Friday, October 31, 2008

Recipe: Bolos Levedos Acorianos (Portuguese Sweet Muffins or Portuguese Pancakes)


Okay, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Big, snazzy New York City burger joints are scoring high praise and big dollars with their burgers that are gently nestled in Portuguese rolls that are shipped in from my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. Of course they're using good beef, but what is really setting these burgers apart are the Portuguese sweet muffins. I blogged about it a little while back, you can find that post here.

The people from the South Coast towns of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have always enjoyed these rolls and they're available in most markets. We call them Portuguese sweet muffins or Portuguese pancakes, but their real name is "bolos levedos" (sounds like "bhoulzsh levezsh"). Of the varieties you get in the market, some are good and some could be better. The best ones I ever had is when I visited the town of Furnas on Saint Michael in the Azores. Now those bolos levedos are something. Larger and more tender than the American variety and just a little more special. It could of course be the locale, but I'm also betting on the Portuguese butter and a few other things.

We always have a supply in my house. We use them for breakfast sandwiches, hamburgers, fish sandwiches or just toasted with some butter or guava jelly. Recently, I decided I wanted to make them for myself and set out to do so. I wanted something closer to what I got in Saint Michael and I'm certain I was able to do that. I found the recipe I based mine on on a Portuguese cooking website. With the help of a good friend and her mom whom are both fluent in Portuguese I was able to translate the instructions and recipe amounts. I made some pretty big adjustments and got exactly what I was looking for. So now I can make my own bolos levedos Acorianos and anyone out there who really wants them can have the best hamburger buns in the world. These things are addictive, you've been warned.

Bolos Levedos Acorianos

1/2 cup whole milk (70-80°F)
1/2 cup + 1 TBS sugar
2-1/2 tsp instant yeast
4-1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 eggs (beaten)
9 TBS sweet butter (softened)
1/2 tsp zest of lemon (grated then minced fine)
2 TBS vodka (if you can get Portuguese moonshine use that, but I imagine everyone can't get it like we can!)
1/8 tsp salt
A little water as necessary.

Mix the instant yeast into the warm milk and set aside.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl.

Form a well in the middle of the flour/sugar combination add the milk/yeast combination and mix it in a little. Add the eggs, butter, lemon zest, vodka and salt. Mix together until it forms a rough dough ball. If you need to add a few drops of water to make it gather into a ball, do so in small increments. Once the ball forms, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. This allows the dough to hydrate evenly.

Turn the dough ball out on to a floured surface and knead for 12 minutes. If you need instruction on kneading refer to the instructions on kneading in the homemade naan recipe here.

After kneading cover the dough with plastic film and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Gently form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled container that will allow it to increase to twice its size. Press the dough down gently and then cover with the container cover or plastic wrap. Mark the container with tape where the dough is and allow it to rise to twice its size (30 minutes to 4 hours).

Turn the dough back out onto your floured surface and divide in to 9 equal sized pieces. Gently form each piece into a smooth ball and cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.

Pat each ball into flat patty. Let rest 15 minutes covered with plastic wrap.

Place a comal or flat griddle over medium-low flame and allow it to heat up.

Flatten and expand each piece of dough again. Let rest 15 minutes or more covered with plastic wrap. You want it to rise a little bit again.

When they are ready, place a patty on the heated comal or griddle. Cook it SLOWLY on medium-low heat, or the outside will burn before the inside is cooked properly. Turn over when nicely browned, remove when evenly browned on both sides and cooked through. It'll take a little testing at first but is easy once you sort it out. Eventually, if your comal or griddle are large enough you can cook four at a time.

You now make the best hamburger or fish sandwich buns in the world. You can also use them for breakfast by splitting them, buttering them and toasting them on a comal or griddle. Add your favorite jelly. My wife toasts them this way and then makes a sandwich of fried egg whites, cheese and split sausages. Those things are great!

Bolos Levedoes are very versatile and can be used a number of ways!

Recipe: Bolos Levedos Acorianos from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recipe: Msikwatash (Succotash)


Admit it, chances are the first time you ever heard of this dish, it was uttered by one Sylvester the Cat, right? "Sufferin' Succotash" was his catchphrase of choice whenever he was surprised or confounded by Tweetybird or that neighborhood bulldog. That's where I first heard it and I'm betting all my friends first heard it the same way. After a while you find out what succotash really is and well, if you're like my friends and me, you just think "um, yeah, okay, I don't think I want any of that." Well, we were wrong. Not only is this dish good, but it is surprisingly good. Everyone that tries it in my home really enjoys it.

Now for the etymology lesson. "Succotash" while a very popular side dish of the American south, is originally a Northeastern Native American dish. Called "msikwatash" by the Narragansett Indians of New England. It translates to "a whole ear of corn". The dish was very popular with the northern tribes and it was custom to keep some simmering all day long should anyone get hungry or unexpected guests arrive.

The original recipe called for beans, corn, salt and a good amount of bear grease or some other animal fat. The dish became popular with white trappers and traders who anglicized the name to "Succotash". They introduced it to the European colonists who substituted lard, bacon grease, butter or cream for the bear grease. It has since become a popular standard side dish in many places throughout the USA.

Try it, you'll like it.

Msikwatash (Succotash)

2 slices of bacon
1 TBS sweet butter
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears)
10 ozs. to 1 lb. fresh or frozen baby lima beans
1 bunch scallions or green onions cut into 1/3-inch pieces (keep white and pale green parts separate from greens)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook bacon in a sauce pan over moderate heat, flip frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to cool.

Add butter to fat in the sauce pan and melt over moderate heat.

When butter has melted, add corn, lima beans, and white and pale green parts of scallions/green onions and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.

Add cream, water, salt, and pepper, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender (10 to 15 minutes).

While the succotash simmers cut the bacon into small bits.

After the succotash has finished simmering, stir in bacon and scallion greens

Salt and pepper to taste, and serve to surprised family and guests.

Get your succotash on with some good barbecue or for turkey day!

Recipe: Msikwatash (Succotash) from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Product Review: Escali Primo Electronic Scale



Looks


Out of the box, the Escali Primo is small. At 1.25" high, with a small 8" x 6" footprint, the sleek and compact Primo isn't going to hog a lot of space in your kitchen. Offered in 11 different colors it's probably going to match any kitchen is rests in. Now let's take a look at the other features:

Features

• Capacity: 11 lbs./5 kg.
• Resolution: .1 oz./1 g.
• Reading: ounces, grams and pounds
• Auto-off feature extends battery life
• Uses 2 AA batteries-INCLUDED!
• Tare function allows you to put an empty container on the scale, then zero so you can obtain the weight of its contents placed in it.

Operation

Operation couldn't be easier. The unit has a two button control panel. One button turns the unit on/off, and adjusts for tare, the second button is used to switch between ounces and grams.

Let's say you want to weigh up some flour. Turn the scale on, then using the ounce/gram button switch to your desired reading. Place an empty container on the scale surface. Then hit the "tare" button and zero the scale. Now as you scoop and add flour to the bowl, you're getting an accurate reading of the flour only.

Testing

I basically tested the unit in a manner fitting its intended use. I don't get these things for free, so I'm not dropping it from six feet or immersing it in hot pea soup. Instead I tested it practical use in my kitchen.

My first test was to take something with a known weight and compare it to the scale's reading. I did this with three different known weights and each time the Primo read true.

My second test was to check the readings as they relate to the weight of a known object placed on various areas of the weighing surface. Here I used two different specimens. A heavy one of 1 lb. and a light one of 2 grams. The readings were accurate across the weighing surface of the scale. It helps to know that you don't have to center everything you intend to weigh. You can place it anywhere on the weighing surface.

Summary

I don't purchase stuff without doing some initial research. As I mentioned above, I'm spending my own money on this stuff, it's not free. So I had expectations regarding this product and they were firmly met and I was satisfied.

