Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies & Maple Cinnamon Glaze


Provisioning for a recent trip out of Camden Maine, the local market was selling bacon brownies in the bakery. At a county fair, I found a vendor selling bacon strips dipped in melted chocolate. If this surprises you, then you’re out of the chocolate loop. The bacon-chocolate craze has been taking off like a banshee. The combination of crisp salty-smoky bacon and the subtle-sweet smoothness of chocolate is an incredible contrast in tastes.  This recipe is one of my all-time favorites and it will be yours too.
Yield 60 cookies.

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups bacon bits
An important note:  Be sure to use real bacon bits, not imitation bacon bits.
Also, you can make your own bacon bits in a food processor; make sure you pat down the bacon with paper towels to remove as much bacon grease as possible. 

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat together the butter, sugars, flavorings and eggs until creamy.
In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix well.
Add in chocolate chips and bacon bits. Stir until well integrated.
Wrap dough on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate at least an hour.
Remove dough from fridge, pinch off 1½ inch pieces of dough and roll into balls.
Set dough balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten dough balls slightly with your fingers in the center. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes or until the dough starts to turn golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.

Maple Cinnamon Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Enough water to make a thick glaze.
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. If lumpy, use a whisk.
Spread a small amount of the glaze on the top of each cookie and top with leftover bacon bits.
Enjoy, JW


 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Holiday Ham Balls

 
The holidays are all about family. I was on the phone with my mother Joyce recently and we discussed family; long before the fledgling children left the nest. My mom is a terrific cook and always put on the fete during Christmas. One of my favorite hors d’oeuvres that Joyce is famous for are her Holiday Ham Balls. I therefore dedicate this month’s recipe to my mom. Blessings to one and all.

 
 
Ingredients:

1 pound fully cooked ham, finely ground
1 pound ground pork
1 cup milk
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
GLAZE:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
 
Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; blend just until mixed. Shape into 1-in. balls; place in a single layer in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine glaze ingredients; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Spoon the entire mixture over the ham balls. Cover and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more or until ham balls are just beginning to brown. Gently toss in glaze in the bottom of pan. Serve warm. Yield: about 48 ham balls. Enjoy, JW


Monday, October 5, 2015


Ridiculously Simple French Dip Sandwich

It’s been a while since I’ve cooked something in the slow cooker, so on a recent trip to the Bahamas, I thought that French Dip sandwiches would be a terrific meal. This recipe has only five ingredients and is so simple to make it’s almost embarrassing.

 
The Ingredients:
1. 3 pound fresh brisket (not corned beef)
2. 1 package of onion soup mix

3. 14.5 ounce can of beef broth
4. Sliced Provolone cheese
5. French bread or mini-baguettes
 
The Preparation:

Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray. Trim off any excess fat from the brisket and place it in the bottom of the crockpot. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beef broth and onion soup mix and then pour over the brisket. Set the heat on the crockpot to low and cook for 8-10 hours.  
Remove brisket from crockpot to a cutting board and slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Split the French bread or baguette and pile beef of the bottom half. Cover meat with the sliced Provolone. Butter the top half of the bread and then place sandwich, open-face, on a cookie sheet. Place on the second from top rack in a hot oven and broil for 30 seconds.

Ladle cooking liquid from crockpot into a ramekin, plate with sandwich. Incredibly good and enjoy. JW  


Pumpkin Spice Mini-Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese

 

One of my yacht owners also owns a professional minor baseball team in Sioux City, Iowa. I have been following the Sioux City Explorers all year as they set a league record of 75 wins out of a 100 game regular season; thus putting the “X’s” in the playoffs for their league’s championship. And as a fan, I traveled to Sioux City in September to cheer on our team. This trip gave me the perfect opportunity to put together a mid-west regional favorite. This delicious treat will get rave revues at any Halloween party.


 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-15oz can 100% pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
4oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugars together for 1 minute. Add egg and vanilla then beat to combine. Add pumpkin puree and sour cream then beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch.

Drop batter using a cookie scoop onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Let cookies cool for one minute on the baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, slice cakes in half.

