Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Sloppy Jose


I grew up in the foothills of Southern California in the 1960s. Coming off the post-war 1950’s, it seemed like California was always on the cutting edge of music, technologies, fast cars and fast food. Taking over from the casual dining experience of Howard Johnson, Sambo’s, Shakey’s Pizza and  Bob’s Big Boy, America embraced the fast food convenience of McDonald’s (“tens of thousands sold) , In-N-Out,  Jack in the Box, A&W, Colonial Sanders and Taco Bell. In 1968, I could leave junior high school during lunch break on my bike, go to a fast food restaurant and get a cheese burger for .25 fries for a nickel and a large soft drink for .20 cents!

One of my favorites was what Taco Bell called the “Bell Burger.” It was a Sloppy Joe style sandwich using your season beef and cheddar cheese used in their tacos; add lettuce tomatoes and onion for the “Bell Grande.” During special promotions, I could get 5 for a dollar! Sadly, the Bell Burger was a casualty of the Burger War and was extinct by the mid-1970s. I do not profess to have their secret recipe, but this is pretty darn close. It is a simple and quick recipe if condiments are prepped in advance. The picante sauce is fresh and without preservatives. This would be a great item for game night.
 
 
Seasoned Beef:

1 lb. Ground beef
¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried onion flakes
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. onion powder
1 dash garlic powder
½ c. cold water 

Picante Sauce:

1½ c. cold water
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ (6-oz) can Tomato paste
1½ tbsp. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Additional Items:

6 hamburger buns, steamed slightly
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
½ diced tomato
½ cup diced onion

Preparation:

It is best to make the sauce first.  In a saucepan add the water and cornstarch and whisk until fully dissolved. Next add vinegar, salt, cayenne and tomato paste. While bringing it to a boil, continue stirring sauce. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until sauce thickens. Cool sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator.
 
Now for the filling: In a stand mixer or food processor, combine the ground beef and dry ingredients until well mixed. In a large skillet over medium heat, add beef and the ½ cup water. Stir the mixture while it cooks, breaking up large chunks. Cook until slightly browned. In a colander, drain off any grease or liquid. While cooking the beef mixture, steam the buns slightly in a rice maker or double boiler.

To assemble, spread some sauce on the bottom bun. Next, add two tbsp. seasoned meat. Sprinkle meat with shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion.  Serve with guacamole as garnish. Enjoy, JW

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken


I’ve never seen a buffalo fly, but Buffalo Style Wings have been made their mark as a favorite appetizer and party fare. It wasn’t long ago that wings were just scraps relegated to the stockpot for making broth or soup. With the commercialization of chicken harvesting, consumers opted for the better portions of chicken, the breasts, thighs and leg portions, the wings ended up going to soup factories.

 

There is much debate about who actually came up with the recipe for hot chicken wings, but the consensus points to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. The story goes that back in 1964, the owner of the bar had to feed a group of her son’s friends and with a bunch of wings on hand, deep fried them and then tossed them in a buttery chili sauce and served them with bleu cheese dip and celery. The wings were a hit!! The City of Buffalo has designated July 29th Chicken Wing Day. And as a matter of record, the Anchor Bar serves 70 thousand pounds of chicken monthly!

 
This recipe combines the sweetness of the yam with the spiciness of the chicken and then finished with the coolness of the yogurt-bleu cheese topping.

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 c hot sauce
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp ground cayenne
4 sweet potatoes
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
Chopped green onions

PREPARATION:

Coat a slow cooker with nonstick spray and place the chicken in the bottom of the cooker.

In a separate bowl, add the hot sauce, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper and coconut oil and microwave for 45 seconds and then stir. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and cover the slow cooker. Then cook for 1½ hours on high until chicken is fully cooked. While the chicken is in the crockpot, prepare the sweet potatoes. Coat with butter, wrap in foil and bake in the oven at 400° for 45 minutes.

Leaving the sauce in the crockpot, remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with a fork on a separate plate. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with the water and pour back into the slow cooker with remaining hot sauce. Combine using a whisk. Cook sauce on high for 30 minutes.

Add shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and toss it well into the sauce so that it is entirely coated.

Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing:
 
½ c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. milk
½ tsp white vinegar
¼ tsp black pepper
⅓ C crumbled blue cheese

Once everything is prepared, split the sweet potatoes and mash with skin on. Spoon on the chicken,  yogurt-bleu cheese and garnish with chopped, green onions. Enjoy, JW

Monday, October 1, 2018

Florida, the Sunshine Cake

“I like spring, but it’s too young. I like summer, but it’s too proud. So, I like best of all autumn, because its’ tone is mellower, its’ colours are richer and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its’ golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and it is content” Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

For those of us in South Florida, November means the return of the snow birds and yachts returning for refit and sale. And November is the start of the holiday season. My grandparents were early snow birds; having bought a winter home here in 1953 to escape the bitter Indiana winters. Grandma Maloy would make the most wonderful delights when we would fly out for the holidays. This is one of her recipes.


CAKE INGREDITENTS:
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. all purpose flour
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Separate the egg whites from yolks. This is an easy task if you put a bowl in the sink, crack an egg and roll the egg yolk between your left/right hands, letting the white fall to the bowl below. Put yolk in another bowl.  Now, in a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; then add the cream of tartar and salt while continuing to beat until there are stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, egg yolks, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until combined and then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased 9” spring form cake pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour). Remove cake from pan and place on serving plate. Drizzle cake top with orange frosting.

 
FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
1 8 oz. package plain cream cheese, room temperature.
1 stick butter (8 tbsp.), room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar (sifted)
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp. orange zest

PREPARATION:
In a large bowl (I use a stand mixer) mix the butter and cream cheese at ow speed until blended. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all well blended. Add orange juice and zest and then blend at medium speed until the mixture is fluffy. Drizzle the frosting over the cake. Sprinkle additional zest or garnish with mandarin orange sections. Enjoy, JW

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ginger Beef Stir-Fry


One would think that stir-frying is a Chinese technique that dates back thousands of years. This supposition is right but mostly wrong. Historians think that during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) that a bronze vessel was used for “stir-drying” for drying grain and roasting tea leaves. It is not until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that the wok obtained its’ current shape. In ancient times, only the wealthy could afford cooking oil and the majority of the time, the wok was used for boiling and steaming. In the late Ming period, the cost of wood and charcoal in the cities made fast stir-fry cooking a necessity. Stir fry technique was brought to the west by early Chinese immigrants and has been used in non-Asian cuisine; like the Lomo Saltado recipe from Peru that I wrote about two years ago. An interesting fun fact: The term “stir-fry” did not enter the lexicon of cooking until the release of How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Chao Yang Buwei in 1945.

A very simple and tasty recipe, I use either flank or flap for best results. The important thing to remember is to cut your thin strips of meat across the grain. If you made the ponzu recipe from last month, use it for the meat marinate and cooking. If not, use the recipe below for excellent results. Make sure your wok and oil are hot.

 
INGREDIENTS:
12 oz.  Stir Fry Noodles
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. beef flank steak, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 c. snow pea pods
2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, optional


PREPARATION:
Prepare noodles according to package directions. In a large bowl, combine cornstarch, vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and sugar. Add thinly sliced beef and stir to coat with marinade. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.  In a large wok or skillet, heat sesame oil over high heat. Add beef and stir fry 5 minutes.  Add snow peas and ginger. Stir fry 3 minutes.  Add cooked noodles and remaining soy sauce and continue to stir fry 2 more minutes. Plate and serve with a white wine like a Riesling. Enjoy, JW

EASY PONZU SAUCE

One of the best things about working in the yacht industry is the fruits of the sea. Wahoo, mahi-mahi and tuna are frequent visitors to my cleaning table. Nothing is finer that a nice tenderloin of wahoo and a sharp knife.


I like a citrus ponzu sauce for dipping sushi. This recipe is simple and beats store bought ponzu, hands down. It also makes a terrific marinate for steak.

