Archive for January, 2014

Creole Rice Stuffed Pork Loin with Andouille and Collards

Cajun Dirty Rice Stuffed Pork Loin with Andouille and Collards

Here is a very easy recipe using D’allesandro Cajun Dirty Rice Blend.  You can also add more filling before you roll the loin, just make sure it is tightly tied with twine.

Cajun Dirty Rice-Stuffed Pork Loin

2-1/2 to 3-pound pork loin
1 cup cooked Cajun Dirty Rice
1 cup cooked andouille sausage, crumbled
1 cup thinly sliced collard greens, picked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Butcher’s twine

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prep pork loin by slicing across it lengthwise, stopping 3/4 inch from the other side. Open halves, laying pork flat. Starting from the center, slice each half lengthwise, again stopping 3/4 inch from the other side. Again, open so pork is flat. You will have made one large, flat piece of pork 3/4 inch thick. Make sure to keep it in one piece.
Evenly cover flattened pork loin with prepared Cajun Dirty Rice, andouille sausage and collard greens, then tightly roll it jellyroll-style so that the loin returns to its original shape.
Tie with butcher’s twine to keep the filling inside and to cook evenly.
Rub outside of meat with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until internal temperature reaches 155°F, about 1 hour.
Increase heat to 500°F and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until exterior is crispy and browned.
Slice and serve.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

OatWorks® Smoothies

OatWorks® Smoothies

The people at OatWorks® (http://oatworks.com) were nice enough to send me some samples of their new oat powered fruit smoothies to review! I received the samples a few days ago, and this is what I thought:

  • Packaging Apparence – The beverages come in nice, sturdy bottles with a matte finish plastic label. I felt that the logo and color scheme appropriately represents this health conscience product.  There was enough clear area on the bottle to adequately see the product on the inside, and the top was easy to open. All of the information was easy to read, and promotes having the addition of oat fiber (two bowls worth), along with being vegan friendly, gluten free, dairy free, non-GMO, and kosher.  They do not add any ‘boosts’ like the other brands, and rely on only the natural juices for the nutritional value. The ONLY comment I can make about the bottle is that it has a slight raised texture on the base which I though was a wrinkle in the label, but it was the actual shape of the bottle underneath…not a big deal to me.
  • Product Appearance – All of the varieties I sampled had the expected and appropriate color (Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango, Pomegranate Blueberry), but were just a tad duller than some competitive products, as well as the images on their website. They looked a lot smoother in texture than some other RTD smoothies out there which is a plus for me.  The smoothies were not overfilled and did not look like anything on the inside settled to the bottom…meaning I didn’t really have to shake it before drinking. This is most likely due to the addition of guar and xanthan gum. I also noticed there were no visible oat pieces or specs in the drink, which again is a plus for me.
  • Drinking Experience – I was pleasantly surprised when sampling each of the varieties.  I did not pick up any earthy oat flavor, just a smooth, and sweet profile like the label suggests. They are pretty much spot on with the amount of sweet vs. tart, with my favorite being the strawberry banana.  I personally like a little more strawberry flavor in my smoothies, and it delivered just that.  I did not pick up any gritty or graininess in any of the varieties, and the consistency was just thick enough to leave a refreshing, bright aftertaste…in a good way.  I also felt that the 12oz portion was the perfect size for a beverage like this.
  • Value – After doing a little research, the cost per each bottle is right between the two major brands you would find in the refrigerated section at your local supermarket, however, you have the added benefit of a longer shelf life with these since they do not need to be refridgerated. Now the per/oz cost is a little on the high side, but as previously stated, I think this 12oz size it much better for a single serving, making it a great 160 – 170 calories per bottle.  Some of the other brands have a much higher calorie count than that, but just remember this is a fruit smoothie, so you will see sugar kind of high on the nutrition panel…this is to be expected though.
  • Overall – This was a fantastic product that I look forward to having more of in the future. I felt it was the perfect size, the consistency was very smooth without having any grittiness, and the flavor was spot on.  The price is on the high side, but in-line with the competition, however you can store it longer since it does not need to be refrigerated. I give OatWorks® Oat Powered Natural Smoothies4.5 out of 5!

NERDSTEAK is more than happy to review any food, beverage, restaurant, CPG or equipment items you have to offer.  Feel free to contact Mike directly at chefman316@aol.com to arrange for shipping of samples, or to schedule a review.

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’ Recipe

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized
Quinoa 'Fried Rice'

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

If you are not familiar with Quinoa and are looking for a good recipe to give it a try, this is the one! Make sure you prep. all of your ingredients ahead of time, because once it is stir-fry time, the cooking process goes pretty quick!

