Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Jul 05 2010 Published by under Food

One of my favorite salads of all time, the Caesar Salad. If you have ordered one in a restaurant, it is one of those dishes that the chef walks up with the cart and makes a show of the preparation. It is a wonderful thing to see. The magic of this dish is the flavor complexity accomplished with the ingredient’s simplicity.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Many people mistakingly believe that this salad was invented in the Caesar Palace. This common misconception is wrong. It was invented by an Italian-Mexican in Tijuana named Caesar Cardini. Another topic of debate surrounding this dish is one is the use of anchovies. The original recipes contained no anchovies according to its creator. For my preference I can go either way, depending if I want a stronger taste or a much lighter taste. It is customary to serve the romaine lettuce leaves whole, because originally the dish was meant to be served as bar finger food. The addition of grilled chicken is one of those variations that work very well with the dish.

For Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

2 Chicken Breast
1 Teaspoon Oregano
Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Limes
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
4 Anchovies (optional)
4 Heads Romaine Lettuce
Parmesan Cheese
Black Pepper

Flatten the chicken breast with a kitchen hammer. Marinate the chicken breast with a dash of salt, a dash pepper, and oregano. Brush both sides with a little olive oil. Cook in a frying pan on high heat until golden brown on one side. Turn over, and cook until the other side is golden brown. Cover in aluminum foil and let them rest. In a bowl mash the garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until you form a uniform paste. If you are going to add the optional anchovies, blend into the paste at this moment. Add the juice of 2 limes, an egg and the worcestershire sauce. Mix. Slowly mix in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix until the caesar dressing is emulsified. Slice the chicken breast into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash the heads of lettuce. Shred the lettuce into small 1 inch pieces. Add the lettuce to the plate. Add 2 to 4 Tablespoons of caesar dressing per plate. Add the chicken pieces. Grate parmesan cheese over the salad. Add the croutons. Optional – you can leave the lettuce leaves intact and serve them as finger foods.

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Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Jun 21 2010 Published by under Food

Spaghetti alla Bolognese could be quite simply Italy’s best know pasta dish. What is interesting about this is that this dish does not exist in Italy, since it is an American creation. In Bologna, you will find that they serve Ragu alla Bolognese, which resembles the meat sauce, but they will never serve over spaghetti. They will only serve it tagliatelle, which is a thicker pasta that is simillar to fetuccine.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

As with the Americanization of many other favorite foods, this is a recipe that I have enjoyed since I was young. For me it doesn’t matter if they do not serve it in Italy, and even if the original idea has been changed around it still makes for a wonderful dish. I usually do not like to take shortcuts in my recipes, but for this one I will make an exception. I will use ready made spaghetti sauce. Since we are already breaking with the Bolognese tradition, lets Americanize this with full force. It also saves like 3 to 4 hours in making a real ragu. So in keeping with a new tradition, please enjoy my recipe for Spaghetti alla Bolognese.

For Spaghetti alla Bolognese

8 Ounces of Spaghetti pasta
1/2 Pound of Ground Beef
1 Cup of Spaghetti Sauce (Ragu brand is the one I use)
1/2 Cup Diced Onion
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Marjoram
1/4 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

In a large stock pot, add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta an cook for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta n a colander. While the pasta was cooking, add the olive oil to a 12 inch frying pan and set to medium heat. Dice the onion in a 1/4 inch dice. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is brown, and the onions are semi transparent. Add the oregano, marjoram, salt, and black pepper and let it cook for 30 seconds and longer and you will burn the spices. Add the spaghetti sauces and about 1/4 cup of water. Cook until the sauce reduces a little. Serve the pasta in the plates, and top with the cooked spaghetti sauce. Garnish with as much grated parmesan as you like. Optional – Some people like to salt the water in which the pasta cooks, since it gives a better flavor and reduces the time water requires to boil. If you want to salt the water add 2 Tablespoons of salt to the stock pot water before adding the pasta to cook.

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Udon Noodle Soup in Broth

Jun 18 2010 Published by under Food

For sushi friday I am making Kake-Udon, or Udon Noodle Soup in Broth. This is surprisingly tasty broth with very simple ingredients. Not only does it have simple ingredients, but it is also super easy and quick to make. There is a common variation of this soup called Tempura Udon, which is basically the same preparation with the addition of a tempura shrimp piece or two.

Udon Noodle Soup in Broth

Udon Noodle Soup in Broth

There a basically two main flavor varieties of this soup. You have the darker broth which is prepared with dark soy sauce, which is of a stronger flavor.  It is more popular int the eastern parts of Japan. You also have the lighter broth which is prepared with light soy sauce, which is of a milder flavor. It is more popular in the eastern parts of Japan.  As you can see from the photo, I prefer the darker variety.

