Thursday, February 27, 2014

Potato Tortilla (Spanish Style)

Potato Tortilla (Spanish Style)
(6 slices)


1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Potatoes (your choice), thinly sliced
1 medium Yellow Onion, medium dice
6 large Fresh Eggs
½ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 (14 oz.) jar Diced Pimiento, drained


Using a 10 inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Be sure to coat the entire pan with the oil. In a large bowl combine the potato and onion before transferring the mixture into the skillet. Using a spatula, gently spread and press mixture to an even layer. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Reusing the large bowl, beat eggs lightly and then add the cheese and pimiento. Mix well before pouring over the potato mixture. Do not mix or stir the contents of the skillet. Just place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until tortilla mixture is set. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into 6 pie like wedges. Serve straight from the skillet.

Note: You could substitute hash browns for the sliced potatoes. Just be sure to thaw, if frozen, and squeeze out any moisture before mixing with the onions. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Albert's Egg Casserole

Albert's Egg Casseroles
(8-12 servings)


1 doz. Fresh Eggs
1 lb. Shredded Colby-Jack Cheese
2 cups Cottage Cheese (small curd)
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted


Lightly beat eggs in a large mixing bowl and then add each additional ingredient, one at a time while continuing to mix. Pour into a buttered or sprayed 9x13 casserole dish. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Let sit for 10- to 15 minutes before serving. You can cut into portions or just use a spoon to dish up.

Note: You will notice that there is no salt or pepper used in this dish. Let each guest add their own as they see fit.  You could add a little hot sauce if you want to kick it up a little.

Note: If you use a cheese like Monterey Jack, Provolone or Swiss (all white cheese) you'll get an all white look to casserole. Pepper-Jack cheese would give you a little spice too.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Egg Casseroles

It seems everyone loves "Breakfast Casseroles" and that something like 90% of them call for eggs as a main ingredient.  So hence my blog today on "Egg Casseroles" along with a couple of recipes requiring eggs in the dish.

Two other main ingredients in most of this type of casserole is meat and bread of some type.  A majority probably use both ingredients but there are some that will use one or the other with the eggs.  It kind of goes along with the individual that is making the casserole as to what they like in their's as to the type of meat or bread used.

The meat is easy to understand, it just meets the needs of those who like to eat meat.  The bread on the other hand is really just a filler.  It helps give mass to the casserole and helps in it setting up so it's not runny.  It helps give the casserole some form for serving at meal-time.

The meat does cause a problem for those who are vegetarians.  Most vegetarians will eat dairy products.  So the eggs and milk (no matter the type) don't come into play.

Of course, none of this helps the person following the vegan way of eating.  They don't consume diary products or eggs.  So most breakfast casseroles don't meet their eating needs.  Sorry Stephanie, I can't help you with these recipes.  Although I believe there are some vegan substitutes that may help.  I'm just not familiar with vegan products enough to help.

The two recipes that I'm posting on Wednesday and Thursday this week are a little different.  Neither one of the recipes call for any type of meat (good the the vegetarians) or bread.

The "Albert's Egg Casserole" uses eggs, milk, cheese and a little flour to get it to set up just right.  Depending on the cheese used, the casserole can have a subtle difference in color.  It will also change the flavor or taste of the casserole.  Each is a good thing and really just subject to your tastes.

As with the "Potato Tortilla (Spanish Style)" the eggs are what helps bind the potatoes in this dish.

Both recipes are easy to make.  If you don't have a cast-iron skillet for the second dish, you just need an oven-proof pan or dish.  It does need to be able to handle heat on the stove top too.

For those of you that like a little heat or spice in your dish, feel free to add peppers or hot sauce to the recipe.  If adding a solid for heat in a dish, add with the solid ingredients.  If using a liquid (hot sauce) in the dish, then add with the liquid mixture.  Neither will be enough to change the texture of the dish.

