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Thriller Recipes – Soups – concludes our month of recipes. These hot soups are great before the main course, or as a main course.

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Lightly brush 2lbs sweet potatoes (cut in ½” slices), 1 red onion (cut in ½” slices), and 1oz fresh ginger with olive oil.  Season with coarse salt and pepper, and grill over direct medium heat for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.  Finely chop the ginger.    Place all in a large saucepan.  Add 6C vegetable stock, ¼t allspice, and 1/8t cayenne.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender in at least 2 batches.  Return to the pan.  Add ¼C half and half, 2T Italian parsley, and 1T frozen limeade.  Makes 7 cups.

Corn Chowder

Heat 4 slices of precooked bacon until just crisp and prepare ¼” dice.  In a 6-8 Qt heavy pot over moderate heat, combine 3T olive oil with 2C diced sweet onion, 2 diced carrots, ¾C diced celery, and 1 diced red bell pepper.  Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add ½Lb yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼” dice, and ½Lb sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼” dice.  Add 5C reduced-sodium chicken broth and 2 fresh thyme sprigs and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, ~15 minutes.  Add 3C corn kernels and 1½ C heavy cream and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.  Add 1t sea salt and 1t pepper, then stir in bacon.  Serves 8.

Steve and Yann’s Chili

Fry 4 slices of bacon and set aside to drain off fat.  Reserving the pan, cook 1 sweet onion, diced, 1 green pepper, sliced, and 1Lb ground sirloin until just cooked through.  In a large pot combine the beef, onion, bacon in bite-size chunks, 1 can corn kernels with juice, 2 cans of kidney beans with juice, 2 cans of tomatoes with juice, 1T shortening, and 1t chili powder.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.  Add more chili powder if desired halfway through cooking.  Serves 4.

Tortilla Soup

In a large soup pot, heat 2T corn or canola oil over medium heat and sauté 1/2 sweet onion, chopped, 4 garlic cloves, minced, 1/2 zucchini, chopped, 1 yellow summer squash, chopped, 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, and 10 roma tomatoes until tender, 10-15 minutes. Add 4C chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put 4 corn tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and break into large pieces.

Working in batches, puree the soup and tortillas in a food processor. Return to the pan to reheat. Stir in 2T cilantro, chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 4-6.

Paella

Bring 1 1/2” water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add 2 1 1/2 lb lobsters, cover, and cook for 13 minutes. Remove the lobsters and cool just enough to handle. Crack the shells and remove the meat. Keep the claws whole and chop the remainder of the meat into large pieces and reserve.

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Heat a 12” ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 1/2t extra-virgin olive oil and sauté 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped, and 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced, until the onion is translucent, ~5 minutes. Add 2 links Portuguese sausage (or chorizo), skinned and chopped, and cook for 3 minutes. Gently stir in 2C white rice and cook for a few minutes to lightly toast.

Heat 3C chicken broth. Add to the skillet. Add 1 pinch saffron, crushed, and coarse salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove and cover with a lid. Place the Paelle in the oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and scatter 1 dozen littleneck clams on top of the rice. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, until the clams are open. Add 1 1/2 lbs codfish (or firm white fish), cut into 2” pieces, and the lobster. Cook for 3 minutes. Discard any clams that don’t open. Serves 4-6.

Chipotle Wild Alaskan Salmon Chowder

In a 6 qt soup pot, over medium-high heat, sauté 2 sweet onions, chopped, and 4 garlic cloves, pressed, in 1t olive oil for 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium, add 1¼ C celery, chopped, and 1t dried thyme, crushed. Stir occasionally until onion starts to brown. Add 1T olive oil and stir to coat. Add 2T flour, stirring continuously to thoroughly coat the mixture, then add ½C vermouth, a little at a time, while stirring constantly to avoid clumps in the flour. Add 2½ C vegetable stock, 1 chipotle chili, finely chopped, 1T adobo sauce, 1T rosemary leaves, ½t nutmeg, 1 red potato, unpeeled and cut into bite size pieces, and 2 yams, unpeeled and cut into bite size pieces. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Remove 1C of vegetables and blend. Return to pot and turn heat to medium-low. Stir in 2¾ C milk and cook for 2 minutes, then add 1 lb wild salmon, cut into 2” strips. Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from burner, add 1C basil, chopped, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of sweet paprika. and 2T fresh dill. Serves 5.

March 28th, 2016

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Homemade salad dressings add a touch of freshness and style to any meal. Here are six sure-fire ways to please the palate, and your guests.

