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Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki

By Bill Dwyer

Souvlaki is a traditional Greek dish that has been around since ancient times. It is mentioned in the works of the earliest Greek writers, and probably goes back to prehistoric times. Modern-day Greek immigrants have introduced Greek cuisine all over the world, and souvlaki has become a popular favorite beyond Greek communities. 

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Don’s Chicken Pot Pie

By Bill Dwyer

This month’s column is a tribute to our friend Don Hanks, who died June 24th in San José. Don loved good food and learned how to prepare it, inspired by Julia Child and the experience of growing up in Paris. This is one of Don’s choicest dishes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ chicken breasts, diced
  • ½ package mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 1½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ package frozen peas
  • 5 cups chicken stock, hot
  • ⅓ cup cream
  • ⅔ cup white wine
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup parsley, minced
  • 1 pkg frozen puff pastry
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

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Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless beef stew meat cut into cubes
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 2/3 cup sliced carrot
  • 5 to 6 cups liquid (entirely young red wine such as chianti, zinfandel, pinot noir, or a bottle of wine plus beef stock or broth)
  • 2 or 3 large unpeeled cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups tomatoes (1 whole unpeeled tomato, cored and chopped, plus canned, drained Italian plum tomatoes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb pearl onions, peeled (substitute shallots or small onions, peeled & quartered)
  • 3 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons of flour blended into a paste with 2 tablespoons of soft butter

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Potato Salad

By Bill Dwyer 

In May’s post I suggested potato salad as a good side dish for Wiener Schnitzel, so I thought it would be a good idea to provide a potato salad recipe in this issue. Potato salad, of course, goes well with many other main dishes. It’s a favorite for picnics, potlucks and parties, too. Over the years, by trial and error, I’ve settled on this combination of ingredients, and the result has proven popular. This recipe makes a large quantity of salad, suitable for the kinds of occasions just mentioned. You can easily reduce the proportions of the ingredients to make a smaller batch.

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Wiener (& other) Schnitzels

By Bill Dwyer 

Wiener Schnitzels have been a traditional Austrian dish for at least 500 years. Literally translated from the German, it means “Viennese shred”, which I suppose is based on the fact that the meat used in making schnitzels is usually cross-hatched with a sharp knife before it is flattened. (Yes, we’ll be flattening meat again for this recipe, just as in last month’s Chicken Cordon Bleu).  Read More…


Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu (with optional Asparagus)

By Bill Dwyer 

In spite of the name, this dish does not come from the famous Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris. It isn’t even a French recipe. Some American restaurant wanted to add some snob appeal to their menu back in the mid-1960s, and used the term “cordon bleu” instead of “deluxe” or “a la la-di-da”.  So don’t be intimidated. This is an easy dish to prepare and serve! 

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Fish & Lentil Curry with Cucumber Raita

Serves 4

Ingredients for Curry

  • 1 T Curry Powder
  • 4 pieces whitefish filet (corvina & dorado work well)
  • 1 lime
  • 1Tbs olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pureed or mashed
  • 2 Tbs ginger, grated or mashed
  • ½ C water
  • ½ C raisins
  • 1 C dried green lentils
  • 1 C coconut milk (light, canned or fresh)
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • ½ C cilantro, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • Papadams or grilled pita bread

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Tostadas con Chorizo

By Bill Dwyer 

This traditional Mexican dish is a favorite at our house. Tostadas can be made using meats other than chorizo, of course –or no meat at all. One tostada makes a good lunch, Two tostadas make dinner. 

Ingredients: 

  • 4                      small corn tortillas
  • 1                      small tin of refried beans
  • 6-8 oz            chorizo con chili
  • 1 cup             grated jack cheese, such as Monte Rico
  • 4 tbsp           natilla
  • 4-5                 lettuce leaves, washed, dried, and shredded
  •                         vegetable oil 

For the salsa:

  • ½                    medium-size tomato, finely diced
  • ½                    medium-size onion, finely diced
  • ½                    avocado, finely diced (optional)
  • ½ cup           minced fresh cilantro
  • ¼ tsp            ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp            ground coriander seed (culantro)
  •                         juice of ¼ lime
  •                         salt, to taste
  •                         hot sauce or minced chipotle peppers, to taste (may be omitted if your chorizo is spicy)

