Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Duck for the Holidays!

Just got back from Austin where we celebrated the Christmas holidays with family. Hope your Christmas and holidays were merry! We had a wonderful time, catching up with each other, playing with the kids, and of course, cooking together. My Mom and sister love to cook as much as I do, and together we made some delicious dishes, traditional and non. Our Christmas Day menu included sorrel, ham, turkey, and of course, pastelles!
For the past few weeks, seems I've been on a mac and cheese kick. This recipe features Maple Leaf Farms duck breast, spinach, mushrooms and two cheeses. The duck breast adds a meaty flavor and makes this a great one-pot dish. Maple Leaf Farms duck breast meat comes in a package already chopped, but it may be easier for you to purchase three whole duck breasts and then cut them up yourself. You can save the fat to use for another recipe.


1 lb medium pasta shells
24 oz Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast Meat (1 package)
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
8 oz thinly sliced white mushrooms
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta shells and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
2. Rub duck breast meat with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place duck in pan and cook until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove duck from pan and let rest.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
4. In the same pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 7 minutes. Add heavy cream, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until cheeses are melted. Reduce heat to low.
5. Chop duck breast meat into small pieces. Add duck, spinach and parsley to the cheese sauce. Mix well, then add the cooked pasta shells. Mix gently to combine and remove from heat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
6. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's almost here!

So Thanksgiving is almost here, and of course I must ask, "What are you cooking?" Almost every year, we go to a big family Thanksgiving dinner, but I still like to cook food at home, usually the day before or after. This year I'm keeping it simple with a turkey, small ham, stuffing and a green bean casserole. Believe it or not, I have never made a green bean casserole! I decided to forgo my usual sweet potato pie and try Alton Brown's famous recipe for green bean casserole.

I grew up making stuffing using hard crackers, not cubes of bread. It's put together totally in a pan, and then some is used to stuff the turkey, and some eaten as is. My Trini-style recipe is still my all-time fave, but last year I made a dressing using cornbread, and it definitely rivals my cracker stuffing. Ham, fresh collard greens, raisins and pecans are the stars of this dish, and it is baked for half hour in the oven. It makes a wonderful side dish for your holiday meal.


3 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped ham
3 cups chopped fresh collard greens
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 eggs
6 cups crumbled cornbread
1 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add ham and saute for 2 minutes. Add collard greens and onion to pan. Saute for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour vegetable stock into the pan with the collard greens, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add crumbled cornbread, raisins, pecans, salt, pepper, and vegetable stock and collard greens mixture. Mix well, then spread into a buttered baking dish (9-by-13 inch size). Cover dish with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Tagine

I'm always trying to come up with different slow cooker recipes, and this Moroccan-inspired beef stew has earthy, exotic flavors with the cumin, coriander and turmeric. If you're gone all day, set up in the morning, let cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours and add the raisins within the last hour. 


3 lbs boneless chuck roast, chopped into medium pieces
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans chickpeas, 15.5 oz each
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added, 14.5 oz
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ cups raisins
Fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup sliced almonds

1. Season beef pieces with sea salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until just browned on all sides.
2. In a slow cooker, layer onion, green bell pepper, chickpeas and tomatoes. Add beef.
3. In a bowl, mix beef stock and tomato paste. Pour into slow cooker over beef and vegetables. Stir well. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours. Remove lid and stir in raisins. Stir well. Cover and cook for 1 more hour.
4. Garnish with sliced almonds and fresh chopped parsley. Serve with couscous.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Creamy Onion Appetizers

These are an easy, hot appetizer that my guests always enjoy. Just five ingredients, most you probably have on hand already!


15 Athens Mini Fillo Shells (1 box)
4 oz cream cheese, chive and onion flavor
3 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Let frozen Athens Mini Fillo Shells thaw for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and Parmesan. Fill fillo shells with cheese mixture and place on a baking tray. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and top with spring onion and red pepper flakes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Blueberry Coconut Sangria

Growing up on a tropical island, coconuts were definitely not in short supply. Coconut trees are everywhere, men climb them from the time they are young boys, and when you go to the beach, don't lay out on the sand under a tree because a coconut just might fall on you! Coconuts are sliced open skillfully and easily with a cutlass (machete), and the sweet water is drunk straight from the nut. They are then split open and the soft jelly inside is eaten, using a small part of the husk that was sliced off as a spoon.