What amazes me is how many different flavors the Japanese can achieve in their dishes using the same main ingredients of Dashi, Mirin, Soy Sauce, and Rice Vinegar. You can see from my previous recipes, the Sunomono Dressing is made up of the same ingredients in different proportions, as the stock for Miso Soup.

There is a traditional technique for cooking the Udon noodles. It requires a boiling pot of water and adding the noodles. Then you add 1 cup of cold water to stop the boiling. When it comes to a rolling boil again, add another cup of  cold water. You repeat this 4 times until the noodles are done, which usually takes 12 minutes. I have done this procedure several times and always takes 12 minutes.  I am not sure wether it makes a difference, but to me it reminds me of some of my grandmothers techniques for cooking food when you don’t have timers or thermometers. I have done the preparation like cooking pasta with a timer, and have not noticed a difference. I just reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes.

For Udon Soup in Broth

3 Ounces of Dry Udon Noodles
4 Cups of Water
2 Teaspoons of Dashinomoto
2 Tablespoons of Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Mirin
1 Sprig of Green Onions
Shimichi Togarashi (optional)

In a large  stock pot , bring about 2 liters of water to a boil. Cook the noodles either using the traditional technique (see above), or for ten minutes like if you were cooking pasta. Drain the noodles. Add 4 Cups of water in the pot and cook on medium heat. Dissolve the dashinomoto. Add the dark soy sauce, the sugar, and the mirin. When the sugar is dissolved the broth is done. For serving, I recommend that you combine the noodles and the broth just before you serve. If you do it ahead of time, the noodles will darken, and become very soft and gummy. Garnish with thinly chopped green onions, and if you like it spicy with some shimichi togarashi. Variations – If you want a milder flavor use light (regular) soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce. For Tempura Udon add one or two pieces of tempura shrimp as garnish.

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Fajitas Soft Tacos

Jun 17 2010 Published by under Food

So you want to make a real Mexican taco? Fajitas, know in Mexico as arachera, is one the best fillings to make a real beef taco. Even though I love Taco Bell Mystery meat, as I have told you before you won’t find anything like Taco Bell’s menu in Mexico. Traditionally the fajitas are made up out of the skirt steak of the cow. For many years the skirt steak was considered a throwaway cut. Cows have only 8 pounds of skirt steak per carcass, and this limited the commercial availability of the cut. Someone got clever with the marketing and the Fajita has now taken its place as a favorite for backyard barbecues. It crazy that in the butcher shops near my house, this cut is generally more expensive than a T-bone, or a Rib Eye cut.



People like the cut because of the skirt steak mixture of muscle and fat. The cut which is one of tougher cuts, when cooked right makes for a very tender meat. The best way to cook this cut is over coals in a barbecue.  There is a good technique that can be used when you don’t have the time to fire up the grill. It involves using a cast iron pan. A cast iron pan is required because of the extreme heat it produces once it is hot. Once the cast iron pan is hot, it will take a while for it to get cold again. This is the property we are looking for in order to have a successful grilling without the grill. The other thing we require is an oil with a high smoke point, like safflower oil. If you use any other oil your kitchen will become a smoking mess.

For Fajitas

1 Pound Skirt Steak
1/4 Cup Safflower Oil
Flour Tortillas
Kosher Salt

Add kosher salt liberally to the skirt steak on both sides. Brush some safflower oil on both sides of the skirts steak. Add some oil to the cast iron pan. Set the cast iron pan on the highest setting on your stove. Wait for 4-5 minutes until the pan is scorching hot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side which should be enough to brown the meat, but you can cook it till the desired doneness. Cut the meat into small strips. Serve as soft tacos in heated flour tortillas. You can add salsa, avocados, cheese, and lime juice as toppings for the tacos. If you are going to grill the meat in a barbecue, you can omit the oil.

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Gyozas with Dipping Sauce

Jun 12 2010 Published by under Food

Gyoza is a Japanese dish that originated in China. They are basically dumplings, filled with a meat and vegetable fillings. When I go to a Japanese restaurant I usually order them as a side order. They are a tasty treat that is hard to just eat one of them.

Gyoza in Dipping Sauce

The main difference between Chinese and Japanese Gyozas is that the Japanese version uses much more garlic. I love garlic, so this is fine by me. Another recommendation is to serve them hot, as they do not taste as good when you reheat them. If you serve them over rice they could be offered as a main dish. I have also added them to an udon soup.

For Gyoza

20 Gyoza Wrappers
1/2 Pound of Ground Pork
1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Cabbage
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Teaspoon grated Ginger
2 Chopped Green Onions
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce
Vegetable Oil

Shred the cabbage and blanch quickly in boiling water.  Mix the cabbage, pork, sesame oil, ginger,  garlic, green onions, salt, soy sauce in a large bowl. Add about 1 Teaspoon of filling per Gyoza wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, sealing the edges. If you have trouble getting the edge to seal, add a little water to the edge. Fill all the Gyoza wrappers. Add vegetable oil to a frying pan. Place the Gyoza on one side and fry on that side only until golden brown. When golden brown, add 1/2 cup a water to the frying pan and cover. Steam the gyoza until the water is evaporated.

