Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smoked Chicken Wings with Caramelized Pork Belly & Blue Cheese

First off, thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes on Friday October 21.  Despite a week long fight with the flu, I was able to enjoy some quality B-Day time.

With football season in full swing for this month's 5 Star Makeover we decided to host a Gourmet Tailgate Party.

When the fellas and I get together to tailgate we must have 4 things, 3 of which are in this dish...

  • Chicken wings
  • Blue cheese
  • Bacon or Pork Belly
  • Ice Cold Beer
This course takes the chicken wing dish on a different trip.  
  • First they are smoked over a combination of hickory and cherry wood.
  • Then they are fried in the Nectar of the Gods, Duck Fat!
  • Finish with a tangy sriracha based sauce.

My little Brother's smoker.

Romaine Hearts, Blue Cheese Dressing, Blue Cheese & Caramelized Pork Belly

Smoked Chicken Wings with Caramelized Pork Belly & Blue Cheese

Stop by tomorrow for our complete round-up and get some great ideas to take your next tailgate party to the next level.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spicy Lobster Broth with Wakame & Butter Poached Lobster Tail Meat

I love soup.  Soup offers the imaginative cook the opportunity to spread his creative wings.

I am more than willing to put in the work.  There is a certain mouth feel I want, to achieve this I…

  • Puree my soups
  • Strain everything
 Two of my kitchen tools that get the most work are...

  • The immersion blender
  • The Chinois strainer
Next up is the garnish.  It may seem counterproductive to put the effort into pureeing and straining the soup, to then add whole pieces.  Garnishes can really engage and inspire the diner.  They are accents.  My rules for garnishing soups are…

  • Small amounts
  • Small pieces
  • Must include the main ingredient
The last step is to pour the soup at the table.  Presentation is there for 15 seconds, granted, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  When you combine well throughout presentation, with great flavor, magic happens. People remember your name and look to come back.

Today’s soup is posh, spicy, creamy, and tart all in one.  Our basic flavor layers are…

  • Butter poached Florida Spiny lobster meat
  • Spicy blended sauce of sriracha, Thai chili sauce, and shiro miso - (recipe will not follow)
  • Wakame, (seaweed salad)
  • Rich creamy lobster broth
The Wakame salad can be purchased at many stores these days like Whole Foods.

Seems like an odd ingredient to use here.  I decided to keep the food from the sea theme going.  In the end, according to my diners, it was an inspired move.


Blended sriracha sauce and fresh thyme.  Using a small fork, twirl the seaweed salad into a small nest for your lobster.  Center in the bowl.

Top with butter poached lobster tail meat.

Pour the silky smooth lobster broth at the table.  Finish with avocado oil.

Spicy Florida Spiny Lobster Broth with Wakame Seaweed Salad & Butter Poached Lobster Tail Meat

Florida Spiny Lobster Broth
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 lb lobster shells
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 2 tbs cognac
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 3/4 ounce sorrel chopped
  • 2 cups creme fraiche
  1. In a stockpot, heat the safflower oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the butter.  Once the butter melts and foams, add the lobster shells.
  3. Sear the shells for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the onion and celery.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the cognac, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and sorrel.
  6. Cover the shells and veg with water.
  7. Bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour.
  8. Remove lobster bodies.
  9. Puree the soup using an immersion blender.
  10. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepot.
  11. Return to a low heat.
  12. Add the creme fraiche.
  13. Simmer to reduce by 1/4.
Butter Poached Lobster Tail Meat
  • Florida Spiny lobster tail meat - cut into 1 inch pieces
  • cold unsalted butter - cubed
  • 2 tbs water
  • sea sealt
  • ground black pepper
  • tarragon - tied with butchers string
Note:  The amount of butter needed depends on the amount of lobster to be cooked.  The lobster pieces should be submerged in the butter poaching liquid.
  1. In a saucepot, bring the 2 tbs water to the boil.
  2. Add the butter, cube by cube.  As one melts, add the next.  Whisking constantly.
  3. Once all the butter is emlusified it must be maintained between 170 F & 190 F.  Do not allow to boil or it will split.
  4. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Add the tarragon bundle.
  6. Allow the emulsion to cook for 10 minutes so flavors can marry.
  7. Add the lobster pieces.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove to a wire rack to rest.
  10. Season very lightly with sea salt.
That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Post Spotlight: Carrot Pumpkin; Sauce or Soup

This week I am proud to turn over the LC floor to Priscilla from She's Cookin'.  Priscilla is a member of our 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group.  Hailing from Huntington Beach, she combines the fabulous produce of Southern California with her bold cooking style to produce a magnificent cooking blog.

A perfect example is the dish she prepared for last months, Cooking with Wine, makeover.  

She's Cookin' is a professional food blog with exceptional writing, recipes and photos.  In addition, Priscilla is a nice person and a supportive blogger.  Please stop by and make a new friend.


Carrot Pumpkin; Sauce or Soup

Of course I'm honored, pleased, and excited that Lazaro asked me to do a guest post for you here on Lazaro Cooks. As faithful readers we're inspired every time we visit our favorite irreverent Kitchen Hack's site, so even though  my "deadline" was the eve of my departure on a three-week trip and I knew I would be in frantic mode, I wasn't about to turn down his offer.