Well, enjoy these recipes and other egg casserole dishes too.  Until next week, "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oaxacan Style Refried Beans

Oaxacan Style Refried Beans
(8-10 servings)


1 lb. Dry Black Beans, soaked overnight
as needed Chicken Broth
1 tsp. Mexican Oregano,crushed (see note)
2 tbsp. Dried Avocado Leaves, crushed (see note)
2 tsp. Dried Arbol Chili, ground (see note)

1/3 cup Pork Lard (see note)
½ large White Onion, small dice
2 cloves Fresh Garlic minced
1 or 2 Serrano Chili, seeded & diced small (see note)


Drain and rinse soaked beans then add to a large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken broth to cover by 1 inch, oregano, avocado leaves and Arbol chili. Cook with lid ajar until beans are tender stirring as needed (2 to 3 hours). The liquid will be almost gone. Set aside while you start cooking the other ingredients. In a large saute pan melt the lard over medium heat. When completely melted, add the onion, garlic and serrano chili. Once the onions are soft but not darkened, add the bean mixture and fry it until you get the consistency of refried beans.

Note: The Mexican Oregano, Dried Avocado Leaves and Arbol Chili are found at Mexican Grocery Stores. Although you might find them at large grocery chains that have extended ethnic food aisles because of population in area or the demand from customers.

Note: If you can't find or don't want to use pork lard (Morrell's Snow Cap Lard), Crisco will work for you.

Note: Depending on your personal heat index, you might want to use Jalapeno peppers because they have a little less heat than do the Serrano peppers. If you like the heat, leave the seeds in and/or use more peppers.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Salpicon (Beef)

Salpicon (Beef)
(9-12 servings – 2 per person)


2-2 ½ lb. Boneless Beef Rump Roast
as needed Water
1 large White Onion, rough chop
3 cloves Fresh Garlic, mashed
4 tsp. Dry Mexican Oregano
2 medium Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, cut in half

½ cup Fresh Red Onion, thin sliced (top to bottom)
¾ cup Fresh Tomatoes, seeded & sliced in thin strips (top to bottom)
2 Fresh Avocado, thinly sliced (top to bottom)
½ bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 medium Fresh Lime, juiced
to taste, salt & Black Pepper

18-24 Corn, Flour Tortillas or Tostadas (or combination)


Place the roast in a slow cooker and surround it with the onion, garlic, oregano and peppers. Pour the water along the side about half way up the meat. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until tender and almost falling apart. Remove from slow cooker and place on a cutting board to cool. Cover with foil and let sit until cool enough to handle with your hands. Use 2 forks to shred the beef and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix carefully. Move to a serving platter and enjoy on corn or flour tortillas or tostadas.

Note: You could do this in a Dutch oven in a 300 degree oven for about 5 hours or until tender and almost falling apart. Then continue directions above.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Part 1 of Mexican Cooking (The Chef)

I am going to do a series of blogs and recipes on "Mexican Cooking".  Similar to the one I did on "Italian Cooking".  My goal is to try and cover authentic Mexican food from Mexico, Tex-Mex/Southwest food and other "Americanizing" of Mexican food throughout the series.  The series will run about every three to four weeks until it is finished.  I'm not sure, at this time, how long the series will run.  My guess is around a year.  The Italian one had 12 different blogs plus recipes and this one should be in the same area for blogs.

I hope you will enjoy and learn from this series on Mexican food.  Please send me questions or concerns that you may have on this topic.  I would be happy to cover them in the series.  Either just comment on one of the blogs or those that have my e-mail address, send them there.  Thank you in advance for your help.