For the cream cheese frosting: Beat together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency of frosting is reached. Pipe (put frosting in a gallon zip-lock and snip a corner and squeeze) cinnamon cream cheese frosting on half the cookies, then top with remaining cookies. Enjoy JW

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Apple Pie


Nothing says American more than baseball, hamburgers/hot dogs and corn on the cob on the grill with chilled watermelon and apple pie a la mode.

The apple pie (or tort) dates back centuries and was brought to the New World by immigrant English, Swedes and the Dutch. This would explain for the different variations on the theme. But this delicacy has had an indelible effect on our culture. Anything typically US is described “As American as apple pie.”
 


The most important part of making an apple pie is the selection of the apple. Some apples, such as McIntosh as too sweet and not as firm as say a crispy, acidic Granny Smith, Fuji or Golden Delicious. For proper apple pie, you will want to select the latter.

The Ingredients:

The Dough
2 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter
1 egg lightly beaten

The Filling
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 pounds baking apples, peeled, halved and quarter each half
¾ cup sugar
½ stick butter
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg lightly beaten

The Preparation:

The Dough
To make the best dough, I make it by hand by mixing with a fork the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. With my fingers I work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until well incorporated with a course texture and pea-sized bits of butter. Add the egg and mix well. If dough is too dry, add a sprinkle of water. Form the dough into a round disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.

The Filling
With lemon juice squeezed into a bowl, toss the apples. Add sugar and toss again until well coated. Melt butter in skillet or wok over medium-high cooking apples until the sugar dissolves and mixture simmers. Cover skillet reducing heat to medium-low and cook apples for about 6-8 minutes. With a colander over the skillet, scoop out the apples retaining as much liquid as practicable and simmer the juices at medium heat until it thickens. Set all aside and let them cool completely.

Assemble the Pie

Cut the dough in half and on a floured surface, roll both halves into a disk into a disk 12 inches wide. Place the rolled disks between wax paper and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place a baking sheet on the lower oven rack and pre-heat to 375° (to catch drippings). Line a 9” pie pan with one dough disk so that it over-lays the edge ½ inch and trim off excess dough. Fill pie pan with filling. With the remaining disk, cut into ½ strips and lattice it over the pie, pinching the edge all the way around. Brush crush with an egg and sugar egg wash and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place pie on baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Once crust is golden brown, let cool for several hours. Serve warm or cold with ice cream.

Enjoy, JW

 

 

 

Thursday, June 11, 2015


COWBOY STEW
Every once in a while, I get an assignment that makes me say, “what the …? This is what happened last week.

I received a call last week from the vice president of marketing of Sea Ray Corporation in Knoxville, Tennessee. He had a Hollywood VIP client who needed instruction in two days on a Sea Ray 310 which was being trucked from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
 
Jackson Lake, 45 miles north of Jackson Hole, is a 15 mile long high altitude (6774 ft.) lake that parallels the base of the Grand Teton Mountains. The boating was beautiful, but what I really enjoyed on this trip was the food. Buffalo burgers. Elk tips fondue. Venison tenderloin. The food took me back to my childhood when I would spend summers on my maternal grand-parent’s two cattle ranches in Wyoming. Ranch house and chuck wagon faire proves to be a hearty welcome after a day’s ride moving cattle from section to section. It is with this memory that I present the Cowboy Stew. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a casserole dish will do just fine.

 
Ingredients:
1 pound of cubed stew meat
2 teaspoons meat tenderizer (non-MSG)
2 tablespoons of sage
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stew vegetables
1 (10 ounce) can crescent dinner rolls

Preperation:
In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, sprinkle the meat tenderizer over the meant and cook until browned. Drain off any excess juices. In a small bowl, mix the sage, chicken broth, condensed soup and onion soup mix. Pour over the meat reducing heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add frozen stew vegetables to the skillet and simmer 10 minutes more. Unroll the crescent dough and arrange over the stew in a pie shape.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

Yelling YEE-HAW is optional. Enjoy, JW

 

 

 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Masitas de Puerco Cubano


With all of the recent talk of the United States normalizing relations with Cuba, my memory takes me back to several deliveries when I had stopped in Cuba while en route to Latin America. I have always found the officials and people of Cuba warm and inviting. But what I remember most about my stops in Cuba is the food. Luckily, living in South Florida affords me the opportunity to revisit this style of cooking. Here is one of my favorite dishes.