Chutney Dressing

Combine ½C red wine vinegar, 5T chutney, 1 garlic clove, 2T coarse-ground mustard, 2t sugar, and ½C vegetable oil in a blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Asian Chicken Salad Dressing

Whisk ¼ C sugar, ¼ C unseasoned rice vinegar, ¼ sweet onion, chopped, and ¾ t dry mustard in small bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk in ½ C canola oil.  Stir in 1½ t poppy seeds.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate.

Spicy Caesar Salad Dressing

Roast 4 red jalapeños.  In a blender, combine 2 egg yolks; 4 cloves garlic, minced; 2 shallots, minced; 4 anchovy filets, 2T Dijon mustard, 1T Worcestershire sauce, 2t Tabasco sauce, and 2t balsamic vinegar.  Puree until smooth.  Slowly add ¾C canola oil and ¾C olive oil until dressing is emulsified and creamy.  Add chopped jalapeños, 1T chopped cilantro, 2T frozen limeade, and salt.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Place ¾ C sour cream, ½ t dry mustard, ½ t black pepper, ½ t salt, 1/3 t garlic powder, and 1 t Worcestershire sauce in mixer bowl.  Blend until thoroughly mixed, ~ 2 minutes at low speed. Add 1 1/3 C mayonnaise and blend 2 minutes more. Add 4 oz crumbled blue cheese and continue blending no longer than 4 minutes.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

Toasted Cumin Dressing

Heat small skillet over high heat.  Add 2T cumin seeds and stir until lightly browned and beginning to smoke, ~1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Add 6T sherry wine vinegar and 2T rice vinegar and 2T water.  Cool to lukewarm.  Transfer to a blender.  Add 1 ½ T Dijon mustard and 1 garlic clove, minced.  Blend until smooth, ~20 seconds.  With blender running, add 1 ½ C olive oil.

Green Goddess Dressing

Blend 1/2 C sour cream, 2t fresh chives, 1/8 t black pepper, 2t anchovy paste, 1 clove garlic, minced, 2T white wine vinegar, and 1 T sweet and sour until thoroughly mixed, ~ 2 minutes at low speed. Add 1 C mayonnaise and blend 2 minutes more. Add milk to thin, if needed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

March 22nd, 2016

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This week’s Thriller Recipes are Cajun Cuisine. I love authentic cajun food. While New Orleans is one of my favorite dining destinations, it’s good to be able to prepare simple and authentic cajun dishes in your own kitchen. Here are three recipes that never fail to please.

Jambalaya

Cook 6C rice.  Melt 3T unsalted butter in 4Q saucepan over high heat.  Add 4oz andouille sausage and 4oz tasso (or other smoked ham); cook until meat starts to brown, ~4-5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping pan bottom well.  Add 3/4 lb boneless chicken, cut into bit-size pieces (~2C) and continue cooking until chicken is brown, ~4-5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping pan bottom well.  Stir in 2 bay leaves, 2T Chef Paul Magic (poultry, beef, or pork & veal), 1/2C sweet onions, chopped, 1/2C celery, chopped, 1/2C green bell pepper, chopped, and 1T minced garlic.  Cook until vegetables start to get tender, ~ 6-8 minutes.  Stir in 1/2C tomato sauce and cook 1 minute.  Stir in 1/2C sweet onion, 1/2C celery, 1/2C green bell peppers, and 1C fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped.  Stir in 1 1/2C uncooked rice and 2 1/2C chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered over low heat until rice is tender but still crunchy, ~30 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Let sit 5 minutes uncovered.  Serve over 1/2 -1 C cooked rice.  Serves 6.

Grilled Spicy Shrimp and Andouille Skewers

Combine ¼ C Creole mustard, ¼ C honey, 2T bourbon, and 1t Tabasco. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Alternately thread 1 1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp and 18 oz andouille sausage cut into ¾” thick rounds onto soaked wood skewers.  Brush both sides with 3T vegetable oil, and season with 1/2 T Creole seasoning.  Grill skewers until shrimp are pink and cooked through and sausages are browned and hot all the way through, ~2 minutes per side.  Baste the shrimp with the Spicy Bourbon Mustard during the last 30 seconds of grilling.  Serve immediately with the mustard on the side.  Serves 6.

Bread Pudding

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Combine 1Q whole milk, 1/2t cinnamon, 6 eggs, lightly beaten, 3oz melted butter, 1 1/2C sugar, and 2T vanilla extract.  Line a 9×13” pan with 1 loaf Hawaiian bread (stale), 1 1/2C raisins, and 1C pecans.  Cover with the custard mixture and bake until firm when pressed in the center, ~1 hour.  When the pudding is done cool on a wire rack until just warm, ~ 20 minutes.

March 14th, 2016

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This week I feature proven thriller recipes utilizing a variety of ingredients found in the southwest. They are easy to prepare, a joy to eat. Enjoy.