In January, I went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and talked with my friend, Saul Garcia Ramos.  Saul is the Executive Chef at the "Villa del Arco" in Cabo.  We talked about Mexican food and cooking.  Saul gave me several Mexican recipes from different regions of Mexico.  Mexico (and really any country) has different regional influences on their food just as we here in the USA have our regional differences.
Chef Saul Garcia Ramos and myself

A quick background of Saul culinary experience.  Saul's grandmothers got him into cooking at an early age and influenced his decision to go on to professional training.  He studied at the famous cooking school in Mexico, ICUM.  Upon finishing there, he headed to Spain to get his masters at EUHT in Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona.  Then he was off to London, England where he picked up his knowledge of Asian cooking from Chef Jude Kereama ( a New Zealander).  From there, Saul, went to Sydney, Australia.  Here he worked with Danserau Celebrity Chef Serge where he picked up more skills in Fine Dining.  He then returned to London before to the Americas.

He traveled to Argentina, met and worked with Chef Guillermo J. Gomez.  Chef Gomez is still one of Saul's main mentors.  Returning to Mexico, Saul worked in the Riviera Maya area for several years including a year of teaching.  He has now been at Villa del Arco for over two years.  I first met Saul there just shortly after he started and have been communicating back and forth ever since.  During the time between our first meeting and last month, the food, plate presentation and table-service has improved greatly.

Saul and his staff exceed one's expectations and make you wish for a return stay quickly.  I'm very glad to be able to call them friends and have some help with cooking series.

Saul was raised in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and so I start the "Mexican Cooking" series there with two dishes from the region.  The first is "Salpicon" and it is a beef dish that is served on totopos or tostadas.  Totopos are baked corn chips (flat, round or triangular) originating in the Oaxaca region.  You could use soft tortillas too (popular in the USA).  The second recipe this week will be for "Oaxacan Style Refried Beans" and this calls for black beans.

Again, I hope you enjoy this series and ask questions or give comments as it goes along.  Until next week, "Happy Cooking" and be sure to try these recipes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fried Rice (with or without a protein)

Fried Rice (with or without a protein)
(8-12 servings)


1 tbsp. Peanut Oil
2 large Fresh Eggs, beaten lightly
3 tbsp. Peanut Oil
6 cups Cold Cooked Rice (see note)
2 cups Cooked Protein, diced (chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or combination)
2 tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. Heavy Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. Sherry
1 tbsp. Brown Bean Sauce
3 Scallions, sliced
1 tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced or grated
2 tbsp. Peanut Oil
3 Scallions, sliced (garnish)


Heat oil in wok, wok type pan or large saute pan over medium-high. Add small ladleful of beaten eggs at a time to make thin coat in pan. Should take about 3 times to cook all of the eggs. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, sliver into thin shreds. Back to the pan you are using. Add the 3 tbsp. oil to pan over high heat. When hot add the rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Next add protein (if using) and stir-fry another minute. Now add the soy sauces, sherry and bean sauce as you stir-fry one more minute. The eggs get added back now and stir-fry for about 15 seconds. Mix in the scallions and ginger stir-frying another 15 seconds. Heat the remaining oil in a separate pan until smoking. Then add to rice mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour the fried rice mixture into a large serving dish and sprinkle with the scallions set aside for the garnish and serve.

Note: Because the cold cooked rice may be sticking together, we need to separate it. To do this add 2 tbsp. Of cold water to the rice and using a fork or chop sticks fluff carefully. Wet hands work too.

Note: You can use canola oil in place of peanut oil. That way you don't have to buy another type of oil for your cooking. If you do deep frying, it is probably best to have peanut oil too in your pantry.

Note: You will note that many fried rices you see from restaurants will also have diced carrots and peas in them. It is mainly done for color and a little filler (helps keep cost down). You can do that here too if you desire. I'd add about a cup total of these two ingredients.

Note: For vegetarians, you could use Tofu instead of the protein options above. Vegans could also skip the egg to make their dish. Mushrooms would be a nice substitute too for the protein.