If I had one complaint about the Escali Primo it would be that the LED can be a teeny bit hard to read. It's no where near a deal killer though. I am satisfied with this product and because of that I recommend it for your home kitchen.

Sure, there are snazzier, more expensive scales with all kinds of bells and whistles out there. Escali even makes a few. On simple items, bells and whistles are often unneeded distractions that lack real functionality. Yes, this is made out of a lot of plastic but it doesn't hamper the accuracy and it is priced accordingly. I like quality, economy and simplicity. The Escali Primo delivers on all counts.

You can order it here if you like.
Product Review: Escali Primo Electronic Scale by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recipe: Homemade Naan



I cook a lot of Indian food at home and while frozen naan is okay, I just wanted to be able to create my own delicious, hot-from-the-oven naan. That's where the problem starts because authentic naan is cooked in a clay beehive oven called a "tandor". The internal temperature of a tandor reaches 800°F! The bread is made using a very wet and sticky dough that is slapped and stuck on the inside wall of the oven. There it quickly cooks and is removed using a metal rod. As you've already imagined, you're just not going to get close to that kind of thing from your home oven. So, you do some research, improvise and modify. Sometimes you can even get lucky.

So, for some time now, I've been trying a number of recipes and techniques to make naan and roti so I can have a hot Indian bread with my homemade Indian food. All of these noble attempts met with limited success. While roti is easier to prepare, it's just not naan, and prior to the recipe below, the best I ever did was in creating naan that looked good, but it was a little dry, crispy and well-boring!

That all changed at 8:00 PM, Sunday, October 26th when I finally "mastered" naan in my home oven. The recipe and techniques below are the product of research, trial and error and some experimenting that culminated in my success on that evening. It produces an authentic naan, that looks great, is soft, slightly moist and delicious, the perfect accompaniment to homemade Indian food. You cannot imagine my satisfaction. No, really, you can't.

There are several differences in this recipe, and the technique I use, compared to the others recipes and techniques that I tried or read about.

I use unbleached bread flour to create a drier-than-normal-naan dough. Most recipes call for all-purpose flour. Bread flour is higher in gluten and lends itself better to the dough manipulation required to make naan at home. Also, real naan is going into an 800°F oven and it needs extra moisture to cook properly in there, so the resulting dough is wet and sticky. Not so on a pizza stone in a normal home oven. I've found that going with a normal dough moisture content makes it not only easier to handle, but it bakes perfectly in the home oven.

Many recipes call for rolling out the dough, I couldn't disagree more. When I rolled the dough during previous attempts, I always found the resulting naan would be flat, dry and crisp. So, I shape the dough balls into naan shapes by flipping it hand over hand. I then let it rest and rise a little more and then give it a few more flips before popping it onto the stone.

Finally, and thanks to Chef Sanjay Thummas' excellent suggestion in his recipe, I used the broiler to cook it. This helps it to cook a little more authentically by allowing it to brown quickly and nicely. I have a newer oven with the broiler in the same space as the regular oven, so it is easy to regulate the naan's exposure to the flame. You may need to adjust or improvise based on your oven.

So after a number of less-than-satisfactory results in my Indian flatbread cooking education, I offer you my recipe for GREAT homemade naan.

Homemade Naan

3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 TBS whole wheat flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup water (75° to 85°F)
1/2 cup milk*
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
pizza stone

*Maybe a little more or a little less

In a small bowl add the water, oil, sugar and yeast. Stir well and set aside for a few minutes.

Sift all the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt.

Add the water, oil, sugar and yeast to the flour and mix it in well.

Begin adding the milk a little at a time until the dough forms a single, solid mass.

Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and knead. I've found the best way to knead this dough is to push down and forward into the dough mass. Pick it up, return it to its original position and then repeat three times. Then turn the dough ball 1/4 of a turn and repeat the entire procedure. Continue doing this for 10 to 12 minutes.

You're looking for a dough that is soft and pliable and tacky but NOT sticky. If you're not familiar with working with dough, be patient. Dough responds slowly to changes in moisture. Make small adjustments and give it time. If the dough seems a little dry, moisten your hand with a little water or milk and continue working it. If it seems wet and is sticking to the kneading surface, dust the surface and dough with a little flour and continue kneading. Again, the resulting dough after kneading should be smooth, pliable and tacky but not sticky.

After kneading, form the dough into a rough ball and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to relax for 10 minutes.

While the dough relaxes find a suitable bowl or container that is large enough for the dough to easily double in size. Coat that container with a thin layer of oil.

When the dough is done resting place it in the oiled container and cover it with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm place (not in the sun or too hot), and let it rise to twice it's original size. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

When the dough has doubled in size turn it back out onto the kneading surface.

Turn on your broiler and set your pizza stone on a rack midway in your oven. (If you have an older oven you may need to improvise here as old broilers place the food very close to the flames.)

Take the dough and GENTLY knead it down with your knuckles (don't push forward, just gently downward). Take one end of the dough and fold it midway over itself. Take the other end and fold it over that. Knead GENTLY down again. The dough should still be soft and spongey, it should form a rough rectangle. Repeat the folding and then knead gently one more time.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Place the pieces under plastic wrap so they don't dry out.

Gently shape each piece into a smooth round ball by lightly gathering it and tightening it by pinching it on the bottom over and over. (DO NOT roll it between your hands like clay). Again, the dough should remain soft and spongey. Place each ball under the plastic wrap to keep it moist. Keep the balls apart as they will rise a little bit and if they touch they'll stick. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes.

Shape each dough ball into the traditional naan shape by placing it between your thumb and fingers and quickly turning your hand over, slapping the dough into your other open hand then grabbing it similarly and repeating, (Kind of like holding a plate and turning it over). Do this over and over rotating the dough a little each time until it relaxes and begins to stretch into the naan shape. This is a two stage process you'll do it once and then place the flattened dough under the plastic wrap to allow it to rise a little and relax, and then do it briefly one more time just before you place it in the oven. By the time you've stretched your last ball for the first time, it is time to go back to your first one. See the video below for a demonstration.

Open the oven door. Grab your first naan, quickly flip it hand over hand to give it its final stretch and then CAREFULLY place it on the pizza stone. Watch and note the time it takes to bake the first one. Between one and two minutes it will start to get brown spots. Carefully turn it over until that side browns in spots. Remove from the oven, quickly brush both sides with butter or ghee (careful it is HOT) and then place in towels or a tortilla warmer to keep warm.

After the first one is done and you have a sense of the process and time involved, you may feel confident enough to cook them 2-3 at a time.

With a little practice making your own naan is kind of fun and it is certainly delicious!
Recipe: Homemade Naan from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry video

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan


This recipe is a winner. It's something people will always remember you serving, it is something your family will request again and again. This is one of the recipes that really kicked off my passion for cooking for family and friends. People love it and they're not afraid to tell you.

The recipe finds its origin as one of my ex-wife's standard meals, (she had 3, I think). Hers wasn't bad at all, but when I got into it I just wanted to um, how do you say, kick it up a notch? Pounding out the chicken certainly helps, but the homemade marinara and the use of three premium cheeses makes this one great. It is a favorite of my family and friends and readily requested and seconds are never refused. It's also better the next day, so cook it in advance or always make more than you need for great leftovers!

Let's talk about cheese. No, allow me to rant about cheese. When you're home cooking, don't scrimp, don't cheap out, don't cheat yourself. In home cooking, scrimping never pays off. If I write Parmigiano-reggiano (and I do a lot), use it. You're not saving anything if you spend your good time to prepare a great dish at home with inferior or substituted ingredients. Hamburger will never be beef tenderloin, raisins will never be figs, canned or jarred marinara will never equal homemade and store-bought grated parmesan in a can or bottle will never, ever, ever, ever be a freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano. The differences are not subtle, they are profound. One is sawdust the other is manna.

