This year I am changing up my Thanksgiving menu a bit by doing sprouts differently…switching out scalloped potatoes (the recipe you can find in our blog) for mashed, and instead of my mainstay Brussels sprout dish I’ve been doing for years with bacon, apple, maple and balsamic (also the recipe you can find in our blog), I’m making a Brussels sprout gratin.
I served this a couple weeks ago – and it was such a hit – it just had to go on my Thanksgiving Day dinner menu. You’ve got to try it this Thanksgiving.
STEP ONE – CRUNCHY PANKO TOPPING
1 tablespoon salted butter
1/3 cup plain panko bread crumbs
Melt butter in non-stick skillet. Add panko bread crumbs – stir continuously until golden brown – place in bowl and let cook completely. Once cool combine with the following – and set aside:
1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
STEP TWO – PREPPING THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
9″ X 13″ casserole dish
2 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts – about golf ball size
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or fresh cracked pepper
Cut end from each Brussels sprout, then cut in half and place in casserole dish. Toss with vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Place in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until browned. Let cool for about 30 minutes.
STEP THREE – MAKING GRATIN SAUCE
4 tablespoon salted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups cream
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Melt better in a medium saucepan. Add shallots and garlic and cook down until soft and translucent – but not brown. Add flour and stir for a couple minutes until the flour taste has cooked out. Slowly add cream and chicken stock – whisking the entire time – until the sauce has thickened. Whisk in Gruyere, parmesan, nutmeg, and cayenne. Pour over Brussels sprouts – gently toss until sprouts are completely coated in the cream sauce.
STEP FOUR – BAKING
Place panko mixture on top of sprouts and bake at 450 degrees for approximately 7 to 10 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.
BT Nguyen has done it again. Last Saturday morning I found myself passing what I didn’t know existed – Bistro BT. Admittedly I am a huge fan of anything BT creates in her kitchens. So, I made a mental note to drop by soon.
Well, I didn’t know “soon” would be two hours later…when a good friend and I decided to try somewhere new for lunch. And we are super glad we did. We remembered all the people on the Titanic who waved off dessert that fateful last night…so we ”seized the moment” diving right in – ordering way more than our famished stomachs could bear.
Fresh Rolls with Shrimp and peanut dipping sauce,
Crispy Spring Rolls with a chili dipping sauce,
Pho Noodle Soup with Beef Tenderloin,
Pork Banh Mi (below)
Chicken Curry Stew (below)
And last, but not least – Heavenly Chocolate Mousse
Well it’s true folks – the two of us ordered it all and rolled out of this charming 15 seat beautifully decorated French-Country-Style bistro – while full to our hearts content – we laughed as we drove down Henderson boulevard realizing, we were stuffed, but discussing the best way to sear a ribeye steak.
One day I just want someone to look at me the way I look at these potatoes. For years now, people have been asking me for this recipe – they are the creamiest most delicious potato dish you will ever sink your teeth into.
Sometimes late at night, I’m so hungry my belly thinks my throats been cut – so I find myself wandering into the kitchen for a midnight rendezvous with theses cheesy creamy potatoes. 30 seconds in the microwave – and these potatoes make a delightful snack. If you can’t wait the 30 seconds, well, go ahead and eat them cold.
By the way, have you ever thought if we weren’t supposed to have a midnight snack – why is there a light in our fridge??? Darn good question to ponder.
These scalloped potatoes will be a “go to” dish for every special occasion.
GRUYERE SHALLOT SCALLOPED POTATOES
4 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes (note: you may use half sweet potatoes and half gold potatoes for an even richer potato dish
1 quart heavy cream
14 ounces fine gruyere cheese
3 shallots (peeled and finely diced)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
There is no need to peel the gold potatoes. However, if using sweet potatoes, you will need to peel. Slice potatoes thin – I use a mandolin
Place potatoes in boiling salted water (4 quarts water to 2 tablespoons salt), and boil until almost done but with a little bite to them. Do not cook them all the way – you are par cooking them. Drain and lay out on a baking sheet to cool
Put one-quart cream in heavy bottom pot, add diced shallots, salt and pepper – on medium heat, bring to a slight boil, turn down heat to medium low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes
Shred Gruyere cheese on a box grater – you will need 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese.
