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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Tacos!

Tacos Tonight!
Let's Dish

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I’m using two fresh herbs for my tacos.  Oregano from my garden and fresh cilantro.

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First the vegetables, then some added ingredients to make these tacos extra special.

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I’m using ground pork for this recipe. The reason for that is, because it’s much cheaper per pound.  I’ll also will give my secret on how I make that happen in the directions for the taco meat recipe below.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans

If you want my recipe for my Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans, you can type the keywords (Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice) into the search bar at the top right of my home page and push “GO”.

Pico de gallo

If you’d like my recipe for Pico de Gallo, you can just type the key words ( Pico de Gallo) into my search bar at the top right of my home page and push “GO”.  Usually I’ll use grape tomatoes for my Pico, but I  thought, for tacos, using diced Roma tomatoes would work much better for this dish.

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If you want to check out another one of my guacamole recipes, you can type in guacamole into the search bar at the top right of my home page and push “GO”. This specific recipe will be available below.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 12 tacos- 4 servings.

Main Ingredients:
2 boxes of crunchy shells or 1 package of soft corn tortillas
2 packages of store bought “Mexican blend” shredded cheese

Ingredients For Guacamole:
3 diced avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 a minced Fresno chili or jalapeno (reserve the other 1/2 for taco meat)
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients and directions for both of my other two recipes, Cilantro Lime Brown Rice, and Pico de Gallo, can be found by using the search bar at the top right of my home page. Type in the specific recipe title and hit “GO”

Directions For Guacamole:
Place all the ingredients into a bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocados while mixing with the other ingredients. Wrap plastic directly over the guacamole, covering bowl tightly, and place into the refrigerator.

Ingredients For Taco Meat:
No oli is needed for this type of  pan ( 1 tablespoon of olive oil if using a different pan)
2 pounds of ground pork
1 onions diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 the reserved minced Fresno chili (substitute jalapeno)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 package of taco seasoning mix (McCormick blend)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon of ground chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground paprika
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 cups of beef broth
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup of sliced green onions
2 limes cut into wedges to serve with tacos

Directions For Taco Meat:
Set the pan on med-high heat. Add the ground pork, diced onion, minced Fresno chili, minced garlic, and tomato paste into the pan.  Using a wooden spoon break up the meat. Let the meat brown, and the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Once the meat has a nice brown color, add in the seasoning packet, Kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium low and let simmer uncovered for another 25 minutes.

At this point all the liquid and seasonings have absorbed into the meat to make a delicious and beefy flavored taco meat. Turn the heat off and add in the sliced green onions and cilantro leaves.  Mix those through and transfer to a serving bowl.

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Puff Pastry Wrapped With French Brie Cheese, Strawberry Honey Jam, And Walnuts- A Thanksgiving Day Brunch

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This holiday I’m making brunch for some friends. They’re going to be making the turkey, ham, and all the sides. I thought it is a nice gesture to bring them a couple of my special brunch items. I’m also going to bring my stuffing muffins and frittata muffins.

Most of the time, people are always dropping by throughout the day.  I thought it would be really nice if there were food there that could be served at room temperature.

First, my Puff Pastry Wrapped French Brie Cheese with Strawberry Honey Jam and Walnuts.

Second, are my MiniItalianSausage, Asparagus, and Truffle Fontina Cheese Frittatas.

Finally, were my Stuffing Muffins, filled with my sweet Italian Sausage, golden raisins, celery, onions, and fresh sage.

For this post, I’m going to share my recipe for my Puff Pastry Wrapped French Brie Cheese With Strawberry Honey Jam And Walnuts.  The other two recipes will follow soon.

Equipment: baking sheet, pastry brush
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Oven Temperature: 400 degrees F.
Cook Time: 15 minutes or until golden brown

Ingredients:
1 sheet of cold thawed puff pastry
1-13 ounce ( 5 inches in diameter) Brie cheese wheel
3 tablespoons of strawberry honey jam ( or fig jam)
2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
egg wash- 1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons of Apricot jelly
1 tablespoon of very hot  water
5 inches of kitchen twine
Sanding sugar

Directions:
Note: Remove the puff pastry, the night before, from the freezer, and transfer it to the refrigerator. The dough needs to be cold but completely thawed.