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Pork Wellington

This recipe is adapted for ingredients available in Quepos  from Alton Brown’s & is one of my favourites.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 30 gm dried apple rings or apricots
  • 1 whole pork tenderloin, 450 gm
  • 100 gm thinly slice prosciutto ham
  • 2” chorizo or Italian sausage, casing removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ C chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pureed
  • ½ c red wine or port
  • Table salt & fresh pepper
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed completely
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp  kosher salt

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Refreshing Cold Soups #3: GAZPACHO

By Bill Dwyer

The soup that evolved into Gazpacho originated in medieval Andalusia, Spain’s southernmost province, when it was ruled by Moorish caliphs. The original dish bore hardly any resemblance to the soup we now know as Gazpacho. It consisted of a loaf of bread that had been soaked in water and wrung out, then ground with garlic in a mortar and pestle. Olive oil vinegar and water were then added to complete the soup. No doubt this filled the belly, but it doesn’t sound very palatable to me! I’m not surprised that, after Spain re-conquered Andalusia and Columbus brought new fruits and vegetables from the new world, Spaniards soon replaced the water with tomato juice and started adding other ingredients. Read More…


Refreshing Cold Soups #2: Vichyssoise

By Bill Dwyer
In last month’s column I referred to Vichyssoise as originating in France. Turns out I was mistaken. While researching for this month’s column I found out that, according to no less an authority than Julia Child, this delicious soup is “an American invention” – but one she approves. Further research revealed that Vichyssoise was first served to diners at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York in 1950 by the hotel’s French chef, Louis Diat. So France should get some credit for its creation, even though it originated in the U.S.

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Refreshing Cold Soups: Beet Borscht

By Bill Dwyer

What could be more fitting for a hot climate like ours than flavorful cold soups? They make a great accompaniment to a sandwich for a light meal, or a nice change from fruit drinks as a refreshing snack.  Over the next few months I’ll be presenting three classic cold soups: vichyssoise from France via USA, gazpacho from Spain and Latin America, and this month’s recipe, beet borscht, from central Europe.

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Crab Melts

By Bill Dwyer

Melts are open-face sandwiches, with melted cheese as the common denominator. They are usually made with a meat or seafood salad mixed with cheese. Here is my version of a favourite of ours – the crab melt.

I don’t follow a recipe when I make these, but to write this column and tell you how to make crab melts, I did some measuring as I added ingredient after ingredient. I put each ingredient into a measuring cup without packing them down – just left loose; so keep that in mind as you build your own crab melts. And don’t feel you have to match my measurements exactly – just fairly closely. By the second or third time you make crab melts you probably won’t need to do any measuring.

You can use this recipe to make shrimp, chicken, or even hot-dog melts by substituting the crabmeat.

Ingredients

  • 1 six-oz can   crabmeat (Roland white crabmeat is available at Supermas)
  • 1 cup               grated radishes
  • 1 cup               green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup            celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup            cucumber, finely chopped (seeds and pulp removed, but unpeeled)
  • 12                    green olives, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp            fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup           mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup           Dijon mustard
  • salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz                Emmenthal cheese, grated
  • 8                      English muffin halves, toasted

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Sesame Crackers & Roasted Garlic-Red Pepper Dip

I’m not fond of store-bought crackers, so I learned to make my own. Serve these easy to make Sesame Crackers with Roasted Garlic-Red Pepper dip while partying by the pool, as munchies before dinner, or for a snack while watching video-of-the-week.

Roasted Garlic–Red Pepper Dip (1 ½ – 2cups)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4 large red peppers
  • spray vegetable oil
  • ½ C cream cheese
  • ½ C plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbs fresh basil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

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Curried Chicken Burgers with Quick Mango Chutney

It’s mango season! During this time of year mango trees are literally dropping fruit at your feet. Monkeys, parrots, iguanas, butterflies, & humans feast on them and yet, if you’re lucky enough to have a nearby tree or two, you’ll still find yourself actually tripping over fallen mangoes. Don’t let that fruit go to waste. If you don’t have a tree handy you can buy them cheaply at the supermarket, the farmers market, or off the back of a truck.

Here’s a quick recipe for Mango Chutney that will last about a month refrigerated & goes great on Curried Chicken Burgers (below). Make the chutney before you start the burgers so it has time to cool to room temperature.
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