STEP FOUR – ASSEMBLING
Layer potatoes side-by-side in 9” X 12” baking dish until completely covered. You may over lap the potatoes slightly. Add 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese over the top of this first layer.
Continue for 3 layers in this fashion. Add final 4th layer of potatoes, pour shallot cream over top and around the sides – if necessary, move the potatoes around with a knife or fork to help the shallots and cream settle into the potato mixture.
Top with cheese panko mixture.
STEP FIVE – BAKING
Place a piece of parchment paper on top, and a piece of aluminum foil on top of the parchment paper – crimp to seal tightly. Place in pre-heated 350 oven and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an addition 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
Let sit for 20 minutes before serving. This is important for the cream to settle into the potatoes – keeping them from being too soupy.
NOTE: You will notice I did not say cover with “tin” foil – there is no tin in aluminum foil.
ROSEMARY & GARLIC CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS are so delicious they will make your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head. Even those that don’t cotton to lamb will love the taste of these delightful chops. The key is the 12-hour marinade and our incredible Moroccan spice blend that we created.
I like my chops served with creamy polenta or oven roasted garlic mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus and a wedge of fresh lemon. Serve these delectable chops at your next dinner party and you’ll be a hit for years to come.
ROSEMARY & GARLIC CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS
2 to 4 racks lamb chops
4 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons black pepper
1 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Bailey’s Moroccan spice blend (see recipe below)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Put the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined
Add slowly by whisking in:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups vegetable oil
Cut lamb rack into double chops. Add double bone lamb chops to the marinade for a minimum of 12 hours. You can marinate an entire rack without cutting, but the flavor of the marinade is intensified if you cut the chops in two chop portions.
Pre-heat sauce pan (I like cast iron) on medium high heat, add a ladle (about a tablespoon) of clarified butter (or olive oil) and pan sear chops to get a caramelized crust on both sides – approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.
Place chops on sheet pan in 450 degree oven below the stove top and roast until it reaches a temperature of 130 degrees for medium rare, 145 for medium, and 155 for well done (please God no)…approximately 2 to 5 minutes. I want my chops medium rare – but at the most, medium.
MOROCCAN SPICE BLEND
Ok, ok – so this looks like a lot of ingredients. Well it is. But many of these you will have in your kitchen spice cabinet. I make a big batch and keep it for all sorts of things – goes great on chicken, seafood like shrimp, scallops, seabass, even pork, beef, and especially lamb. This rub is better than any you will find on the grocery shelf – but if you have to, go ahead and buy a Moroccan or Mediterranean mixture and use for the lamb chops above.
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons sugar
8 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons paprika
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne
Make sure these are even measurements, and whisk them together well in a bowl.
Biscuits have been at the center of just about all my Sunday suppers for as far back as I can remember. I’ve created dozens of biscuit variations from sweet to savory…but these Cheddar Bacon Buttermilk Biscuits are always a hit – and they are really easy to make as well. The first rule in making biscuits is that you must always be gentle in the final mixing stage – for treating the dough too roughly after adding the wet ingredients will activate the gluten in the flour and make them like hockey pucks…way too tough. Treat the dough like a baby’s bottom and you’ll create of light and airy biscuit every time.
