Category Archives: cooking

A New Year… A New Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese!

Living in New Jersey, a pork roll egg and cheese is a necessary evil.  Evil – because of its deliciousness and high calorie content and necessary because… well it’s just “Jersey”.

English: A package of Taylor pork roll (Taylor...

People in North Jersey call it Taylor Ham (the best brand) and people in South Jersey call it Pork Roll.  The fight is almost as passionate as “sauce” vs. “gravy”.  Gravy wins hands down – but that’s another blog.

After having one of the shittiest years and the shittiest New Year’s Eves (yet another blog), I decided to treat myself to a twist on the normal, well-known PEG.  Maybe I’d feel better about “stuff” – and I do!

My original blog about the wonderful PEG can be found HERE – and nothing can mess with perfection.

I don’t want to mess with the crème de la crème of NJ breakfast sandwiches, but I do want to offer you a gourmet alternative.


My Gourmet Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese – Is There such a thing?

2 slices of long-sliced Italian bread (I used Paramount sliced semolina)
1 tbsp apricot fruit spread
3-4 slices of cooked pork roll  (you can use pancetta instead)
1 egg – fried (I like my yolk cooked)
1/4 c crumbled Gorgonzola
3 tbsp butter
salt & pepper

Tools needed:  a panini press or something heavy to weigh down the bread (I used the latter)

Cook pork roll in some Pam until browned and cooked through.  Set aside.

Cook egg in the same pan to desired doneness.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  The flavor of the pork roll will permeate the egg – yum!

Assemble sandwich:  Spread fruit spread on bottom half of the bread.  Add pork roll, egg and crumbled Gorgonzola.  Melt butter in a clean pan and add sandwich – presentation side down. Press with something heavy.  Cook until golden brown, flip and do the same to the other side.

Cheese with be melted and the sandwich with be delish!

Serves 1.

Try it out and let me know if you like it.  It mixes the saltiness of the Taylor Ham and the sweetness of the fruit.

And for all you Jersey guys and gals – let me know how it compares to the original!

© 2013 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

My Manhattan Clam Chowder

With the advent of the cold weather, soup is always a good idea.

It warms you up from the inside out and makes you feel all cozy and content.

After Thanksgiving was over I thought I’d make some turkey soup – but alas – Tom Turkey had none to give so I opted for a giant can of clams from Costco and made some Manhattan Clam Chowder.

I love the New England version I make, but since my dad was over, and hates the creamy version, I whipped up my spicy version of Manhattan.

Now I never write down recipes – but I’m making a valiant effort to recreate it!

  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • a few good shakes of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 giant 3 lb can of clams from Costco
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 link chorizo, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds – optional – I only use it if I have it in the fridge
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 handfuls of potatoes – cut into small cubes
  • 1 lg can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Directions

Drain clams through strainer and reserve broth.

In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the meat beginning to crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pot and reserve.

Melt the butter in olive oil in a the same pot over a medium flame. Add the onion, celery, garlic, 1/2 to 1 tbsp red pepper flakes and chorizo (optional) and cook until the onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the flour into the pot. Cook the onion and flour mixture for several minutes then add the potatoes and add the wine and stir.  Add clam broth and bring to a simmer, stirring until smooth. Add the tomatoes and sugar, stir well to incorporate, then toss in the pepper flakes, thyme, and parsley. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and cook at a low simmer until the broth is flavorful, 20 to 30 minutes.

Add clams.  Stir well, season again, if needed, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately

ENJOY!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

FALL Back into Healthy Eating Habits

 

When I think of Fall, I think about 1.  Back to School (back to work for me), 2.  the Fall collections and how I can integrate the new trends into my wardrobe without draining my bank account and 3. going back on my damn diet!

I’ve eaten to excesses this summer with no exercise, except for an occasional tennis game, and I know I gained weight.

Now it’s time to buckle down so I can get into my single-digit sizes again and Clean Eating Magazine is one of my favorites to get me motivated.  It has great recipes that will put you on the right eating path and make you stay there.

Last night I made Spicy Red Quinoa Jambalaya from Clean Eating’s March 2012 issue.  I’ve made it before and it was delicious.  This time I made a few modifications because I didn’t want to go to the store yet again – and it was still delicious!

Spicy Red Quinoa Jambalaya

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 lb low-fat spicy turkey sausage, cut into half-inch pieces, casings removed  I used 3 links of smoked chorizo
  • 2 plum tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch strips  I subbed some Italian peppers and a jalapeno from the garden
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan on medium high heat.  Add sausage and saute stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and bell peppers and saute for 2 minutes.

