Italian Wedding Soup

 

Chef Len

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Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Let’s sweeten things up a bit this week with this cookie recipe. I always make a double batch just to be sure I can take a few in the car while driving. Hope you enjoy!

 

Chef Len

Looking for that perfect Christmas gift for the foodie you love? Chasing the Heat is the just that gift! Read about my 50 year journey from starting my career as a dishwasher to owning my own yacht charter and all the adventures in between. Speckled with time tested favorite recipes of mine and a lot of grit, personality and laughter, it’s bound to become a family favorite that you won’t want to put down. Now at an incredible price! Get yours today here and make sure to check out the bulk price!

 

Andouille Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Game Hen

Winter is coming, well as much as possible here in California. But, even with high temps and gorgeous sunshine, the arrival of the Holidays definitely inspires comfort food and seasonal dishes. You definitely don’t want to miss out on making this one! Enjoy!

Chef Len

 

*Loving these recipes? Make sure you subscribe to the blog for a new recipe each week! Also, running a special on my book, “Chasing the Heat!” Inspiring, entertaining and speckled with some of my favorite recipes, this book is perfect for a Holiday gift for that foodie you love!”

POLPETTONE AL FORNO

*photo credit La Cucina di Lorendana*

Today we’re going to cook one of my favorite recipes. Easy to prepare and always loved by the guest. Flatten the meat mixture on a sheet of cello wrap for easy handling when folding over. With cooler weather approaching this makes for a wonder dinner main course. Keep cookin’!

Ingredients:

1lb. ground beef
1lb. ground pork
1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
4oz. raw bacon, diced
3 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup (scant) heavy cream
3 whole eggs
3oz. parmesan cheese
5oz. crushed pistachio nuts
5 slices ham
5 slices provolone cheese
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Method:

Saute onions and garlic with the raw bacon, cool and hold on side.  In a large bowl, soak the bread in the cream. Add the seasoning, beef, pork, eggs, cooked onion, garlic, bacon, parmesan cheese and mix. Flatten mixture and place slice of ham, provolone cheese and crushed pistachios down the center. Fold sides over to make a stuffed loaf. Rub lightly with olive oil and back at 375 degrees approximately 45 minutes or when internal temperature is 160 degrees.

Serve and Enjoy!

Chef Len

Gentieu’s Pantry’s famous Kiwi Sandwich

Kiwi  sandwich from the days at Gentieu’s Pantry. This sandwich was very popular when I introduced it in 1975 at our sandwich shop in Taft. You need a camping sandwich iron , which you can buy by clicking the link here.

Let’s get cookin’!


Method:  lightly butter both insides of the iron. Place a slice of bread on each side. In the center place you chosen fillings.

Just a few Suggest ingredients :
1. Diced ham, bell pepper and cheese.
2. Pepperoni , little red sauce and parm cheese.
3. One raw egg , cooked bacon , cheddar cheese.
4. Cooked sliced roast beef, horseradish, jack cheese.
5. Cheddar cheese, slice tomato and slice red onion.


After preparing the sandwich fold the iron together and trim excess bread from sides . Place the completed sandwich in a heat source. When camping this would be on the edge of the camp fire. Some care has to be taken not to  place in the hottest part of the fire as that causes the bread to burn before fillings are heated. You will need to experiment a little with this. When cooking at home you can place the iron in you Bar B Q fire or coals , again be careful of not to much heat. Also could be cooked over a low gas flame on stove top by flipping iron several times to brown both sides. In Gentieu’s Pantry  I just placed the iron in the French fryer at 350 degrees three to four minutes until done. Have fun with this sandwich and come up with fillings you like. Also can be used for dessert items.

Enjoy,

Chef Len

Looking for another great sandwich recipe? Click here to check out last week’s!

Chef Len’s Famous Sub

I grew up in Claymont, Delaware just 20 miles south of Philadelphia. Long before fast food became popular, subs, meatball and cheese steak sandwiches were the staples of the day. My favorite sub shop, as they were called back then, was “Sharpies” on the Philadelphia Pike. A sub sold for about $1.00.  Add a Tasty Cake, Grape Soda and small bag of Wise Potato Chips and you had a great meal.

