Roasted Fennel

Where do I begin with fennel? It’s something that I look at all the time, whether that be at the grocery store, or at a farmer’s market. Look, I said, not purchase. So I had to break that routine, and buy a fennel bulb. When I brought it home, I thought I might slice it and eat it raw, and then I took a look at the fennel fronds and thought I might use it as a garnish of some sorts, or place it in a salad. You can tell I was all over the place, and then I decided to simply roast the fennel and serve it as a side dish alongside some roasted chicken.

Roasted Fennel Recipe

If you have never had fennel before, it is pretty diverse and can be eaten raw, or cooked, and it has a mild licorice like flavor. With that said, you are probably either going to love it, or hate it. My family is on the neutral front.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

That’s it. Super simple, and a great side dish, especially with fish.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Take the fennel bulb, removing the fennel fronds (the green stuff that looks like dill), and slice off the base of the fennel.

With the remaining bulb, thinly slice the fennel and add it to a small mixing bowl.

How to make roasted fennel

Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and give it a good mix.

Once the oven is heated, place the fennel on a baking sheet, and spread it out.

Roast the fennel in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the fennel gets nice and roasted and caramelized. Remove and serve.

The end result is a nice and tender piece of fennel that is somewhat sweet, with a mild licorice flavor. Also note, fennel is really, really good for you, so if you are like me and look and fennel but never purchase it, go ahead and pick one up and serve it raw or roasted. You only live once, so go ahead and give it a try. Hope you enjoy!

 

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Loaded Fajita French Fries

For whatever reason, I have been thinking of loaded fries lately. Not sure if I had nachos on my mind, or maybe it was those darn kimchi fries I made not too long ago, but it was time for me to take some action and get down to it and make a batch of fries. I had set out a rump roast the previous evening and not knowing what to do with it, I decided to turn it into some Mexican fajita meat, and beat down my craving for fries. This is when the whole idea of fajita french fries came into play.

Loaded Fajita French Fries

Think of this as everything you love about fajitas, but stacked on top of crispy cheese fries. Addicting, delicious, and something perfect for snacking on with some friends. Typically flank or skirt steak are used for fajitas, but the rump roast turned out just fine, especially in a great marinade.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb rump roast, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 whole yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups of your favorite french fries, cooked
  • sour cream, optional
  • salsa, optional
  • 3 tbsp canola oil

Start by marinading your meat. Mix the brown sugar, half of the lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce in a baking dish, and mix until the sugar dissolves.

Add in your rump roast, and gently toss to combine the marinade. Cover and let this marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

To another bowl, add the peppers and onion, and toss in the other half of the lime juice, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, and cumin powder. Give a good stir, and cover and place in the refrigerator.

How to make loaded fajita french fries

When you are about ready to make these fries, heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once heated, add in the oil and give it a nice swirl.

Lay in your meat, being careful not to crowd it, and cook on both sides until it is nice and caramelized. You may have to wash out and scrape your skillet and repeat as the sugar from the marinade may stick to the skillet. Repeat with any remaining beef.

During this time, cook your french fries until they are nice and crispy.

Once the meat is cooked, cut into thinner strips.

To another skillet, add in about a half tablespoon of oil, and on medium-high heat, add in the bell peppers and onions. Cook until they are just slightly softened.

Remove the fries when they are crisp and top with the shredded cheese. Return back to the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.

Remove the cheesy fries, and top with the sliced beef and bell peppers and onions. Drizzle on your salsa and give a little dollop of sour cream.

Now get in there and dig in.

Talk about comfort food! The crispy cheesy fries paired with the peppers and beef. Whoa. Don’t even get me started on the beef. My kids saw the beef right away and wanted me to make them some Mexican street tacos (which I did) and I thought they were going to eat it all, preventing me from making my fries! Hands down a fun dish to serve up. Fajitas in french fry style. What’s not to love. Hope you enjoy!

 

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Char Siu Pizza

Last week I had a real hankering do get some pho for lunch. There is this great place (finally) near where we live called Pho King. They have some of the best pho in town, in my opinion, and as I was pulling into the plaza, I noticed a new shop called Lucky’s Chinese Bakery. I had to stop in, and boy was I glad I did. This place was full on busy with Chinese workers slinging all sorts of stuffed buns. There was whole roasted duck sitting in front of me, along with char siu and crispy roasted pork. I thought I was in heaven for a second, but then I snapped out of it and began ordering. I ordered both porks, and a few buns, then went home to sample everything. EVERYTHING was really, really good.

I had plenty of char siu, a style of sweet barbecue pork that is chopped up, leftover, and as I was making pizzas on my Kettle Pizza, I decided to come up with a char siu pizza. It was great.

Char Siu Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, rolled or tossed into 12″ round
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Chinese char siu, sliced and cooked
  • 1/2 whole jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp light cornmeal

Pretty basic stuff, but the great thing, at least in my opinion, is that you get that sweetness from the char siu that is balanced by that subtle heat from the jalapenos. A perfect marriage in my opinion.

How to make a char siu pizza

Heat your oven to the highest temperature, with a pizza stone. In my case, I use the Kettle Pizza, which I think I have mastered pizzas now, and again get it up to the highest temperature. I find that around 620 degrees, in that area is a great temperature to get a pizza cooked in a matter of minutes.

While your stone is heating up, make the pizza.

Lightly dust a pizza peel with the cornmeal. Shape your dough and lay it onto the peel.

Lightly toss on the sauce, cheese, onions, jalapenos, and sliced char siu.

Slide the pizza off of the peel onto the hot stone, and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the dough begins to cook, in my case pretty quickly, take some tongs and turn it 45 degrees to prevent any hot spots.

Once cooked to your liking, remove it from the stone, and slice and serve.

I love experimenting with new pizza ingredients, and this one was no exception. It was perfectly balanced in flavor and I will make it again if I have any leftover char siu. Hope you enjoy!

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Shawarma Seasoning Spice Mix

It was not too long ago when I decided to stop by a local fast food place called Golden Gyros¬†because I had a craving for a great gyro, and this place got great reviews. The only other places are in downtown Milwaukee, of which I do not want to drive to just to get a gyro. So when I went into this small place, it was packed with people ordering food. As my default decision was to go for the gyro, others were ordering the chicken shawarma. As I went to order, I was almost drawn in to ordering the chicken, but then the gyro platter spilled out of my mouth. A good decision to say the least, and now they are probably my favorite in town, but I could not get the shawarma off of my mind. That’s when I decided to come up with the spice blend and make it my own.

Shawrma Seasoning Spice Mix Recipe

This stuff is really delicious and adds just the right earthiness to any Middle Eastern meal. I’ve been using this on chicken and beef and everyone loves it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp all spice
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Add the cumin seeds and black peppercorns to a small skillet and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Stir along the way.

Next, add everything to a spice grinder, and grind until you have a fine powder.

Shawrma Spice Mix Ingredients

Sprinkle this on chicken, beef, vegetables, or lamb, heck even fish before cooking on the grill or oven.

If you can imagine all of those spices mixed together, geez the aroma alone is awesome. Store in an air tight container and use throughout any grilled recipes. Hope you enjoy!

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