You can make these biscuits in miniature – cut in half and serve with country ham and cayenne peach preserves for a wonderful bar bite at your next cocktail party. Or fry up some buttermilk fried chicken and put it between one of these sliced large biscuits with some honey butter and you’ve got the perfect weekend picnic lunch everyone with dive for.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold butter (cut into small cubes)
8 slices crispy crumbled bacon (I prefer applewood smoked bacon)
1/2 cup Marburger Full Fat Gourmet Buttermilk (can be purchased at Publix)
Melted butter for tops of biscuits before and after baking
PREHEAT OVEN: 425 degrees
Place bacon on foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until crispy – place on paper towel. When cooled, crumble in to small pieces
Cut butter and keep cold. Crack egg into buttermilk and beat with a fork until well combined
Place all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse until combined. Add cold butter and pulse until butter is pea size. Pour into large mixing bowl and add the bacon and shredded cheddar cheese. Combine the cheese and bacon completely into the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk and egg mixture. Using a dinner fork, “gently” mix together until it forms a ball. Be very sure to not over mix this dough. Just bring it together. Turn out onto a lightly floured board or surface. Gently pat out using your hands or a rolling pin – to about a ½” thickness.
Using a sharp edge biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on a parchment lined baking sheet about an inch apart from each other. Brush with melted butter. Bake in the middle of the oven, for 16 to 20 minutes until golden brown, rotating sheet pan about half way through the baking process. When they come out of the oven – brush again with melted butter.
your taste buds will dance with delight with every bite of this Key Lime
cake…and I’m not kidding. Key limes are
so plentiful now, that I wanted to make something other than the ubiquitous key
lime pie. So, I went on a key lime cake
baking adventure this week.
LIME CAKE ATTEMPT #1:
I made a Leah Chase butter cake recipe in honor of the iconic New Orleans chef
who fed presidents and freedom fighters at her famed restaurant Dooky Chase. Chef Chase recently passed away at the ripe
old age of 96 – and she was working until just a few days before she died. I had the privilege of interviewing her on my
radio show a few years back – and even visited her kitchen in New Orleans. She was the best.
While I added key lime zest and juice to her cake – it wasn’t what I was looking for. So on to the next attempt.
LIME CAKE ATTEMPT # 2: Next, I thought about adding key lime zest and
juice to a pound cake would be a good flavor component – and I also decided to
create a key lime buttercream to frost the pound cake. I hated it.
The pound cake was good. The
icing was incredible. But I found that I
don’t like frosting on pound cakes. So
on to the next attempt to create a wonderful cake I would be proud to serve.
LIME CAKE ATTEMPT #3: The third time was the
charm. A doozy of a cake. It will be one of my all-time favorite cakes
to serve to family and friends. For
sure. The frosting was nailed, it only
needed the right cake to set it off. So,
I went back to my tried-and-true yellow butter cake – adding both lime zest and
fresh key lime juice. PERFECTION!!! It’s
so good, a train would take a dirt road just to get to a slice.
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup whole milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
3 cups cake or all-purpose flour (measure after sifting)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks salted butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons lime zest
oven to 350 degrees. Spray or butter and
flour 2 – 8” or 9” round cake pans. Don’t use 10” for they will make the layers
too thin. I always use parchment paper
to line the bottom of rounds and butter and flour those as well. But that is your preference.
flour and measure 3 cups after sifting.
Cream butter and sugar for about 5 minutes in your stand mixer. Hand mixers are ok – but they take a bit more
time. Add eggs one at a time, and mix
until each egg is totally incorporated before adding the other. After all eggs are incorporated beat on
medium speed for an additional 5 to 8 minutes until light and fluffy.
vanilla, to milk and key lime juice. Add
baking powder and salt to sifted flour.
Starting with flour, incorporate 1/3 and blend on a very low speed (or
even by hand) – it is important not to over mix flour for the cake will be
tough. You do not want to activate the
gluten in the flour. Add half the milk,
vanilla, and key lime mixture, gently blend, added 1/3 flour, then the
remaining liquid, then finish with flour. Stir with spatula until completely
incorporated – making sure you mix from the bottom up.
equal amounts of batter in the 2 pans.
Place on middle rack of preheated oven.
Set timer for 12 minutes. Rotate. Set timer for 15 minutes. I can’t tell you exactly how long they will
take to bake – for every oven is different.
You just don’t want to overbake.
