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Caldo Gallego (Gallician Soup)

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Here’s one of my favorite soups of all time!  Caldo Gallego (Gallician soup).   This dish spawns from many visits, my family and I have made to a little Cuban restaurant in  North Bergen  NJ.   Gilberto’s is a non-pretentious,  straight forward cozy spot, with an amazing array of dishes and a fantastic wait staff (3-4 waitresses).  Their caldo Gallego is by far one the best, if not the best one I have tasted. My family and I always look forward to swinging by the restaurant for a nice meal, with exceptional people that always go above and beyond to make sure you’re taking care of.   Simple and straight forward, Enjoy!

  1. 1 LB of white beans or two 12 oz. cans of Goya white beans.*
  2. 1 LB of smoked ham(Smithfield smoked pork butt) diced.
  3. 2 Smoked pork ham hocks.
  4. 3 Bay leaves.
  5. 1/2 Tsp of black pepper.
  6. 4 Spanish style chorizos ( cut into 1/2 inch slices).
  7. 2 Garlic cloves (crushed).
  8. 5 Small white diced potatoes.

*If using fresh beans, you’ll need to soak them over night in cold water.  If using canned beans (which i used for this recipe) then no need for soaking.

In a large pot combine the 3 cans of beans with liquid along with 4 cans of water (use the bean can). Add the smoked ham, bay leaves, garlic and ham hocks. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about an hour and a half. Add the potatoes and chorizo along with the black pepper and garlic and cook until the potatoes are done. Remove the ham hocks and cut away the meat and add back to the soup. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to marry and intensify. Add salt if needed though I did not add any and it was not necessary. Serve in soup bowls (add avocado slices for added flavor) and Enjoy!.

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Lime Chicken Soup

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The leaves on the trees are changing and winds are getting cooler. The days are getting shorter and Autumn is in full swing! So grab your jackets and sweaters break out the scarves and boots and bring on the most beautiful season of the year. Along with that comes more hearty meals such as soups, stews and roasts. This brings me to this easy but fantastic soup! Its light and lemony with a little heat thanks to the chipotle peppers. This dish will warm you from the inside out! Enjoy!!

  1. 6 Cups of chicken broth(homemade or boxed).
  2. 1 Jalapeño pepper (diced).
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  4. 2 Limes.
  5. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  6. 1 Red roasted pepper ( cut into 1/2 inch strips)
  7. Bunch of cilantro (for garnishing)
  8. 1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (rough chopped).
  9. 1/2 Tsp of ground oregano.
  10. 1 package of chicken tender loins (chicken breast OK). cut into small pcs.
  11. 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil.
  12. 2  Haas avocados.
  13.  2  Cups White rice (cooked in a rice cooker, equal part of rice and water)

In a medium sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown all sides (about 3-4 minutes). Once chicken is browned, remove from pot and set aside. Add the rest of oil to the pot along with the jalapeño pepper, red roasted pepper, garlic and chipotle pepper (I used one Tsp of the adobo sauce to increase heat). Cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add the Chicken stock and the oregano, stir a few times and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the chicken and the lime juice and continue to simmer. In a medium sized bowl, add one to two spoons of cooked rice, ladle in enough soup to cover rice, add a few slices of avocado and cilantro, grab a spoon and enjoy this easy to make meal.

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Balsamic braised short ribs.

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This a great recipe that I found in this great recipe book – The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone. By far the easiest recipe for short ribs I have found, not to mention the bold flavor and the fall of the bone texture.  Enjoy these short ribs with a nice creamy risotto, or  fall vegetables such as butternut squash, or a nice cheesy polenta.  Happy Cookin’!

1/2 Cup of dry red wine.

1/3 cup of Balsamic vinegar.

1 Sprig of Rosemary

3 Cloves of garlic, rough chopped

1 Tbsp of olive oil.

Salt and black pepper to taste.

In a larger skillet on medium high heat, add the olive oils and brown the short ribs(about 5 minutes per side) repeat step is necessary and transfer them to the slow cooker. In same skillet, remove all excess oil, leaving one about one table spoon, and add the wine, balsamic vinegar and garlic.  bring to a quick boil and lower heat to a simmer, cook for about 5 minutes, then transfer  liquid to the slow cooker, and add the sprig of Rosemary.  Cook the ribs for 8 hrs on slow, or till fork tender.  Once cooked, removed from cooker, skim fat from liquid and transfer to sauce pan and cook till reduced by half, pour over the ribs and serve right away.  Enjoy!

