Mussels Marinara

Mussels Marinara

Mussels Marinara

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Serve Mushrooms
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Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

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Tortilla Chips

Nothing beat homemade tortilla chips and they only take about 10 minutes to cook.

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Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce
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Cooking Pasta

I recently started watching the cooking shows and it seems most want you to salt your water to taste like the sea; stating if you water tastes like nothing, your pasta will taste like nothing. I’m sure you don’t have to be from Long Island to know that when you get a mouthful of sea water you spit it out. So, I don’t want my pasta to taste like something I will spit out.
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Long Island Cheese Steak

This is a variation of the classic Philly cheese steak. On Long Island, where one-quarter of the population is of Italian ancestry, this dish is sometimes known as the the Italian Stallion.

Steak Sandwich
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Taking suggestions

Here’s a list of things I’m already planning to blog about in no particular order.
You can reply with the items you want to see or add to the list.

Leek and Potato Soup
Artichoke Hearts Casino
Fire Shrooms
NYC Street Cart Chicken (Gyro Chicken?)
Chicken Paprikash
Caribbean Jerk Chicken
Carne Asada
Cuban Chicken
Banana Sole
Long Island Steak Sandwich
Shrimp w/ tomato basil saffron
Roasted Vegetable Salad
Caesar Salad
Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Fresh Mint and Walnuts
Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Tarragon Cream sauce
Salmon with Buerre Blanc or Simple Mustard Mayonnaise
Carrot Ginger Soup
Green Goddess

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Restaurant Style Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wings with Celery and Blues Cheese Dressing
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Holiday Pot Roast Recipe

Here’s what you need to make a 4-6 pound beef brisket or pot roast:

Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables, String Beans and Potato Latkes

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Chili Cook-off: How to make crowd-pleasing chili


John I decided to enter the local Maryland chili competition, Mason-Dixon Chili Pod / CASI, which is part of the CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International). It was a worthy cause as well a challenge, as all proceeds were donated to charity.
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Chili Powder Recipe: Cumin along!

Chili powder is basically Roasted dried peppers, cumin, garlic and oregano. I also use it for Carne Asada and salsa.

Recipe:I use whole cumin seeds and toast them a little in a pan, then grind them. I used a dedicated burr or blade-type coffee grinder at home, but employ a mortar and pestle when in competition.

2tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oregano

Actually I start with that and adjust to taste. Stay tuned for more specifics on how much exactly to add. I am experimenting with using a lot less cumin in the base powder and adding fresh ground towards the last half hour to give it that magical taste and avoid the bitterness.

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What is paprika? The The Free defines it thusly:[Hungarian, from Serbian, from papar, ground pepper, from Slavic *pipr, from Latin piper; see pepper. (For more information see

Uses and Types

I use it for Chili powder, Carne Asada, Salsa, Caribbean Jerk and Chicken Paprikash. It comes in these types:

Hungarian: sweet, hot, and smoked.
Spanish: sweet, hot and smoked.
Fancy: Used in restaurants for color.

Unfortunately, a trend in low-grade restaurants is to sprinkle it on the rim of the plate along with parsley. This is a sure sign you should eat elsewhere. They probably also have a three-foot pepper mill.

Here’s a good pepper guide if you’re new to peppers.

Homemade for chili:

Common peppers used are: New Mexican, ancho, cascabel, arbol, cayenne and chipotles if you can find them. Equal parts except for the cayenne. You can always add cayenne powder or fresh hot peppers later and leave this powder somewhat mild.

My latest mix has been 3 anchos and 3 new Mexicans.
Buy them dried, make sure they still have a bit of moisture, if they crumble when touched they’re too dry.

Cut them and remove the stem and seeds, heat them in the oven in 5 minutes at 300 degrees. Let them cool a few minutes and then grind them in a blender or coffee grinder used just for spices. The closer to cooking time you grind them the better the taste.

If you store it in freezer don’t forget it when going to a competition!

Posted in Basics, Chili | 2 Comments

Turkey Dressing: Think outside the bird!

When it comes to turkey dressing, it pays to think outside box–and that means cooking the dressing outside of the bird.

In the restaurant business, we usually cook the stuffing separate from the turkey. Some people may call that sacrilege, but to a chef it makes more sense for reasons of taste and timing:

1. It allows heat to enter the cavity to cook the breast meat from inside and out. When you put all that cold soggy bread inside a turkey, you need to cook it through so by the time the heat gets to the center the breast is dry. Instead, I loosely pack large pieces of carrots onions and celery inside the cavity for moisture, flavor and circulation. I imagine heating the stuffing first would help cook the bird, but I have never seen anyone do that. I then cook my stuffing on the stove and then pop it in the oven to heat it for serving.

2. You’ll get your turkey into the oven more quickly on Thanksgiving morning as you can start preparing the stuffing a day in advance.


1 large or 2 small loaves of bread. I use live breadcrumbs rather than stale bread you have to soak. Pick a type that most people will like but will not take over the flavor of the stuffing–for example, I love rye bread but would never use it for stuffing or croutons.
1 large onion
4 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of olive oil (or fat of your choosing)
1 cup broken walnuts, pine nuts or chestnuts
2 tbsp rubbed sage
2 tsp thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cranberry sauce (optional)
1 cup turkey gravy or pan juice (you can substitute chicken stock or chicken and beef stock if you don’t want to share the pan drippings)

Preparing turkey stuffing:

1. Feed the bread into the food processor a few slices at a time until you have enough. One large or two small loaves should suffice. I use the equivalent of one large white loaf for about 14 people; add more if you’re hosting a larger horde of guests. You can do this ahead of time and cover it.

2. Chop one large onion and four stalks of celery; add grated carrots and/or mushrooms for variety. Cook in the turkey fat if you wait to the end, otherwise use olive oil, butter or bacon fat. If you want to add sausage, you can use the rendered fat.

3. Then sauté the vegetables. I like to add nuts when the vegetables are soft. I am known to use walnuts, pine nuts and chestnuts, depending on price and mood. Walnuts I break up with a rolling pin or bottom of a heavy pan and then chop a little more with a knife. You can save money and buy the broken ones if you are shopping for them. One year I bought a bag of chestnuts and roasted them for hors d’œuvre. I then peeled and chopped a dozen and added them to the stuffing so the little crunches add a nice texture.

4. At this point, also add thyme, rubbed sage, salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs to the pot or this mixture to a larger pot or bowl with the breadcrumbs for mixing. Mix well. My wife always makes fresh cranberry sauce so I always throw a spoonful or two in to give the stuffing a hint of cranberry without sweetening it too much.

5. Put the stuffing mix aside and wait for the gravy. If you do it a day or two ahead, take it out of the refrigerator an hour before the turkey’s coming out of the oven to get it room temperature.
When the turkeys is out and resting, you will use the pan drippings for the gravy. You can use the finished gravy or just a nice ladle or two of the turkey juice to add to the stuffing to moisten it. It still won’t be soggy like you’re used to so don’t waste all the gravy trying to achieve that.

6. Put it in a pan, cover it and put it in that hot oven while you get everything else ready. It does not need to cook; it just needs to be warmed for serving.

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