INGREDIENTS:
½ c. soy sauce (low sodium)
¼ c. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. spring water
1 tbsp. mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes


PREPARATION:
Simply mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Be creative and make it you own signature dipping sauce by adding ginger or pureed mango. Enjoy. JW

Saturday, July 7, 2018

YUM NAM SOD


One of the most difficult things I find while working on yachts is maintaining a strict diet plan. We work long hours, have infrequent breaks and at the end of the day, exhaustion. And Exercise? Pull this, lift or climb that; yacht work is a workout program in itself. But where we tend to stray off course (pun intended) is with our dietary intake.

While trying to lose weight by cutting your calorie and carbohydrate intake, cravings can be subconscious triggers.  A burger or sandwich will satisfy that craving, yet blows your whole regime. Lettuce wraps are a great solution for staying on a plan. By simply substituting your bun or bread for a lettuce leaf, you save calories and carbs and can have a healthier version of your favorite meal. For instance, the average burger contains around 53 grams of carbohydrate, nearly all of which come from the bun, so by cutting this out, you automatically save yourself around 200 calories. Conversely, a serving of lettuce contains less than 3 grams of carbohydrates. You also get the added benefits of the vitamins and minerals from the lettuce. So drop the bun and wrap your head around lettuce.


INGREDIENTS:

Cooking spray
1 lb. ground chicken (or pork)
1/2 c. thin vertical slices red onion
1/3 c. finely chopped green onions
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp chili paste with garlic (or substitute Sriracha chili)
2 tbsp. dry-roasted peanuts (lightly salted)
2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 head romaine or bib lettuce, separated into leaves

PREPARATION:
 
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meat to pan; cook 5 minutes or until done and crumbled. Remove meat from skillet and set aside to cool. Add peanuts to hot skillet and roast until they start to brown.  Mix onion slices and all remaining ingredients (including roasted peanuts) in a medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir meat into onion mixture; sprinkle with peanuts. Serve meat mixture in lettuce leaves. Enjoy, JW

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Smoked Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I have just completed my 207th career Florida to New England transit delivering a Viking 54C from Panama City FL. to East Greenwich RI. One of my favorite stops is St. Simons Island, Ga. With Fernandina Harbor Marina a good 24 months from reopening, St. Simons is a close alternate. Morningstar Marina is convenient with cheerful dock staff.  But be sure to call ahead for reservations as this place fills up each night with transients.
At the head of the main dock is the Country Kitchen restaurant. The food here is outstanding. Under the charge of New Orleans trained Owner/Executive Chef Archie Prince, many low-country favorites of fin, feather and hoof are prepared for the hungry yachtsman. My personal favorite is the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. Chef Archie provided me his recipe; which I have incorporated with my touch to condense it down from restaurant quantity to a more manageable amount for owner and crew.
As a New Orleans classic, chicken and sausage gumbo is perfect for owner and guests. This recipe calls for andouille sausage and pulled chicken. But if you can’t find andouille sausage, any kielbasa or smoked sausage will do. For the chicken, I go to my favorite BBQ joint as I like to add complexity with the smoky chicken. However, supermarket rotisserie works just as well.  Add a trio of ingredients typical of Cajun cuisine—bell peppers, celery, and onions—that when blended together form a flavorful and spicy backdrop to this signature dish. Perhaps the most delicious and simplest of gumbo combinations, it’s a full-bodied stew with a seasoned roux-based sauce. There’s no mystery to making a roux; you just have to pay attention and take it almost to the point of burning before its’ just right. Great as a left-over dish, just warm it up and eat as is, or serve it over white rice for a delicious quick meal.
 


INGREDIENTS:

2/3 c. butter, divided
1/2 lb. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground sea salt  
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 c.  chicken broth
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 c. shredded chicken, smoked or rotisserie (about a pound)
1 tbsp. File gumbo powder (optional)
Garnish: white rice and sliced green onions

PREPARATION:

Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage 6 minutes or until browned; remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add remaining butter to skillet. Gradually whisk in flour; whisking constantly, until flour is a milk chocolate color (about 25 minutes).

Stir in green bell pepper and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Gradually add broth, stirring until combined. Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a light boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Return sausage to pan; simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in chicken. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving. Garnish with a white rice, green onion and honey/jalapeno cornbread. Enjoy, JW