Blog Archive

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Recipe Formula: Stuffed With Variety

A recipe is only one piece of the puzzle.

At my chef's station I have an opportunity to travel down a variety of culinary paths in any one day. A simple spaghettini drizzled with white truffle oil becomes haute couture stepping out in the local mall. Dusting down shrimp with a mix of spices reminiscent of the Middle East brings to mind fishing boats in the Mediterranean hauling their nets full of catch of the day. Food can be as exciting as all of this and more, it doesn't have to be drudgery or boring simply because our bodies need to be nourished daily.

Let's begin with some fresh portobello mushrooms, picking out the large and plump ones. Mushrooms have a wonderful aroma and a woodsy taste, portobellos can become bowls for all sorts of fillings, eaten hot or cold on their own or as a side to any main dish. This first recipe has the portobellos stuffed with an eggplant spread the Eastern Europeans call an IKRA. Jokingly Eastern Europeans call the Ikra a poor man's caviar though the taste is no joke.

Ikra and Portobellos

6 large portobello mushrooms
1 bunch green onion
2 large tomatoes
1 whole eggplant
salt and pepper to taste

Using a teaspoon slowly remove much of the inner flesh of the mushrooms avoiding the temptation to scrape too hard and break the mushroom.
Set mushrooms aside with the scraped flesh.
Peel and cut eggplant into small pieces and begin to cook in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil,
the eggplant absorbs the oil and you may need to add more to avoid sticking and burning.
Add chopped green onion and tomato to the eggplant and continue to cook
till eggplant is well cooked.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add half of the scraped flesh of the mushroom to the eggplant mixture and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, till everything is combined.
Taking a potato masher work the mixture to create a smooth spread.
(Do not use a food processor as it will create a paste, which is not the goal of the IKRA)
Fill mushrooms with the slightly cooled eggplant mix and place in the middle of the oven under the broiler.
Cook 10-15 minutes or until mushrooms show a softening
and avoid a burn on the top of the eggplant.

(Serves 4-6)

Stuffed Portobellos with Shrimp

6 large portobellos
1 lb of shrimp, frozen or fresh if you like
1 bunch green onions
1 container zima orange cherry tomato
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp raspberry wine vinegar (Taste of Spain)

Taking a teaspoon remove gently most of the flesh of the mushrooms being careful not to break the walls of the mushroom.
Put both the mushrooms and flesh aside.
Thaw out shrimp and cook over a medium to high heat till shrimp turns pink.
Clean and put aside.
Chop up the green onions and cut the cherry tomatoes,
begin to cook with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add one cup of raisins when the onion begins to wilt, and cook till raisins soften about 5 minutes.
Remove from pan and sprinkle in the raspberry wine vinegar and combine with cooked and peeled shrimp.
Stuff the portobello mushrooms with mixture and place in the middle rack
in the oven with boiler on.
Cook till mushrooms begin to soften, about 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a light white wine and enjoy the wonderful flavours.

(Serves 4-6)

Nippon Tuna

4 tuna steaks, fresh
1 bunch green onions
1 pack baby bok choy
1 pack snow peas
1 bunch asparagus
1 pack pea shoots
sesame seeds

For the Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp sriracha sauce

Cook tuna steaks to desired doneness.
There are many people who like to leave the tuna very pink in the centre more like it is the cow of the seas.
Put aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
Cut asparagus into halves and lightly cook, then put aside.
Cut green onions and bok choy and begin to cook, seasoning to taste, then add snow peas and cook till they soften a little.
Combine cooked asparagus and tumble through.
In a pan mix the ingredients for the sauce and over a medium heat combine till sugar fully dissolves, stirring constantly.
On a plate divide the vegetable mixture, place one tuna steak on top, drizzle with the warm sauce and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and pea shoots.

(Serves 4)

Beef Sukiyaki

2 lbs of beef
1 bunch green onions
1 red medium onion
3 cups of carrots
1 bunch broccoli
5 leaves of chard
1/2 lbs shiitake mushrooms
1 bag bean sprouts

For the Broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake, or rice vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar

Cut beef into thin strips.
Cook beef till all pink disappears, seasoning to taste and set aside.
Prepare large pan and set aside.
Cut all ingredients separately and set aside.
The carrots should be cut into thin strips, about 2 inches long.
Do not cut or chop bean sprouts.
Cut off stems of broccoli and divide into small pieces.
Begin to cook each of the ingredients separately.
Do not over cook.
Each vegetable needs to have some crunch to it not turned to mush.
As each vegetable is cooked put it into a large pan separately against the perimeter.
Do not combine the ingredients, this is not chop suey.
Once all the ingredients are cooked put the beef into the middle
with all the other ingredients surrounding it.
Prepare broth combining the soy sauce, sake
(if you prefer the sake can be substituted with rice vinegar as both are based on rice as the main ingredient) and sugar over a medium heat, stirring till sugar fully dissolves and combines.
Pour slowly over the ingredients in the large pan,
allow to come to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serving this delicious dish is a formality as each ingredient is placed on a plate separately and then the broth used to drizzle over it all.
This Japanese dish is more formal than the Chinese chop suey
where everything is mixed together.
Here the individual flavours are honoured for their distinct taste
and only combined at the will of the diner.

(Serves 4)

Shrimp with Heat

Spice Mix
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp coriander
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp raspberry wine vinegar (Taste of Spain)
2 radicchio heads
1 leek
1 bunch green onion
4 sweet orange peppers (small long ones)
basil olive oil
1 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp

Combine spice mix and set aside.
Chop radicchio, leek, green onion and sweet peppers.
Cook till vegetables soften.
Whilst cooking vegetables, boil water and prepare spaghettini.
Cook shrimp till shrimp turns pink and is no longer translucent.
Dust the shrimp in the pan with spice mixture and cook another 5 minutes before serving.
Drain the spaghettini and drizzle basil olive oil over it then plate.

(Serves 4-6)

A dry rub for Beef or Pork

1 tablespoon each of:
ground ginger, ground mustard, garlic salt, curry powder, paprika and salt.

1/2 tablespoon each of:
ground cloves and ground cardamom

Cheater's Pizza

Pizza is a fun thing to eat and each of you can enjoy a fresh version of this delectable staple of North America's diet, and when you don't have the time to roll out your own dough, then cheat as I have. At my station I had made a number of versions of this Cheater's Pizza using freshly baked foccacia bread for a base. The toppings are limitless and you can satisfy more than one individual at a gathering, even the most pickiest. This has been one of the favourites with roasted chicken breast, and the formula simple as one, two and three.


1 foccacia bread
pasta sauce (choose a good quality sauce)
gouda cheese, shredded not grated
baby spinach
2 roasted chicken breasts
roasted red pepper
1 mango

Spread the pizza sauce over the foccacia bread then layer baby spinach across the whole surface.
Evenly spread the chosen cheese.
I am not a fan of mozzarella as it tends to be too greasy and bland.
Place the cheese over the delicate leaves of the baby spinach to keep it from burning.
Arrange slices of chicken breast, roasted red pepper and then add the mango.
Place under the broiler and wait till the cheese melts.
Now all that's left is to lick your fingers and act like Oliver and ask for more please.

No comments:

Post a Comment