Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crab-Stuffed Portabellas

By Paul Briand

My wife was overcome by mass marketing, influenced by her love for crab.

She kept seeing a television ad for a crab-stuffed mushroom appetizer at one of those chain steakhouses. Then a coupon arrived with the Sunday paper for $3 off that appetizer.

“We have to go,” she said.

But I did her -- and the steakhouse -- one better. I created my own crab-stuffed mushrooms, but used the mother of all mushrooms -- the Portabella -- to make it. And this wasn’t any appetizer, it was dinner, served on a salad drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

4 Portabella mushroom caps, stems removed
4 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 pound lump crab meat
4 slices Canadian bacon, diced
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Old Bay seasoning
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat;
2. Saute the bacon and Shiitake mushrooms in skillet until the bacon appears crisp, about three minutes;
3. In a large bowl, combine the crab, bacon/Shiitake mixture, egg, and mustard and gently fold together;
4. Add bread crumbs and seasoning to taste and mix. You’ll want a mixture that’s firm enough to pack as you would a crab cake;
5. Place Portabella caps top side down on a lightly greased large baking sheet;
6. Divide mixture and evenly distribute onto the mushroom caps;
7. Bake in oven for 15 minutes;
8. Remove from oven and add Parmesan to the top of each mushroom/mixture as needed to cover;
9. Return to oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese melts and starts to brown then serve.

Click here for recipe card.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Big Sal

By Paul Briand

April is Grilled Cheese Month … who knew?

So, in light of that eureka moment, I’ve found a grilled cheese recipe that is way beyond what you’d expect of a grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s called The Big Sal, and it’s included as part of a recipe contest for grilled cheese promoted by Tasting Table, which describes itself as “the free daily email for adventurous eaters everywhere.”

(The Big Sal, if you want to find it on the link above, is No. 25 on the slideshow.)

This dish serves four and is a gooey combination of sweet Italian sausage and different kind of cheeses melted into ciabatta rolls using a panini press. Like I said, it’s not your mama’s grilled cheese sandwich.

A couple of notes on this: I grilled my sausages using my outdoor gas grill, and I skipped the 15 minutes of baking.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 sweet Italian sausages
2 onions, such as Vidalia, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large bell pepper, sliced ¼ inch thick
4 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick
4 ciabatta rolls
4 ounces Wisconsin Asiago cheese, grated
8 ?-inch thick slices fresh mozzarella
White or black truffle oil, optional
1 cup jarred, roasted red pepper strips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and heat  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in large, oven-safe sauté pan over medium heat;
2.  Add sausages and brown on all sides. Remove sausages to plate and return pan to stove;
3. Add onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes.
4. Cut sausages in half lengthwise and place in pan with vegetables;
5. Place pan in oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven;
6. Preheat panini grill over medium-high heat. Drizzle buns with olive oil and halve;
7. Place 1 ounce (generous 1/8 cup) grated Asiago cheese on each roll bottom; top with 1 slice mozzarella;
8. Layer with 2 sausage halves and approximately 1/2 cup of the onions-peppers-mushrooms;
9. Drizzle with a few drops of white or black truffle oil, if using. (A little goes a long way.);
10. Top with 1/4 cup pepper strips, additional slice mozzarella, and ciabatta tops;
11. Place in panini press for 5 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is golden brown.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ham, Potato & Egg Casserole

By Paul Briand

Every Easter it’s the same thing: What do we do with the leftover ham?

My mother normally gets the bone for a wonderful pea and ham soup that she makes. One of these days, I’ll get the recipe posted.

Last year, I made a Ham Casserole, using a can cream of celery soup as the base.

This year, a stumbled on a recipe by way of the Foodily app on my iPhone.

It caught my eye originally because of the bacon. But I decided to re-do the original recipe, substituting bacon with ham, upping the number of eggs and milk, using a little more cheese as a  topping and adding some panko bread crumbs to give it a bit of a crunchy crust.

2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cleaned out and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
10 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 cups frozen diced potatoes, unthawed
½ cup panko bread crumbs

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a large baking dish with baking spray or olive oil;
2. In a teaspoon of olive oil over medium high heat, cook the onion, yellow bell pepper, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes until all the vegetables are soft. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly;
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly and whisk in the milk and black pepper;
4. Stir in 2 cups of cheese, frozen potatoes, ham and vegetables from the skillet;
5. Pour the whole mixture into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes;
6. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs;
7. Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes or until the eggs are firm;
8. Serve immediately.

This was originally cast as a breakfast casserole, but works perfectly fine as a brunch or dinner dish.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Braised Beef with Rigatoni

By Paul Briand

When I saw this one on the cooking segment of a recent “Today” show on NBC, I liked what I saw about the low and slow braising of the beef. Oh, and I liked the wine.

The recipe was courtesy of Eric Gabrynowicz, chef at Restaurant North in Armonk, New York.

I substituted a bag of baby spinach for the arugula called for below.

For the braise:
1 pound beef cubes - try to utilize the less expensive cuts suitable for braising, such as short ribs, shanks, cheeks, brisket
8-10 cloves garlic
3 sprigs sage (or from your spice jar if you don’t have fresh)
1/4 cup tomato paste - homemade is best
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons canola oil
For the pasta:
1 pound of rigatoni or your favorite pasta.
1 bunch arugula
Cheese for grating, such as parmigiano reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
Chili flakes to taste

1. After setting the oven for 300 degrees, sear the meat it in a heavy-bottom saute pan over medium high heat;
2.  Remove the meat, and saute the garlic and sage;
3. Add the meat back in. Add tomato paste and wine. Bring to a simmer. Cover and braise for 4 to 5 hours at 300 degrees or until tender;
4. Cook rigatoni until al dente;
5. Immediately add the pasta to the braise in the saute pan;
6. Fold in arugula, extra virgin olive oil and chili flakes, and toss until completely coated;
7. Plate and shave cheese on top.

Click here for recipe card.

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