Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Jalapeno Poppers Bread

Skip the messiness of baking; this variation on Jalapeño Poppers is a creative party appetizer. Simple to prepare and present, or make in advance and then heat and serve.
 
 

 
INGREDIENTS:

18 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated cheddar
1 c. grated mozzarella
3 jalapeños, finely diced
½  tsp. pepper
3 baguettes
Bacon rashers


PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, jalapeños and pepper until combined.

Cut baguette in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the insides.  Save for breadcrumbs. Fill each cavity with the cheese mix.  Place top half on top of bottom half. Arrange bacon flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Top with one baguette and wrap, herringbone style, with the bacon. Repeat with other bread loaf. Bake the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and golden brown. Enjoy. JW
 
 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Trouble with Truffles

From time to time I find a conundrum when it comes to epicurean delights. Take for instance truffles.

Ask a chef at a fine restaurant to describe a truffle, and they will wax poetic about an expensive fungus that grows beneath oak trees in France and found by pet pigs.

Now, ask a pastry chef to describe a truffle, and they will describe a soft-centered confection coated in tempered chocolate. So, the only determination I can come up with is that a truffle is both; a fungus and a chocolate delight.

With left over ingredients from last month’s brownie recipe, and Valentine’s Day being the number one day in which chocolate is gifted, I will show you how to make a delicious and easy chocolate truffle cookie. This recipe uses relatively little flour, resulting in dense, fudge-like cookies. They keep well in the freezer (but you may have a hard time waiting for them to thaw before you eat them).

INGREDIENTS:
4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp. butter
3 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips


 
PREPARATION:
In the microwave or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and the butter stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Using a medium cookie scoop, roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. You may dredge the top of the balls in sprinkles, macadamia nuts or leave plain. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets so they are 2 inches apart. Note: It is easier to roll dough if your keep your hands slightly moistened.

 
Bake for 11-14 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy, JW
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Brownies with Merlot Glaze


It’s unclear exactly when cacao came on the scene or who invented it. According to Hayes Lavis, cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, ancient Olmec pots and vessels from around 1500 B.C. were discovered in Southern Mexico with traces of theobromine, a stimulant compound found in chocolate and tea.

It wasn’t until the 16th Century that chocolate was known to Europeans. Christopher Columbus encountered cacao on his fourth voyage to the New World. But it wasn’t until after the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernan Cortez, that chocolate was largely import fist to Spain and then the rest of Europe.

Chocolate has heart healthy properties and it has been stated that it is also an aphrodisiac. When it comes to great discoveries, in my book, chocolate ranks high on my list. 



INGREDIENTS:

Brownie
¼ c. Merlot
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ c. white sugar
4 oz. dark chocolate
½ c. butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. cocoa powder
½ c. All Purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt

Merlot Glaze
2 tbsp. Merlot
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp. unsalted butter

PREPARATION: 

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Add wine and whisk until fully incorporated and then remove from heat. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and whisk well. Add flour, salt and cocoa powder and mix well.

Next, pour batter into a 9x9” tin foil covered baking pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the brownies are baking, for the glaze melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate until smooth. Then, whisk in the wine and set aside.

After removing brownies from the over, let them cool. Next, drizzle the glaze over the brownies and spread the topping using a rubber spatula. Enjoy, JW

Friday, September 27, 2019

POUTINE de POULET

I think October is my favorite month of the year. It is my birth month. Fittingly, the birth stone of October is the opal coming from the ancient Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” Coming off the sweltering heat of August/September, there is a definite change in the air.

The most famous icon of October (besides the start of holiday shopping for Christmas) is the
jack-o-lantern. Various sources attribute it to either Scottish or Irish origin. It seems that the lantern was used by people who traveled the roads at night, the grotesque face to scare away faeries and spirits. And who, as a child, hasn’t bobbed for apples? Is it possibly a Pagan baptism? With hands tied behind the back and blindfolded with head immersed in water, can one see its’ origins as a Craft initiation?

Also, October signals the return of the venerable snowbird. Every year, thousands of Canadians take the migratory route to South Florida for 6 months of escape from their northern winter climes. One of the yachts that I run occasionally is Canadian owned.  I always prepare something familiar to them, like Bacon Butter Rum Tarts (The Triton 3/2018). The recipe below is my variation of a Canadian comfort food, poutine. Simple store bought items makes for quick and easy food for game night.


INGREDIENTS:

1 chilled deli rotisserie chicken, pulled
8 oz. frozen seasoned French fries
6 oz. snack sized Monterey Jack cheese, cut in bite sized chunks
¼ c. sliced green onion
6 oz. jar of chicken gravy

 
PREPARATION:

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Bake fries as per package instructions on parchment. While fries are baking, shred, by hand 2 cups of the chicken.  Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in gravy and chicken, cooking for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until it starts to bubble. Lower the heat to simmer. Once fries are finished baking, divide the fries between serving plates. Add the cheese to warm gravy last, simmering 2-3 minutes. Serve gravy over the fries and sprinkle green onion as a garnish. Savourer faire!! JW

Thursday, September 12, 2019

PORK TACOS WITH PINEAPPLE SALSA


Mexico is one of my favorite countries to cruise thru. There is a difference between the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country. The music, the proud indigenous people and the food have distinct differences. I prefer the Pacific over the Caribbean when it comes to food, though the Yucatecan/Mayan cuisine holds its’ own mystique.

