Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham

I have bee tinkering with Vietnamese nuoc cham for some time now, tinkering with both a red version and a green version. The subtle difference between the two is the red uses sambal (which I totally love), and the green one does not. Both versions can be used in many different ways, but my preference for either one is to be used as a dressing, or dipping sauce for grilled meats, or spring rolls. There is something so addicting in both that when no one is looking, I will simply eat it by the spoonful.

Packed full of tart, sweet, and spicy ingredients, this sauce is one of my favorites. Hands down.

Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham Recipe
Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham Recipe

As with any nuoc cham, it uses fish sauce, so if you have never tried either, this is a great chance to stock up on some good fish sauce, a super ingredient for umami goodness.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of quality fish sauce (I like 3 crabs brand or Red Boat)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 green Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced

Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl, and mix until you get that sugar dissolved. Give a taste. See? Flavor bomb!

You can keep this out at room temperature until you are ready to serve. This was used in fresh lettuce wraps, along with vermicelli noodles, and egg rolls, all wrapped in lettuce and drizzled with that sauce. My boys, and wife do not care for the sauce as it is a bit too spicy for them, but my daughter and I simply love it. This can be stored in the refrigerator, cover, for a few weeks, but my guess is that if you fall in love with this sauce, that it will not last that long. Hope you enjoy!

Simple Burger Sauce

Grilling season is coming to an end for many in the state of Wisconsin. I think this is officially the last day of summer, and as much as that pleases me (I love fall in Wisconsin), it disappoints me as well. I mean winter is coming, and that can get pretty long here in our state. With that said, my grill continues to heat up all year round, but for those that tuck them away until spring time, I figured I would give you my simple burger sauce recipe. Think of it as the ‘Big Mac’ sauce in a way, and one that really brings a great grilled burger together.

Yes, I ate that, well most of it.

Special Burger Sauce Recipe
Special Burger Sauce Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp French dressing
  • 2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tbsp minced white onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

That’s it. Pretty much things most folks might have in their refrigerator. As I love a burger with just mayonnaise and pickles, I figured I would step it up and mix these together to give a sweet, tangy, and creamy sauce. This one totally delivers.

Special Burger Sauce Recipe Ingredients
Special Burger Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until thoroughly combined.

When your burger is done grilling, slather it on the top, and bottom buns and enjoy. This one was stacked with a sauced bottom bun, lettuce, burger, pickles, onions, more sauce, another sliced bun, cheese, burger, bacon, tomato, more lettuce, sauce, and top bun. IT WAS A DOOZY.

If you are looking for a great sauce, not only for a burger, but along the lines of a great club sandwich, give this one a shot. It only gets better after a couple of days stored in the refrigerator as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Crawfish Etouffee

If there is one thing my oldest loves, it has got to be crawfish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but he’s my pickiest of eaters, 16 now, and when he tore into eating crawfish years ago I was flabbergasted. So on his most recent birthday I decided we would do a crawfish boil. I ordered 10 pounds of live crawfish from the Louisiana Crawfish Company figuring the ‘party’ would devour the boil. As much as my kids and I ate, the others simply ate a small handful, meaning I would plenty leftover. My kids and I probably spent a good 45 minutes, post party, peeling (and sucking the head juices) the tails to be used for a later dish. That dish being crawfish etouffe.

Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

If you have never heard, nor tried crawfish etoufee, it is a standard dish found in the creole or cajun area of our nation. It’s almost a staple. Etouffee is translated to ‘smother’ in French terms, and I make mine with a darker roux only to deepen the flavor and making this a super comforting recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing

Sounds like a bunch of stuff, but it’s really pretty basic, and trust me it’s full of comfort.

Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.

Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.

Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.

Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.

Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.

Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.

So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!

As much as my kids loved tearing through boiled crawfish, I cannot say they were much fans of this particular dish. Most likely due to the stew like texture. My wife and I on the other hand? Well, we imagined ourselves being back in New Orleans, walking the streets all day, and ending up in a great restaurant eating one of their famous dishes; crawfish etouffee.  I hope you enjoy!