On your board, lay out one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the sheet out until it’s 1/8 inch in thickness. You want to make sure it’s large enough to cover the wheel of Brie and come together to be tied at the top. Refer to the pictures above. Transfer the pastry carefully to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Lay the wheel in the center of the rectangle shaped pastry. Using a spoon, add the jam over the top of the cheese and spread to cover the entire top of the wheel. Next, sprinkle on the chopped walnuts.

Bring each of the sides up to the top collecting them to come together at the top center so it can be tied up like a package. Using the kitchen twine, tie the overlapping pastry at the top together. Using your fingers spread the pastry out where it meets together at the top for presentation. Trim the twine as close as possible so as not to see the string.

Brush the entire pastry package with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

In a small bowl, whisk together the apricot jelly and hot water together until there are no lumps. Once the pastry is out of the oven, brush the apricot glaze all over the outside of the pastry. Sprinkle sanding sugar liberally all over. Carefully cut the twine.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into. Serve with your favorite crackers.

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Pastitsio

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Lately, I’ve been testing a couple Greek Pastitsio recipes. Pastitsio, Greek style lasagna is so delicious.  Instead of just making one pan, I’ve made three to share with family and friends.

Bucatini is the pasta that’s a little thicker than spaghetti with a hole running through the center. I used Bucatini in this dish because it is readily available at local grocery stores. The traditional Greek pasta used for this dish can be found on line. I recently visited an International market, about 30 minutes from my home, and found that particular pasta.

You’ll see in the picture below that they are large tubes of pasta.

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Pastitsio (3)

This dish is definitely is a labor of love but so well worth it. There are three components to this dish, first the pasta, then the meat sauce, and finally the Bechamel. The one thing I find that different in the making of Pastitsio is the type of pasta that’s used. I have some very dear friends that are Greek and traditionally their parents and grandparents used Bucatini. That’s a thicker style of spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center, so that’s what I’m using today. I’m going to start with the tender and flavorful meat sauce.

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Directions step by step:
In a deep sided pot that been heating up on med heat I’ve added 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. To the oil, I’m adding some spices. I have oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin that I’m adding in to flavor the meat. I let the spices bloom in the hot oil and this is going to flavor the meat.

To the pot, I’m adding in a diced yellow onion that I’m going to saute until soft and translucent. Next,  I’m sprinkling in a pinch of Kosher salt and black pepper, and just stirring the diced onion so it gets really good and coated in the spices.

I have some lean ground beef and lamb that I’m adding to the pot to start browning and getting a hold of those delicious spices. I turn the heat up to med high, and using a wooden utensil I break up the meat. This is when I add in the minced garlic and let that cook for about 10 minutes or until all the meat is nice and brown.

Once the meat is nice and brown I like to drain any excess fat off the meat before returning it to the pot. Next, I’m adding in a good red wine. I’m using a Merlot, 1 cup. I let this come back up to a boil still on med high heat, then reduce the heat to med low, to a simmer, until all the wine has been absorbed. Once that’s happened I add in the whole can of crushed tomatoes.

I go ahead now and turn the heat back up to medium, and let cook for about 40-45 minutes stirring occasionally. Right before the sauce is done I add in some fresh thyme leaves and oregano. I stir the fresh herbs through and set the meat sauce aside before starting on the next phase of the Pastitsio. Next, the pasta.

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Cook the pasta to just under the al dente stage. Drain the pasta really well.  I have some Pecorino Romano cheese, that I’ve coarsely ground up in the food processor. Transfer the drained  pasta into a container. Add 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of softened unsalted butter. Toss butter through really well. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t stick together while it sits to the side until I’m ready for it. I’m also adding some of the ground up Percorino cheese and tossing that through the Bucatini.

The second component to this dish is finished. Now for the Bechamel sauce.

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To start the Bechamel sauce for the Pastitsio, I have a pot that I have on med heat with some unsalted butter melting in the bottom. To that I’m adding in some flour that I’ve whisked until the flour and butter has made a smooth paste.