Note: Recipe can be cut in half to help those not needing so much product.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon
(16-20 pieces)


1 (6 oz.) can Crab Meat
6 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
½ tbsp. Fresh Garlic, minced
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp. Salt
1 dash White Pepper
16-20 Wonton Skins
1 large Fresh Egg, beaten
Canola Oil for Deep Frying


Pick over crab meat for any shell pieces and set aside. In the food processor, combine the cheese, garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper by pulsing several times. Scrape sides and add the crab meat. Pulse a few more times to combine but not over mix. Place about ½ teaspoon of mixture in center of wonton skin, fold over and seal edges with egg. Be sure to get as much air out as possible as you seal. Deep fry in hot oil (350 to 375 degrees) until golden brown and crispy. Place fried rangoons on paper towels to absorb extra oil before serving. Best with a sweet & sour sauce for dipping.

Note: You can also use the more traditional shape without using the egg to seal. Here you just bring up the centers of each side and pinch together. Using this shape, you should refrigerate at least one hour before frying. This helps them hold shape and not lose filling.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chinese New Year - Year of the Horse

The "Chinese New Year" was on January 31, 2014 and it is the "Year of the Horse."  I'm late as it is the 11th of February.  But the "Year of the Horse" is a whole calendar year and we can celebrate it throughout.

In the USA, Chinese food is one of the 3 most eaten ethnic foods.  Mexican and Italian are the other two. Just like the Mexican and Italian food, Chinese food has been Americanized.  Yes, you can find authentic food of all 3 in the USA, but it is not the norm.

In fact, one of the most popular dishes eaten in the USA is "Crab Rangoon."  I'd say 90% of all Chinese Restaurants in the USA offer this dish.  It is not of Chinese origin.  It has several claims to where it came from but no one knows for sure.

The Chinese do not have "Cream Cheese" in their ingredient pool.  One of the claims comes from Burma (from when they were under English rule) and the English don't have that ingredient in their pool either.  The other claim comes from the restaurant chain, "Trader Vic's" from around 1956 in San Francisco.   It really doesn't matter where it came from, just that it is loved by so many.

I have included a recipe for "Crab Rangoon" this week and it will be on the blog tomorrow.  In fact, it is just in time too.  February 13th (Thursday) is "National Crab Rangoon Day" in the USA.  For those of you from around the world that read my blog, if you haven't tried it - you need to have one or two.  It's very hard to only eat one.  If you don't have access to cream cheese, try Neufchatel, Mascarpone or Boursin cheeses.

Also, "Crab Rangoon" is know by other names in the USA.  A few are "Crab Puffs", "Crab Pillows" and "Crab Cheese Wontons."

The second recipe this week is for "Fried Rice" and is extremely versatile.  It's a great source for using up some leftover foods. First item is rice.  Anytime you cook rice, you always want to cook more than you need rather than less or right at the required amount.  So using leftover rice saves you the step of cooking more rice.  Leftover proteins are great too.  Cooked chicken, pork or beef can be diced up for the fried rice.  The same holds true for leftover vegetables.  The recipe I'm giving you this week is one that can easily be changed to adapt to ingredients on hand.  In fact, the fried rice doesn't have to be the entree.  It could be used as a side dish to go with something you've already planned for a meal.

Actually the same can be said for any "Stir-fries" you make.  There is the recipe to follow and then when needed, leftovers to use up.  It changes up that item too from it's original style of dish you made.

Well, enjoy the "Year of the Horse" and trying Chinese food from time to time.  "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Flourless Chocolate Torte

Flourless Chocolate Torte
(8 servings)


2 (8 oz.) packages Semi-sweet Chocolate Squares, chopped
½ cup Unsalted Butter
5 large Fresh Eggs, separated
1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ cup Sugar
as needed Unsweetened Cocoa


Grease a 9 inch spring-form pan, and dust with unsweetened cocoa and set aside. Melt chopped chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Whisk together egg yolks and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar continuing to beat until sugar has dissolved and stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture. Then gently fold in remaining egg white mixture until just blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand in pan on wire rack 10 minutes before removing sides of pan. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting and serving.