As a child, when your mother wanted to cook with coconuts, you were given the fun task of throwing the dried coconut against the hard ground to break it open. When it split open, we would collect the pieces so the meat (hardened jelly) could be grated, then used in a delicious dish.

Blueberries may be small, but they are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. They are a good source of dietary fiber, and are low in fat, making them one of my favorite go-to snacks! The kids love them for their beautiful blue-purple color and sweet juiciness. To find out more about winter fresh blueberries and their amazing health benefits, visit littlebluedynamos.com.

Needless to say, I am excited about this recipe, because it combines two of my favorite fruits, blueberries and coconuts. Different from your regular sangria, this drink has fresh blueberries, orange and lime soaking in a refreshing mixture of coconut water and white wine. Ginger ale is added just before serving for a little fizz. The blueberries are smashed first to release more flavor, and when left to soak and chill overnight, they give the drink a beautiful light purple color.

Just mixed


8 oz winter fresh blueberries
1 orange, thinly sliced into wheels
1 lime, thinly sliced into wheels
7 cups coconut water
2 cups dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
8 oz ginger ale

1. Reserve 1/4 of the blueberries for garnish. Place the rest in a bowl and smash with the back of a spoon.
2. Combine smashed berries, orange and lime wheels in a large pitcher. Add coconut water and white wine. Stir well and place in fridge overnight to chill.
3. Just before serving, strain into a new pitcher. Add ginger ale and stir. Pour into glasses and garnish with the reserved blueberries and some of the orange and lime wheels.

Serve chilled

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grana Padano Empanadas

We love empanadas at our house, and lately I've been making lots of gluten free ones for my son. His favorite filling is apple (so think like a mini apple pie). However, I prefer empanadas with the traditional dough, and the pre-made dough discs are sold in grocery stores. It's usually with the Spanish/ethnic foods in the freezer aisle. I just thaw them for a few hours or overnight and they are ready for use. 

This time I decided to make a savory filling with Grana Padano cheese and chicken. The chicken is first poached in a Spanish-inspired broth with paprika, garlic, bay leaf and parsley. The Grana Padano is creamy and melty with a delicate flavor. This popular Italian cheese is one of the Legends from Europe products. I added corn for a pop of sweetness. 


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups grated Grana Padano cheese
1 can of corn kernels, 15 oz
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
25 empanada dough discs
1 egg

1. In a medium pot, place chicken breasts, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, paprika, black pepper and chicken stock. The stock liquid should cover the chicken, if not add more until it does. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer until chicken is fully cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from pot and chop into small pieces, In a large bowl, combine chicken, Grana Padano, corn, tomato, thyme, garlic powder and sea salt. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Fill each empanada dough disc with chicken and Grana Padano filling. Moisten edge of disc with water. Fold dough over, press and seal edge with a fork. Place empanadas on a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit about 8-10 per baking sheet, so bake in batches.

5. In a small bowl, beat egg. Brush the top of each empanada with egg wash. Place in oven and bake until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 25 empanadas.

To see another delicious recipe using Grana Padano cheese, check out my Grana Padano Grilled Cheese. To learn more about Grana Padano, visit legendsfromeurope.com.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Best Grilled Cheese!

Yes, this tastes as good as it looks! My Grana Padano Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Arugula is a gooey, yummy sandwich. What makes this grilled cheese sandwich the best? The Grana Padano, of course! It is creamy with a delicate flavor, and together with the sweet onions and peppery arugula, makes this one of the best sandwiches I've ever had.

Grana Padano is a cheese from northern Italy's Po Valley, that is aged for between 9 and 16 months. It has a grainy texture and a mild taste, and is perfect for grilled cheeses because it's so creamy when melted. I located it easily at the cheese counters in two of my local grocery stores.


