Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mediterranean Swordfish Cioppino Recipe

Garden herbs and feisty chili peppers provide this traditional seafood stew with appetizing flavors and aromas.
Other firm textured fish, such as marlin, grouper, or shark, can be used in place of the swordfish. As with any fish, be careful of tiny bones.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 cups fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 can (14 ounces) stewed tomatoes or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound fresh swordfish steak, cubed
  • 1/2 pound sea scallops or medium shrip, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili peppers and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes over medium high heat.Add the fish stock, stewed tomatoes, wine, oregano, basil, black pepper, and salt and bring to a simmer. cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the swordfish and scallops and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls and serve at once with warm French bread.
To add a little something extra, you may add a cup or half of a cup of wine, (either color) or a splash of vodka.

Monday, March 11, 2013

New Mexico Chili Stew. Soup with Peppers

New Mexico Chilies are to the Southwest kitchen what garlic is to the Italian Kitchen. Both fresh and dried chilies are used to invigorate soups, and add life and kick.
This is an especially good stew to prepare if you are serving vegetarians.


Cook Time

Prep time:
Cook time:
Ready in:
Yields: 8 servings


  • 2 or 3 dried New Mexico chilies
  • 1 cup simmering water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste


  1. Heat an un-greased skillet and ad the chilies. Cook over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Shake the pan and occasionally turn the chilies. Remove from the heat and cover the chilies wit the simmering water. Soak for 15-20 minutes. Place a lid or plate over the chilies to keep them from floating. Put the chilies and 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until pureed, about 5 seconds. Scrape the chilies into a small bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil.Add the onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes over medium heat. Stir in the pureed chilies, stewed tomatoes, water, potato, corn, parsley, oregano, cumin, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes more. Let the stew stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls and serve at once.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup Recipe--Corn Chowder

A sizzling bowl of the southwest.
Paprika, oregano,, and cumin imbue this chowder with appealing flavors and aromas. The mighty jalapenos provide a nice kick.
For slightly different chowder, replace the sweet potato with an exotic potato. Try Yukon Gold potatoes. blue potatoes or fingerlings.


Cook Time

Prep time:
Cook time:
Ready in:
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 5 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15oz) corn kernels, drained
  • 1 cup light cream or milk
  • 3 or 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and jalapeno peppers and cook stirring, for about 6 minutes over a medium-high heat. Add the water, sweet potato, oregano, paprika, cumin, black pepper, salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and cook until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes more stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the cream, scallions and optional cilantro and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. To thicken, ladle about 2 cups of the soup into a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree until smooth, about 5 seconds. Return the pureed soup to the pan. Ladle the chowder into bowls and serve at once with warm homemade corn bread.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cooking With Eggs, Separating, and Folding


Eggs are a great source of protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways to suit just about any taste.

Personally, I am do not like eggs, but I make sure to eat them as often as I can because they are such a perfect food, and one of the absolute best sources of protein. I have learned to prepare eggs in a way that makes them appealing to those who do not like the flavor of plain eggs. Usually, when people find the taste or smell of eggs offensive, it is when they are hard boiled, or cooked solid. My European family did not cook eggs as hard as Americans do, and I discovered that when eggs are soft boiled, or over easy, the taste is milder, and a lot more pleasing to my taste. Before we go much further with recipes, now would be a great time to make sure you can separate an egg, beat egg whites to a fluffy merengue, and folding egg whites for gourmet dishes, as these are skills you must master to truly feel competent with many recipes that require these protein packed goodies.
If you are a beginning cook, eggs are a great food to develop a solid cooking foundation, especially if your family loves breakfast.

Separating An Egg

Many recipies require separated egg whites and yolks, and this immediately turns people off. Separateing an egg is not difficult. The yolk tends to stick together and the white naturally goes its own way, just follow these simple steps.

  • hold the egg in one hand above two bowls.
  • Crack the shall on the side of one of the bowls lightly.
  • Pry open the eggshell with both thumbs avoiding any excess pressure, lest you puncture through the shell with your thumbs.
  • When all the white is in the bowl, carefully transfer the yolk to the other bowl

Beating Egg Whites

Beaten egg whites make souffles rise.
Before beating egg whites, make sure that your mixing bowl and beaters are clean and dry. Even a speck of oil, or egg yolk can prevent the whites from fluffing up stiffly. Make sure you have only the whites, and beat them slowly until foamy; then increase the beating speed to incorporate as much air as possible until the whites form smooth shiny peaks. If you are making a souffle, you should start beating in the sugar at this point. (After the whites form peaks.)
Avoid using plastic bowls when beating whites. Fat and grease adhere to plastic which can diminish the volume of beaten whites, while a glass bowl tends to support the shape of fluffy egg whites by remaining cool and dry.
If you over beat the eggs so that they lose their shine and start to look dry and grainy, add another egg white and beat briefly to reconstitute.

Folding Egg Whites

To fold egg whites into a batter, a souffle base, or any other mixture;
  • being by stirring about one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture. This is a way of lightening the batter.
  • Then pile the remaining egg whites on top. use a large rubber spatula to cut down through the center of the mixture, going all the way to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Pull the spatula toward you, and flip the yolk mixture up over the whites. Repeat this plunging, scooping motion at least 10 times, until the whites and yolk mixture are combined. Do not to over blend, or the beaten whites will deflate.