Note: Top with some fresh raspberries and whipped cream to really finish it off.

Note: Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to make each cut. Clean knife blade after each cut.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Death by (Favorite) Chocolate Cake

Death by (Favorite) Chocolate Cake
(12-16 servings)


1 (18 oz.) packaged Chocolate Cake Mix
as needed other ingredients to follow cake mix instructions
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (8 oz.) can Caramel Topping
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
1-2 regular sized Heath Candy Bar, crushed


Make the cake mix according to box instructions in a 9x13 baking dish. While cake is still hot in pan, poke holes with a long fork all over. Pour the condensed milk over all of the cake. Now let cake cool. Once cooled, pour caramel topping all over cake. Then spread cool whip over all to cover. Sprinkle cake top with the crushed Heath candy bars. Cut into desired pieces and serve.

Note: You can make this cake in a bundt pan too. Remove cake while still hot to a large platter. Then continue as instructed above.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some Kind of Chocolate for Valentine's Day.

When you hear the words "Valentine's Day" one of the first things you think of is, it's about two people sharing a very special connection together.  My wife and I do.  But I also share special connections to my mother, my children and, of course, my granddaughter (blog assistant).  Each is unique in their own way and you recognize them in different special ways.  It may be just a valentine's card.  For some it may be flowers (roses are number one this time of year).  Others, it might be a special dinner or meal (restaurant or at home).  Still others may receive candy (and most of this is in the form of chocolate) for this special day.

There it is.  Cards, flowers and chocolate are the most expected item for women.  For men, not too many receive the flowers.  But they do enjoy the cards and chocolate.

Now I write a food blog.  So the cards and flowers don't have much to offer here.  But the word "Chocolate" sounds very good.  I'm not talking candy but desserts.  After all this is about cooking and desserts definitely fall into that category.

Making a nice intimate dinner for two and ending with some sinful chocolate couldn't get better.  It doesn't matter if it's the man or woman doing the cooking (more fun if both do it together).

I don't know anyone who does not like chocolate in one form or another.  So this week's recipes are for two chocolate desserts.  Both are not difficult to make but take a little time.  And one of the best things about them is you get to enjoy it with someone special.

The first dessert (for Wednesday) is "Death by (Favorite) Chocolate Cake" and you will think you died and went to heaven.  But the nice part is you didn't and there is always seconds.  On Thursday, the recipe is for a "Flourless Chocolate Torte" and that means no flour but more chocolate.

Both of these recipes are not for the faint of heart.  They are rich and indulgent but worth every bite.  Even though I'm showcasing them for Valentine's Day, you can enjoy them year round for any occasion.  So give one or both a try.  Just don't check the scale for a few days (or weeks) after having some.

If you are going to make that special meal for Valentine's Day, the recipe tabs have plenty of ideas for you on any or all courses of your meal.  Here are a few that I'll suggest.  The Berry Soup (Cold) (V) or Cucumber Soup (Hot or Cold) (V) for more classy soups.  For salads try Fennel & Orange Salad (V) or Spinach with Apple & Red Onion (V).  A couple of entrees include Baked Salmon with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pesto or Grilled Ribeyes with Mushroom Topping.  For non chocolate desserts try Easy Cheesecake Recipe (V) or Mandarin Orange Cake (V).

For those of you that have my cookbook (or want to order it) try looking at these recipes.  Again for soup try the "Baked French Onion" or "Cream of Broccoli."  Salads to try are "Bleu Cheese" or "Ruby Red Grapefruit."  A couple of entrees are the "Pasta & Shrimp" or "Italian Baked Chicken."  The dessert suggestions include one chocolate "Crazy Chocolate Cake" and a non-chocolate one of "Cherry Delight."

I hope this will help you with your Valentine's Day decisions.  May I wish everyone a happy "Valentine's Day" and my standard "Happy Cooking" until next week.