For dipping sauce
1/2 Cup of Water
1/2 Teaspoon of dashinomoto
3 Tablespoons of mirin
3 Soy Sauce

In hot water dissolve the dashinomoto. Add mirin and soy sauce. Can be serve on the plate with the Gyozas or on a separate dipping bowl.

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Baked Beans

Jun 09 2010 Published by under Food

A great accompaniment to any dish, beans have been regarded a staple in our everyday cooking. If cooked properly, beans can also be a main course. Baked beans is a curious name for the dish, because most baked beans are simmered in low heat, and are not baked. The name comes from the frontier days, where they were left in a dutch oven for several hours to cook slowly over a fireplace. Before the fast food restaurants, baked beans were the original fast food for early settlers.

Baked Beans

Baked Beans

Nutrition-wise, Baked beans are great source of many essential nutrients and vitamins. They are a good source of protein, and are naturally low fat. They have very high amounts of phosphorous, fiber, and folic acid. There is always a discussion that if you cook beans with salt, they will not soften. I believe this to be false. I hope you enjoy my recipe for Baked Beans.

For Baked Beans

2 Cups of Pinto or Navy Beans
3/4 Cups of Chopped Carrots
1/2 Cups of Diced Onion
1/2 Cup of Celery
4 Cups of Chicken Broth
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Salt
Fresh Parsley
Black Pepper

Leave the beans soaking in a large pot filled with 6 cups water overnight. Remove anything that floats. Drain. Add the chicken broth to the stock pot, and add the beans. Bring to a boil. After it is boiling adjust the temperature to a simmer. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, and the salt. Cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Grind black pepper, and add more salt if needed.

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Greek Salad with Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese

Jun 08 2010 Published by under Food

When its summer time, you want to be outside. You want food that tastes refreshing and that does not weigh you down. Today I am making Greek Salad with Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese. It is a very refreshing salad, with a strong blend of flavors from the cheese, onion and garlic.

Greek Salad with Soft Goat's Milk Cheese

Greek Salad with Soft Goat's Milk Cheese

This is a simple dish to do, and I cant be created in at very short notice. The cheese I am using is a Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese, which should not be confused with Feta Cheese. It has a cream like consistency with an acidic taste. This balances all the flavors out , just like in my Apple Pecan Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.

For the Salad
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
1/2 Cucumber
10 Cherry Tomatos
1/4 Red Onion
1/4 Cup of Kalamata Olives
1/2 Cup of Salad Dressing

Wash the lettuce. Cut into small Pieces.  Serve directly in the plates. Peel and slice half a cucumber. Layer the cucumber over the lettuce. Dice 1/4 of red onions. Add over the cucumbers. Cut the Cherry Tomatoes in half. Add over the onions. Add the Kalamata Olives and the Goat’s Milk Cheese. Add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of  the salad dressing per plate.

For the Salad Dressing
4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
2 Teaspoons of Oregano
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

Finely mince the cloves of garlic. Add the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, and black pepper to a small mix bowl. Mix until you have incorporated all the ingredients. Add  kosher salt according to your taste.

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Old Fashioned Hamburger

Jun 07 2010 Published by under Food

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor cooking. One of my favorite recipes is a good old fashioned hamburger. Today there is a large variety of toppings and condiments that are placed over a hamburger. I like to experiment with new flavors, but sometimes I preffer something that brings me back home. It is easy to forget the genius and simplicity of a regular hamburger. Buns, beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, it needs nothing more.

Old Fashion Hamburger

Old Fashion Hamburger

When people share their hamburger recipes, I am amazed at how many ingredients they use to prepare the meat. After trying several recipes, I settled with the simplest one. Based on my cooking experiments, the best prepared hamburger meat only requires two ingredients, black pepper and kosher salt.  When I share my recipe nobody believes it is that simple. One thing I have noticed over several years of cooking is that some of the best recipes require the least amount of ingredients. One thing is for sure, a grilled hamburger taste better than anything cooked in a pan.

For Old Fashioned Hamburgers

1 1/2 Lbs Gorund Beef
4-6 Hamburger Buns
American Cheese Slices
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Divide the meat into 4 or 6 pieces depending on the size you want for your hamburgers. Form the hamburger patties trying to press the meat the less than you can. Season the patties liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the meat on the grill for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. If you don’t have a grill you can pan fry them until the meat crust has formed and is brown on each side. Place the meat on the bottom part of the buns, and add the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and the top part of the bun. Condiments like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise can be added by the guests. Variations – You can add bacon, onions or pickles.

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