Oven Fries with Bacon and Scallion Dressing

These may be oven fries, but they get a nice boost from the bacon and bacon dressing. Use your judgment when cooking the dressing – if it seems too thick, you can add some water; or if it’s a bit runny, add in some olive oil. This serves 4+ people family style.

  • 3 lbs large Russet potatoes
  • ½ lb thick bacon, like Whole Foods dry slab bacon
  • 1 bunch of scallions (green onions), both white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar

Peel potatoes, and cut lengthwise into spears, approximately ½ inch wide, or to taste.  Soak in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

While potatoes are soaking, cook bacon until crispy, and remove from pan. Crumble when bacon is cooled.

Reserve 1/3 cup of bacon fat for dressing (leave in pan), and toss the remainder with the fries.  Toss in a little salt and pepper, and arrange fries in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice to prevent burning.  They are done when they have a little crispness on the outside. 

When fries are almost finished, re-heat the pan with the bacon fat, add shallots and sauté lightly, 3-4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and crumbled bacon. Cook for 2 minutes longer, and then stir in all of the white scallion slices and 75% of the green scallion slices. Remove from heat.

Place cooked fries in serving bowl, and toss with dressing from the pan. Sprinkle remaining scallion slices on top and serve family style.

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Sausage and Apple Turkey Stuffing

This is a modernized version of a classic turkey stuffing.  The sweetness of the caramelized apples coupled with spicy sausage is a nice combo, and goes great with turkey.  As far as serving goes, some people like to stuff it in the bird and bake, others prefer to just put it in a pan and cook separately — up to you.  This makes enough for 8 people, with leftovers.

  • 4 Apples, cubed
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 cup Bourbon (Jack works fine)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 lbs Spicy Italian Sausage
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2 t Pepper
  • 1 loaf of stale French bread, cut into cubes
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Caramelize the apples: Melt butter on low heat, then add apples. After 10 minutes add brown sugar and Bourbon. Continue to cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook Sausage and vegetables: In a Dutch oven or large pan over medium heat, brown the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon as it is cooking, allowing juices to spill out. When sausage is thoroughly cooked, remove sausage and keep warm, but leave juices in pan. Add onions, garlic, and bell pepper to pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until wilted, about 6-8 minutes.

Add stock, bread and combine: Add chicken stock to pan, along with 2/3 of bread cubes, parsley and salt/pepper to taste, mix to absorb and simmer to reduce to a thick, almost gooey consistency, or whatever you like. Cut sausage into bite-size pieces and return to pan. Mix in egg. When stock is absorbed, remove from heat, and mix in apples and remaining bread cubes.

Bake: Place remaining stuffing in ovenproof pan to be baked for 30-45 minutes at 350.

Pear Souffle

Pear Souffle

Souffles can be intimidating, but if you just break them down into a few simple components and steps, they are a breeze. Most dessert soufflés really just have two main parts – the base (flavoring component), and the meringue (whipped egg whites and sugar that make it puff up).

The pear soufflé is a good one because pears make an elegant dessert in any fashion, and there’s a very good chance that none of your guests will have ever had it before. It’s great with a crème anglaise, or you could do a cheese plate (think gorgonzola…). Or do it straight up with a nice dessert wine.

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1 T per souffle
  • 2-3 ripe sweet pears, peeled, pitted, chopped—must be ripe
  • 1/2 cup sparkling wine
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I like Mexican vanilla)
  • 1 shot of Poire William liqueur (optional, b/c it’s so hard to find)
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 4 egg whites

Prep: Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prep four eight-ounce ramekins by lightly rubbing butter along the insides. Sprinkle with sugar to coat.

The Base: Saute the chopped pear in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sparkling wine, honey, and vanilla.  Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the pear chunks are cooked down to a thick purée.  Remove from heat.

Put the puree in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the purée through a wire mesh sieve over a bowl.  You will have to work it through the sieve with the back of a spoon or spatula. Whisk in the egg yolks.  You can add the Poire William if you have it. Set this aside. (This can be done in advance, and refrigerated).

The Meringue: Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until they begin to stiffen.  Add the sugar, continue whipping until you get just stiff peaks. Don’t over whip.

Fold ¼ or so of the meringue into the purée mixture to lighten it.  Then fold in the rest of the egg whites.  Spoon some into each of the ramekin, but DO NOT overfill. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 10-14 minutes until the soufflés have risen and are slightly brown on top. Give them time to really rise up high.

Serve immediately.

Optional variation: Slice a pear ¼ inch thick, poach lightly in champagne and butter, then place one slice of pear on the bottom of each ramekin before pouring in the mixture.

Tuna Burgers Citronelle-Style

Tuna Burgers Citronelle-Style

One of (if not the) top restaurants in D.C. is Michel Richard Citronelle. On the bar menu is the well-known tuna burger – easily the best I’ve ever had. It’s kind of like a seared tuna tartare on a bun with some wasabi mayo and a basil-infused tomato. This is inspired by that, but with a few little tweaks of my own. The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to do the paper thin potato crisps, but otherwise, it’s pretty close. If you know somewhere to buy fresh brioche rolls, get them for this. Otherwise, try a potato roll or other soft roll. For the true Citronelle experience, make French fries by cooking them 3 times in clarified butter! This recipe makes four good-sized burgers.

Tuna Burger:

  • 1.5 lbs Sushi-grade tuna, trimmed to remove any sinew
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • Pinch of cayenne, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper Vegetable oil
  • 4 soft buns or dinner rolls, lightly toasted

Dice the tuna, making some of it very small dice, and leaving some coarser and uneven. In a chilled bowl, mix the tuna with scallions, ginger, mustard, soy, cayenne, and salt/pepper. Divide the mixture into four parts, and form into balls. Then pat them flat, about 1-inch thick. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat a dry large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour enough oil into pan to just cover the surface but not too much. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side. Remove immediately from the pan.

