Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lobster Pizza


Lobster Pizza

A few weeks back the nice folks at LobsterAnywhere sent me some complimentary colossal lobster tails, which I turned into scrumptious Lobster Tails with Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus. With 32 years of experience, LobsterAnywhere ships high quality Main lobsters and premium seafood nationwide—to restaurants, to businesses, to you and me. The seafood I received were sent overnight, packed in dry ice, and arrived frozen solid. From first hand experience, this stuff is high quality. They are nice and fresh—none of that fishy smell at all!

Lobster Meat Bag



Along with the lobster tails, I also received a package of lobster meat. It sat in my freezer for a few weeks until this weekend when I decided to use it for pizza. If you ever want to make your lobster work for you, use it on pizza. With just a little bit, you can feed a crowd. The package I received was 16 ounces. With that, I could make two 13-inch pizzas and feed up to 8 people. And as you can see, there is plenty of lobster on the pizza to make everyone happy.

Lobster Pizza


Lobster Pizza



This pizza is my twist on the basic New England lobster roll. My husband makes awesome ones, and this is my interpretation of his sandwich in the form of a pizza. To start, the pizza dough is baked at 500 degrees F on a baking stone. If you don't have one, a metal baking pan will be fine. I used pizza dough, ready-made form my local pizza shop. But if you want to make your own dough, I included a link to one I have made in the past (it's really good) within the recipe. The pizza crust is brushed with melted butter when it comes out of the oven. It is then topped with a mayonnaise-Miracle Whip based sauce. Using both ingredients is a must. I feel that the mayo alone is too rich, so the Miracle Whip with its slight tang and sweetness balances it out beautifully. Shallot and thinly sliced celery complete the sauce as the former adds a refreshing bite and the latter provides a bit of texture and crunch. The rest of the pizza is dressed simply with shredded lettuce and finely diced tomatoes. Last, is the pièce de résistance...butter dipped lobster. Viola!! 

Lobster Pizza


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 Click To Print Recipe

Lobster Pizza:

1 dough for a 13" pizza (or try this one from my site)
1 tbsp. flour or more as needed
1 tbsp. cornflour
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
1/8 cup thinly sliced celery
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp, salt
5 tbsp. melted butter
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup dice tomato
8 oz. lobster meat, patted dry

Preheat baking stone in a 500 degrees F oven for one hour if you have time to bring baking stone up to temp. If not using a baking stone, preheat just before baking.

Spread flour on a work surface and roll out pizza dough into approximately 13" in diameter. Transfer to a large rimless baking sheet, dusted with cornmeal. Slide pizza dough onto baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until dough is golden brown. If not using a pizza stone, bake dough directly on top of the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, add mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, shallot, celery, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Blend well. In a separate bowl, drizzle 3 generous tablespoons of melted butter onto lobster meat and mix gently to combine.

Once pizza comes out of the oven, immediately brush with the remaining melted butter. Allow crust to cool slightly. Spread the mayo mixture onto crust. Add lettuce, tomatoes, and lobster. Makes 4 servings.



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Monday, February 23, 2015

Pork Fried Rice

Pork Fried Rice

Have you ever been as underwhelmed with your take-out fried rice as I have? Have you had one that may have look so tasty that you couldn't wait to dig in, but your excitement turned into disappointment when it tasted bland and did not meet your expectations? Or perhaps it had good flavor, but there was enough pork in the pork fried rice. Often times, there is too much rice and not enough of the other good stuff like bean sprouts and eggs. I have been known to add eggs to my take-out once it arrives home!

For the same price, I can make my own and feed twice as many people. The best part, I can add as much of the other good stuff as I want!                                                                                                              
Pork Fried Rice

One drawback I find with fried rice recipes is it requires cold, day-old rice because freshly made ones tend to be sticky or soggy. Sometimes I don't plan ahead and have no precooked rice on hand and don't want to wait a whole day to make it. I have found that there is a foolproof way to make rice that can be used immediately for fried rice. My secret—I boil rice in a generous amount of water, pour into a fine mesh sieve, run under cold water, and drain well. This method yields fluffy rice with a slight chew that can be substituted for cold, day-old ones. 

This fried rice is very flavorful, thanks in part to roasted red pork tenderloin. I marinade the pork in Seasoning Mix for Roasted Red Pork by Dragonfly (this stuff is good!) for at least a couple of hours and then roast. With the presence of cinnamon and star anise in the seasoning mix, the pork has a wonderful punch of flavor and gives you a taste of the Orient. If you want to plan ahead, make two tenderlions. Slice one up and freeze it, so the next time you want to make the fried rice the pork is ready to go! Just a little foresight goes a long way. 


