Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gyros with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

One of the most gorgeous places we've had the good fortune of visiting is Santorini, Greece. Not only is it one of our favorite places on earth, but they also have a traditional dish called "gyros" they serve at most restaurants and it is to die for. In Greek, the word "gyro" (pronounced YEE-roh) means "turn" or "revolution," and that's just what this fabulous cone of lamb or pork does on an upright rotisserie grill. Most people don't have an upright rotisserie grill, so you can use your grill's rotisserie instead. If you don't have a rotisserie, you can roast this in your oven too.

I've been trying to find the perfect gyro recipe. I've come up with my own version of a recipe that is as close to our favorite Greek restaurant's "Ziziki's" gryos. If you are not a fan of lamb you can use pork shank or pork shoulder or you can even use a fresh ham. I like to serve our gyros with roasted rosemary potatoes. Traditionally in Greece the gyros are topped with french fries, all wrapped in a cone surrounded by pita bread and smothered in Tzatziki sauce. MMMM....MMMM....GOOD!!

1 head garlic, cloves peeled
Kosher salt
2 bunches fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for searing
Freshly ground black pepper
1 boneless leg of lamb, about 4 - 5 pounds
5 large Pita bread (not the pocket pita bread) cut in half
1 head butter lettuce
5 vine-ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
Tzatziki sauce, recipe follows

Finely chop up 1/2 of the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Mash the garlic and salt together with the flat-side of a knife into a paste. Add the oregano and continue to mash until incorporated. Put the garlic-oregano paste in a small bowl, add the lemon juice and 1 cup of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Slice the remaining garlic into thin slivers.

Put the lamb on a large platter, and trim any excess fat. Make slits all over the meat with a sharp knife, and push the garlic slivers inside. Rub 1/2 of the garlic-oregano paste all over the lamb and season the meat with salt and pepper. Put the lamb on a large platter and slather with the remaining garlic-oregano paste. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Wipe off the excess paste from the lamb so it won't burn. Place a large roasting pan over 2 burners on medium-high flame and coat with a fair amount of olive oil. Put the lamb roasts in the roasting pan and sear to form a nice brown crust on all sides. Transfer the lamb to the rotisserie or if you don't have one then transfer the pan to the oven (preheated to 375 degrees) and roast for 1 to 1 - 1/2 hours; it should be pink in the center and the internal temperature reads 130 degrees F. If roasting in the oven turn the meat frequently basting often, If roasting on a rotisserie no need to baste because the meats own juices will do that step for you as it rotates. Allow the lamb to stand 10 minutes to let the juices settle before and slicing.

Thinly slice the lamb. Place the meat on each pita bread half. Top with lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and sliced onions. Serve with Tzatziki sauce and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes on the side.

Tzatziki (Yogurt And Cucumber Sauce):

3 cups plain yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and diced
1 - 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Yield: 4 cups

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

1 - 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Add more oil if they get too dry. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spicy Chicken Empanadas

I absolutely love empanadas.  There are so many tasty variations you can do with them.  This recipe has a Southwestern flair to it.  It's another Paula Deen inspired recipe.  I adore Paula...butter and all!  =)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 can diced green chiles
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced, optional
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 rotisserie chicken, picked and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Filo sheets, cold
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
melted butter


Heat vegetable oil in a medium saute pan, add onions, green chiles, jalapenos, garlic and cumin and saute until onions are translucent.

In large bowl combine chicken, lime juice and cilantro. Add the onion-chili mixture and mix. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cool the mixture before assembling the empanadas, so as to not melt the pastry.

Using a 5-inch ring mold, cut circles from 4 sheets of filo dough. Put about 2 tablespoon of the chicken mixture in center of dough. Brush egg wash around circumference of the dough. Fold top half over to form a half circle. Seal with the tines of a fork.  Brush the empanadas with a little melted butter.  Slice 2 holes with a knife to allow steam to escape.  Place them on a cookie sheet that has been greased well with butter.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 - 30 minutes or until golden in color.  Serve hot and with your favorite salsa for a dipping sauce and Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

Friday, July 23, 2010

French Omelet

When I was a teenager I perfected the art of cooking omelets.  You can choose from a variety of fillings.  My favorite fillings are ham, cheese and sliced scallions.  So easy and so delicious. 