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onions plus extra for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 cups cooked Incan Quinoa Blend
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sweetened seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat peanut oil in a large sauté pan or wok on high heat, then add yellow onion and carrot. Sauté for about 2 minutes, then add green onions, garlic and ginger, continuing to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add cooked Incan Quinoa Blend and sauté for an additional 2 minutes, making sure to break up any clumps of quinoa.
Toss in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil until evenly incorporated.
Make a well in the center of the pan, and add beaten eggs, Cook just until scrambled, about 2 minutes.
Finally, toss in peas and cook just until warm and tender, about 3 minutes. Add more soy sauce if needed.
Serve topped with sesame seeds and green onions.

Makes 4 to 8 servings

Here are a few of my favorite types of Quinoa to use:
Incan Quinoa Blend
Black Quinoa Blend
Red Quinoa
Standard Quinoa 

Chilled Couscous Salad with Kale and Cucumber

Chilled Couscous Salad with Kale and Cucumber

Super easy, light, tasty, and it will make all your dreams come true.  If you can’t find Couscous, click on the link and you can get it shipped right to your door!

Chilled Couscous with Kale and Cucumber

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed Aleppo chile
2 teaspoons finely chopped mint, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked Couscous, chilled
1 cup shredded kale, trimmed
1 cup diced baby cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Combine garlic, lemon juice and zest, crushed chile, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Slowly whisk in olive oil until evenly incorporated.
Separate Couscous by rubbing between your hands, and add to bowl along with remaining ingredients.
Let sit for 30 minutes before serving, and garnish each serving with a fresh mint sprig.

Makes 4 to 8 servings

ID-100186769Talk to any of your friends or family members who work in a restaurant kitchen, and they will tell you about the long hours working nights, weekends, and holidays. They will tell you about the burns and knife related injuries, their sore feet and back problems, and the fast pace life of a restaurant chef. Many of us really enjoy this type of atmosphere as a career choice, however, it is not a fit for everyone. Here is a short-list of food related career choices other than working in a restaurant…

Click here to read Chef Mike’s Examiner.com article 

Red Quinoa Crab Cakes with Sriracha Mayo

Red Quinoa Crab Cakes with Sriracha Mayo

Red Quinoa Crab Cakes

1 cup cooked Red Quinoa <–(you can order quinoa here)
1-1/2 to 2 cups lump crab meat
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs plus extra to coat cakes
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix Red Quinoa, crab, celery, onion, red pepper, parmesan cheese and parsley in bowl and toss until evenly incorporated.
Add salt, black pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and panko breadcrumbs and continue to blend.
Add eggs and mayonnaise and mix just until evenly incorporated.
Form patties from small handfuls of mixture, then coat the outside in extra panko breadcrumbs.
Heat vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and brown both sides of patties until golden, about 2 minutes on each side.
Drain on paper towel before serving with your favorite accompaniments.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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Notes:

I simply blended 1 cup of mayo with 2 tablespoons of Sriracha Seasoning and a few drops of lemon juice. I also topped the crab cakes with some lemon zest and fresh chopped parsley, as well as placing a few lemon wedges around the plate.

Adding the quinoa makes these bad boys a little more nutritious, cuts down on the cost so you can make more cakes, and adds some nice texture to the mix.  You can also replace the breadcrumbs with rice flours for a gluten-free variety. Feel free to play around and let me know how it turns out!

Black Lentil and Chard Stuffed Tomato

Black Lentil and Chard Stuffed Tomato

Here is a recipe I created using Black Beluga Lentils and Swiss chard. This is actually a vegetarian recipe, however the lentils and toasted pine nuts give it a very savory and meaty flavor. If you can’t find the black beluga lentils at your store, you can order them right here!

Black Lentil and Chard Stuffed Tomatoes

6 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt plus additional to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup minced yellow onion
4 cups sliced Swiss chard, cleaned and picked
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 cups cooked Black Beluga Lentils
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh dill, picked, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Slice tops off of tomatoes and hollow out the insides, being careful not to damage the outer walls.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt inside tomatoes, then turn upside down and place on a cooling rack to allow excess juice to drain for at least 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat and add pine nuts.
Cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes, then remove from oil and set aside.
Add yellow onions to same pot, and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add chard, black pepper and salt to taste, cooking just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, then sauté until most liquid has been reduced, about 7 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and heat until just warmed through.  Stuff tomatoes with this mixture, then place on a baking sheet and bake until tomatoes are warm and tender, about 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with extra fresh dill.

Makes 6 servings