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Braised Pork Loin with Black Beans and Rice

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This recipe is a take on the food I love and grew up with.  Rice, beans, pork.  This typical dish was served almost every week in our household, and believe me, my brothers a I could not wait to sit down and eat this finger-licking-good meal.  Thanks mom!!

Pork Loin

  1. 2-3 Lbs pork loin, trimmed and tied with butcher’s twine.
  2. 1 Large Spanish onion, sliced.
  3. 3 Cloves of garlic (crushed).
  4. 1/2 Cup of Marsala wine (you can use any kind of wine).
  5. 1/3 Cup of balsamic vinegar.
  6. 1/3 Cup of chicken/veggie stock.
  7. Salt/pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  Sprinkle the pork loin with salt and pepper, in a medium size dutch oven (you can use regular pot) add 1 table spoon of oil and heat at medium heat, brown pork loin, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Remove and set aside.   In the same pot, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 3-5 minutes, add the Marsala wine, balsamic vinegar and the stock and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer.  Add the pork loin and cover and put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or to your liking.

Beans

  1. 1 Can of bean (any bean you like).
  2. salt/pepper.
  3. 1/2 roasted pepper thinly sliced.
  4. 1 clove of garlic (crushed).
  5. 1/2 lemon.

Combine the beans along with all ingredients(except lemon) in a  medium size pot over medium heat, bring beans to boils and lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, 5 minutes before done, squeeze the juice of the half lemon and stir, this will add a fresh and citrus flavor the beans.

Rice

Combine equal parts of rice and water( I used 2 cups of white rice)with a tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt in a rice cooker, cover and let cook till done.

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Meatball Parm Sandwich

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One of the many things that I love about cooking and sharing food is how quickly recipes ideas come to mind.  Well, this is one of those recipes that came to me on may way home from work.   Sandwiches, awesome and dee-lishous meats,cheeses and veggies, all together in between 2 slices of toasty and airy bread. Did I get your attention?  This is a take on meatball Parm sandwiches, sweet tasting meatballs, smothered  in a nice tomato and basil sauce, sprinkled with some red pepper flakes and melted fresh organic mozzarella cheese.  This was an “Outta Bounds sandwich” that the family and I enjoyed very much!

Meatballs

  1. 1 LB of ground beef (90%lean-10%fat)
  2. 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  3. 1 egg.
  4. 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (I used italian)
  5. 1/4 Tsp of salt.
  6. 1/4 cup of water.
  7. 1/4 Tsp of fresh cracked pepper.
  8. Dash of pepper flakes.

In a large bowl combine the ground meat and all ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.  Make the meatball about the size of golf ball ( it should yield about 8-10 meatballs) and set aside.

Tomato sauce

For this particular recipe I used a wonderful combination of jarred sauce and fresh tomato puree.  Combine one jar of tomato sauce (your preference) and one can of tomato puree.  bring sauce to a simmer and add 1-2 fresh crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and 5-6 basil leaves.  once sauce start to bubble, add the meatballs and continue to simmer till meatballs are fully cooked (about 35 minutes). Put sandwich together and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

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Seared Scallops Salad

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This is my first salad recipe posting and I wanted to bring to you one of my favorite seafood.  Scallops are wonderful little morsels and are amazingly tasty and  tender.   I used baby greens on this particularly dish because I think it works very well with the scallops. The balsamic vinaigrette gives this salad a fresh taste to it, while the pickled red onions add textured to the salad.

  1. 6 Large scallops.
  2. 1 Red onion.
  3. 1 Pinch of salt.
  4. 1 pinch of fresh cracked pepper.
  5. 1/4 Cup of Olive oil.
  6. 1/4 Cup of Balsamic vinegar.
  7. 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  8. 1 Tbsp of butter.

Pickled Onions

  1. 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  2. 1/2 cup of cold water
  3. 5 tbsp of salt

Thinly slice the red onion and put into a small bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of cold water and 5 tbsp of salt, set aside for 20 minutes till onions get nice and soft.  Rinse the onions with cold water to remove excess salt. set aside.