Next, I’m adding in some milk and heavy cream that have been heated (on the back burner) right below the boiling point. To the heated milk and cream mixture, add in some Kosher salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir that though before slowly adding the milk and cream mixture to the roux. Wisk continuously until everything starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.

This is when I add in some grated Pecorino cheese. Next, I ladle in some of the flavorful meat sauce into the Bechamel. Allow the mixute to cool before adding in the beaten eggs, and the room temperature Greek yogurt.

Well, that’ the last of the components for this dish. Now it’s time to put this bad boy together.

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First, I toss the prepared Bucatini in with the meat sauce.

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I have 3- 9 x 9 disposable pans that I’ve lightly butter. Remember I’m sharing with some really good friends of mine who happen to be Greek and to get their opinion on my take on this delicious recipe.

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I transfer a third of the Bucatini, in meat sauce, and divide that equally between the three pans. Next, I spread some of that delicious and creamy Bechamel sauce, equally, over the top so that it covers the pasta with meat sauce completely.

Sprinkle a good helping of the grated Pecorino cheese over the top of each pan. Place them into a 350 degree oven and bake them for 1 hour. The top should have a bubbly golden brown crust.

While it’s still hot, I chop up, very finely some Italian flat leaf parsley to sprinkle over the top for color.

Let this rest for at least 15 minutes to set before cutting.

I wanted to say, that this dish freezes beautifully.  Let cool completely, wrap them in foil, then again in plastic wrap really tightly. Then label and date them so you can have Pastitsio any time you like. When you ready to heat them up, place a pan into the frig to thaw over night.

Next, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Take a new piece of foil and lightly spray, the dull side, with non- stick cooking spray.  This will prevent the cheese topping from sticking to the foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and heat for about 30-35 minutes or until hot all the way through.

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Yields: 18 servings
Equipment: 3- 9 x 9 disposable pans
Ingredients For Meat sauce
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large diced yellow onion
1 pound of lean ground beef
2 pounds of ground lamb
1 cup of Merlot
5 cloves of minced garlic
1-1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juice
1 stick of unsalted butter, reserve some for greasing the baking dish

Ingredients For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 a stick of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all- purpose flour
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper
3 cups of grated Pecorino cheese (1-1/2 cups for the Bechamel, 1 cup to toss with the pasta, 1/2 a cup for the topping)
2 extra large beaten eggs
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1 pound of Bucatini
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:
Making the sauce. Heat the olive oil over med heat in a large pot. Add in the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to bloom in the oil first. Then add the diced onion seasoning with Kosher salt and pepper. Stir the onion until well coated with the spices and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the meat in and break up with a wooden utensil, and also add in the minced garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes. After the meat minture has browned nicely drain off the excess fat and return the meat mixture back into the pot. Turn the pot up to med high heat and add in the wine. Let it come to a boil, reduce the heat to med low and let the wine reduce completely. This takes a couple of minutes. Next, add in the crushed tomatoes. Turn the heat back up to med and let the meat sauce simmer for about 45 minutes. About half way through taste for seasoning. This is the perfect time to add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and pepper and stir that through.Be sure to stir the sauce occasionally through this process. Once finished set aside

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the pasta. Cook just under the al dente stage because it still has to bake. Once drained really well, add the unsalted butter. Toss the butter through. Then add in  Pecorino cheese and toss that through to coat the pasta. Set aside

Next for the Bechamel. Heat the milk and cram together in a sauce pan. Once just under the boiling point, 2-3 minutes, add in the Kosher salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg and stir through. In another pan melt the butter add in the flour whisking continuously Once the flour and butter are smooth and thick,add in the milk mixture and continue whisking for about 5 minutes or until the thicken white sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Now off the heat add in the grated Percorino cheese, 1 cup of the meat sauce. Stir this though and allow to cool before adding in the beaten eggs and Greek yogurt. Set aside.

Now add the pasta to the meat sauce and toss through so everything is mixed well  Place the pasta and meat sauce mixture divided evenly in the bottom of the pans, To that pour the Bechamel sauce evenly and equally over the three pans covering the pasta completely. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of each pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Sprinkle some fresh finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish over the top of each one. Let rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into.

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