Steve and Yann’s Margarita

Combine ¼ C frozen limeade, 5/8 C cold bottled water, ¼ C sweet and sour, 3/8 C Patron Reposada tequila, 1/8 C Grand Marnier, and 1/8 C Cointreau.  Shake until frozen limeade is liquid.  Poor over ice and serve with or without a salted rim.  Serves 2.

Guacamole

Mash 3 avocados in a medium bowl with the back of a slotted spoon. Add 1/2 t Serrano chile, seeded and minced, 2T sweet onion, chopped, 1/4C cilantro, 2T frozen limeade, 1/4t kosher salt, and pepper. Makes 2C.

Jicama and Peppers Salad

Combine ½ small Jicama, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips; ½ small red bell pepper, cut into fine julienne strips; ½ small yellow bell pepper, cut into fine julienne strips; ½ small zucchini, cut into fine julienne strips; ½ small carrot, cut into fine julienne strips; 4T Thai peanut salad dressing; and 2T frozen limeade.  Add cayenne pepper to taste.  Toss to mix well.  Serves 6.

Grilled Lobster Taco

In a food processor, process 2 pints yellow cherry tomatoes (or 1 Lb yellow tomatoes) until well chopped, but do not puree.  Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add 1 shallot, very finely minced; 2T cilantro, finely minced; 1 clove garlic, finely minced; 1T white wine vinegar; 2t frozen limeade, and salt.  Mix well.  Add 1T maple syrup.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Place the tails of 2 uncooked lobster tails (~7 oz each) on cutting board, shell side down.  Split the tails lengthwise to expose the meat.  Grill the lobster tails, shell side down, over direct medium heat until the meat is creamy white (~8-10 minutes).  Let cool.

Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Remove the meat from the shells and cut into medium-size dice.  Wrap 6 7” flour tortillas tightly in foil and place in the oven for ~15 minutes or until heated through.  Keep warm.  Heat 3T corn oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and sauté lobster until just heated through.  Spoon equal portions of warm lobster medallions into the center of each warm tortilla.  Sprinkle with equal portions of 1 C grated jalapeño jack cheese and 1C spinach leaves, shredded.  Roll tortillas into a cylinder shape and place each one on a warm serving plate with the edge facing the bottom.  Surround the taco with the cold yellow tomato salsa.  Serves 6.

Dessert Empanadas

Combine 2C flour, 2T sugar, 2t baking powder, and 1t salt.  Work in 1/2C shortening and add ice water as needed to form dough.  Divide into 20-24 pieces.  Roll out on a floured board into circles.  Fill with jam, moisten edges, fold over, and crimp with a fork.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.  While hot, roll in a combination of 1C sugar and 1T cinnamon.  Serves 20-24.

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March 7th, 2016

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March is Thriller Recipe Month at stevengjackson.com. Each week, I’ll be posting recipes that will enable you to create a fine dining experience in your home, at a reasonable cost. These are no-hassle recipes that I’ve prepared many times, and always crowd favorites.

The first Thriller Recipes provide a three-course fine dining experience for six using recipes my mother passed down to me. The meal begins with a tantalizing Spinach Salad, followed by Jambalaya, and Empanadas.

Spinach Salad with Chutney Dressing

Combine ½C red wine vinegar, 5T chutney, 1 garlic clove, 2T coarse-ground mustard, 2t sugar, and ½C vegetable oil in a blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  In a large salad bowl insert 1Lb fresh spinach, trimmed of stems, washed and dried.  Add 6 sliced mushrooms, 6 slices of crisp bacon, cooked and crumbled, ½C shredded Swiss cheese, and ¼C red onion, thinly sliced.  Serve with the dressing.  Serves 6.

Jambalaya

Cook 3C rice.  Melt 3T unsalted butter in 4Q saucepan over high heat.  Add 4oz andouille sausage and 4oz tasso (or other smoked ham); cook until meat starts to brown, ~4-5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping pan bottom well.  Add 3/4 lb boneless chicken, cut into bit-size pieces (~2C) and continue cooking until chicken is brown, ~4-5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping pan bottom well.  Stir in 2 bay leaves, 2T Chef Paul Magic (poultry, beef, or pork & veal), 1/2C sweet onion, chopped, 1/2C celery, chopped, 1/2C green bell pepper, chopped, and 1T minced garlic.  Cook until vegetables start to get tender, ~ 6-8 minutes.  Stir in 1/2C tomato sauce and cook 1 minute.  Stir in 1/2C sweet onion, 1/2C celery, 1/2C green bell peppers, and 1C fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped.  Stir in 1 1/2C uncooked rice and 2 1/2C chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered over low heat until rice is tender but still crunchy, ~30 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Let sit 5 minutes uncovered.  Serve over 1/2 C cooked rice.  Serves 6.