After my service in the Army, I moved to Taft to teach food services (ROP) for the Taft and Maricopa school district.  In 1973 my cravings kicked in for a good east coast sub.  I invited eight of my closest friends to the house for a sandwich tasting party with the sub shop favorites I grew up with. My mom shipped a dozen rolls to me from Phili so that the finished sandwiches were as authentic as possible. The party was a huge success with everyone encouraging me to open a shop in Taft.  In August of that year, Gentieu’s Pantry was born and launched my restaurant career.  After an investment of just $7,000 with our opening day sales of $128, we were off and running. The little 800 sq. ft. shop on the corner of North and Third Street serving these east coast delights was an immediate success.  Our six foot sub, delivered on a motorcycle, was the talk of the town.  Two years after opening, we made the world’s longest sandwich listed in the 15th edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. The mammoth sub, 464 feet long weighed in at over 1600 pounds. Watch Video on You Tube: search World’s Longest Sandwich 1975. The rest is history.
                           PREPARATION KEY POINTS FOR THE ABOVE VIDEO
1.  Very important — the roll: Purchase rolls or french bread wrapped in paper or sold loose.  NO cellophane or poly bag packaging. For this demo, I purchased individual Mexican Torte rolls at Albertsons. If using a whole french loaf, scoop out some of the inside after slicing open as it usually is too much bread.
2.  Meats and Cheese: All sliced very thin but not shaved. Provalone cheese, Cotto or Genoa Salami, Capacola and boiled ham. Have the deli person give you a sample slice to determine thickness.
3.  Other ingredients:  Thinly shredded Iceburg lettuce and brown onion. Sliced dill pickle, Pepperoncini, Roma Tomato, Oregano, Olive Oil, dill pickle vinegar and salt and pepper.  NO MAYO OR MUSTARD!  Never used on authentic east coast sub — it would ruin it.
4.  Very important: Cut the roll 3/4ths through hinged at the back. This allows meat and cheese to be placed on both sides with the rest of the ingredients in the center.  It creates better texture and mouth feel when eating. This simple step makes a huge difference compared to what many sub sandwich restaurants do by cutting the roll totally in half. They place the meat and cheese on one half with the rest of the ingredients on the other. When taking your first bite, the layer of meat and cheese don’t mix well with the other ingredients and often times will cling to the roof of your mouth.  The results are not a good texture or good mix of all the flavors in the sandwich.
CHEF’S NOTES:  Prepare your subs as close to serving time as possible. Better yet, set up a prep station with all the ingredients and make a party out of it. Make them to order with your guests. Subs should not be made more than 15 minutes ahead as the bread will begin to get soggy (not a good texture).  If you want to have the best outcome, make them to order then serve.  It’s worth it! Good eating – yumm!

Simple Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is more popular than ever. Early in my career we often made it as a side dish or a hot item on buffet service. It’s preparation began with making a béchamel sauce ( white sauce made with roux and milk) then adding cheddar cheese and seasoning turning it into a cheese sauce to pour over the cooked macaroni. I have simplified the whole preparation and end up with a better end product.

Method:. Cook off the Macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water. During the first few minutes be sure to stir constantly to keep from sticking. After Aprox. 10 minutes of cooking the macaroni should be tender , don’t overcook it will become mushy. Good test is to remove a sample from the pot and bite in half , tender but still holding its shape.Strain off water reserving a cup of the starchy water to add back to the sauce.

Place the cooked Mac In a lightly greased casserole dish big enough to hold it all . Pour in the starchy water and heavy cream to cover the Mac completely, ( heavy cream is a must it adds richness and helps thicken ) Season with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend. Add grated cheeses of your choice. I use the the Costco three blend of Mozzarella, jack , and cheddar . To that I also add a sharp cheddar, Parmesan and 8ozs. of softened  cream cheese. Place a few slices of thin provolone cheese on top . Place in 325 oven until hot and bubbly and browned on top usually half hour.

Chefs note:  any number of other items can be added to this basic recipe. Crisp cooked bacon, shrimp, chicken , lobster are just a few. Get creative and add one of your favorite items. Enjoy. Simple but really tasty!

Chef Len

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Grilled Citrus Salmon

This is one of our most popular dishes served on the Papagallo. We serve it mostly as an appetizer but can easily be prepared as a main course.

Method: Begin with a whole skinless salmon filet or cut the filet into several individual portions , smaller for appetizer serving and 6 to 8 ozs. for single serving. May take two filets depending on number of people being served. I prefer wild caught salmon but farm raised can also be used or better yet if you know someone who returned from fishing in Alaska and talk them out of a couple filets ( that is the best stuff).
Cook the salmon by broiling in the oven (seasoned with a little black pepper , lemon juice and basting with sauce )or if available outside on the BBQ. Don’t overcook flesh should firm up and go from a translucent look to a light pink and still be moist. Also can be cooked on a plank . Not necessary to turn over during cooking as it tends to break the fish up.