There's a reason so many prepared foods try to distinguish themselves with superlatives like "homemade", "home cooked" or "Just like mom's!" It's because crafty advertisers and marketers know that they have to try and create a superior and quality image of their food product in our minds. Don't be fooled by them in the grocery store and never fool yourself in your own kitchen. Quality counts and so does authenticity. The better the ingredients, the better the finished product. You can even make your own breadcrumbs if you like.

I also use this recipe as one of the components of my "Chicken Parmalasagna" which is a recipe I'll be adding at a future date. Yup, it's a lasagna made with layers of noodles, cheeses and chicken parmesan. Say it aloud as you read: "Chicken Parmelasagna", you read it here first!

Chicken Parmesan

3-4 lbs boneless chicken breast
1 cup of flour spread in a large plate
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1-2 cups of Italian style bread crumbs spread in a large plate
1/2 cup Parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)
1/2 lb. mozzarella (shredded)
1/2 to 3/4 lb. Provolone cheese (sliced)
Marinara sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs and the milk together until well blended. Place the mixture in a large shallow bowl.

In a work area near the stove, lay out the plate of flour, then the bowl of egg mixture and finally the plate of Italian Bread crumbs.

Place 1-2 cups of olive oil in a deep sided pan (oil should be about 1/2" deep in the pan) and preheat slowly to frying temperature while you prepare the chicken for frying.

To prepare the chicken: Take the chicken breasts, separate them and trim off any fat. Place them individually in a large ziplock bag or cover with plastic wrap and beat them with the flat end of a meat tenderizer until they are 1/2"-3/4" thick. If you use glancing blows and you can better control their shape and thickness. Season them with salt and pepper and put aside. Repeat with all the chicken.

Take a seasoned chicken breast and dredge both sides of it in the flour. Shake off the excess flour then place it in the milk and egg mixture being sure it gets well coated. Drain it a little and then put it in the bread crumb plate and be sure it gets well-coated with bread crumbs. Carefully add the breaded chicken breast to the hot olive oil and brown each side well. Remove from the pan, drain it well and place it in a medium to large baking pan. Repeat this step for all the chicken. Be sure you do not stack the chicken. Keep it all on one level.

Sprinkle the finished chicken with a decent amount of the Parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Then top that with the mozzarella and then cover with sliced provolone cheese. Try to cover the surface of the chicken as best as possible. Then coat the chicken with a good layer of the marinara sauce and slide the whole thing in the oven until the cheese is good and bubbly. Usually about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove it from the oven allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve it with the balance of the sauce served over your favorite pasta.

Again, this stuff is even better on day two or three. Don't serve this dish to people you don't want to see again.
Recipe: Chicken Parmesan from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cookbook Review: Vineyard Harvest by Tina Miller


As far as the Massachusetts Islands go, there are generally two kinds of people: Martha's Vineyard people and Nantucket people. I am a Nantucket person. There is magic for me there, and it's where I can relax. It's difficult for me to explain why, but mostly it has to do with the island's light, small size and general quiet compared to her larger sister. Not that Nantucket doesn't get busy, just that it's never as busy as Martha's Vineyard.

Preferring one over the other also doesn't mean I don't visit nor enjoy Martha's Vineyard, I do. There's a lot to experience and see there, and certainly plenty of good food. That's one of the reasons I initially purchased "Vineyard Harvest" by island Chef Tina Miller.

Featuring more than one hundred recipes that span a "year of good food on Martha's Vineyard" and colorfully splashed with the photography of Vineyard native Alison Shaw, Vineyard Harvest is an excellent and beautiful cookbook. It's well written and the background information really gives the reader a sense of the island, its people and the local flavor and cuisine. There's plenty of information regarding a host of details including a detailed explanation of Chef Tina Miller's favorite ingredients and kitchen implements. Something I found both insightful and uselful.

The recipes are excellent and their presentation and explanation will get anyone through most dishes. Of particular interest and influence to me were the recipes for "Vineyard Bouillabaisse", "Succotash Chowder", "Road House Gingerbread with Dark Rum Sauce" and several others. The bouillabaisse recipe alone has taken me in a few directions and is the basis for several recent and favorite personal recipes.

Vineyard Harvest is one of those cookbooks that transcends its genre and becomes something a little more than a cookbook. It is a unique look at the people, places and beauty that are Martha's Vineyard and it tells its story around a common thread of good people, native ingredients and great food. Nice job Chef Tina Miller! Fantastic photos Alison Shaw!

Cookbook Review: Vineyard Harvest by Tina Miller

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce


I remember the first time I ever ate chicken katsu. It was at a small Japanese restaurant called "Shogun" in Newton, Massachusetts. Shogun does it in a nice traditional "bento style" in which the meal is served in a lacquered box with all the components of the meal fitting neatly into their own compartments. Over the years I had Shogun's version a number of times and I was never disappointed. The Shogun also serves damn fine sushi and tempura. Check them out if you're ever in Newton, you won't be disappointed.

The second place I ever had chicken katsu was in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was staying in Waikiki in Hawaii and a friendly tour guide directed me to a little hole-in-the-wall called "Irifune's" on Kapahulu street just past the Honolulu Zoo. So one day my wife and I made the long walk to the restaurant from our hotel. Our tour guide had given us the lowdown so we knew what to expect when we arrived. I remember liking Irifune's for several reasons:

1.) A car had driven through the front door a few days before we went to dine there and it still looked like it had happened on the day we arrived. The interior was eclectic and funky with old ship models and a fish pond with real fish and plastic plants in the dining room.

2.) The food was inexpensive.

3.) The katsu was gigantic and delicious.

4.) The ahi maki sushi rolls were the size of hockey pucks.

Hockey pucks I tell you! HOCKEY PUCKS!

I haven't been back to Irifune's but I hope it is still there when I am back in that neck of woods.

Upon returning home from Hawaii I did a little research and learned how to make this dish and the accompanying sauce. It's been a number of years and katsu's popularity with my family and friends has kept it in the heavy rotation section of my cooking repertoire. The dish gets its signature crunchiness from Japanese panko bread crumbs. There was a time when I used to bring a year's supply home from Hawaii. Globalization being what it is though, it is now relatively common on grocery store shelves.

The crunch of panko is a key element to what makes chicken katsu so good. The real deal sealer however is the tonkatsu sauce! It's kind of hard to describe if you've never had it. It's kind of like a barbeque sauce but not quite. There are Asian elements and flavors to it that make it different and uniquely delicious. For the record, it's just not katsu without the crunch of panko and the sweet tanginess of tonkatsu sauce!

Unlike panko bread crumbs, it is hard to come across tonkatsu sauce in most grocery stores. I'm going to recommend you make your own and of course I've included the recipe below. However, if you'd rather buy your tonkastu sauce I'm going to recommend Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce as a Product I Love. It's the ONLY Tonkatsu sauce offered in the Chop Onions, Boil Water Kitchen Outlet Store and that's for good reason. I've tried a variety of tonkatsu sauces over the years and Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce is my number one choice, hands-down. I often make my own, but if I don't have the time I've always got a bottle of Bulldog in my fridge. My daughters even use it on their chicken nuggets!

This is a simple recipe that everyone seems to love. Give it a shot, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Chicken Katsu (see tonkatsu sauce recipe below)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Enough peanut oil to fry cutlets in (about 1/2" to 1" deep)
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 cup of all purpose flour
2 eggs (beaten)
2 TBS milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry.

Using glancing blows, pound each breast half with a flat faced tenderizing mallet until the cutlet is uniformly a 1/4" to 3/8" thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Continue doing this with the rest of the chicken.

Put the beaten egg and milk in a wide shallow bowl. Place the panko and flour in their own separate dishes.

Heat the peanut oil in a high sided pan and bring it up to frying temperature.

Dredge the cutlet in the flour then coat in the beaten egg. Allow the excess egg to drain off and then dredge in the panko flakes until well coated.

Place the coated cutlet in the hot oil and cook turning once, you want it golden brown on both sides. Be sure the chicken is cooked through.