4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large white onions, sliced thin
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp white wine
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 slices multi grain bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups grated Grana Padano cheese
4 thick slices of tomato
1 cup baby arugula

1. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sea salt. Let cook, stirring often. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan when necessary. The onions should be caramelized after about 25 minutes. They should a rich brown color.
2. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, basil and garlic powder to make basil aioli. Spread on one side of each slice of bread. Butter the other side of each slice.
3. To build sandwiches: Put some of the grated Grana Padano on top of the basil aioli spread on 4 bottom slices. Then layer caramelized onions, tomato, arugula, then more Grana Padano. Place tops of bread on, buttered side up.
4. Heat a grill pan over medium-low heat. Grill sandwiches until bottom is golden brown. Press down on sandwich with a spatula. Flip sandwiches carefully and cook until bottom is brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Let me know if you try this recipe and how much you love it! If you want to learn more about Grana Padano cheese, visit http://legendsfromeurope.com/.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Favorite Lasagna

My Turkey Lasagna is a hit for dinner with the fam. I omit the middle layer of noodles and use slices of eggplant instead. I'm not a big fan of ricotta in lasagna, so I use mozzarella and Parmesan. So yummy and I like to think a bit healthier?? with the eggplant and spinach. :)


6 lasagna noodles
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs ground turkey
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 cups tomato sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 large eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise

1. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions.
2. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
3. Add turkey, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Cook until turkey is brown, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups of the tomato sauce and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add parsley and basil and let cook for 2 more minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large baking dish, spread a little of the meat and sauce on the bottom. Line with lasagna noodles. Layer in this order going up: meat, spinach, half of the reserved sauce, cheese, eggplant slices, meat, spinach, remaining sauce and cheese. Top with noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
5. Cover dish loosely with foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil. Bake for 15-20 more minutes. Serves 8. 

My recipe calls for 6 lasagna noodles, but it's a good idea to boil 7 to have one as a back-up in case a noodle tears. Or if you prefer, use the no-boil oven ready noodles.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thinking Outside the Griddle!

So I was challenged by Pure Canadian Maple Syrup to create a dish featuring pure maple syrup. It could be the only sweetener used in the recipe, and only one container could be used to prepare the dish. My choice of pot was easy...my trusty Dutch oven! I love making stews and braises in it, so I put my thinking cap on to come up with a dish that would really showcase the maple syrup. 

Did you know that maple syrup contains over 54 antioxidants? It also has lower calories than honey, and is an excellent source of manganese (helps in energy production) and riboflavin (which aids in the metabolic process). For more info on the health benefits, and for a cool depiction of how maple syrup is made, visit purecanadamaple.com.

My entry is Coriander-Maple Braised Pork and Pumpkin. First, boneless pork chops are seasoned with coriander and seared. The pork, pumpkin and chickpeas are then braised in a combination of maple syrup, vegetable broth, lemon juice, and a little apple cider vinegar. Onion, garlic, serrano pepper and fresh cilantro round out the flavor profile. A nice blend of sweet, tangy and spice; this recipe is a great braise for the Fall season!


4 boneless pork chops
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp ground coriander
3/4 cup flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 lb pumpkin, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, 15.5 oz, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Rub pork chops with sea salt, black pepper and 1 tbsp of the coriander. Lightly coat pork chops in flour on both sides. 
2. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in Dutch oven (at least 3.5 qt capacity) over medium heat. Add pork and let brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pot. 
3. Add remaining olive oil, onion and serrano pepper to the pot. Saute for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, garlic and chickpeas and mix well.
4. In a bowl, combine vegetable broth, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and remaining tbsp of coriander. Pour over the vegetables. Return pork chops to the pot and nestle into sauce. 
5. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour. Lift lid and stir once, about halfway through. 
6. To serve, garnish with a few fresh cilantro leaves. Makes 4 servings.


So I doubt you will have any leftovers, simply because this dish tastes so good, but if you do, here's an idea! Dice the remaining pork chop(s). Puree the pumpkin and chickpeas in a blender and add to jarred tomato sauce. Heat through and serve the sauce with your favorite pasta, with the diced pork on top. It amps up the nutritional value and the flavor of a jarred sauce. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mini Strudels

I love the versatility of Athens Mini Fillo Shells, and use them often in recipes when entertaining. You can make quick, creative desserts and appetizers, with as little or many ingredients as you wish. These Pumpkin Cheesecake Mini Strudels are great for after Thanksgiving dinner or a holiday party. My friends loved them; they were gobbled up quickly!


