BLT Pasta

BLT Pasta

Just a couple of things..

The initials BLT stand for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, and it’s traditionally consumed between two pieces of toasted bread (which has been smeared with Mayo)

If you choose to make a BLT sandwich, you should be choosing only top quality ingredients, pay an extra dollar a pound and get the heirlooms, find good quality romaine lettuce, and please, make an effort to buy top quality bacon, I know it’s getting expensive, but you can taste the difference.

Armed with that knowledge of what a good BLT sandwich should be, let’s transfer it to a pasta recipe!

What you’ll need:

4 strips of thick bacon, diced

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 cup of dry vermouth

1/2 cup of chicken broth

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

1 cup of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

1 sprig of fresh thyme

1 cup of french bread, cubed

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon, olive oil


Wash and cut the Cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Prepare the Spaghetti as directed on the packaging.

For the Recipe:

In a saute pan, cook the bacon until the fat has been completely rendered out of it and it’s crispy.

Remove the bacon from the pan, set it aside for use later. In the same saute pan, remove all of the bacon fat except 1 tablespoon. Add the grape tomato halves, sugar and cook on medium heat.

Cook for approximately 4 minutes. Then add the Vermouth and cook on medium low.

Once the liquid has almost evaporated, add the vinegar, chicken broth and red pepper flakes.

Cook the sauce on low until the liquid reduces by 1/3.

Add the Spinach, Bacon and Thyme and cook for 2 minutes, were just looking for the spinach to wilt.

At this point, the sauce is finished, toss with your cooked pasta and serve it hot.

I topped the pasta with garlic breadcrumbs, i’m not sure I’d include them next time, it’s a bit strange to me. (partially why I decided to leave them out of the recipe)

(recipe inspired by here

Caribbean Salmon with Coconut Coleslaw

Caribbean Salmon with Coconut Coleslaw

When I was in Vocational School for culinary arts, the chef used to try to test us by giving assignments that required us to create a recipe and cook it for everyone.  I was never particularly good at doing so, often only managing to pass with satisfactory, but never achieving outstanding.

Except for this one recipe: Caribbean Rubbed Salmon.

I’m not sure why I picked a fish recipe, I really don’t like fish as I’ve stated many times before.  I hate the way salmon smells when it’s cooked, and it tastes almost as bad. However this rub, seems to remove the “Fishy” smell and taste from salmon just enough so that I can enjoy it. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not about to go eat a whole salmon, I can barely get past a 1/4 kilo piece of it.

Why am I attempting to force fish down my throat? 3 reasons:

  • My wife loves fish
  • My Grandmother recently told me that I am eating way to much meat.
  • I do not want to be a parent who influences their children negatively about the foods I cannot stand, I want my children to grow up and willingly give everything an honest chance

So, on to our misenplace for the salmon:

Take a piece of salmon (hopefully you are greedy like me and choose a THICK piece) remove the skin and cut into 2 inch “steaks”.

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, allspice and thyme. stir until mixed. At school, we always ground this spice mixture in a coffee grinder to make it into a fine powder, however it’s not necessary.

Coleslaw Misenplace:

Shred one small white cabbage and place into a large steel bowl. Cut broccoli stems, carrots into matchsticks/julienne. (I will be posting instructions on various knife skills in the future just bear with me)

Pour boiled water into 1/4 cup of golden raisins to reconstitute them and mix them with the vegetables.

Open a coconut, break into pieces and remove the coconut meat. Rinse the pieces off and shred the coconut meat carefully and set aside. I used a box grater and it couldn’t distinguish a piece of coconut from my thumb. (Lesson learned there)

For the Coleslaw: 

Mix together 1 cup of Hellman’s Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and low sodium soy sauce, and one pinch of kosher salt. Mix until combined. It will taste a bit soy sauce-y. However once you mix it with the veggies it mellows out, I was almost tempted to use more soy sauce, almost.

Roughly chop a handful of cilantro leaves and throw them in with the veggies. add the mayo to the veggies and mix until combined. If the mixture is too tight, add more mayonnaise or soy sauce/vinegar.