Allow excess oil to drain off.

Cut into manageable parallel pieces, (see photo).

Dress the chicken with tonkatsu sauce and serve with steamed white rice.

Tonkatsu sauce

1/2 cup of ketchup
8 tsp soy sauce
8 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
8 tsp sugar
8 tsp yellow mustard
4 tsp sake
4 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp of garlic powder

Prepare the tonkatsu sauce at least several hours before you plan on cooking the katsu.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until well combined. Place the finished sauce in the refrigerator to chill and allow the flavors to meld and heighten until needed.

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Products I Love: Wright's Liquid Smoke

I love barbecued and smoked foods. In fact in my backyard not thirty feet from where I sit typing this, stands my black, locomotive-sized smoke pit. Let me tell you, it sees a lot of use. From ribs, pork butt, brisket and a host of other meats, to mussels, fish, beans and succotash - all see the inside of Ol' Smokey!

There's an entire barbecue/smoking section in my new cookbook (coming out in 2010) and if you follow this blog you will see many recipes posted here which use the wonderful sweet, sweet flavor of wood smoke. I really cannot get enough of it.

Smoking takes some preparation and like all great things it takes TIME. There are days though when either a lack of time, or poor weather, can dash the cravings and dreams of a smoke-flavored meal. That's when I turn to Wright's Liquid Smoke products.

Inexpensive, all-natural and authentically flavored, Wright's Liquid Smoke does the trick with its great, real smoke flavor. Even when you open the bottle and smell the delicate hickory or mesquite flavor you know you've discovered something good. If you like smoke flavor you're going to love this stuff and you're going to use it again and again. It's a secret restaurants and chefs have used for years and I'm recommending you try it.

You want to dress up some baked beans? Try a teaspoon or two of Wright's Liquid Smoke in there. Are you looking to dress up some chicken or turkey? Try a dash of Wright's Liquid Smoke! I've added it to the chicken on a barbecued chicken pizza to dazzling effect. You want to make some pulled pork conveniently in the oven or crock pot, but you want that down-home, lip-smacking smokehouse flavor? Get a bottle of Wright's Liquid Smoke! I've even put a dash or two in a Bloody Mary.

Trust me, I don't recommend things on Chop Onions, Boil Water unless I use them. That's no BS. I'm telling you this is a product I LOVE. If you like smokehouse flavor, but you don't have a smoker or the time, Wright's Liquid Smoke is for you!

According to their website, Wright's Liquid Smoke can also be used for:

Basting: To keep grilled and broiled foods moist, baste with a mixture of 3 tablespoons Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning and 1/2 cup melted margarine. Use on beef, pork, poultry, fish, corn-on-the-cob, Italian bread.

A Spritz of Smoke: Keep a spray bottle filled with a mixture of Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning and water to spray on foods while grilling, broiling or roasting.

Grilling: For slow cooking on the grill, place a foil pan filled with 1/3 cup Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning and 2/3 cup water directly on hot briquettes, lava rocks or ceramic bricks. Add additional water as needed.

Gas Grilling: For added smoke flavor while gas grilling, spry lava rocks with Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning before heating grill.

Microwaving: Add color and zesty hickory flavor to microwaved meats and poultry. Brush or spray Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning on before cooking.

Quick Seafood Sauces: Stir 1/4 teaspoon Wright's Natural Hickory Seasoning into 1 cup tartar or cocktail sauce.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recipe: Michelle's Awesome Burgers


(Photo: Michelle's Awesome Turkeyburger, a variation of the recipe below)

If it is not apparent at this point let me make it clear. In my home I do 90% of the cooking. After a one-hour commute to work and a nine-hour workday, I get my butt back in a car and spend another hour in traffic to get home so that I can prepare a real dinner for my family. I do it day after day after day and you know why? Because I LOVE IT! Well, not the work and commute stuff, SCREW THAT! It's the cooking for my family thing I enjoy. It is relaxing and I think its fun. We've got a pretty good situation in my home. I love to cook and hate to clean, my wife hates to cook and loves to clean -- HARMONY!

However, there are times and situations when I just can't cook or on very rare occasions, don't feel like cooking. That's when Mrs. K works her magic and cooks for the family. Remember, I wrote that she hates to cook, not that she can't cook, she certainly can. Unlike me, she's really humble about her skills and her dishes. She'll charmingly deflect any attempt to compliment her efforts. Though sometimes I think that's because she doesn't want to get too good at cooking too many things! She's clever like that. How else was she able to wrangle such a high quality man into marrying her?

There are several things she prepares for me that are among my favorite versions of those foods. Among them are her hamburgers. True to her style she takes some simple ingredients and creates something I REALLY and SINCERELY enjoy. True to my writing style I'll offer that her hamburgers transcend the potential of their ingredients! Snazzy huh? In fact I like her burgers so much, that she is the only one who makes them in my house. They're better than any of the ones I've ever made and well, once I grab onto something I like I'm not letting go!

So here is my favorite burger recipe, compliments of my wife Michelle for whom I am happy to cook 90% of her meals.

Michelle's Awesome Burgers

3 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup onions (chopped fine)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper to taste
Wheat or whole grain hamburger buns*
Sliced cheddar cheese
Stone ground mustard
Bufalo Brand Chipotle Hot Sauce
Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

In a large bowl mix the ground beef, onions, Worcestershire Sauce and ground black pepper.

Divide into desired size servings and form into hamburger patties.

Place patties on grill.

While patties grill, toast the hamburger rolls.

Cook patties until done adding a slice of cheddar cheese the last few moments.

On the bottom of the bun spread Bufalo Brand Chipotle Hot Sauce to taste.

On the top of the bun spread the stone ground mustard.

Place burger on bun and top with two tablespoons of Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce.

You can also add tomatoes, lettuce and extra onions if you like.

*OR Supremely- Portuguese sweetbread buns or bolos levedos (Portuguese pancakes). For more information on these please see this previous entry.

Recipe: Michelle's Awesome Burgers from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recipe: Saffron Seafood Linguini


This recipe goes out to Karen and all the other folks from Newport Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island, who check out "Chop Onions, Boil Water." Hello everyone, thanks for reading my blog. Keep it up and you'll find yourself in the book coming out in 2010!

The lack of a proper name has kept me from adding this recipe, but tonight I've decided it's going on the blog and the name will come to me as I type. Of course I'm typing right now and nothing is happening. Nope, not yet.

You see, by all accounts, it would appear to be a seafood linguini, only it's really not. The basis of the recipe is a French bouillabaisse and then I commenced to twisting it to my desire and well when seafood is involved I just know I'm going to add something Portuguese in there. I just love chourico, but when that doesn't work its got to be linguica. Then of course there's saffron. I mean you cannot pull off this dish without the saffron. So many complications.

So, in the end, what seems Italian is really French and then it's got a South Coast New England and Portuguese twist that just complicates the whole thing! A name should reflect something important about the dish. As of this moment a name hasn't come to me yet.

It's not that my ego can't float calling it "Henry's Awesome Friggin' Saffron Seafood Bouillabaisse Linguini", my ego could certainly handle that. It's just not pretty or short enough. As Shakespeare said "Brevity is the essence of wit."

Well, it's crunch time and I'm just going to type out a name as the words pop into my head here goes: Saffron Seafood Linguini.

Okay, it's done. For the record, you need saffron for this. There's no substitute for it and you cannot omit it. It's not going to be the same dish without it. Also, mail order the saffron because the grocery stores sell horrible saffron for bewilderingly high prices.