2 tsp butter
2 eggs
1 TBSP milk
salt and pepper to taste

Filling Options:
2 TBSP shredded Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, or blue cheese
2 TBSP chopped green onion, chives or parsley
2 TBSP chopped mushrooms
3 TBSP spinach
2 TBSP crisply cooked and crumbled bacon, finely shredded dry beef or my favorite, chopped fully cooked ham
1 TBSP canned chopped green chilies
1 TBSP finely chopped chili peppers

Beat the eggs and milk together in a small bowl.

Heat butter in 8-inch omelet pan or skillet over medium-high heat just until butter begins to brown.  As butter melts, tilt pan to coat bottom.

Quickly pour egg mixture into pan.  Slide pan back and forth rapidly over heat and, at the same time, quickly stir with fork to spread eggs continuously over bottom of pan as they thicken.  Sprinkle in one or more of the filling options.  Fold omelet in half, being careful not to break it.  Slip onto a warm plate.  I love to dowse my omelet with Tabasco.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grilled Rainbow Trout Stuffed with Vegetables

This is simplicity at it's best.  We add a lemon-butter mixture to bring out the fantastic flavors not only in the fish, but in the vegetables as well.

3 Rainbow Trout
1 russet potatoes, diced (cook the fork-pricked potato in the micro for 3 minutes before dicing)
1 fresh hothouse tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of butter
juice of one lemon
Tartar Sauce (recipe to follow)

Combine all the vegetables in a bowl.  Stuff the trout with the vegetable mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with 4 or 5 pats of butter.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Wrap in 2 sheets of foil.  For any remaining vegetable mixture, make it's own foil pouch to throw on the grill with a couple pats of butter and a little lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Throw all the pouches on a medium-high heated grill.  Grill for about 20 minutes, turning every five minutes. De-bone and skin the fish as best you can and warn people to watch for bones.

Tartar Sauce
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
2 TBSP finely chopped sweet or dill pickle
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp grated onion
1 small juice of 1 lemon and zest

Mix all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Couscous Soup with Sausage

This soup has wonderful combinations of flavors with the grilled sausage, the jalapeno, mint, cilantro and lemon juice.  We prepare the sausage by simmering them in a saucepan on the stove with a can of beer and water for about 20 minutes.  We then grill the brats because it adds another layer of flavor and texture.  I prepare this for the family quite often.

1 TBSP jalapeno chilies, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup, celery, chopped
1 lb. fully cooked bratwurst sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4" slices
6 cups chicken broth
1 box (5.8 oz) roasted garlic and olive oil flavored couscous 
2 TBSP fresh mint, chopped
2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
zest of half a lemon
juice of 1 lemon

Cook chilies, oil, cumin, garlic, onion, celery and sausage in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, about 8 minutes or until sausage is brown.

Add chicken broth.  Heat to boiling.  Stir in couscous, mint, parsley, cilantro and pepper; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato, lemon juice and zest.  Serve with additional lemon wedges if desired.  Garnish with parsley and finely chopped garlic

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Roasted Corn with Chili Lime Butter

David grilled up some of his succulent ribs that he has perfected by using a dry rub and by grilling the meat on low and cooking it slow.  

Corn is a great side dish with ribs.  I saw this recipe for roasting corn and had to try this.  I might not ever go back to boiling corn again.  This was phenomenal!

6 ears fresh corn, unhusked
1/4 pound butter (1 stick), room temperature
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 lime, zested
1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the corn in its husks directly on the oven rack and roast until the corn is soft when you press on it, 30 to 40 minutes.

While the corn is roasting, combine the butter with the chili powder and lime zest.

Peel down the husks and tie in a knot to use as a handle while eating. Rub the corn with soft butter mixture, and garnish with a lime wedge. (This roasting method produces the sweetest corn I have ever tasted.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oven-Fried Fish

So easy--no basting, no turning, no constant watching!  I served this with Creamed Spinach and Sauteed Mushrooms.  

1 lb. lean fish filet's
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp chopped fresh or 1/4 tsp tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup milk
3 TBSP butter, melted
green onion, sliced thin for garnish
lemon wedges 

Move oven rack to position slightly above middle of oven.  Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, salt, dill weed and pepper.  Dip fish into milk, then coat with cornmeal mixture.

Place fish in rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.  Drizzle butter over fish.  Bake uncovered about 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.  Garnish with green onion and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Creamed Spinach

I saw this on Paula Deen's show and had to try it.  I've always been a big fan of Creamed Spinach.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bunches spinach, stemmed and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and then add the olive oil. Mix in the onions and garlic; cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add the chopped spinach and warm through. Add the salt, nutmeg and the heavy cream. Mix well. Cook until liquid reduces by half, roughly 3 to 4 minutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Jalapeno Carmalized Onions

I was trying to figure out a new recipe for chicken breasts and I found this dish in Robin Miller's collection of recipes.  It was fairly simple and a great combination of flavors with the caramelized onions sauteed with the jalapenos.