Sauce:  should be made ahead and can be used to baste during broiling and ladled on top when serving.

Ingredients: four or five whole jalapeños ( roasted , then seeded and diced )
One cup fresh orange juice
One jar of orange marmalade
Four TBs light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Zest from two fresh oranges.
Four TBs rice vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
Cornstarch slurry to thicken as needed.

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan except the orange zest and simmer 5 to 10 min. If to thin after this amount of time add a little cornstarch slurry to thicken( no much and should reach a quick boil then back to a simmer to cook the starch) if needed. Sauce should be shinny and not to thick. Add the orange zest when removing from fire. Use a little sauce for basting while broiling the remaining to spoon over finished salmon.

Hello!

Not a seafood lover? Check out another fav recipe here.

Chef Len

Eggplant Parmesan

This week we are going to cook the perfect dish that goes with last week’s Tiramisu! You can find that recipe here. Eggplant Parm is a very simple recipe to prepare. The dish can be served as a side or great as a main course with some pasta.

Begin with the sauce. Most red sauces will will work and there are some very good ones offered in the grocery store. If you want to make yours from scratch and have a favorite that’s great. I begin by reducing a cup of red wine by half in a sauce pan then pour a bottle of red sauce in. Add to that a small ham hock and let simmer on the side (we call this doctoring up a store bought product).

Method:

Slice the eggplant across in about a quarter inch thickness leave the skin on. It should be sliced the last minute before frying as it will darken . Most people like a serving or three or four thin slices rather than a couple thicker ones.

Break 4 or 5 eggs in a bowl and whisk . Take a couple cups of flour and season with salt and pepper and a little oregano. Dip the sliced eggplant in the egg then toss in flour to coat. After breaking place on the side not on top of each other ready to fry. Note: if you like it to have a heavier crust texture do the breeding process twice.

In a large frying pan take vegetable oil and cup of olive oil adding flavor to about a quarter inch deep in pan. Heat to frying temp Aprox. 350 degrees. If it begins to smoke it is to hot. The oil must be up to temp before browning of the breaded eggplant. Toss a bread cube in to check , it should bubble and brown quickly but not jump out of the pan when first placed in. If oil is not hot enough your eggplant will soak up the oil and you will have to start over throwing it away. Oil frying temp VERY IMPORTANT !

Fry the eggplant until a golden brown on both sides. Happens very quickly , less than five minutes. When cooked place on tray with paper towels. To finish arrange eggplant on service plate in fan shape with slight overlap ( 3 or so slices depending upon size of eggplant)  or on a tray ( presented family style at table)  then top with ladle of sauce as needed. Grate fresh parmesan cheese on top as you like ( don’t be skimpy here) . I also like to place a couple thin slices of provolone cheese on top . Place in a hot oven or under the broiler to lightly brown then serve immediately.

Yum !

Chef Len 

Fruit platter | Go Big or Go Home

Summertime is a great time for bar BBQ’s and outdoor entertaining. Fresh fruit always a favorite and the quality and availability is much better this time of year. Rather than place the typical  platter of cut melons, grapes, strawberries and pineapple etc. I decided to make a display the focal point of the buffet.

This display was for a fundraiser being held at the Biddel House in SLO (Biddle House pictured above). Owned by Adrian Lena, it is a beautiful Victorian home located just off the business district. Adrian was such a gracious host sharing her home for an event for Gods Haven for Children (foster family agency) . The kitchen island topped with granite was spectacular and I decided (with her approval) to create the display on one end of it, no platters. I began by placing large leaves of romaine down to create a base for the fruit to rest on. On top of that placing watermelon basket filled with strawberries then adding  apple birds, citrus crowns, grape clusters, pineapple tops and assorted other fruits displaying some in their packing boxes.

photo courtesy Jim Davis

The colors and shapes can’t help but be pleasing to the eye. The point here is not how good you might be at fruit carving but rather to create a WOW! factor when the guest step up to the buffet to begin service. People also eat with their eyes! Have fun with it , when complete you can step back to view it and be proud of what you created.

So when time permits and good quality fruit is in season leave your platter in the pantry and set up right on the counter or table top. Use my photo for ideas. This display was the hit of the party and will be at yours too.

Let’s get cookin!

Chef Len

Check out my abalone recipe to go well with this display!

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