Saffron Seafood Linguini

1 lb. linguica (cut in 1/4" slices and pan fried until cooked and firm)
1 lb. linguini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks (white and pale green parts only, cleaned, split and thinly sliced)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 cup of diced tomato (the redder, the riper, the better-ALWAYS)
3/4 tsp thyme
2 tsp fresh parsley (chopped fine)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 TBS tomato paste
32 ozs. chicken broth
2 lbs. littleneck clams (scrubbed and set aside)
2 lbs. mahi mahi filets (or similar fish)
1 lb. sea scallops
1 lb. medium shrimp (in the shell)
2 lbs. mussels (scrubbed, debearded and set aside)
1/2 cup of white wine (I use pinot grigio)
1 TBS sweet butter
Salt and pepper to taste.

For the pasta, place a large pot of water on high heat to boil.

Place a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the leeks and the garlic and sauté until the leeks become translucent.

Add the saffron threads, salt, pepper, tomatoes, thyme, parsley, orange zest and tomato paste and blend together well for about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a low simmer and continue cooking for about 30 minutes.

Bring to a higher simmer. Add all the seafood and cover and simmer until the littlenecks and mussels open wide (5 to 8 minutes usually). Discard any that do not open.

Remove all the seafood and place it in a large bowl to cool. Return broth to a low simmer.

As soon as it's cool enough to handle, remove all the seafood meat from its shells and place it in a bowl. Discard shrimp shells, but reserve littleneck and mussel shells. Cut mahi mahi into chunks and place in the bowl with the shrimp, littlenecks, scallops and mussels.

Place all littleneck and mussels shells back into the broth and cook until the white abductor muscles attached to the shells fall into the broth or are easily removed. Don't worry, these will not be tough and they add a creaminess to the final product.

The pasta water should be boiling by now, cook linguini in the normal way, drain and set aside. Try to time everything to end at the same time. Yes, it can be difficult, but you can do it.

Raise the heat on the broth until it comes to a high simmer. Add the white wine and the butter and reduce the broth until it begins to thicken. You're looking for the consistency of loose melted ice cream. I know that is a strange analogy, but it works.

When it reaches the desired thickness, add the fish, scallops, littlenecks, shrimp, mussels and linguica and toss to coat and warm. Immediately add the cooked and drained linguini and toss well to coat. Be sure the seafood and the linguica is evenly distributed in the linguini. Remove from heat and allow it to set and cool a little before serving.

Serve with a good white wine (Pinot Grigio) and crusty bread.
Recipe: Saffon Seafood Linguini from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Recipe: Damn Good, Thick and Rich, Anasazi Bean Chili


In 1986 I was shopping to outfit the kitchen I would be sharing with my then future second ex-wife. I happened upon a cast iron dutch oven and was immediately filled with images of that cast iron pan filled with hot bubbling delicious, rich, spicy, hearty chili. In my mind, I saw the black of the pan and the rich reddish chili steaming in it with another pan filled with cornbread next to it. I picked it up and looked it over. I loved the heft and substance of the thing. It also didn't hurt that as I child I remember my grandmother always making me johnnycakes on an ancient cast iron griddle. Hey, I'm a romantic, SO WHAT?

Well, I bought that dutch oven and after I was married, I left it in one cupboard or another for the next 10 years! Ok, I may have made stew in it once-MAYBE. One day however, I was making my first filet mignon and I used it to roast the steaks in. From that point on, I started using it as much as possible. In fact, it started me on a love affair with cast iron. "Love" in the practical and innocent definition of the word, not the creepy call-the-police kind of way. Today, I cook almost exclusively in and on cast iron. My collection includes an assortment of pans both antique and contemporary including a wok, friers, dutch ovens, griddles, comals, fry pans of every conceivable size, etc. For my money, if you're willing to do a little maintenance, cast iron is the best cookware you can buy and the stuff will withstand everything short of a direct hit by a thermonuclear weapon.

Getting back to the subject at hand, today I make all my chili in that pan I bought back in 1986. In fact I hope my daughters enjoy cooking as much as I do so that they can cook their family meals in the same pans and then pass it down to their children. I'd like my cast iron pans to become a family heirlooms because cooking is love and love is an energy and things like cast iron pans absorb energy and if enough chili and other things get cooked in these pans by people who love each other over a few generations, I firmly believe that my cast iron cookware could be the nucleus of a future world peace and previously unknown era of brotherly and sisterly love. You couldn't do this with a new fangled pan, they just don't last. Especially that coated non-stick nonsense-YUCK! Stay away from plastics and teflon people, it's all bad.

All I'm saying is that you should consider some cast iron in your collection of pans. There are certain things like chilis and stews that just benefit from the even heating these pans offer.

If you have any antique pans though, send them to me, they're no good for you-really!

In the recipe below, I call for the use of ancho chiles and a chipotle hot sauce. These give this chile a rich and hearty flavor and a tiny hint of smokiness. I also use Anasazi beans which are not easy to come by. Hey, food can be an adventure you know? These are an heirloom variety of beans.

The Anasazi were a tribe of Native Americans that predated the Navajo, Pueblo and other tribes from the same area. There's some mystery in there that I don't have time to go on about, but they're long gone. They were an agricultural tribe, among the things they grew were these fine beans. (they're pretty too, Google 'em and see). If I'm to believe what I read (and I want to) these beans were basically extinct. Then one day some archaeologist was looking for the fossilized bones of an extinct pachyderm and he came across an Anasazi pot sealed with pine pitch. Inside were these very beans. When they planted some to check their viability some of them grew and today we are fortunate enough to have them again thanks to some dedicated heirloom growers and consumers (like me, yo!). It's like eating history. Well, not history as in old meat or fruit cake, but you know what I mean!

Damn Good, Thick and Rich, Anasazi Bean Chili

1 TBS peanut oil
3 lbs. beef (cut into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes)
1-1/2 cups onion (chopped fine)
8 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 TBS cumin seeds (ground)
10 1/2 TBS chili powder
2 large ancho chilies (soaked until soft, deseeded and minced)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp meat tenderizer
4 cups of cooked beans (pinto, etc. I use Anasazi Bean)1/2 tsp light brown sugar
2 tsp chipotle hot sauce1 cup sour cream
1 cup nacho and Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)
3 green onions (sliced)

Set a large cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the onions and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, and all dry spices except for the meat tenderizer and sugar. Stir together thoroughly. Continue to simmer on low.

While chili mix is simmering, place another cast iron pan over high eat. Add the peanut oil and brown the meat in small batches. Sprinkle each batch with a little meat tenderizer and set aside.

Add the browned meat and final two cups of chicken broth to the simmering chili mixture, continue on a low simmer for 2 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Add the beans and mix in well. Continue simmering for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the light brown sugar and the chipotle hot sauce.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced green onions.

Damn Good, Thick and Rich Anasazi Bean Chili by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Recipe: Red Pepper & Italian Sausage Ragout with Lemon Pepper Risotto Timbals


The first thing I ever cooked was a fried bologna sandwich. I can't recall exactly how old I was, but I remember having to stand on my toes to see what was going on in the pan. It's a pretty vivid memory. I remember that I was doing it on the front, right burner in a black pan that had been greased with a little butter. I had two pieces cooking and they were doming up nicely. I also remember that I wasn't supposed to be doing it, and didn't want to get caught. In any event, I didn't get caught and the resulting sandwich was delicious and hot, with the perfect amount of mustard.

In contrast, the recipe to the right is probably the most elaborate looking one that I prepare. No, I'm not huge on presentation. I grew up in a socio-economic bracket that mandated the practical and economical above the esthetic. In order of importance, food should taste great and then look good. Food should never look better than it tastes. Hell, it can even look bad and smell bad (like morcella or sardines, etc.), as long as it tastes good.

It's been my experience that regardless of how precariously high it is stacked or how creatively garnished, a steak is a steak, chicken is chicken, and yes, a fried bologna sandwich is just a fried bologna sandwich. It's the ingredients and what takes place with them before reaching the plate that most often results in how good food is.

This dish is a favorite of my wife Michelle. It is also the longest recipe in my cookbook, but it is not hard to prepare by any means. I do suggest that you use very fresh vegetables and be sure not to overcook the red pepper. It should offer a little "tooth" and that way it will retain its sweetness and crunch.