Scallops

Season the scallops with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet heat one tbsp of olive oil and the butter (make sure skillet is very hot) add the scallops and  sear on each side (about 3 minutes per side). Set aside.  In a small bowl combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.  Combine  the baby greens  with the balsamic vinaigrette and quickly toss together.  Place the greens on a plate and add the scallops on top, garnish with the pickled onions and enjoy!

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Baked Potatoes wedges

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Who does not like french fries? I can honestly say that I have not met anyone that will pass on a basket of french fries and ketchup.  This quick and easy to make  dish is my rendition of what I like to call “adult fries or potatoes wedges”. Browned in a saute pan, and finished in the oven for a wonderful golden finish and topped with a fresh and aromatic gremolata, and a splash of fresh lemon will sure have the crowd roaring.

Gremolata

  1. 1/4 Cup of flat leaves parsley, finely chopped.
  2. 1 Garlic clove, finely chopped.
  3. 1 Tbsp of lemon zest.
  4. 1/2 of a lemon.
  5.  Salt and black pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.  Use to garnish baked wedges.

Potatoes

  1. 4 Large Potatoes ( baking potatoes work well)
  2. 2 Tbsp of salt.
  3. 4 Cups of cold water.
  4. 3-4 Tbsp of vegetable oil.

Wash the potatoes very well.  You have the option of peeling or leaving the skins on, your choice. (I left the skins on) Cut into large wedges (4-5 inches), set aside. In a Large bowl add 4 cups of cold water and the 2 Tbps of salt and soak the wedges for 20 minutes.  Remove wedges from water and  pat down excess water.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 3-4 tbsp of oil and brown the potato wedges on both sides (about 2-3 mins per side). Repeat if necessary.  Arrange the wedges on a cookie sheet (sprayed with pam to prevent sticking)  and bake for about 10 mins at 350 degrees.  Remove from the oven, plate the potatoes ( add salt and pepper) sprinkle with the gremolata and squeeze the 1/2 of lemon on top and let your friends enjoy!.

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Spaghetti Carbonara

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Pasta Carbonara is one of those dishes that has many variations.  Some recipes call for wine, cream, milk, pancetta, bacon, eggs, ham and even peas or diced carrots. There is not really a wrong way to make  this recipe, so do not be afraid to try it with different ingredients, see what taste best to you and your family. After all, that is what cooking is all about!.  This  recipe  is both quick and easy to put together.  I used Milk to create a nice creamy sauce to coat the spaghetti, along with the ham, pepper flakes and the rest of the ingredients, makes this dish a flavorful one. Buon Appetito!

  1. 1 LB of dry spaghetti
  2. 4 Tbsp of olive oil.
  3. 1/4 Cup of grated cheese.
  4. 1 cup of milk ( I used 2%, however, heavy cream or whole milk works too).
  5. 1/2 Tsp of red pepper flakes.
  6. 1 Tsp of salt / black pepper.
  7. 2 Tbsp of butter.
  8. 2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  9. 1/4 LB of deli ham (pancetta, or regular bacon works just as good).
  10. 1/2 Of a finely chopped onion.
  11. Bunch of parsley.

Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil, add salt and pasta and cook to “al-dente”.  In a large skillet heat oil and add the onions and the garlic and cook until translucent (3-5 mins).  Add the milk, red pepper flakes and  ham and bring to a quick boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the spaghetti, salt, black pepper, toss for a  minute, add butter, cheese and half the chopped parsley(use other half to garnish) and toss for another minute. Serve immediately.

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Pork Marsala with Peasant Potatoes

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Simple ingredients, perfectly balanced with each other — that’s what rustic Italian cooking is all about. 

This statement pretty much sums it all up.  Simple, quick and easy to make recipe that will have your family and friends craving for more.   Potatoes, Red peppers, rosemary, mushrooms and onions roasted together with fantastic spices, paired with tender pork medallions in Marsala wine glaze will sure make you the star of the night.