Wasabi Mayonnaise:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T wasabi powder
  • 1 T fresh lime juice

Mix the powder with water to form a paste, then blend into the mayonnaise and lime juice. Can be made ahead.

Basil Oil (if you don’t have it store-bought)

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Large handful of basil leaves

Pour the olive oil and basil leaves into blender, puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl, or ideally, an empty diner-style ketchup dispenser.

Basil-infused tomatoes

  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • ¼ cup basil oil

Slice the tomato very thinly. Lay slice on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil, and cover with basil oil. Bake at 275 for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Assembly

Put wasabi mayonnaise on both sides of the bun. Place a tomato slice on the bottom bun, and place the tuna burger on top of the tomato. Drizzle a little basil oil on top of the tuna burger and cover with the bun top.

Spinach Salad with Bacon-Honey Mustard Dressing

Most salad dressings have a fat and an acid (e.g., Olive oil and vinegar).  The king of “fats” is of course, bacon grease.  This is a relatively simple salad, but warm dressing is always a nice touch with fresh spinach, and the bacon crumbles and red onion slices bring a cool punch of texture.  Makes enough for 4 people.

  • 6 pieces bacon (center cut if you prefer)
  • Fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 4 T shallots, minced
  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 4 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T honey
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

In a medium saucepan, sauté bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and pour out most of the bacon fat, leaving 3-4 T. on medium heat, sauté the shallots in the bacon grease for 2 minutes, then pour in champagne vinegar. Add sugar, Dijon, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate. Bring to boil and reduce slightly. Pour over spinach while hot, top with crumbled bacon and red onion slices.

Sausage Pizza with Arugula and Parmesagn

Spicy Sausage Pizza with “Salt and Pepper”

This is a great recipe for several reasons:
1. Homemade pizza is great, cheap, and can feed a crowd.
2. Anything with sausage is always good.
3. The peppery arugula and the sweet salty Parm-Regg make a great combo to begin with, but really comes into its own when you layer it on top of the sausage pizza.

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough – Make it yourself, or buy it from a grocery store, e.g. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. I usually cut their dough into 3 separate pieces for smaller pies with thinner crusts.
  • Red pizza sauce – I like Trader Joe’s pizza sauce.
  • Shredded Fontina Cheese – I almost always use Fontina instead of shredded mozzarella
  • Spicy Italian Sausage, crumbled and cooked
  • Fresh baby arugula leaves
  • ¼ lb fresh Parmesagn-Reggiano – shaved or thinly sliced.

Directions

Heat a pizza stone to 550° for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have a stone, use a durable cookie sheet, and get the oven to at least 400°.

Stretch out the pizza dough to your desired size and thickness.

Drizzle with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, spread pizza sauce around to edges.

Top with the Fontina to your liking – don’t over do it on the cheese.

Spread sausage on top of cheese.

Cook on the stone or in the oven for 5-8 minutes, long enough to melt the cheese and brown the crust.

Remove the pie from the oven and top with arugula and shaved Parm-Regg. Slice and serve.

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

There are a million gumbo recipes out there, but the key to making a good gumbo is to make a good roux, and then use good stock. It’s fun to make a big batch around lunchtime on a football Saturday or Sunday, and refill your bowl throughout the afternoon. The roux is a little time-intensive up-front, but it’s well worth the effort.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c flour + 1.5 c Oil (for a roux)
  • 1 lb Okra, sliced and sautéed in a little butter on medium heat for 10 minutes
  • 2 white/yellow onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers (mixed colors of your choice), diced
  • 2-3 quarts shrimp stock (preferred) or chicken stock
  • 1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1.5 lbs chicken (optional) cubed
  • 1.5 lbs sliced cooked andouille sausagesalt/pepper to taste
  • Cajun Seasoning – as much as you want….I keep a batch of home-made Essence on hand
  • File powder (to taste – 2-4 tablespoons)
  • Sliced green onions and chopped parsley to garnish
  • Cooked white rice (I prefer sushi rice for this)


1. Make the Roux
Heat the oil to medium high, then stir in the flour. Keep the heat at medium high and stir constantly until it becomes a chocolatey brown color. Don’t let it get so hot that it sticks to the bottom of the pot – if that happens, you have to start over again.

2. Add the vegetables
Once the roux is a nice deep brown, add the chopped onions & peppers, and a good dash of Creole seasoning. Most traditional gumbo recipes call for chopped celery at this point, too, but I usually skip it. Stir in the veggies to coat with roux, and let cook 5 minutes or so. Enjoy the sound and smell!

3. Add the stock
Pour in 2+ quarts of stock and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. After 20 minutes or so, there should be some oil/fat that has risen to the top. Skim this off with a ladle.

4. Add the goodies
Now is when I like to add the sausage and okra. If you are going to use chicken as well, sauté it with some oil and Cajun seasoning. When it is cooked through, add it to the gumbo. Keep heat on low, and skim fat again after 20 minutes. At this point, you can reduce the heat to a minimum and keep it warm or go ahead and serve.

5. Cook shrimp and thicken
Add file powder and shrimp to the gumbo and stir. Increase heat to medium to just cook shrimp through, usually 5 minutes. You’ll want it to get a little thicker from the File Powder. Add more if necessary, but don’t over do it.

6. Serve
Put a scoop of rice in the middle of a large soup bowl. Ladle gumbo around the rice, including plenty of the good stuff. Sprinkle some green onions and parsley for garnish, along with more seasoning if you like. Pass around extra file powder, and hot sauce of your choice.