Red Pepper & Italian Sausage Ragout with Lemon Pepper Risotto Timbals

1/8—1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
1 large red pepper (diced)
10 baby bella mushrooms (sliced)
4 Italian sausages (boiled, fried and sliced)
10 basil leaves-cut into strips
Salt & pepper to taste

Set stove on high.

Add olive oil to preheated pan. When olive oil begins to shimmer, add onions and cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Do not allow garlic to brown or burn!

Add tomatoes and peppers, cook for about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and sausage.

Cook until mushrooms are just done, do not overcook the red pepper!

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add basil and continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Cover, and set over a warming flame while you prepare the risotto (recipe below).

Center lemon pepper risotto timbal on plate (be patient, they take a moment to slide out) and serve with the ragout surrounding the timbal.

Garnish timbal with a few strips of basil and serve.

Lemon Pepper Risotto Timbals

1/8—1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cups of vegetable broth
1 pinch of saffron
2 shallots (chopped)
2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 cups of Arborio rice
Juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon (to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a separate saucepan prepare the vegetable broth, bring to simmer and add saffron.

Place another pan on another burner set on high.

Add olive oil to preheated pan. When olive oil begins to smoke, add onions and cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Do not allow garlic to brown or burn!

Add rice and fold into oil, onion and garlic mixture. Toast for a few minutes.

Cook risotto in the traditional way.

Add lemon juice, continue cooking until rice reaches the desired tenderness and consistency.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Let rice sit for a few moments before packing into lightly oiled ramekins to form into timbal, let sit a few moments, turn over ramekins and remove rice timbal.

Red Pepper & Italian Sausage Ragout with Lemon Pepper Risotto Timbals from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats)


This is a handy little recipe. It's preparation is easy and the result is very tasty. It's impressive even! Sometimes I have stories that I like to write about my recipes and this one was a little tough in coming. So, I'd like to break format a little here and offer this recipe as a dedication.

I'd like to dedicate this recipe to our much-maligned, night-flapping brethren of the skies: the bats.

I like bats. I always have. I even kept one as a "pet" for a few days when an uncle had rescued him from a public building he worked at. The management had tried to have a laborer dispatch it before my uncle arrived with his good farmer's sense and decided to save it. The injured little brown guy eventually settled down, healed and I released him one evening into the night sky.

Literature, television and the movies have given bats a bad reputation and many people react to them out of fear. While all wild animals shouldn't be handled unnecessarily, and they should all be treated with respect and caution. Ungrounded fear isn't intelligent or healthy and can cause both man and beast some grief.

Most species of bats are also beneficial. Did you know that one single little brown bat (the kind found most frequently in my area) can catch and eat more than 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour! Multiply that by a number of bats then by a number of hours over the course of days and weeks and then months and you have an impressive amount of mosquitoes -- GONE!

Did you also know that:

Mosquitoes infect 500 million people around the world each year with diseases such as West Nile virus, Dengue fever, encephalitis and malaria. That is half a billion people folks! 1/12 of the human population of the planet. One in 12 people! Mosquito-induced diseases also kill more than 2 million people around the world each year. Yeah, bats are good.

So please respect our little flying fuzzy friends of the night skies! Also, if you find that they've made a home in your attic, please investigate non-lethal ways of getting them to leave. We've made enough of a mess of our planet without making the way for beneficial animals any harder than we need to. Yeah, I'm a tree hugger WHAT OF IT? Also, I don't know about you, but I'd rather have more bats than mosquitoes.

This dish is great over rice or pasta. It is kind of one of those fancy-tasting things that really isn't all that hard to prepare. I suggest you use a marsala wine that you like the taste of. Sample a few, their all pretty good and the one you like to drink is certainly going to be one of the ones that make a great sauce. I chose an inexpensive Taylor marsala and coupled with the diced tomatoes it had a really subtle cherry flavor-EXCELLENT!

Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats)

2 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt & black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2-3 cups of Marsala wine
1 4 oz. can of tomato sauce
1-2 medium fresh tomatoes (diced)

Rinse and dry the chicken breasts. Place them one at a time in a large ziplock bag and GENTLY pound them about a 1/2" flat with the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet. Glancing blows work best!

Dredge each breast in flour, cover them well and season with black pepper and salt, set aside.

Place a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet and heat the mixture until the butter stops foaming. Do not allow butter to burn.

Place the chicken breasts in the hot oil/butter mixture and brown lightly on both sides. Do not overcook or the chicken will be dry.

When chicken is properly browned pour in the Marsala until the chicken is almost covered. Add the tomato sauce. Carefully blend the sauces around the chicken.

The sauce should already be simmering, if not, bring it to a simmer and then lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Cover and continue cooking (turning once) at a minimum simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If the simmer picks up, lower the heat. You want this barely simmering.

Remove chicken breasts, add the diced tomatoes, set heat on high and stir sauce continuously until thickened.

Test for seasoning and adjust. Replace chicken, toss to coat and serve on rice or pasta spooning on extra gravy.

Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats), by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recipe: Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce


So this Zen guy goes up to a hot dog vendor and he says, "Hey, make me one with everything!" Come on, laugh! It's funny! I suppose you are one of the unbelievers and you doubt the "Be here now" Zen aspects of the hot dog? Many people can link certain foods they enjoy back to certain moments in their life. None do this as much for me as the hot dog.

I remember a rainy night of fishing in Newport, Rhode Island as a young child with my dad and grandfather. It was fruitless but it was capped with a late night stop at the King Phillip Diner in Fall River, MA. Several dogs with the works, a coffee milk and not one, but two pieces of blueberry pie. I also remember my dad returning from bowling on Friday nights with a dozen for my sisters, my mom and myself to share. These would be the first of my late night hot dogs. Later on however late night hot dogs usually came/come after copious amounts alcohol!

Then there's the one I had outside in the cool air after a night of dancing in a hot night club in Ponta Delgada, Azores. It had all manner of toppings including tiny french fries! Wait, then there are the ones I have had at that shrine to Americana, Fenway Park while watching the Boston Red Sox win the world series! (Remember when that was just a dream? GO SOX!). Sure, I can't remember every hot dog I have had, but why can I remember so many?

I was introduced to the local variety Coney Island hot dog by my dad. It was long enough ago where I can't remember it (peculiar), but I'm sure it was because him and my mom were arguing, because that's how I got to see Planet of the Apes (which by the way, ended up with us getting hot dogs at Nick's Coney Island in Fall River, Massachusetts. I think I also got a fish at a pet store that day, fight on parents, fight on!).

Anyway, my dad is a kickass cook and he makes one helluva good hot dog sauce. Unfortunately, he does it a little differently each time and never writes much of it down, but this is his basic recipe. I always make a surplus and freeze servings in zip lock bags.

Says Pop, "Don't be afraid to use more onions or cumin."

Says I, "Don't be afraid to write it all down old man!"

Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

1-1/4 lbs of lean ground beef
2 cups of water
2 shakes of ketchup
2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup of onion (minced)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
3 tsp of chili powder

Place the hamburger in a heavy skillet. Add water and remaining ingredients.

Stir mixture as you bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and maintain simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

If sauce becomes too dry, add a little water.

The finished consistency should be like thickish chili.

Add a cooked hot dog to a steamed bun, add mustard, coney island sauce, chopped onions and a sprinkle of celery salt.

Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Product Review: Arora Creations Organic Tikka Masala Seasoning Mix



As food preparation goes, Indian can be a little time consuming to prepare. Especially, if it's a work night and you're craving it! Recently, while shopping in the organic food section of my local market I came across Arora Creations Organic Tikka Masala seasoning mix.I've since had it several times and I'd like to tell you about it.