At least I did the smart thing and stuck to what I do best (in my more organized corporate days I would have prepared far in advance, but that was then and this is now). Anyway, what I do on a daily basis, usually with less than an hour to spare, is create interesting, flavorful dishes for the man in my life.

Granted, not an unusual undertaking, except that said meal must be heart-healthy and contain virtually no sodium - even low sodium broth and, most certainly, low-sodium soy sauce (misleading  nomenclature for someone on a restricted sodium diet) are off-limits.  More than ever, I rely  on spices, herbs, citrus, infused vinegars, dried fruits, fresh fruit juices, peppers, and chiles.

To me less is always more and my mantra of simple = sensational is achieved when the rich autumnal flavor of pumpkin is brightened with citrus and zingy ginger and creamy coconut milk hint of the tropics. This lovely dish is versatile, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-fee, dairy-free, heart-healthy, and low-sodium. Enjoy and "peace out" as Lazaro says!

Carrot Pumpkin Dipping Sauce
Pure essence of carrot and pumpkin with luscious coconut and bright notes of citrus and ginger creates a deliciously light, nutritious dipping sauce for crudites, bread sticks, or pita chips. Add more coconut milk for a creamy, silken soup with a tropical flair.
2 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red cherry pepper*
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon meyer lemon zest
1 cup organic pumpkin
3 large carrots, small chop
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 -2 cups coconut milk*
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté carrots for 5 minutes. Add shallots and celery, cook for 5 more minutes. Add garlic, red cherry pepper, ginger and lemon zest. Cook another minute or so to meld the flavors. Add the wine, stir to blend and simmer until liquid is reduced in half - about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture. Or puree the vegetable mixture in a regular blender or food processor. Add more wine (I added about 1/4 cup) to get the consistency you desire.
Return mixture to pot and add the pumpkin. Bring to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and heat sauce through. Adjust seasonings as needed.
*For soup, increase the amount of coconut milk to 2 cups.
Vegetarian, gluten free, dairy-free, heart-healthy, low sodium.

Please stop by and support Priscilla at She's Cookin'.
That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest Post Spotlight: Roasted Vegetable Fillo Triangles

This week I welcome Alisha from The Ardent Epicure.

Alisha is one my favorite people I have met while blogging.  Not only is she incredibly nice but she is one of the most supportive bloggers I know.

As a cook, Alisha takes a back seat to nobody.  I have dubbed her The Veggie Queen.  She makes magic with veggies.  Some of the most complex and delicately balanced courses you would ever want to eat.

Carnivores will not be disappointed with her food.  Sexy vegetarian food at it's best.

Please stop by and a dynamic cook, my friend The Veggie Queen from The Ardent Epicure.


Hello to all of Lazaro Cooks' Readers!

I am Alisha aka Magic of Spice of The Ardent Epicure. I was so excited as well as honored when Laz asked me to guest post for all of you here today.

Lazaro is a multi-talented chef who stretches the boundaries in the culinary world with his beautifully executed dishes. One of my favorite things about food, or rather the preparation of food is the ability to create something by the use of balancing flavors and textures. And this is something my wonderful friend Laz is a master of.

Aside from all of this he is a wonderful and supportive friend.  So again I thank you Laz for all of the above and more!

Roasted Vegetable Fillo Triangles

What you will need:

For the vegetables

½ pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise

1 large Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced rounds

3-4 small yellow eggplant, thinly sliced rounds

2 pear onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Freshly ground pepper and sea salt

2-3 ounces smoked brie

For the fillo sheets

12 9x14 sheets fillo dough, thawed

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons agave

Cayenne pepper

For the black and white glazes

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup white balsamic vinegar

Let’s get cooking:

For the vegetables

Begin by placing grapeseed oil into a small bowl, add chopped onion and minced garlic. Whisk until incorporated (you will need half of this mixture for the potatoes and half for the eggplant)

Lay potatoes out in a thin layer on a baking sheets, brush with oil mixture, ground pepper and salt. Bake at 400 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes turning once halfway.

On another baking sheet, lay out eggplant in a single layer, brush on remaining oil mixture, ground pepper and salt. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until just softened and slightly crisp on the edges.

For the fillo sheets

Follow directions on the package for the thawing time and preparation.  Take the fillo sheets and place into 2 stacks of 6 sheets. Cut stacked sheets into 3 x 3.5 inches, should give you 12 per stack.  Cover stacks as recommended until ready to use.

In a small bowl whisk together oil and agave, slowly add cayenne to taste and continue to whisk until incorporated.

Working with one rectangle at a time, gently separate the stack into 3 sheets per stack, lightly brush on oil mixture then place additional 3 sheets on top. Brush top again with oil mixture the layer on potatoes, eggplant and top with cheese.

Place each stack onto a nonstick baking sheet for 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese has melted and sheets are lightly crisp.

For the black and white glazes

Bring each or the vinegars to a boil in a separate small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and reduce to 1/3 cup, or so. Allow to cool then serve on the side or drizzle over Vegetable Triangles.

Please stop by and visit The Veggie Queen over at The Ardent Epicure.