Category Archives: Appetizers

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

I was asked some time ago what was my favorite chile pepper to use when cooking. At first I was thinking it was the jalapeno as it is more on the mild side and can be tolerated by many, however as I continued to think about it, I thought it was the serrano, or heck even the habanero. There are so many that I do love, including the smoked jalapenos, and as importantly the Thai bird chile pepper. But the habanero is one of those awesome chile peppers that is just loaded with awesome flavor, and heat for that matter. In the past I have only used the habanero in making Jamaican jerk rubs, and even a habanero hot sauce that was completely addicting (and hot). With that in mind, I decided to take that idea of using the habanero and turn it into a fire roasted habanero salsa, plus I wanted to use a handful of tomatoes from my garden. Trust me, this salsa rocks.

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 whole habanero chilies
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of water

The cool thing about making this salsa is that you cook the vegetables and chilies directly on the coals. The Mexicans have been doing this forever, and it is typically referred to as cooking al carbon. The cooking method instills this awesome flavor that you typically will not get by cooking on your stove top or broiler. Trust me, try this. Folks have even been known to cook meat directly on the hot ashes as well!

Heat your coals until they are all nice and gray. Lay the onion, tomatoes, and habaneros directly onto the coals. Note that the onion will take longer to cook than that of the tomatoes and habaneros. Cook everything until they are completely black and super charred. Once fully charred place them in a bowl and let them cool to the touch.

How to make Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Once they are cooled, use the back of your pairing knife and remove the outer skin from each of the items. Don’t worry if you get a bit of ash or char along with the items. You can decide if you want to keep the seeds in tact on the habaneros. I kept two whole, and removed the seeds from the third.

Once the charred skin is removed, add the tomatoes, habaneros, and onion to a food processor. Toss in the garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Pulse until you have a nice consistency, then start slowly pouring in the water until you have your desired thickness. Taste and adjust with any salt.

The result is just the perfect amount of heat. It does have a kick to it, but the flavor is just out of this world. This stuff is great on just about anything. I was adding it to my omelettes in the morning, using it as a standard chip dip after work, and drizzled on chimichangas. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think when you decide to cook al carbon!

Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

Not too far from Milwaukee, there is a annual summer-time event called the Bristol Renaissance Faire. It’s a good time to be had by all. It’s been years since I have last went, but I recall it rather clearly. I remember the people dressed in costume, the shops, the activities, and their food. So my coworkers and I got to talking as the faire recently ended, and one coworker kept describing their mushrooms and how awesome they were. I was set out to make those, as I knew I would be putting them on pretty much anything, and that was the truth. These mushrooms are perfect in texture, and have a great garlic and onion flavor.

Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

Let’s get started.

  • 32 ounces of button and cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 whole onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs thyme

This is really super simple, and one that goes pretty much the majority of the day.

Add the mushrooms to a large pot. Cover with water and the beef stock. Add a plate to the top, one that will fit, to make sure the mushrooms get a nice soaking until you are ready to add the remaining ingredients.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the butter, and let it melt. Toss in the onions, garlic, and cracked black pepper. Give it a nice toss. Let this cook on medium heat, stirring along the way, just until the onions begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Remove the plate from the mushrooms, and add the onion mixture to the pot. Add in the salt, and white wine.  Stir. Cover, and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours. About 6 hours in, remove the cover, bring the heat to medium, and add the sprigs of thyme.

How to make Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

The broth will reduce a bit, and that’s what you want, but you will still have plenty of broth. It’s yummy. I could just eat that by itself.

When you are ready to serve, ladle these in a bowl, or serve them as I did on top of mashed potatoes. Did I say that might be my favorite new combination? Mushrooms and mashed potatoes?

These mushrooms are addicting. They are super tender and just have an awesome taste. I mean you can’t go wrong with garlic, onion, butter, and wine.  It makes quiet a bit, so reduce how many ounces of mushrooms you want to make.