Pork Fried Rice



My fried rice also contains another secret ingredient—molasses. I was given the idea by my neighbor who said she knew of a restaurant that uses it in their rice. It makes perfect sense...I have already been using molasses as a secret ingredient in one of my other dishes (that is another recipe for another time). The molasses adds color, and its slight sweetness balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce in the fried rice. Clever! 

This fried rice, loaded with pork and eggs, is so substantial that it could be a meal in itself. The next time you have a hankering for some, make it yourself. You will get a whole lot more than a container of bland, overpriced rice!


Pork Fried Rice




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 Click To Print Recipe

Pork Fried Rice:


1 lb. pork tenderlion 
1 pack (1 pkg. contains two 1.76 oz. packs) Dragonfly Seasoning Mix for Roast Red Pork
1/2 cup water
4 eggs 
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. vegetable or peanut oil, divided
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 tbsp. minced garlic
8 oz. (about 3 cups) bean sprouts 
1 rounded cup chopped scallion
4 cups cold cooked rice  (instructions for using uncooked below) 


To Make Pork:

Cut any silver skin off the pork. Using a small pointed knife, make numerous 1/2" deep punctures in pork to maximize absorption of marinade. Place water and pork seasoning pack in a large zip lock bag. Mix to dissolve granules. Add pork. Marinade in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove pork and discard marinade. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145-150 degrees F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut pork into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes. Set aside

To Make Rice (if not using day-old cooked rice):
Fill a medium saucepan with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 1/3 cup uncooked rice and boil for 12 to 15 minutes. You want the rice to be al dente—with a slight chew. Mine is perfect at 12 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh sieve and run under cool cold water until rice is cold. Thoroughly shake off excess water. Optional, pat dry with layers of paper towels. Set aside.

To Make Eggs:
Whisk eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Preheat a large skillet on medium. Add 2 teaspoons oil. Add eggs, cooking until the bottom is set. Turn over to cook second side. Remove from heat and chop with a spatula to break into little pieces. Remove from skillet. Set aside.

To Make Sauce: 
Whisk soy sauce, molasses, and sesame oil in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Assembling Rice:
Using the same skillet used for cooking eggs, preheat on medium. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion, ginger, and garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add pork, bean sprouts, scallion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Add rice, breaking up any lumps, then add sauce. Cook stirring frequently until hot. Makes 6 servings.



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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cacoila Sandwich (Portugese Pulled Pork)



Hi everyone! What I am sharing with you today is one of my food loves. Love! Love! Love! Cacoila was my introduction to Portuguese food. I was addicted to this delectable amalgamation of slow-roasted pork and spices the very first time I had it, mainly because it was very much like the pulled pork sandwiches I had as a child in Vietnam. This sandwich is very simple—pork and bread, but the flavor is so incredible! If you try this, you will understand why this savory, aromatic, salty, tender, juicy, slow-cooked pork ranks as one of my personal favorite dishes.





My recipe is an adaptation of one I found by Richard Methia. I have made it a couple of times before, making adjustments along the way. As with any other slow-cooked meat, the optimal cut to use for cacoila is one with a lot of marbling and fat. I use boneless pork butt as Richard recommended. One notable deviation from his recipe is the marinating process. I marinaded the pork in a dry rub overnight—the original recipe did not. Another adaption I made was lowering the oven temperature to 250 degrees F instead of the recommended 325 degrees. I find that I get tender and more consistent result cooking meat at the lower temperature.




In the past, the only time I was able to enjoy these sandwiches was when I visited my favorite Portuguese take out restaurant 90 miles away.  I would only have it a couple times a year. Now that I have very closely replicated the recipe, I will be able enjoy cacoila whenever I want! And it is so easy! I cut the pork into 1-inch cubes then let it marinade in a bag of dry spice rub overnight. The next day, the pork goes into a dutch oven along with white wine, orange juice, red wine vinegar, salt, and a bay leaf. Then it's into the oven for about 3.5 hours or until fork tender. Once done, I remove and shred the pork, skim the fat off the top of the drippings/marinade, stir the pork back in, then serve on a sub or a bulky roll. So wonderful!!


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 Click To Print Recipe

Cacoila Sandwich (Portugese Pulled Pork):

3 lbs. boneless pork butt
1 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp. thyme or oregano (either one works well)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 cup white wine (I use Casal Garcia Vinho Verde)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
6 bulky rolls or buns


Trim excess fat off pork. Don't take too much off—it is needed for flavoring. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine all of the dry spices (use only 1 1/2 tsp. salt) for the rub. Sprinkle on pork, place in a zip lock bag, and seal. Massage dry rub into pork. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Combine wine, orange juice, red wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons salt in a bowl. Place pork and spices in a dutch oven. Pour liquid into dutch oven. Tuck in a bay leaf. Cover and bake for about 3.5 hours  or until fork tender.