Crawfish Etouffee
Author: 
Cuisine: Cajun or Creole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1½ cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.
  2. Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.
  3. Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.
  4. Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.
  5. Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.
  6. Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.
  7. So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!

 

Lasagna with Quark Cheese

This quark cheese could not have come at a better time. My colleague had sent me a text stating he was bringing in 12 ounces of quark cheese and it was all mine. He had recently worked at a farm to table dinner and a lot of food was leftover for the taking, and one of them being quark cheese. It was awesome quark cheese at that and from Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They make awesome cheese curds, so I was excited to try their quark cheese.

When I took the cheese home, I gave it a taste, and it was confirmed how awesome it was. The quark cheese was soft, a bit tangy, and reminded me a bit of ricotta cheese in texture. That’s when I knew what I was going to do with it, and what a better way to use up a lot of my tomato sauce that I have been freezing from an abundance of tomatoes from my garden. What’s better is my kids did not know I was putting in this cheese, so it was a new experience to a meal they already love, lasagna.

Lasagna with Quark Cheese Recipe
Lasagna with Quark Cheese Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 lb ground chuck, cooked, and fat drained
  • 5 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (I made my own)
  • 12 pasta sheets, I tried the ‘Oven Ready’ type
  • 1/3 cup shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 12 oz Quark cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of fresh mozzarella, torn
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • aluminum foil

Start by cooking your ground chuck. Once cooked and drained, return back to the stove on medium-low heat, and add in your tomato sauce, garlic, shallots, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetable soften, and the sauce is cooked through. Once cooked through, set aside.

To a mixing bowl, add the quark cheese, eggs, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix until everything is blended through.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

To a baking dish, lightly spray with cooking spray.

Lasagna with Quark Cheese Ingredients
Lasagna with Quark Cheese Ingredients

Now time for assembly. Ladle about a cup of meat sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, and evenly spread out.

Top with 3 sheets of the lasagna shells. Add dollops of the quark cheese mixture on top of the pasta. Ladle a bit more sauce, top with pasta, cheese mixture, pasta, cheese mixture, meat sauce, pasta, and finish with covering entirely with the meat sauce. Add the fresh mozzarella on top of the meat sauce, then cover with aluminum foil, and place into the preheated oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, remove, take off the foil, and return back to the oven to get the cheese nice and bubbly. Remove, and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes (I know that is the hardest part).

Now you are ready to serve. Slice into squares, shower with more parmesan cheese if desired, or shower with some chili flakes.

Lasagna with Quark Cheese Recipe
Lasagna with Quark Cheese Recipe

The end result, and I don’t say this because I made this recipe with quark cheese, was spectacular. It had everything you love about a great lasagna, but there was something about the quark that really made it special.  So if you have never tried quark cheese, do so, and if you have plenty to spare give this recipe a shot. I hope you enjoy!

Lasagna with Quark Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Lasagna
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1¾ lb ground chuck, cooked, and fat drained
  • 5 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (I made my own)
  • 12 pasta sheets, I tried the ‘Oven Ready’ type
  • ⅓ cup shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • 12 oz Quark cheese
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ½ tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of fresh mozzarella, torn
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • aluminum foil
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking your ground chuck. Once cooked and drained, return back to the stove on medium-low heat, and add in your tomato sauce, garlic, shallots, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetable soften, and the sauce is cooked through. Once cooked through, set aside.
  2. To a mixing bowl, add the quark cheese, eggs, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix until everything is blended through.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  4. To a baking dish, lightly spray with cooking spray.
  5. Now time for assembly. Ladle about a cup of meat sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, and evenly spread out.
  6. Top with 3 sheets of the lasagna shells. Add dollops of the quark cheese mixture on top of the pasta. Ladle a bit more sauce, top with pasta, cheese mixture, pasta, cheese mixture, meat sauce, pasta, and finish with covering entirely with the meat sauce. Add the fresh mozzarella on top of the meat sauce, then cover with aluminum foil, and place into the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  7. After 35 minutes, remove, take off the foil, and return back to the oven to get the cheese nice and bubbly. Remove, and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes (I know that is the hardest part).
  8. Now you are ready to serve. Slice into squares, shower with more parmesan cheese if desired, or shower with some chili flakes.