When I was cooking these, I thought that you could probably get away with these by making them in a slow cooker.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Lumpia Shanghai Pizza

A couple of weeks ago, my wife woke up on Saturday and said “I totally want some egg rolls today”.  Now many of you might not get overly excited about that, but I was actually pleased to hear that. I’ve had plenty of egg rolls in my time, however when I first met my wife, she turned me onto a whole different style of egg roll that she grew up with in the Filipino household. This style of egg roll is totally out of this world, but so pleasing to the taste. I decided to make nearly 30 Filipino lumpia shanghai, and I had some mixture left over to spare. I knew exactly what I was going to do with that mixture; make a pizza out of it.

Lumpia Shanghai Pizza

If you have never had lumpia before, it’s a must make, and it is especially awesome in a garlic and vinegar spooning/dipping sauce.

Let’s get started.

  • 1/2 lbs Ground pork (I grind my own pork shoulder)
  • 1/2 cups uniform cut, fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cups uniform cut russet potatoes, about 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2  tsp of fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2  tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup baby shrimp, thawed, and rinsed
  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup plain corn chips, broken
  • light corn meal

Begin by mixing your pork in a large pot. Add in the green beans, potatoes, shrimp, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Shape your pizza dough into about a 16 inch round.

If you are cooking in an oven, preheat a pizza stone for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.

How to make Lumpia Shanghai Pizza

Shower corn meal onto a pizza peel. Add the pizza dough, and reshape the pizza.

Spoon on the pizza sauce and slather it to lightly cover. Add on the cheese, then as if you were using uncooked Italian pork sausage, start taking tablespoons and adding dollops onto the top of the cheese.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pizza is cooked to your liking, but the pork cooked through.

I’ve been using my Kettle Pizza, so this pizza took about 6 minutes to cook in my grill. I highly recommend it.

Regardless, when the pizza is cooked, cut into slices, and shower with the corn chips for that crispy egg roll texture.

This pizza was everything awesome about having lumpia shanghai, but in pizza form. What’s not to love about that! What I should have done to make even better was to drizzle on some of that garlic and vinegar mixture. Next time. Next time… Hope you enjoy!

 

Baked Garlic and Parmesan Chicken Wings

My boys are now getting in to eating chicken wings. My oldest has been a fan for a couple of years now, and now my other boy is really starting to get into them. Me? Well, I’m a huge fan. I love everything about the chicken wing, especially trying out new sauce combinations, or spice rubs. The funny things about my oldest son is that he will not eat sauced wings, while my other is all about the sauce. With that said, I always have to please both kids. So recently I decided to create a chicken wing that had just a bit of wet sauce to it, while having for the most part, a dry rub. This was my attempt to get my oldest to continue to explore. These baked garlic and parmesan chicken wings are to die for. Even my wife dug into a couple of them and she is one who is not a fan at all. That’s always a sign of something really, really tasty.

Baked Garlic and Parmesan Chicken Wings

The great thing about these wings (besides everything) is that they are baked. No messy oil splatter, just place them on a baking sheet and let them bake until nice and crispy.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken wings (or as many as you want)
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • parchment paper, optional

Start by breaking down your chicken wings. I love to keep the wing tips on, but you can remove them if desire. My kids love them as they get nice and crispy, so I leave them in tact.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the wings. Bake for about 1 hour, or until they are golden and crispy. I like my wings a bit on the dry side, over cooked if you will, but you cook them to your desired doneness.

Once cooked, add them to a large mixing bowl.

How to make Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

Add all of the seasonings to a small bowl and give them a good mix.

Add the melted butter to the chicken wings, then shower on the parmesan cheese and seasoning. Toss the wings a few times to get everything well coated.

Add to your serving plate and dig in.

Baked Garlic and Parmesan Chicken Wings

These wings were loaded with tons of awesome flavor. Salty, spicy, and all balanced by that little bit of butter. My entire family loved them so much I wish I would have made double the order. Next time. Next time. Hope you enjoy! By the way, if you want a saucy version, give these roasted garlic and parmesan saucy wings a try.