The standard is when a toothpick comes out clean – but I like my
toothpick to have a bit of crumb to make sure it is not overbaked.
cakes on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out
with top sides up on the rack. Let cool
completely before frosting.
1-8 ounce package (Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/2 stick salted butter (room temperature)
2 pounds plus one cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup fresh key lime juice (regular limes can be used if you cannot find key limes)
4 teaspoons lime zest
room temperature butter in stand mixer using the wire attachment until
creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla,
zest, and key lime juice. Slowly at first
– combine the ingredients. Mixing to
high will turn you into a sugar-coated mess.
After all is combined, vigorously beat until light and fluffy. If too thin, add more sugar – if too thick
add more lime juice. You want a
use about 2 cups in the middle layer.
Generously frost top and sides.
Best served the next day – or give it at least 6 hours to meld. Trust me on this one…the icing needs time to
seep into the cake.
KEY NOTES & VARIATIONS:
Always use fresh limes or lemons. For anything really – but especially this cake. Never, ever bottled. If you use bottled juice, I wil come to your kitchen and haunt you until the end of your days.
When key limes are not available, you can substitute fresh limes and it will be just as good. Matter of fact, I use regular limes, for key limes are just too small to zest.
You can make this cake with fresh lemons as well – and it will be just as incredible. Always use fresh.
MY CULINARY CREATIVE PROCESS
ask what I did with the cakes I didn’t like.
If I don’t like something – they never see the light of day. The rejects go immediately to my friend and
co-worker Rosario, who’s family waits for my castoffs.
any new dish I create for catering or for a particular restaurant I consult
with, there are usually many attempts to get to the perfect creation – the
perfect dish if you will. A pinch here,
a dash there – a completely different ingredient altogether. You would be surprised at how many attempts
go into creating the final product we are excited about serving. And even then, after all is said and done –
we are always adjusting.
(rarely), we get it the way we want it the first time – but it usually takes a
good bit of finesse. And that is the
fun aspect of cooking and creating a great dish.
The ever creative, Ferrell Alverez of the famed Rooster and the Till restaurant in Seminal Heights, and his business cohort, Ty Rodriguez have done it again – with the opening of a fun new concept: Nebraska Mini Mart. And what a gem for the community. Even more, what a place to get a great bite to eat – while taking advantage of shuffleboard, ping pong, bocce, or just lounging around on the bleachers.
Yes, I’m a “Johnny-Come-Lately” to this haunt, for it has been open since September, but I’ve found that, like myself, many of my food-centric friends have yet to part-take. Big mistake…especially if you like tasty inventive food.
While the games are a fun distraction for adults of all ages – it is the food and beverages that are the true draw and make it a unique experience. Last week, I ate the most decadently delicious BLT I have ever had – bar none. It’s hard to admit, but I didn’t stop there. Chicken wings with Malaysian chili paste, onion rings with buttermilk chive ranch and Tasso bacon-bits, Messy Fries with pulled pork, queso, charred tomato salsa, avocado drizzle – and that was all one man could handle – yes, I did share.
I am already planning my next visit, for they have a boatload of inventive (and tasty) food and beverage options – plus I will take on all comers in a game of bocce. Let me know when you are going – and I’ll challenge you to a game – loser buys a snack…so bring your wallet.
Nebraska Mini Mart 4815 North Nebraska Tampa, Florida 33603 (813) 231-9522 www.NebraskaMiniMart.com Closed on Mondays Open Noon to 10pm and longer on weekends
This may be my favorite way to eat shrimp. The New Orleans style sauce is not like a typical BBQ sauce you will find on ribs – but a buttery, garlicy, sauce with loads of flavor. I developed this recipe and it is always a hit every time it is served. It is good on its own – and especially tasty on top of some creamy grits. My favorite way is to eat it with a hunk of good quality (Pane Rustica) French baguette – oven warmed and crusty.
Once the compound butter is made, this is the fastest recipe in the world to prepare – and even good over your favorite pasta.