Stir in broth and pepper flakes and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Distribute shrimp evenly over the top of sausage-pepper mixture.  Cover and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes, until shrimp are firm and pink.

Season quinoa with salt and pepper, transfer to a large serving dish and top with sausage mixture.

Serves 4.       1  3/4 cups of sausage mix and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Calories 335.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Recipe courtesy of Clean Eating Magazine.

 

Pop Art: Raspberry Icebox Cake

Pop Art: Raspberry Icebox Cake.

Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

I’m always looking for new recipes.  Whether they are my own creation, a tweak on someone else’s creation or just a recipe straight-up.

I wasn’t feeling well today so I decided to make one of my comfort foods – pasta.

I found this great recipe for Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce at saveur.com last week and decided to try it today.

It was delicious!  The perfect combination of flavors and spicy, spicy, spicy.  It takes a while to cook, so start early.

Here’s the recipe from Saveur Magazine.  I tweaked it a tad because it’s what I had on-hand – fabulous!  Bravo Saveur!

Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, smashed
6 oil-packed anchovy filets, chopped
4 red Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped – I used 2 long hot Italian peppers and a good dose of red pepper flakes
4 gherkins, chopped – I used 6 cornichons
2 red onions, chopped
1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained – I used crushed tomatoes
12 oz. bock beer, preferably Birrificio Italiano Bibock – I used a white beer
3⁄4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta, such as scialatielli or linguine – I used penne rigate
8 caper berries, for garnish
2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add capers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, chiles, gherkins, and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are browned, about 20 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and beer; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Purée sauce in a blender; return sauce to pan over low heat. Stir in olives and season with salt and pepper.

2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain pasta and transfer pasta to sauce; toss to combine. Stir in a little pasta water to loosen the sauce, if you like. Serve pasta garnished with caper berries and parsley.

SERVES 4

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Recipe courtesy of Saveur Magazine.

Stuffed Tilapia Steamed on the Grill

I love fish and seafood.  Flounder, tilapia, trout, catfish, shrimp, scallops, lobster – you name it!

I can eat it every day – my husband is a different story.  I have to invent new ways to make the same fish taste very different.

This summer I’ve done the foil packets, the steaming, the grilling, the everything, so I decided to try a stuffed filet.  I have never been successful in finding a recipe that I liked, thus decided to create my own.

Here it is – or at least I think it is but I didn’t write it down until this morning:

Jacqui’s Stuffed Tilapia on the Grill

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (if using larger shrimp, coarsely chop) – soak in white wine for a few minutes before cooking
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 2 tbsp ea of fresh lemon thyme & dill
  • white wine
  • 1 cup Panko
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin pieces of tilapia or other whitefish fillets, such as lemon sole, flounder or haddock (about 2 pounds total)

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the onion and zucchini. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Add the shrimp, approx 1/4 c – 1/2 c wine, herbs and seafood seasoning and cook, stirring, until the seafood is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not over-wet.  Remove from the heat.

Add the Panko and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stuff filets and place in a Pam sprayed grill-safe foil baking pan.  You may place extra stuffing alongside.

Pour white wine over fish – just to coat – and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cover with foil and cook on grill until cooked through – maybe 10 – 15 minutes depending on thickness of fish and temp of grill.

Serves 8.

Enjoy!

What are your favorite summer seafood recipes?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Grilled Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Summertime always makes me think of cheese steaks at Midway on Seaside Boardwalk, funnel cake, zeppole and of course a nice sandwich of sausage and peppers.

If you have a grill, there is no reason to use the stove – it makes the house too hot in the summer and makes the AC work too hard.

I’ve been grilling my sausage and peppers for years.  The grill gives the dish a great flavor and it’s done in no time.

Last nice I decided to try a chicken sausage instead of my normal HOT sausage & peppers.  I bought the Premio chicken sausage.  Don’t buy the fully cooked one.  It will not be the same.  You can also use any combination of peppers you like.

Here’s my recipe.  I hope you try it and enjoy it!

1 large package of Premio uncooked chicken sausage (about 8-12 links)
2 cubanelle peppers, sliced into chunks (does that make sense?)
2 poblano peppers, sliced into chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, chunked
2 long hot Italian peppers – left whole
5 or 8 mini mixed color bell peppers, chunked – I used orange, red and yellow
1 large onion, thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
light agave syrup
salt & pepper
hot red crushed pepper
Italian seasonings
extra virgin olive oil
grated Pecorino Romano
a handful of mixed, fresh herbs – I used basil, oregano, rosemary & thyme
a grill fry pan – one with holes in it

Take out sausage and bring to room temperature.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all peppers, onions, garlic, a large drizzle of agave, a few good shakes of Italian seasonings, salt & pepper & red pepper flakes to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well.  Adjust seasonings and amount of oil if needed.