Cooking spray
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, about 5 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salt-free roasted garlic seasoning (recommended: McCormick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
3 jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat a stove-top grill pan or griddle to medium high heat and coat with cooking spray. Remove chicken from package and place on a plastic cutting board. Season both sides of chicken with salt, black pepper and garlic seasoning. Using tongs add chicken to hot pan and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat with oil. Add onion, jalapeno and sugar and cook 5 to 7 minutes stirring occasionally with a spoon, until golden brown. Add 1 - 3/4 cup of the chicken broth and bay leaves and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Pour remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth into a bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until it is completely dissolved and add to the pan. Bring onion mixture to a full boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Using tongs, discard the bay leaves and remove the pan from heat.

Serve the chicken breast halves over cooked, white rice with all of the onion sauce spooned over top.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dylan's Birthday Party at Lake Texoma and the Fourth of July

What a wonderful holiday weekend we spent with family and friends.  This was a particularly special weekend because we had lots of special events to celebrate.  July 7th was Dylan's Birthday and David started off the festivities Friday night by taking Dylan to see Led Zeppelin 2 (a LZ cover band) play live at House of Blues.  I was feeling a little under the weather so I opted to stay home, to make sure I would be in tip-top shape for Dylan's birthday party.  As mentioned before, Led Zeppelin happens to be Dylan's favorite band at the moment and he was beyond thrilled to see this band perform again.  He was all showered, dressed and ready to go hours before the doors even opened.  As usual, the guys were front row and center.  At the perfect time, after the second set, they started handing out David's infamous 3-D glasses to take the experience to an even more fun and funky level.  People absolutely love these glasses...My boys make me so proud!  =) 

Check out the video clip that David took of Led Zeppelin 2.  These guys are really quite good.

Saturday we spent the day grocery shopping and preparing for Dylan's birthday party/4th of July celebration at the lake.  That evening David and I attended our friend's, Rogge and Cathy's wedding at the luxurious Hotel St. Germain, located in the heart of Uptown.  It was a lovely celebration with wonderful friends, great food, great music.  The band playing was the Beatles cover band, Hard Night's Day.  We always enjoy seeing those guys play, so that also was a special treat.  Congratulations to Cathy and Rogge!  We wish you all of the love and happiness in the world.

Sunday morning we woke up a little later than expected.  We were hoping to scoop up Dylan's friends and be on the road by 9a, but that was not to be.  It was more like 10:30a by the time we were on our way North headed to our lake house at Lake Texoma.  Unfortunately, the boat was still in the shop, but we had a blast anyway, as we always do, at our dock at Highport Marina.  The boys swam and played endlessly, they fished and went on hikes finding all kinds of cool fossils and stuff.  Under David's supervision, they set off smoke bombs, various other noise makers and obnoxious things made just to make Mom's crazy.  I think the 4th of July is most boy's (and David's) favorite holiday.  I mean what do guys love more than setting things on fire and blowing things up....right?!  It was a totally different experience with the boys than it was when we'd bring the girl's up with their friends.  AND there was no drama.  We had a great crew, even Avery and Cassidy took time out from their busy social lives and happily joined us for all the birthday festivities.  

After our usual lake house dinner consisting of grilled steak, Caesar salad and baked potatoes, we all headed down to our boat ramp to set off some fireworks.  The girls and I were relaxed on the dock enjoying the enchanting display of fireworks all around us from all of the various marinas.  While David and the boys were having the time of their lives setting off fireworks on the boat ramp.  It made us really proud how respectful the boys were of all of our strict rules.  Everyone came home with all of their fingers, thank God.  Monday was a complete repeat of the day before, David, the girls and I hanging on the dock and the boys swimming their little heads off.  We delivered a very tired crew back to their homes that evening.  Something tells me they all slept very well that night.  

For Dylan's actual birthday on Wednesday, I made his favorite, Shrimp Scampi as he requested for dinner.  Our sweet neighbor and friend, Meredith was kind enough to make a yummy chocolate cake that we all enjoyed for dessert.  Happy Birthday to Dylan!  I hope you had a "beast-mode" birthday!  I love you, my man!