Taste for flavor, I fully intended to add a small dash of coconut extract to this, however I did not have any, so I just left it out. You can choose to do the same, it’s up to you.

Place in fridge until chilled.

For the Salmon:

In a large frying pan, heat your oil of choice until it ripples and begins to thin.

While waiting for the oil, place a piece of salmon into the Caribbean rub, and get down and dirty with it (put on some slow jams if you have to), I know, I know, it’s fishy smelling, but the reward is worth it. Rub, rub, rub and then shake any excess off spices.

Fry your salmon, being careful to lay it into the pan away from you, so that you do not get splashed with hot oil. We are trying to fry fish, not human.

Allow the fish to cook for about 5 minutes, then carefully, ever so carefully turn your salmon over and allow to fry for exactly 1 minute more. Remove to a rack and allow to cool, or serve immediately with the chilled coleslaw.

I can’t decide which picture I like more..

However, I am disappointed with my plating, I like it, it’s simple, which is my style, however the plate is dirty, I should have cleaned it, this would have been one of my favorite pictures..

Some notes:

  • If you are going to substitute another fish for salmon, make sure it’s a firm fleshed fish, halibut or something similar.
  • If you are expecting the coleslaw to taste like candy, you are wrong, it’s more of a fresh taste. However, adding coconut extract and using sweetened dried coconut may increase it’s candy appeal.
  • Please don’t leave out the soy sauce, it MAKES the coleslaw work.
  • You could use sour cream, or low fat whatever you want instead of Hellman’s mayo.
Asian Inspired Meatballs

Asian Inspired Meatballs

Did you know that some popular  inventions and recipes were either accidents or failures? Some examples of this include: Corn Flakes, Potato Chips, Fireworks, Play-doh, Bubblegum, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Penicillin. Okay, maybe none of these inventions are earth shattering..but still, where would we be without chocolate chip cookies!!?

Ahem, Back to where I was going with this, I attempted to make Lumpia today. Lumpia are Filipino egg rolls, usually filled mostly with meat, and deep fried. I used the word “attempted” because I was not successful at making Lumpia. I only had egg roll wrappers available to me, so I decided to use them. However, egg roll wrappers are not meant to be fried for long periods of time, so my lumpia were turning to charcoal and the pork mixture on the inside was remaining uncooked and raw. I attempted to lower the temperature, but I got the same result regardless of how much I lowered it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that vegetable oil isn’t the best for frying, and I won’t use it again. But, too little, too late, unfortunately.

So with my lumpia adventure coming to a swift and sad end, my mind quickly changed to “what the heck am I going to do with 2 pounds of pork?” Just to get my bearings, I decided to fry up a small amount of the pork mixture. Once I tasted it, I knew right away what I was going to do. Meatballs.

So to start:

Take 2 pounds of ground pork, mix in 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger, 3 tablespoons of low salt soy sauce, and 4 cloves of minced garlic.

Mix the meat until well combined.

Roll the meat mixture into 1 inch balls.

Fry the meatballs until golden brown on all sides, I had to do this in too batches as I didn’t want to overcrowd the pan. Once all of the meatballs are browned, place them onto a sheet pan, covered with aluminum foil.

Cook the meatballs on 375 for about 15 minutes, just until the internal temperature of the pork is beyond 150*.

When the meatballs reach the desired internal temperature, brush your homemade sweet chili sauce over them and cook for 5 minutes longer.

Serve with extra sweet chili sauce, and pass around at your next cocktail party.  Of course, you do not need a party to enjoy these, you could choose to make these, and watch several episodes of CSI Miami, like the writer of this blog has done.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Black Olives

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Black Olives

This recipe actually comes from an Italian cookbook called; The Splendid Table. The author suggests that the shrimps can actually be served without pasta, and it would make a decent main course.

This recipe actually surpassed my expectations, I’m not a huge seafood lover, so i was very happy to eat this pasta.

For the Misenplace:

Peel about 1 pound of extra-large shrimp, remove the “sand” vein that runs down the back, and rinse off thoroughly. Place the shells you removed from the shrimp in a large sauce pan and set aside.

Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 3/4 cup of white wine to the pan with the shells and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to low, and allow stock to simmer until reduced down to 1 cup.

For the recipe:

In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil until it begins to ripple. Next add a few cloves of garlic and cook until garlic is golden brown, making sure to rub and smash the garlic into the saute pan. Once the garlic is golden brown, discard it, but keep the oil.

Now add 1 onion, chopped, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs of fresh marjoram and 2 leaves of fresh sage to the garlic infused oil and cook until the onions become translucent.

It should take about 15 minutes for the onions to soften and caramelize.

Add your shrimp of choice, I used 1 pound of “extra jumbo” shrimp. They seemed a bit small to me to be true “jumbos” but that’s tit for tat right now.

Cook the shrimp for no more than 1 minute, 60 seconds. don’t walk away, don’t pour a glass of Dr. Brown’s root beer, just wait. Once they begin to turn pink, remove them from the pan and set them aside. The reason we do this is because we want our shrimp to be succulent, not rubbery. Also discard the rosemary and sage leaves, but keep the marjoram sprigs in the pan.

Now add the shrimp stock we made earlier from the shrimp shells and bring to a simmer.

Open a tin of peeled “San Marzano” tomatoes and crush each tomato in your hand before adding to the pan. Just be careful, the juices squirt everywhere. Again, bring to a simmer.

Now add in about 10 rinsed and chopped Gaeta olives.Obviously you can add more, but try not to over do it, the olives can overpower the flavors  we are trying to create here.

Add about 10 cranks of freshly ground black pepper, a generous pinch of crushed red pepper. Also add the partially cooked shrimp back into the sauce and cook for another 60 seconds.

To finish the sauce, sprinkle freshly squeezed lemon juice over top of the sauce.

I suggest that you already have your pasta cooked and waiting for the sauce. If you choose to do it the other way, you risk the shrimp turning to a rubbery consistency. I decided to use spaghetti and it worked out just fine.

Some notes:

  • I don’t really think it’s necessary to remove the herbs early from the sauce, so if it seems weird, just go with the flow.
  • Easy on the olives, seriously. and they don’t have to be “Gaeta” I just happen to have from lying around.
  • The original recipe states to cut the shrimp into thirds, I thought that was useless, and don’t really think it’s needed.
Penne Alla Genovese

Penne Alla Genovese

This pasta sauce is a bit odd. A quick Google search of “alla Genovese” reveals that this pasta sauce’s name is incorrect. Alla Genovese usually showed up as either pesto sauce or a onion and beef sauce.

I had even a harder time finding any history of this sauce. Genovese means of Genoa, but that’s really all I have to report, kind of sad.

This sauce is neither of those things, It’s vegetarian (besides the cheese..) and it’s darn good. (how’s that for a slogan?)

For the Misenplace.

Reconstitute 4 ounces of Sun-Dried Tomatoes in hot water for 20 minutes.

2 pounds of tomato concasse (click the linky for description and directions)

Wash and remove the stems of 10 ounces of Baby Spinach

For the recipe:

Do you trust me? I said, do you trust me. =)

To start, in a large saute pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Cook 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts until golden brown.

Now, add the spinach and 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until the spinach is wilted.

Add the concasse tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. Now were also going to add a large pinch of kosher salt, and about 10 cranks of freshly cracked black pepper.

Cook the tomato mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to come together.

Once the sauce is at your desired thickness, add pasta and cook until warmed through. Add Parmesan cheese and another 10 turns of your pepper mill.

I choose to serve this over a Parmesan breaded chicken cutlet and topped with toasted walnuts.

Some Notes:

  • This recipe originally used Pine nuts. However, I do not like them and refuse to use them in my recipes.
  • Take it easy with the walnuts, think of them as a texture changer, but add too many, and it’ll get weird.
  • You could use canned, peeled tomatoes, but this recipe shines on high quality ingredients, that includes tomatoes.
  • I also used baby spinach, I prefer it for this recipe.
  • Recipe is copy write of me and this blog.