30 Athens Mini Fillo Shells (2 boxes)
1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup ready-to-eat cheesecake filling
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 oz pine nuts
2 oranges (for zest only)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix pumpkin, cheesecake filling, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir well, until almost smooth. Fill Mini Fillo Shells with pumpkin mixture. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. In a small pan, toast pine nuts over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Top warm mini strudels with toasted pine nuts, and freshly grated orange zest. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reggae Pulled Pork Sliders

Looking for a new recipe for pulled pork? Well if you like spicy, try my Reggae Pulled Pork Sliders. Pork shoulder is cooked in the slow cooker (Crock pot) with Jamaican jerk seasoning and barbeque sauce, then shredded. A refreshing slaw is make with red cabbage, fresh mango, cilantro and lime juice. All served on top toasted buns, these make a great slider!


For the pork:
1 large onion, sliced
1 fresh boneless Boston butt, about 3 pounds
4 tbsp dry Jamaican jerk seasoning
¾ cup hickory barbecue sauce
¼ cup water
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

For the slaw:
½ head of red cabbage, chopped
2 ripe mangos, diced 
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

20-24 hamburger buns

1. Place the onions into the slow cooker, then the pork. In a bowl, combine jerk seasoning, barbeque sauce, water, salt and pepper. Pour into slow cooker over the pork and onions. Cover and let cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. When pork is finished, shred using two forks.
2. In a large bowl, combine slaw ingredients and mix well.

3. Slice rolls in half and toast lightly. Fill with pulled pork, top with slaw. 

Makes 20-24 sliders. If you want spicier, add 1 more tbsp jerk seasoning. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tastes like sugarcake!

In Trinidad, there is a sweet treat called sugarcake that everyone loves. It's made up of shredded coconut, sugar, and ginger, and is dyed different colors with food coloring, like bright pink and blue. My Coconut Cardamom Cups are a play off of sugarcake, and have only five ingredients. I used sweetened condensed milk and cardamom mixed with the coconut. Topped with an almond slice and served warm in a crunchy phyllo shell.


1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
15 Athens Mini Fillo Shells (1 box)
15 almond slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine coconut, condensed milk and cardamom. Mix well. Fill thawed Athens Mini Fillo Shells with mixture. Top each cup with an almond slice. Bake for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lentils...in tacos!

Growing up, I only knew the regular brown lentils, and ate it the same way every single time. It was seasoned blandly, mushy and just didn't taste very good to me as a kid. I must admit though, I wasn't a fan of peas and beans overall. But still, lentils were my most hated, along with those odd-looking black-eyed peas.
So when I got older, I was surprised to learn that there were other types of lentils and other ways of preparing it. I have recently begun experimenting at home with them. I found a bag of French green lentils at the store last week; they were a beautiful dark green! Cooked them up with lots of seasoning like green onions, parsley, salt, pepper, and simmered in chicken stock. Man were they good, and the boys ate them up! No lentil hate here!
I was trying to think up a taco recipe with unusual, healthy fillings, and lentils came to mind. Here are my Mediterranean Chicken and Lentil Tacos. They are topped with creamy goat cheese. Yummy and healthy all in one, and they make a fun and colorful dinner for the fam.


1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils (I used canned)
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups grilled and chopped chicken breast
4 corn tortillas, 6-inch size
3 mini sweet peppers, diced
2 oz goat cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, parsley, sea salt and pepper. Stir and let cook for 15 minutes.
2. Heat corn tortillas by placing in a pan over medium-high heat. Heat 15 seconds, then flip. Heat 10 more seconds.
3. To serve, layer lentils, chicken and sweet peppers on tortillas. Top with goat cheese, sprinkle with a little parsley. Fold and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Potato Salad...Caribbean style

My version of potato salad has a nice addition...shrimp! Potato, shrimp, red bell pepper, corn and green peas are mixed in a creamy garlicky-lime-cilantro mayo with a touch of sweetness. Make this at your next BBQ, it's some good stuff :)


3 lbs Russet potatoes
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup mayonnaise
juice from 1 lime
2 tbsp white sugar
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
15 oz sweet kernel corn
15 oz green peas
coarse sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let cook until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel and chop into large dice.
2. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add shrimp and let boil until pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Chop.
3. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar, garlic and cilantro, and mix well. Add diced potatoes, shrimp, red bell pepper, corn and peas. Mix well. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Place in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 8.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dinner at Max's Grille

Last weekend was our 6th anniversary! Six years have flown by fast, and sometimes I still can't believe we have two kids. TWO! Lol. We decided (last minute) on a restaurant to have dinner, and ended up at Max's Grille in Boca Raton. They call themselves a "modern American bistro" and I've been wanting to try their food for awhile now. We ditched the kiddos, well not really, we left them with the grandparents, got all dressed up (my skinny jeans still fit!), and set out for a kid-free, mess-free dinner date alone.