Dessert Empanadas

Combine 1C flour, 1T sugar, 1t baking powder, and 1/2 t salt.  Work in 1/4 C shortening and add ice water as needed to form dough.  Divide into 12 pieces.  Roll out on a floured board into circles.  Fill with jam, moisten edges, fold over, and crimp with a fork.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.  While hot, roll in a combination of 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 T cinnamon.  Serves 6.

Next up: Flavors of the Southwest.

February 29th, 2016

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You’re planning your Chinese New Year menu, and you want to celebrate in style, but without the whole duck or whole fish preparation. Because your guests freak out when you place a duck or fish head on their plate. But this is a special tradition, and a good excuse to break out some delicious dishes that are in the spirit, if not traditional.

Here’s the menu for four:

Lychee Martini

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Soy-Mustard Dressing

Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Lychee Martini

Heat 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water in a 1-qt saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into a heatproof bowl set in a large bowl of ice and cold water.  Let stand ~3 minutes.  Puree 2C canned lychees with the sugar syrup and 4T sweet and sour in a blender until smooth.  Force through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes and add lychee puree, 1 1/2 C vodka, and 6T Cointreau.  Shake 15 seconds and strain into Martini glasses.  Serves 4 oversized martinis.

Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Lightly brush 2lbs sweet potatoes (cut in ½” slices), 1 red onion (cut in ½” slices), and 1oz fresh ginger with olive oil.  Season with coarse salt and pepper, and grill over direct medium heat for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.  Finely chop the ginger.    Place all in a large saucepan.  Add 6C vegetable stock, ¼t allspice, and 1/8t cayenne.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender in at least 2 batches.  Return to the pan.  Add ¼C half and half, 2T Italian parsley, and 1T frozen limeade.  Makes 7 cups.

Halibut with Cucumber Salad and Soy-Mustard Dressing

Puree 3T soy sauce, 3T rice vinegar, 1T mirin, 1T sake, 2t whole-grain mustard, and 1 garlic clove.  With the blender on, slowly pour in 6T vegetable oil and blend until smooth.  Thinly slice 1/2 of 1 cucumber, then finely julienne the other 1/2.  Julienne a 3” piece of carrot, peeled, and a 3” piece of Jicama, peeled.  Toss all the julienned vegetables together.  In a large skillet, heat 3T vegetable oil.  Add 1 shallot, sliced, and 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, ~3 minutes.  Remove and drain.

Add 4 6oz halibut filets to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, ~4 minutes.  Turn and cook over moderate heat until just white throughout, ~2 minutes longer.

Spoon 1T of the soy-mustard dressing in the center of 4 plates.  Fold the cucumber slices and arrange them on the dressing.  Set the halibut filets on the cucumbers, browned sides up, and top with julienned vegetables.  Drizzle with remaining dressing.  Garnish with fried garlic and shallots, 1 long red fresh chile, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, and finely chopped chives.  Serves 4.

Jasmine Rice with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Place 1 1/2 C jasmine rice in large sieve and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear.  Drain.  Heat 2T vegetable oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add 1/6 C ginger, peeled and finely chopped, and 2 garlic cloves, minced.  Stir until fragrant, ~30 seconds.  Add rice and stir 3 minutes.  Add 2 C low-salt chicken broth and 1/4t salt.  Sprinkle 1/2 bunch cilantro, 2” of bottom stems trimmed and discarded, tops and remaining stems coarsely chopped.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~18 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.  Fluff rice with fork.  Transfer to a bowl and serve.  Serves 4.

Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache

Combine 7 oz unsweetened coconut milk, 1/6 C packed brown sugar, and 3/4 t ground ginger in heavy medium saucepan.  Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add 4oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, and whisk until mixture is melted and smooth.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place 1 of 4 thawed 8” square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers on work surface in diamond shape.  Place 1 banana piece (from 1 banana, peeled and halved lengthwise) across center of wrapper, then 1 mango strips (from 1/2 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3” long, ½” wide strips).  Fold bottom pointed corner up over fruit, then fold in sides over fruit.  Brush unfolded part of spring roll with 1/8 portion of 1 egg, beaten.  Roll up wrapper, enclosing fruit completely.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat for the other 3.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep skillet to reach depth of 1 1/2”.  Heat oil to between 360 and 375º.  Add spring rolls to hot oil and cook until golden and crisp, turning often, ~3 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Place 1 spring roll on each of 4 plates, along with fresh mint sprigs.  Drizzle with ganache.  Serves 4.

Bon Appétit.

February 8th, 2016

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