STEP ONE – MAKE COMPOUND BUTTER
NOTE: Can be made a month in advanced and stored in air tight container in the refrigerator
1 pound room temperature salted butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup chopped garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s (or your favorite Cajun spice blend)
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup finely chopped bacon (optional – especially good with grits and the shrimp)
Put all ingredients in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip at high speed until well combined.
In a skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon salted butter with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Once the butter is melted and very hot (not brown), toss in one pound of 16/20 peeled and deveined shrimp – tail can be left on or off
Sautee for 30 seconds and turn
Immediately add ¼ cup chardonnay to the pan
Toss in ½ cup soft compound butter – stir until shrimp are cooked (30 seconds to 1 minute)
Put on plate, sprinkle with chopped parsley, serve with crusty warm French baguette slice
As summer’s rain cascades against my kitchen window, tomato soup and garlic parmesan crostini’s are the perfect pick for dinner tonight. My nieces Blaine and Brittany say this is one of their favorite soups we make at Bailey’s. It takes no time to make – and you’ll love the rich flavor.
While my mom (who was from Boston) was an expert chowder maker, I don’t think she ever made us kids homemade tomato soup. Her tomato soup of choice was always a can of Campbell’s made with milk – and it always tasted good to us – especially with a grilled cheese sandwich. But if you want a soup that is so much better – homemade is definitely the way to go.
TOMATO SOUP VARIATIONS
Know too that I make a lot of different kinds of tomato soups and bisques but the recipe below is a really good one that can be made quick. Below are some variations to make my original soup recipe more complex overall – but for you soup lovers, begin with this recipe and play around later with what might tempt your taste buds.
Add one cup each chopped celery (including the leaves) and carrots to the onion and shallot mixture – it gives it an extra dimension that is always good
Start with a couple slices of chopped Applewood smoked bacon to begin the onion (vegetable) saute process is great as well
Instead of using canned tomatoes, toss quartered whole tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot 450 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes
TOMATO SOUP RECIPE
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion (Vidalia is perfect – but whatever you have in your pantry)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 stick salted butter
2 large 28 ounce cans crushed Hunts tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Melt butter in heavy bottom pot. Add onions, shallots, and red pepper flakes and sauté on medium low heat until very soft and mushy. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bring to a hot simmer on medium heat and cook down covered for 30 to 45 minutes – stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick on bottom. After soup is cooked put small batches in Cuisinart (food processor), or blender and blend until smooth. An immersion hand-held blender is perfect for blending this soup. Know too, that if you want texture in your soup – no blending is necessary.
Add heavy cream. Ladle hot soup into bowl(s) and top with 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil and parmesan garlic crostini.
GARLIC PARMESAN CROSTINI
You will find these crostini’s a “go-to” for many dishes. In addition to wonderful crostini’s, this mixture makes awesome garlic bread for just about any dish you can think of – especially Italian. Perfect on any type of bread like Cuban – just cut bread baguette in half and liberally spread mixture on top – broil or bake until golden brown.
2 sticks (1/2 pound) room temperature salted butter
1 cup freshly grated fine Parmesan OR Romano cheese
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
A good French baguette (sliced ¼” thick on the bias)
Combine all ingredients (except for the bread) in a mixer and whip until well combined – about a minute or two. Liberally spread on baguette slices. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown.
If you have been to Restaurant BT on MacDill across from DATZ, you will love the fast carry-out of BT’s incredible affordable Vietnamese food at BT-ToGo – also on MacDill, across Bay-To-Bay in a quaint shopping Plaza. BT Nguyen is one of my favorite chefs and while I was at the restaurant recently she asked if I’d been to BT ToGo??? The next day I was there.
You will find pork banh mi’s, beef & rice bowls, fresh stuffed rice paper rolls, curry chicken stew, and of course many of your Restaurant BT notables like her pumpkin soup and chocolate mousse.
When you want a great meal FAST – dash on over to BT To-Go
3215 South MacDill Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629 www.bt-togo.com
Monday – Saturday: 11:00am to 8:00pm