 

Ingredients:
2 lbs pork shoulder
2 cups water
¼ cup lard
1 tbsp salt
½ onion chopped coarsely

Preparation:
Cut pork into 2 inch chunks. Place chunks into a bowl and add 2 cups Cuban mojo marinade. Store bought is fine or use my recipe below. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

In a skillet add water, lard, salt and pork chunks. Over medium high heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low heat and cook about 40 minutes. The water will evaporate leaving only the lard and pork chunks. Once the water has evaporated, bring the heat up to medium high and sauté onions until translucent; about two minutes. Serve as a main dish with rice, black beans and fried plantains.

Cuban Mojo Marinade
Ingredients:
1½ cups sour orange juice (substitute 1 cup OJ and ½ cup lime juice)
20 garlic cloves (yes, I said 20!) pealed
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp black peppercorn
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt

Preparation:
With a mortar and pestle, work the garlic, salt and peppercorns into a paste. Add juice to the paste followed by the onion. Mix well and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour before using it as a marinade for pork, chicken or fish.
 
It is important to cook this with lard, which is rendered from pork and thus enhances the flavor of the Masitas. Enjoy, JW

 


Saturday, April 11, 2015


Mixed Berry Cobbler
In 1989, I delivered a 54 Bertram from Hong Kong to Guam and stayed for a year and a half to start the owner’s charter fishing operation. While there, I attended an outdoor Maxi Priest concert. Being 6’1 and heads and shoulders taller than most of the Chamarro people there, I spotted a tall blond fellow to whom I gravitated to. Steven Brownsea was an Australian captain who ran a Japanese sailing/racing syndicate and was on Guam as a stop-over en route to the U.S. west coast.  We became instant friends.
For the next 25 years, Steven and I have crossed wakes on occasion until he hung up his foul weather boots and took a full-time position on a 127 Crescent based in San Diego. So, it was with great pleasure that my old seadog of a friend would show up in South Florida recently with yacht and chef/wife in tow. This Easter, Steven and Heather invited me to a holiday brunch aboard the Crescent and I was assigned dessert. I chose a variation on the blackberry cobbler; that was a standard fare growing up in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup turbinado (unrefined cane sugar) or granulated sugar.
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg¼ cup butter, room temperature
2-3 tbsp warm water

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish with spray shortening. In a 4 qt. skillet over medium heat mix the sugar and corn starch. As mixture starts to melt, add berries and lemon juice and toss until evenly coated. Heat to boiling (about 4 minutes). Stir constantly until mixture thickens slightly. Transfer mixture to casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Cut in butter using two crisscross knives until it looks like crumbles. Mix in enough warm water until it forms a soft dough. Drop the dough by the tablespoon full on top of the berry mixture.

Into the pre-heated over, bake the cobbler for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!! J

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Texas Easy Slow Cook Chili

Since long ago, when the second person on earth mixed peppers and beef and cooked them together, the great debate began; who makes the best chili. Maybe it’s the effect of capisicum spices that makes chili cooks crazy.

Some say chili originated on the cattle trails of west Texas in the early 19th century. Others tell the grisly tale of angry Aztecs, who cut up invading conquistadors, seasoned chunks of them with a passel chili peppers, and ate them.

One thing is for certain, for Texans like myself, chili is not only an institution, its’ a matter of personal pride.
 


Ingredients:
3 lbs ground round
2 ½ cups finely chopped onions
4 large cloves finely minced garlic
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped
1 can (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes in sauce
3 ½ cups beef broth (32 oz. carton)
1 tbsp. ground cumin
¼ cup Mexican chili powder

Preparation:

First thing you will notice is that there are no beans in true Texas chili. In a 12 inch skillet, brown half of the meat until thoroughly cooked. Drain in colander and then transfer to a 5 quart slow cooker. Repeat with remaining meat. Add onions, garlic, jalapeño, tomato paste, tomatoes and sauce, broth, chili powder and cumin. Mix well and let cook for 8 hours (or overnight) on low heat setting.