The food was VERY good. They have a "Small Plate Appetizers" menu, which are big enough to share for two. We had Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese, which was one of the best mac and cheeses I have ever tasted. I told my hubby I would be returning specifically for that dish! Yummmmmmmm.

The Truffle Parmesan Fries had white truffle oil and an Asiago aioli to dip them in.

For our main course, we both chose a Wood-fired Grille selection. Hubs had the Mojo Skirt Steak with Mexicali Creamed Corn, Pico de Gallo, Guac and Green Chili Chimichurri.

I never order Pork Chops when I eat out but the description looked so appealing that I did this time. Their Pork Chop 'Scarpariello' had a rich burgundy sauce made with balsamic vinegar and Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions. On the side was a creamy risotto with escarole, spinach and Grana Padano (an Italian hard cheese). It was very very good :)

The portions are large and I left stuffed and took home leftovers, so we had no room for dessert. We will definitely be visiting Max's Grille again in the future, and I'll post a pic of something sweet!

Happy 6th hon!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Saltfish...on a pizza?

Throughout the Caribbean, saltfish is a staple dish. Saltfish is fresh fish (usually cod) that is dried and salted. It is packaged in its preserved state, and is also called bacalao. To prepare, it needs to be rehydrated and have most of the salt removed by soaking it in water overnight or boiling it. In Trinidad, we usually cook it sauteed with onions, scallions and tomatoes. In Jamaica, ackee and saltfish rules.

I tried something new recently...put saltfish on pizza. Actually I should clarify, my hubby encouraged me to do it. He's Jamaican and remembered in his younger days eating delicious saltfish pizza. The first time he told me I twisted up my nose in disdain. Salty fish and cheese? Uhhh no! He eventually convinced me to try it, pointing out that I like anchovies on my pizza. Oh right, that's true...

So I tried it, using fontina cheese and topping it with avocado slices at the end. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!


2 medium pizza crusts (12 inch circles)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 cups shredded fontina cheese
1/2 lb saltfish, prepared* and shredded 
1/2 cup red onion slices
2 plum or roma tomatoes, sliced crosswise
1 small avocado, cut into 12 thin slices

*To prepare saltfish, place the filets in a pan and cover with water. Let boil for about 20 minutes. Cool and taste. If still too salty for your taste, rinse filets with cool water. 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Spread tomato sauce on pizza crusts. Sprinkle with cheese, saltfish and red onion. Arrange tomato slices on top.
3. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and slice each pizza into 6 slices. Lay an avocado slice on each pizza slice. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Za'atar Chicken and Wild Rice Pilaf

I picked up a jar of za'atar seasoning from Williams-Sonoma recently, and I have been using it a lot in my recipes. It's a Middle Eastern spice blend which combines sumac, thyme, sesame seed and sea salt. It's great on meat, so far I've used it on chicken, beef and pork. I wouldn't describe it as a stronger flavor combo, I find it mild, so I use a lot of it to season. For the recipe below, brown or white rice can be substituted for the wild rice. 


3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 lbs
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp za'atar seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups cooked wild rice blend
1 can cooked lentils, 15.5 oz
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Season chicken with 1 tbsp za'atar seasoning, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place chicken in pan and let brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Add diced tomatoes. Stir and cover. Let cook until chicken is fully cooked, about 10 more minutes.
While chicken is cooking, heat butter in another large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wild rice blend and lentils and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove chicken breasts from pan and chop. To serve, plate wild rice pilaf, top with chopped chicken and tomatoes. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and reserved 1 tsp za'atar seasoning. I would also garnish with some chopped fresh parsley. Serves 6.