Pork

  1. 8 Pcs of pork tenderloin thinly sliced
  2. 1/2 Cup of all purpose flour ( for dredging pork)
  3. 1/4 Cup of chicken stock (veggie or beef stock works well too)
  4. 2 Tbs of Olive oil
  5. 1/2 Cup of Marsala wine
  6. 2 Tbs of butter
  7. Salt/pepper to taste

Season pork tenderloins with salt and pepper and dredge in flour (shake excess flour) heat the oil to medium high heat and brown the medallions in both sides ( about 3 minutes per side), set aside and repeat process.  Once pork is removed from the pan, add the chicken stock  and Marsala wine to the pan and bring to a boil, add the pork medallions back in the pan and reduced heat to a simmer, continue until liquid is reduced by 1/3, add the butter and serve with the roasted potatoes.


Potatoes

  1. 6-8 medium size red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pcs.
  2. 1 Onion roughly chopped.
  3. 1 Cup of button mushrooms.
  4. 1 Large sweet red pepper roughly chopped.
  5. 1 Sprig of rosemary finely chopped(stem removed).
  6. 3 Cloves of garlic roughly chopped.
  7. 1 Tsp of salt.
  8. 1 Tsp of pepper.
  9. 1/2 Tsp of red pepper flakes.
  10. Splash of balsamic vinegar.
  11. 4 Tbs of olive oil.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients (with exception of Balsamic vinegar), makes sure all ingredients are well coated  and placed them in a roasting pan.  Set oven to 450 degrees and roast for 45 minutes.(stir every 15 minutes to prevent from sticking to pan) 10 minutes before potatoes are done, splash them with the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook till done.  Serve with pork medallions and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!!!


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Braised Chicken Thighs and Risotto

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Now that  Autumn is here, what better way to celebrate the best season of the  year than with a fantastic braise.  Juicy tender chicken thighs cooked slowly in a perfectly seasoned broth with carrots, celery, onions and garlic to name a few. Served  with a silky, creamy and packed with flavor risotto.  Is your mouth watering yet?.  This meal is a perfect way to end a long weekend full of outdoor activities. So lets relax and enjoy this hearty meal with friends and  family along with a nice glass of red! Happy Cookin!

Risotto

  1. 2 Cups of Arborio rice.
  2. 4 Cups of low sodium chicken broth.
  3. 1 Tbs of Olive oil.
  4. 2 Tbs of butter (unsalted).
  5. 1 Cup of white wine.
  6. 1/2 Cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  7. 1 Small onion cut into small dice.
  8. 1/2 cup of small diced carrots.
  9. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Start by simmering  4 cups of chicken stock (do not allow to boil) in a small pot.  In a 10-12″ skillet heat one tablespoon of Olive oil and one tablespoon of butter, add the onions and cook until translucent(about 8 minutes), add the rice and diced carrots and cook until rice looks toasty or opaque, then add a cup of wine and stir constantly until wine evaporates completely. At this point start to ladle in the stock, enough to cover the rice half way, stir constantly until stock has been absorbed  by the rice, repeat process until rice is fully cooked (18-20 minutes) Rice should be “al dente”.  finally add the 1/2 cup of cheese, salt and pepper, and the remaining butter and serve right away.

Chicken Thighs

  1. 8 Pcs of chicken thighs (skin removed).
  2. 1 Onion roughly chopped.
  3. 2Carrots roughly chopped.
  4. 2 Stacks of celery roughly chopped.
  5. 2 Tbs of all purpose flour.
  6. 3 Cloves of garlic roughly chopped.
  7. 1/2 Tsp of cinnamon.
  8. 1/2 Tsp of salt and pepper.
  9. 2 Bay leaves.
  10. 2 Cups of chicken broth.
  11. 1 Tps of pepper flakes.
  12. 1/2 Tsp of powder ginger.
  13. 2 Tbs of canola oil/ 2 Tbs of butter.
  14. 1/2 Tsp of allspice
  15. Juice of one lemon.

Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, in a  10″-12″ dutch oven(any pot that holds good heat will do)heat one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter and  brown  chicken 4 pcs at a time, about 4 minutes per side, remove the chicken and set aside, repeat process with other 4 pcs.  Once chicken has been browned, remove and add the remaining  oil and butter to the pot  along with  onions and cook for 8 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery and bay leaves and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock and the rest of ingredients, bring liquid to a boil. Finally add the chicken thighs back to the pot and lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes. Enjoy!!