One bit of advice. Let the chili cook for 4 hours minimum before tasting. Let the spices incorporate before adding any more peppers to the chili. Remember, you can always add heat, but you can take it away. Serve with fried masa,  green onion, cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese condiment. Enjoy, JW

Thursday, January 29, 2015

POLLO PIBIL
 
 
Pollo Pibil is a Mexican chicken dish from the Yucatan in which chicken is smothered with achiote paste and sour orange juice and slow cooked in banana leaves over hot wood coals in a hole in the ground. As we don’t have a hole to dig aboard, I slow roast the pibil in a crockpot.

Achiote paste is a dark red paste made of ground annato seeds that can be found in Latin grocery stores that has a soft, earthy flavor, similar to saffron. For this spin on a traditional Pollo Pibil, I use split chicken breasts (though thighs can be used for the budget cook) and slow cooked them in a delicious Achiote spiced sauce.

Ingredients:
 
3 lbs skinless split chicken breasts
1/2 cup sour orange juice
2 habaneros, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 onion, chopped into quarters
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
4 tbsp Achiote paste
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Preparation:
 
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the crock pot.

In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients to form the sauce. Pour over the chicken.

Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours until the chicken can be easily shredded from the rib with a fork. Shred the chicken (discard rib bone) and let everything cook for 30 more minutes with the crock pot lid off. Leaving the lid off will help some of the water evaporate so the sauce thickens up.

Makes excellent tacos or burritos, or serve over yellow rice, Garnish with cilantro, cebolla mordada (from last month’s recipe) or pico de gallo. Enjoy! JW

Friday, January 9, 2015


SALBUTE

Just before the holidays, I went down to Panama to pick up a vintage 64 foot Burger to deliver back to Florida. An early winter delivery, there were my fair share of weather delays which allowed myself and the crew to explore Isla San Andres, Roatan and Isla Mujeres. Always on the scent for a new recipe, especially one where leftovers can be utilized.

Salbute is a Yucatecan dish served on fried masa piled on with shredded meats like a chimichurri, chicken mojo, and taco meat or for the vegetarian, portobello mushroom and garnished with vegetables. This recipe requires a couple of easy preps but you will find it most rewarding.

 
Masa Recipe

The first thing you will need is masa; a corn flour found in a Latin grocery store or the international section of your local supermarket. Once you have found this follow the recipe below:

•1 cup dry masa harina
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•2/3 cups warm water
(Makes 5-6 tortillas)

Preparation

Combine masa and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Slowly add warm water and mix with a spatula. Knead this dough on a flat surface until it becomes smooth; similar to the consistency of Silly Putty©. Use a small bit of oil on your hands to ensure the dough does not stick and roll a portions in your hands, about the size of golf balls. Set the masa balls aside for approximately 45 minutes.

Once the masa has rested it is ready to be pressed into tortillas with a tortilla press (available at Bed Bath Beyond©, Williams Sonoma© or Sur le Table©) between two pieces of waxed paper. If you do not have either, you can cut the edges of a plastic bag and press dough on the counter top with a plate. They should be smaller and thicker than regular tortillas, about ¼ ″ thick and 2 ½ ″-3″ in diameter. In a deep skillet, fry them on both sides in hot oil. They will inflate as they cook. Flip over tortilla and cook other side and then drain in a colander lined with paper towels.

Ingredients For the pickled red onion:

•2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
•1/2 cup vinegar
•1/4 cup orange juice (if you can find sour oranges in your local grocery store, this is best
•salt and pepper to taste
•dices habenero chiles for those who like it hot

Preparation of Cebolla Mordada:

Place onions in a saucepan, add water to cover, bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the onions in a glass container with the remaining ingredients and allow to sit for several hours before serving. This will keep up to one week in the refrigerator. Makes about 3 cups.

Presentation:

•1 cup shredded cabbage or lettuce
•1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken, or beef/portobello
•pickled red onions (see below)
•diced tomatoes
•habanero chiles in vinaigrette or any hot salsa
•sour cream if desired