Remove pork from oven. Shred using forks. Skim the top layer of fat off the pork dripping/marinade. Mix shredded pork back in the dutch oven. Serve rolls or buns. Makes 6 sandwiches.



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Monday, February 16, 2015

Avocado Coconut and Lime Granita



It's a brutal winter here in New England: the days are short, the storms are frequent, the snow is incessant. This refreshing granita is something that helps me think of happier times long, long ago when the sun was bright, the air was warm, the butterflies fluttered, the trees were green, and the days were long. I think our ancestors called it.......uhmmm.....summer. Do I miss those days! They seem so long ago and so far away as I sit here in my frozen tundra, buried under 100+ inches of recently fallen snow.  

Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system, I will stop whining. Thanks for bearing with me!






Eating this granita takes me away and makes me think of warm days and fun in the sun. The icy concoction of avocado, lime, and coconut is cold and refreshing, and I can't help but conjure up images of tropical breeze, palm trees, and lazy days. Want to be there too? (And if you are already there, don't leave)! Let this fabulous granita send you on your way!



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 Click To Print Recipe

Avocado Coconut and Lime Granita:

1 avocado, peeled and seeded
2 limes, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tsp. Stevia White Powder *
2 tbsp. sugar 

Place avocado and lime juice in a food processor and puree. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Place in a shallow container large enough so that the granita is no thicker than 1/2" deep. Freeze for 3 hours. Scrape the frozen areas with a fork and moving them towards the center. Return to freezer and scrape approximately every 3 hours. If you can't scrape every 3 hours, it is okay. This granita is forgiving and you can scrape it just before serving. Granita should be ready to eat in about 10 hours (to reduce freezing time, use a larger container to reduce thickness of the granita and scrape the ice more frequently).  Makes about six 1/2-cup servings.


*Stevia White Powder is much sweeter than regular sugar, therefore is only needed in small amount. I use the NuNaturals NuStevia brand. It's my personal favorite. I get mine at Swanson Health Products because it has the best price. Neither product nor vendor is a paid endorsement. If you want to use an alternative sugar substitute, adjust quantity to suit your taste (I have not tried this recipe with any other sugar substitute). I don't recommend using all refine sugar as it requires 1/2 cup to sweeten this recipe. I found that using this amount affects the consistency and freezing point of the granita. It will not crystallize optimally and be somewhat mushy. It will also increase freezer time by at least 50%.



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Friday, February 13, 2015

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy


Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
One of my husband's favorite comfort foods is chicken fried steak, and I can see why. What's not to love about steak that is breaded, fried, and served with gravy? There was a period when we would have it once every 2-3 weeks, but times have changed and we (as in "I") are more health-conscious (my husband would eat it every week if he could). As a result, we have it once every few months. It has been a while since we last had the steak, so my husband was very happy when I made some this week.

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy



Chicken fried steak is typically made with an inexpensive cube steak which is basically round steak that has been tenderized by piercing or pounding. To bread, I apply the dry-wet-dry method using flour, egg wash, and bread crumb coating, respectively. I shallow fry mine in olive oil and a little butter. For the gravy, I whisk reserved fat dripping, flour, and milk until thick and creamy. I serve it with mashed potatoes and a veggie side. As you can see, chicken fried steak is a comforting and rib-sticking meal that not only my husband, but also the whole family enjoys.

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy



If you are looking for dinner inspiration tonight, how about some of these delectable, breaded, and fried steaks? They are going to satisfy, comfort, and hit all of the right notes! 


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 Click To Print Recipe

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy:

For the Steak:

1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1/2 tsp. onion powder, divided
1/2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 rounded cup flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 lbs. cube steak (about 6 pieces)
3 tbsp. butter
extra virgin olive oil for cooking

For the Gravy:
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper


Place bread crumbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika in a large deep dish and blend well. In a second deep dish add flour 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika in a large deep dish and blend well. In a third deep dish, whisk eggs, milk, and Worcestershire sauce.

Working one steak at a time: dip into and pat with the flour mixture, dip into egg wash, then dip into and coat with bread crumb mixture. Place, single layered, on a baking sheet. Repeat coating the remaining steaks. 

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.  Place a baking sheet equipped with a metal cooling rack in oven.

Preheat butter and 1/4-inch of oil in a large heavy-bottom skillet on medium heat. Cook steaks, 2 at a time, until crispy and golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes on each side depending on thickness). Adjust heat if steaks browns too quickly or slowly. Place on the pre-heated cooling rack and keep warm in oven. Continue cooking the remaining steaks. Keep warm in oven.

To make gravy, drain excess fat, reserving 3 tablespoons in skillet (add butter if there isn't enough). Reduce heat to medium low. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute or so, whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium to medium high, add milk, salt, and pepper, whisking constantly until gravy thickens. Remove from burner. Serve with steak.  Makes 6 servings.




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