First I'd like to explain that I usually avoid most prepared foods. More often than not, if you find yourself opening a can or tearing open a packet of something that is ready-to-eat or nearly-ready-to-eat, you're just going to end up swallowing a lot of things you shouldn't. We've all read the ingredient lists on cans and packets and some of the things in there just don't grow on trees or come about naturally. So, at an age that I can't eat like a teenager without gaining a lot of weight, I've decided when I eat, is going to be damn good. Sure, sometimes it is unavoidable, but most times I'll pass on the ridiculously long, multi-syllabic chemical abominations that are in ready-to-eat foods, thank you.

All that said, you can take my recommendation of Arora Creations Organic Tikka Masala to heart. As it does fall under the nearly-ready-to-eat category of prepared foods there is a little work involved in cooking it. If your familiar with cooking Indian food at home though, the first time you cook this, you're going to realize it is a big time saver. You'll need chicken, olive oil, an onion, ginger, garlic, tomato sauce and cilantro, but the end result is worth it.

The directions are straightforward and it all comes together very easily. The recipe also calls for serving it with a side of yogurt. I handle it a little differently and mix in 3/4 cup of yogurt about 5 minutes before it's done. Shut off your heat, give it a few moments to flavor up, add your cilantro and serve it over some basmati rice. The end result is a really nice chicken tikka masala. It may be a little spicy for some, but I think most people familiar with Indian food won't be disappointed or overwhelmed. It has a great aroma, is very tasty and will satisfy Indian cravings handily. It's even better the next day.

Don't forget the naan or roti!

Arora Creations also offers many other organic and non-organic Indian selections but I haven't tried them yet. You can be sure that if I do, I'll review it here.

Arora Creations Organic Tikka Masala is certified USDA Approved Organic and can be purchased here.

Ingredients: Ground sunflower seeds*, salt, ground coriander*, ground black pepper*, ground cumin*, ground chilies*, sugar*, ground nutmeg*, ground mace*, ground cinnamon*, ground cloves*, ground black cardamom, ground cardamom*, citric acid, silicon dioxide, lemon essential oil*, soy bean oil*, ground turmeric*. *organic

Product Review: Arora Creations Organic Tikka Masala Seasoning Mix


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recipe: Japanese Golden Curry with Carrots and Pistachios


I first had Japanese curry in Hawaii. I was up late one evening having had a bit to drink and I got the munchies. I headed out of my hotel to one of Waikiki's curry houses. I ordered a chicken curry to-go and headed back to my hotel. Once there and settled, I tucked into it and it was delicious. Hot, rich, flavorful and with plenty of gravy for the rice that accompanied it. YUM!

Japanese curry while familiar tasting definitely has its own thing going on. Much the way Thai, Indian and Chinese curries are all familiar yet uniquely different. The version I had could be categorized as a little milder compared to an Indian curry, but with a host of other pleasant things going on. It has a certain "silkiness" I guess. Anyway, it was the perfect thing to stave off my late-night hunger and any hangover or headache that could have come along because of all the wine. I slept like a baby and left Oahu for Kauai the next morning. Distractions and travel plans soon swept the sweet memory of Japanese curry from my mind.

Then one day several years later I was talking to my dad about Japanese food, (he was a Marine stationed in Japan in the late 50's). When I asked him what the best thing he ever had there was, he said that every week he would go to a local restaurant and get curry. "Swoosh" came my own memory and I told him about it and we agreed it must have been the same kind of curry. Memory reloaded and enthusiasm piqued, off I went to the internet to find out how to make my own Japanese Curry.

In my initial research, I found out that unlike Indian curry powder and Thai curry paste the Japanese produce their curries in a block. I also found out that there are no recipes to make your own curry blocks. Rather, everyone buys their blocks from a few manufacturers. A little more research and I found that the S&B company of Tokyo, Japan produced the kind of blocks I was looking for. Though if anyone knows of a recipe for preparing your own blocks please let me know! I like making most things from scratch if I can.

I soon sourced the S&B curry blocks from a local Japanese and Korean market and my love for Japanese curry was renewed. It is a very easy curry to make, especially if you're in a hurry. Even people who don't usually care for curry tend to enjoy it. You can even tell them it's "stew" to start them off. Below you'll find the recipe I prepared for my family tonight. I've also listed an online source so you can purchase your own blocks if need be.

Japanese Golden Curry with Carrots and Pistachios

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast (cut into bite-sized cubes)
1 lb. onions (halved and then sliced thin)
2 carrots (halved and then cut into 1/2" pieces)
1/3 cup of pistachios (shelled)
2 TBS peanut oil
2-1/2 cups of water
3.5 ozs. S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix (I use mild but also available in medium or hot)

In a large skillet over a high flame, add the peanut oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the chicken, onions, carrots and pistachios and cook until onions begin to brown.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Break up the S&B Golden curry block and add it to the simmering water. Stir the curry to help dissolve the block. Simmer for 5 minutes and allow mix to thicken.

Serve over your favorite rice, (I use steamed basmati).

Like many similar dishes, this is even better the second day.
Japanese Golden Curry with Carrots and Pistachios by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water


Friday, October 10, 2008

Recipe: Churrasco Argentino


I've had beef dishes in a lot of different places, some of those places like Chicago, are famous for their beef. They were all pretty good, but the best piece of beef I've had to date was at an Argentine restaurant called "El Gaucho" in Aruba's capital of Oranjastadt. I was so impressed the first time I went, I have been back several times since. If I had a friend with a private jet, I'd be back more often.

There are two components which make this dish so good. The first is the use of Argentine Beef. For the uninitiated I'll offer the following as a crash course in just what that means: Argentine beef has less cholesterol and fat than American beef, in fact it more closely approximates the fat, cholesterol and calorie profile of venison rather than beef. It's no mystery as to why, the reasons are obvious and simple: Argentine cattle feed on a diet of protein-rich grasses as opposed to the grain feed given to American cattle. This makes Argentine beef lower in fat with more protein than its American counterpart.

Experts also say that the surprising tenderness of Argentine beef comes from the stress-free environment that the cows are reared in. This environment offers fresh and clean air and water and the cattle are allowed a free range to roam. They feed on living plants such as alfalfa and clover year round which helps the beef develop it's distinct, richer flavor. Finally, and I think more importantly Argentine cattle are not fed the antibiotics and steroids that are given to American cattle. While all of this makes for a smaller animal, it makes up for its lack of size by producing a wholesome, all-natural and superior beef.

The second reason this dish is so good is the addition of the traditional Argentine chimichurri sauce. Of course there are many variations of this popular sauce, but I think I have nailed the El Gaucho version with surprising accuracy. Now to the American mind set, a parsley-based sauce on beef may seem odd. Especially when you consider the amount of parsley used. At least I thought it was odd, but it has made a believer of me and an increasing circle of friends who try this recipe. If you love beef, I encourage you to try this dish. It is hands down, my meal of choice when the opportunity arises to cook something extravagant for myself.

OK, now for some twists. While you can find Argentine beef on occasion (and even if you couldn't you can now, because of that wonderful thing called the Internet), I have made this dish more frequently with American beef to excellent effect.

The sauce is a no brainer, make it a day ahead of time so the flavors infuse and half the battle is over. Pay special attention to the beef cooking instructions to really nail this dish. Serve it with a potato side dish and some roasted sweet corn on the cob. Try it once by yourself to get a feel for cooking it and then spring it on your friends at a holiday or dinner party. It is sure to please.

Churrasco Argentino

1 beef tenderloin (dressed and cut into 2" to 2-1/2" slices)*
1 large bunch of flat parsley
2-1/2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 pinch hot Thai pepper flakes
Coarse cracked black pepper
Kosher or sea salt

To prepare the chimichurri sauce:

Remove parsley leaves from stems, discard stems and set leaves aside. You should have enough leaves to equal two cups, moderately packed in a measuring cup.

Place parsley, garlic, pepper flakes and vinegar in a food processor, or use a large mortar and pestle.

While adding olive oil, chop contents in the food processor until parsley pieces are about 1/4" in diameter. Add remaining olive oil.