Heat grill & cook sausage, flipping until browned all over and cooked through.  Do not overcook!  Meanwhile, place fry pan on grill and dump in pepper mixture. Cook until vegetables are charred and softened.  Remove when done and place back in bowl.

Add a handful of Pecorino and fresh herbs to pepper mixture.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.  Slice sausage and add to peppers.  Mix well and serve.

Serves 4 – 6 depending – maybe 8 – who knows.  All I know is that I served two and it was well received and almost gone!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Grilled Pasta Primavera

It’s only June 29th and I’m running out of summertime food fare.

I’m sick of grilled meat and fish, so I decided to throw this together.  I hope I remembered everything!

Jacqui’s Grilled Pasta Primavera

1 or 2 packages of asparagus-gruyere ravioli (I used 2) or 1 lb pasta
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 zucchini cubed
1/4 – 1/2 package of fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 – 1 1/2 c assorted bell peppers coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c grape tomatoes
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves 1/4 c roasted garlic
a squirt of agave syrup
1/2 c marinated bocconcini
a handful of mixed fresh herbs, chopped – I used basil & oregano
a handful of grated cheese – Pecorino Romano
x-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, whole garlic cloves with salt and pepper, agave and a drizzle of olive oil.  Toss.
Meanwhile cook ravioli or pasta according to directions.

On a grill in one of those pans with the holes in it, grill bacon until starting to brown.  Add vegetable mixture and grill until cooked to your liking.  Place back into the bowl.

Add roasted garlic, bocconcini, herbs, grated cheese, cooked ravioli and some olive oil.  Mix gently.  Adjust seasonings and olive oil.  Mix well.

Serves 4-8.

Enjoy!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Israeli Couscous Salad

Here’s a great side dish for the summer.  So simple and easy.

Let’s see if I can remember how I made it…

2 cups Israeli Couscous cooked according to package directions – cooled
1 can cannellini beans – drained & rinsed
1 cucumber – chopped into small wedges or chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
approx 2 tablespoons of chopped onion
1-2 cups grape tomatoes
2 mangos cubed
1 handful of fresh herbs, chopped – I used parsley, basil, oregano & mint
1 handful of grated Pecorino Romano
X-Virgin olive oil to moisten – I used only a couple of tablespoons
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine vegetables, fruit, garlic, onion & herbs in a large bowl.  Add couscous, cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4-6.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  Remember season, season, season!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Italian GRAVY! Not sauce.

I wrote this post back in March of 2011 – maybe even before then.

A friend of mine asked for my gravy recipe so I’m going to include it at the end.  Here you go Allie:

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-AmericanGRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.

GRAVY IS RED.

So here’s MY recipe… get cooking!

Grandma’s Gravy Via Jacqui 

x virgin olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves minced or sliced
1 handful of fresh basil torn or much less dried basil
1 handful of fresh oregano chopped or much less dried
1/2 handful fresh thyme or less dried
a pinch of red pepper flakes or more
red or white wine
1 can tomato paste
sea salt or grey salt & pepper to taste
1/2 handful sugar or more depending how sweet you like it
3 -4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I like Tuttarosso, Luigi Vitelli, Whole Foods brand or Rienzi)
water – 1/2 can of each can used
1 large onion minced (red or yellow)

Meat:  meatballs (RECIPE HERE), pork & beef brasciole, 1 stick pepperoni – cut in half then in pieces, sausage – also you can add spareribs or a piece of pork, steak etc.
1 c or more of grated pecorino romano

Salt & pepper all meat (except meatballs).  In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil & brown meat on all sides.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Deglaze the pot with a little red wine and allow to burn off while scraping brown bits off bottom of pot.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add onions and stir.  Cook until starting to get translucent.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, any dried spices and a pinch of sugar.  Cook, stirring until garlic starts to brown.  Add can of tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for a bit, stirring.

Add crushed tomatoes and approx 1/2 can water per can of crushed tomatoes (for desired consistency).  Add wine (maybe 1/2 c), fresh herbs, salt, rest of sugar, a couple of pieces of pepperoni and grated cheese.  Stir to combine.  Cook until bubbling then lower to a simmer.  Make sure to stir occasionally – do not burn.  Cook for at least a half an hour – ideally 1 hour.

Add all meat and accumulated juices after an hour and cook over low heat – stirring occasionally.  Cook for 1-6 hours.  The longer you cook it, the better it will taste. 

Serve with pasta.

From Jacq’s Kitchen

© 2012 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.