How to Enjoy Eggs When You Can't Stand them

As I mentioned earlier, I much prefer the less pungent soft eggs than I do scrambled or hard boiled, but I still do not particularly enjoy them plain. I have come up with a list of tasty ingredients that I have added to eggs, and found myself going back for more.
  • Chorizo, A fresh sausage made from chopped pork and fat, and seasoned. It is usually considered picante (hot) or dulce (sweet). This is your personal preference. I like spicy sausage, and a good kick is perfect for drowning out the flavor of eggs.
  • Sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese
  • fresh basil
  • dill and chopped tomatoes
  • capers and carmamelized onions

Blood Spots in the Yolk

Sometimes blood spots appear in the yolk, as a child I thought that it meant the egg had been fertilized, however, the blood spots are actually just a ruptured blood vessel on the surface of the yolk and do not affect the flavor, and are perfectly safe to eat.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Make French White Sauce- Bèchamel Sauce

 Traditional white sauces are based on either bèchamel sauce or veloutè sauce. A bèchamel is essentially milk that has been thickened with roux and veloutè is white broth- made from veal, chicken or fish- that has been thickend with roux. All of the classic French wihte sauces are made by adding various ingredients to one or the other of these two "mother" sauces. Modern white sauces, made without flour, are based on white veal stock that is reduced and given body with cream (which is usually reduced) and /or egg yolks (coked gently, like a crème anglaise; or butter.

For centuries, bèchamel sauce (pronounced besh-ah-mel) has been the mortar that supports the house of French cuisine. With its buttery, faintly nutty flavor, bèchamel is also the base of hot soufflès and such homey dishes as macaroni and cheese and pot pies. You can modify bèchamel in many ways to suit the dish it garnishes. For example, if you're cooking fish, you can add fish stock to the sauce. If you are cooking poultry, you can add chicken stock. 

Bèchamel may be most recognized by most as the sauce used in a Croque Monsieur. One of my personal favorite simple French dishes.

There are many variations on bèchamel and I will provide a simple, uncomplicated, yet authentic version here.


Bèchamel and its variations go with all kinds of foods, including poached and grilled fish, chicken, veal, and vegetables like pearl onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. The thickness of bèchamel varies from dish to dish.

Tools- Small saucepan, medium saucepan, wire whisk

Preparation time:  About 5 minutes

Cooking time: Approximately 8 minutes

Yield: 1 cup, or 8 servings


1 1/4 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the milk over medium heat in a small saucepan until almost boiling. (If the milk is hot when you add it to the butter and flour, there is less chance that the bèchamel will be lumpy.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat (don't let it darken or burn). Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. (Your're cooking the loose paste, or roux, made from the butter and flour.) The roux should reach a thick paste consistency.
  3. Gradually add the hot milk while continuing to whisk the mixture vigorously. When the sauce is blended smooth, reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, whisking frequently. The bèchamel should have the consistency of a very thick sauce. Remove from heat, add the nutmeg and the salt and pepper to tasts, and whisk well.
Tip: If the butter burns or even gets brown, you should probably start over, or your white sauce will have a brown tint.

Vary It! /whipping up some creamed spinach (or creamed vegetables in general) is a good way to try out your bèchamel making skills. Just add bèchamel to cooked spinach or other cooked vegetables, such as corn, peas, or sliced carrots.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicken and mushroom Pie

Use a mixture of dried and fresh mushrooms for this pie.

Serves 6

1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup chicken stock, warmed

1/4 cup whipping cream or milk

1 onion, coarsley chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, quartered

3 cups cooked chicken meat, cubed

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

salt and black pepper

beaten egg, for glazing

For the crust

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup crisco or vegetable shortning

4-8 tablespoons icewater

  1. To make the crust, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.Sprinkle with 6 tablespoons ice water and mix until dough holds together.
  2. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in waxed paper and chill at least 30 minutes. 
  3. Place the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Add hot water to cover and soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Lift out of the water with a slotted spoon, to leave any grit behind, and drain. Discard the soaking water. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 375
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook until bubbling whisking constantly. Add the warm stock and cook over medium heat, whisking, until the mixture boils. Cook 2-3 minutes more. Whisk in the cream or milk. season with salt and pepper. Put to one side.
  6. Heat the remaining butter in a large nonstick frying pan until foamy. Ass the onion and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and fresh mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the chicken, peas, and drained porcini mushrooms.
  7. Add the chicken mixture to the sauce and stir. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a rectangular 10 cup baking dish. 
  8. Roll out th dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out a rectangle about 1 inch larger all around than the dish. Lay the rectangle of dough over the filling. Make a decorative crimped edge by pushing the index finger of one hand between the thumb and index finger of the other.
  9. cut several vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush with the egg to glaze.
  10. Press together the dough trimmings, then roll out again. cut into strips and lay them over the top crust. Glaze again. If desired, roll small balls of dough and set them in the "windows" in the lattice.
  11. Bake until th top crust is browned, about 30 minutes. Serve the pie hot.

Chili Chicken

Serve as simple supper dish wit boiled potatoes and broccoli, or as a party dish with rice.

Serves 4

12 chicken thighs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon ground chilies or 1 dried red chili, chopped

14 ounce can chopped tomatoes, with their juice

1 teaspoon sugar

15 ounce can kidney beans, drained

salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the chicken into large cubes, removing all skin and bone. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and keep warm.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and cook gently until soft. Stir in the ground chilies or chopped dried chili and cook for  2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, seasoning and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  3. Replace the chicken pieces, cover the casserole and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
  4. Add the kidney beans and gently cook for another 5 minutes to heat them through before serving.