Set aside in a covered bowl for 2-4 hours before using. Store unused portion in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

To prepare the beef:

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Set a cast iron frying pan on high heat.

Add a little oil. When oil is hot, take each steak and sprinkle on all sides with coarse cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Place each steak in the cast iron frying pan and sear on all sides.

Transfer seared steaks to large cast iron dutch oven and cook in oven to desired doneness (I use a remote meat thermometer).

Serve with chimichurri sauce spread on top of the steak.

*A full tenderloin will yield about 8 steaks. Plan accordingly or eat like a fiend like I do when I do this dish.

Churrasco Argentino by Henry Krauzyk, from Chop Onions, Boil Water

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recipe: Chicken and Chourico Paella


My indoctrination to good paella came at the hands of a chef at a resort I was a guest at in the Dominican Republic. Every day at lunch and dinner he would prepare a different variation of the dish that was both attractive and delicious. During one afternoon of my stay, he gave a demonstration on how to cook it and I jumped at the opportunity and I have never looked back.

Paella, much like chili and some other foods, has its passionate followers and I have become one. Its ingredients are not complex and its preparation is straightforward. However, (and in Zen-like fashion) when prepared correctly the dish transcends its humble beginnings by creating a harmony between its ingredients and attaining something quite special, and wholly greater than the sum of its parts (wow, that was awesome, for a moment I felt like a real writer).

Of course variations abound and so do schools of thought. Many paellas you'll find in restaurants are primarily seafood-based affairs. They range from the quite good, to excellent and authentic, to hollow counterfeit products from chefs who know little and think you know even less. Authenticity aside, I have personally seen variations calling for ingredients as varied as rabbit and land snails. Commonly, you'll see chicken, sausage, shrimp, lobster, squid, mussels, clams and just about anything else. The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter what you put in your paella, just that you cover the basics. In the photo above is a paella I made with all the ingredients below, plus the addition of serveral kinds of seafood.

Two of those basics that I will highly recommend are high quality saffron threads and the purchase of a genuine, Spanish-made, carbon steel paella pan. I’ve read cookbooks that say you can cook paella in any shallow and wide pan but I say differently. They are wrong! The biggest difference I noticed in my paella cooking experience was the introduction of my authentic Spanish-made paella pan. Let’s face it, if you’re not prepared to take this seriously you might as well just buy a boxed paella and microwave it.

Now, don’t buy the high-priced hype about saffron OK? Also, don’t buy it at your supermarket or ANYWHERE they sell it by the gram! It is usually of a lesser quality and dramatically overpriced. There are plenty of sources where an ounce of high quality saffron threads can be had for the same price as several grams at your supermarket, (Read a post about my favorite saffron supplier).

If you can't get chourico (you're bumming), no, just use any spicy sausage and add a few teaspoons of paprika. Also, if you want some seafood in it, go on and add it. I do! It is an easy dish to cook and people are drawn to watch it being prepared. Experiment a little and you'll be an aficionado in no time and a member of the ageless, secret society of paella preparers and mystics.

Chicken & Chourico Paella

(Serves 8, use an 18" paella pan)
6-8 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp saffron threads steeped in water overnight
4 boneless chicken breasts (cubed)
Olive oil
2 tsp dry oregano
10 cloves of garlic (minced)
5 large shallots (chopped)
2 lbs of chourico (sliced in 1/4" pieces)
1 28 oz can of tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
2 red peppers (cut into thin slices)
2 green peppers (cut into thin slices)
2 cups of green beans cut in 1" lengths
4 cups of rice (arborio preferred)
1 box of frozen peas
Salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan prepare the chicken broth, bring to simmer and add saffron and liquid. Add black pepper to taste. Keep just below a simmer.

Place chicken, garlic, oregano in a bowl, add 2 Tbs of olive oil and mix well. Place aside for about 10-15 minutes.

Place a paella pan on burner and preheat. Add a little olive oil to pan. When oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken mixture and cook, stirring often until 3/4 done.

Add shallots and cook until they begin to brown.

Then add peppers, chourico, green beans and tomatoes. Stir frequently until vegetables begin to soften.

Add rice by sprinkling evenly over the mix.

Add a few cups of broth to mixture and blend in. Bring it too a simmer. From this point on, DO NOT stir the mixture any more.

Add frozen peas to top of mixture, DO NOT mix in.

Keep adding broth. Let mix simmer, continually replace liquid as it evaporates until the rice begins to get tender. When the rice starts to get tender, stop adding the broth. (If you run out of broth before the rice is tender, you can supplement the paella with warm water.)

Paella is complete when moisture is completely absorbed, mixture thickens and paella caramelizes slightly on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat. Cover with foil and towels and allow the flavors to meld for about 10 minutes.

Serve family style.

Recipe: Chicken and Chourico Paella by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Suppliers I Love: www.saffron.com


There a lot I can tell you about saffron. There's a lot you may have heard before. How it is the world's most expensive spice. How it comes from a small flower. How hard it is to harvest or how few threads come from each bloom. Then there's the different kinds: Spanish, Indian, Kashmiri and Iranian. I could write a great deal about how to judge it's quality. What you should look for and how you should NEVER buy it in a grocery store. In the grocery store it is low quality and extremely expensive. I could also tell you how volatile the price can be, in fact recently it seems to have doubled.

Yes, I could write quite a bit, or I could direct you to the official saffron supplier of my Chop Onion, Boil Water efforts. Find your way to www.saffron.com. There you can get yourself an excellent education on this great spice. When you're done, order your saffron from www.saffron.com. If you follow this blog, you're going to need it. There's paella and other great saffron related recipes on the horizon! If you order it, you won't be disappointed and often you'll get free gift. I've turned a lot of people on to this supplier, and no one's complained yet!
Suppliers I love: www.saffron.com, Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recipe: Chunky Chicken Salad


One of the food things I remember not liking from my childhood were ham salad and chicken salad sandwiches. They were always soggy and pasty affairs seemingly spread with a putty knife in to small rolls. Bland or too salty they were the bane of holiday dinner tables. Even today I can take them or leave them. It is always hit or miss. My parents make good ones, but every time I grab one at a party or from a buffet, I know I am engaging in the equivalent of a gustatory crapshoot. Just like at a real gaming table, the odds are always stacked against me.

It always struck me as odd because seafood salad and ground chourico (which you are going to hear a lot about on this blog) rolls always seem to be good. It's not because I don't like chicken or ham either, I do. So, like all things food, when I hit a road block, I start trying to find a solution around it. The chicken salad recipe below is my latest solution.

Chunky, fresh, crisp, creamy and cool it makes a great sandwich. It also comes with the lofty endorsement of both my wife and my mother-in-law whom I believe are chicken salad experts. It's really easy to make and in no time you can have a great party offering or lunches for a week.

Chunky Chicken Salad

3 to 4 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or tenders
1 quart homemade or prepared chicken broth
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup of Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
4 TBS onions (chopped)
4 tsp turbinado sugar
2 TBS olive oil
A little less than 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
Salt and pepper to taste

Divide and trim the fat from the chicken breasts. Place the breasts and the chicken broth in a large pan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil and then back down to a simmer and simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes. At the end of that time, remove from heat, cover and allow to sit until cool enough to touch. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. (Save and refrigerate the rest of the chicken stock for future use in soup, sauces or maybe even a more chickeny chicken salad.)

Take the chicken and shred it into chunks. Make the chunks as big or small as you like. Just avoid making a chicken paste from them! Place them in a large mixing bowl.

Add all other ingredients including the 1/4 cup of chicken broth and mix through thoroughly.

When you're done mixing, mix some more because you probably weren't thorough enough.

Taste and season to preference, cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to intensify. Garnish with some fresh minced parsley for that upper-middle-class effect.

Serve to happy guests or enjoy for lunch.
Recipe: Chunky Chicken Salad Krauzyk, from Chop Onions, Boil Water