No matter which coast, one of my favorite comfort foods is Tacos al Pastor. On most street corners you will find a taco shop with a vertical spit (think gyro) called a trompo, with slices of marinated pork piled high on top of each other. The meat is spun around and cooked in front of an open flame until cooked thru. At the top of the spit there is usually peeled pineapple cooking. The “taquero” slices the cooked pork onto a corn tortilla followed by a piece of the pineapple, finely chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with salsa rojo (red) or verde (green).

 
Not owning a trompo myself, I have a simple recipe that mimics this tasty taco.
 

INGREDIENTS:
9 oz. fresh peeled and cored pineapple
10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chili
1 lb. ground pork
1 small red onion
8 corn taco shells or small tortillas


PREPARATION:
Cut 6 oz. of the pineapple into ¼ inch pieces and coarsely chop the remaining pineapple. Chop finely the onion and mince a ¼ c. of cilantro. To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix the small pineapple pieces, half of the chopped onion and cilantro.

In a food processor, puree the canned tomato with chili and large pineapple chunks until smooth; like a pesto. In a skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground pork and remaining onion until pork is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato mix and simmer until thickened. Pepper and salt to taste. Serve on warm taco shells or tortillas and garnish with pineapple chunks, lime wedge and cilantro. Enjoy, JW
 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

BACON WRAPPED ONION HAND GRENADES

Oh Summer. The smell of fresh cut grass and two cycle lawn mowers. The distant crack! of a baseball bat.  An ice cream truck approaches with the screams of delighted children in chase. And then you catch a whiff of your neighbor’s BBQ grill and you ask your South Florida self, “who the heck BBQs in this heat?”

Yep, there are two things that you can be certain of August in South Florida; hurricanes on the horizon and 94° with a heat index of 107°. Fear not! This gastronomical grenade is simple to create in the air conditioned comfort of your galley and is a treat for any dockside or poolside party.


INGREDIENTS:
5 medium white onions
1 ½ lb. lean ground beef
1/3 c. onions, diced
1/3 c. parsley, chopped
1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. green jalapeno sauce
1 ½ tsp. soy sauce
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 pack of bacon (the wider the better)
1 bottle of BBQ sauce
Toothpicks 

 
PREPARATION:
To start making these tasty BBQ meatball onion bombs, preheat your oven to 425°F. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions and remove the exterior skin. Cut the onion in half. Staring at the middle, carefully peel onion from the inside-out leaving the last two outside layers for a shell. Set the onion layers aside.

Mix the ground beef, diced onion, and parsley, brown sugar, condiments, and bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl by hand. Place a handful of the meatloaf mixture inside two of the onion shells; joining together to make an onion-meatball. Wrap the onion meatballs in bacon, using three slices per ball. Secure the bacon with toothpicks to keep it from unraveling during cooking.



Bake in a dish or cast iron skillet at 425 °F for 40 minutes or until the interior temperature reaches 165°F. Baste your balls in BBQ sauce and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit at least 5 minutes before service. Enjoy, JW

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Crock Pot Chili Con Carne


If there is one recipe that every crew should have in the book, it’s what 17th century Spanish priests in the New World called “the soup of the devil.” There really is nothing better for a hungry soul than a steaming bowl of “Texas Red.” The influence of chili con carne is impressive; from tailgate parties to county fairs and national chili cook-offs, it was also made the official food of the Lone Star state.

I have often stated that if there is one cooking appliance that every yacht should have aboard, it is a Crock-Pot slow cooker. The recipe below costs less than $12. Prep-time is about 30 minutes. Once in the slow cooker, just set it in a sink and go about the daily chores of the boat with dinner ready at the end of the work day. With proper canning procedures, it can be kept for months unrefrigerated.

It was no accident that chili established a special place in the belly of America. Chili con carne began as a no-nonsense dish on the wild frontier, but has evolved into a staple dish for many Americans. 



INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs. lean ground sirloin (90%/10%)
4 medium sized Vidalia sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ c. red bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 x 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 x 15 oz. can unsalted pinto beans, drained
1 x 15 oz. can unsalted kidney beans, drained
1 x 7 oz. can salsa verde
1 ½ tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 bottle brown ale
Green onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese for garnish

PREPARATION:
In a large skillet, brown-up the ground sirloin and drain. No not “break up” the ground beef too much. Allow for big chunks of ground sirloin. Transfer beef to Crock-Pot. In the same skillet, add onions and bell pepper and sauté for 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute. Next, stir in tomato paste for 1 minute. Next, stir in the beer (I’m using Kentucky Bourbon Ale) cook for another minute. Transfer to Crock-Pot. Add the remaining ingredients (beans, chili powder, and paprika). Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve on a bed of white rice with cornbread. Enjoy, JW.