you may leave the tails on or off its up to you)
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp all purpose flour

Heat stick of butter on low to medium heat till melted
Roll lemon back and forth on counter top applying pressure to loosen up juices
Cut lemon in half and squeeze juices into butter try not to get lemon seeds in the butter
Add spices and whisk until thoroughly mixed

Heat a saute pan on medium heat until hot
Add small amount of butter sauce
Add garlic to pan and cook for 2 minutes until soft
Add Shrimp to pan
Cook shrimp 1 to 2 minutes on each side DO NOT OVERCOOK
Add wine to pan
Finish with flour, basil and parsley shaking pan until mixed in
Serve immeadiately over pasta or by itself with hot bread

grilled chicken salad

Here is a simple but very tasty summer dish. You can serve this on a croissant or French roll, or on a salad or by itself. I have tried many chicken salad recipes from the likes of Rachel Ray and Bobby flay to good old southern queen Miss Paula Deen but they all seem to lack something, flavor! They all tend to just taste like mayonnaise and thats it. The key to the great flavor is to marinate and grill the chicken breast on the grill first. I am a strong believer that when cooking you must layer flavors and build it from the ground up just like a house. So follow this recipe and build the flavor. Enjoy!!

1 cup celery fine diced
1 cup red onion fine diced
1 6-8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

for marinade
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until blended. Add chicken breasts and coat well with seasonings. cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator for 30 mins to an hour. While chicken is marinating combine celery, red onions, mayonnaise, and seasonings in a large bowl. Grill chicken breast on med high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees. Remove chicken from grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes. When chicken is rested and cooled somewhat dice into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes. Combine diced chicken breast with remaining ingredients and mix well.