Saturday, March 24, 2012

Polenta Recipe

Day 25
14 Recipes
2 Projects in Progress
1 Restaurant Review
1 Ingredient Article

I am back sorry I was not feeling very good for a few days and did not want to focus on anything other than work and sleep. For this recipe I am making polenta, II never heard of polenta before a couple of years ago. It is a very simple dish to make and can be prepared hundreds of ways or just eaten as is. It's also a good dish if you are looking to save some money in the following recipe I use chicken stock but you can use any stock you would like or even just water.

Polenta was originally an Italian word, coming from the Latin for crushed grain. Until the 16th century when corn was introduced to Europe barley-meal and other grains were used for the dish. It was and still is classified as a peasant food. It was often served topped with a sauce, in the 1940's and 1950's it as eaten with just a little anchovy or herring.

Basic Polenta Recipe
6 Cups chicken stock
2 Cups yellow cornmeal
2 tsp Salt
3 Tbs Butter

In large pot add chicken stock and salt and bring to a boil. As soon as water begins to boil slowly add cornmeal making sure to stir constantly, once all the cornmeal is in continue to stir. It should begin to get thick within seconds, continue to stir until you can move your spoon across the bottom and it takes a few sec to fill back in. At this point add butter stir until melted and mixed in completely. Quickly transfer the polenta mix to a buttered dish of sort, it will take the shape of this dish I use a glass pie pan. Let cool for several hours if you would like to cut.











Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Takeing a few days off to rest

Day 22
13 Recipes
2 Projects in Progress
1 Restaurant Review
1 Ingredient Article

I am starting to catch a cold or something, I am going to take a few days off from posting and get some rest. I will have a new Post by sat night. Check back for the new post. Also check my website www.cookwithnick.com and my facebook page Here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Creamed Spinach Recipe

Day 20
13 Recipes
2 Projects in Progress
1 Restaurant Review
1 Ingredient Article

After yesterdays article on spinach I realized I really like learning about the history of food. It is safe to say I will be doing more articles in the near future. I could not help my self from making a spinach dish after all the research yesterday. Cream spinach is one of my favorite sides, unfortunately most places do not serve it.

Creamed Spinach
2 10oz packages chopped spinach
8oz sour cream
2 Tbs butter
1/2 Pound Cheddar Cheese
½ Cup Shredded Parmesan
3 Tbs Minced Onion
1 Tbs Minced Garlic

In med size pot on med high heat add chopped spinach, Onion, Garlic, and butter stir until onions become soft and transparent. Add sour cream and both cheeses, continue to stirring until all the cheese has melted. Serve hot, goes great with steak

If you have any questions or would like to share your recipe please share it in the comments bellow.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Article on Spinach

Day 19
12 Recipes
2 Projects in Progress
1 Restaurant Review
1 Ingredient Article

    I been wanting to learn a little more about the food I eat then just cooking with it. So once or twice a week I plan on giving a break to cooking and focus on researching and learning about different ingredients. I am focusing on spinach this time as its a ingredient I use quite often. 

Spinach 

History
Spinach was first referenced in persia about 226-640 A.D. and was first documented in 647 A.D. as it was introduced to China from Nepal. It was called and still referred to as the "Persian Green." By the 13th century spinach was used throughout the Mediterranean, by the 15th century it had become a major part of the diet in Mediterranean countries. It picked up its popularity quickly due to it being harvested in early spring when many other vegetables where hard to come by.
     
     Varieties
 Spinach comes in 3 variety Savoy, Semi-Savoy and Flat Leafed. Spinach true name is (spinacea oleracia) and grows best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, some varieties can extend into the summer and winter seasons.
Savoy Spinach grows quickly and can take cold better than most types. It has very crinkled leaves that makes cleaning the leaves difficult. A couple types of savoy spinach are Regiment and Bloomsdale.
Semi-Savoy Spinach are usually the best choice to grow at home they have a better disease resistance, the leaves are less crinkly, therefor wash better. The three types of
Semi-Savoy Spinach are Tyee, Catalina, and Teton.
Smooth-Leaf Spinach are the most popular for processed spinach for there flat leaves are easier to clean. The types of smooth-leafed spinach are Space, and Red Cardinal.

     Buying, Storing and Preparing Spinach
When your buying spinach look for crisp, Fresh and green leaves. Try to avoid any spinach that looks like it has insect damage or wilting. Best time to buy is in Spring, Summer and Fall.
You can store spinach by loosely wrapping it is a damp paper towel and placing in fridge for up to 5 days.
There are countless ways to preparing spinach, before you start any of them you should wash the leaves under cold water and remove any excess moisture before serving or cooking.

Nutrition
Spinach is low in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is a great source for niacin, Zinc, Dietary Fiber, Protein along with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, Spinach is also is a very good source for calcium, Iron Magnesium and Potassium. The only down fall is it is High in Sodium.

A few fun facts about spinach
1. It grows very quickly, it can be harvested and eaten within 37 to 45 days.
2. California and Texas produce the most spinach in the United States.
3. Popeye was created do to a German scientist misplacing a decimal point in the spinach's iron content making it 10 times higher than it should have been. The mistake was not found for 60 years.





Ref:
http://www.grow-it-organically.com/spinach-varieties.html
http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/15/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinach
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/perfect_prod_detail.asp?ppid=89
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2






If you have any questions or would like to give me your input please share it in the comments bellow.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Day 18
12 Recipes
2 Projects in progress
1 Restaurant Review

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to everyone out there.  If you could not guess today I am making corned beef and cabbage. I love this dish so much I stock up on corned beef when its on sell and freeze it so I can have it later in the year.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
1 Corned Beef 3-5 Pounds
6 Large Carrots
6 Red Potatoes (All about the same size)
1 small yellow onion
1 head green cabbage

In a large pot add corned beef and seasoning packet that comes with it. Fill with water to top of pot, bring to a boil and cover for 2 hours. Peel carrots and slice into 1 ½ inch pieces, slice a little bit off two ends of each potato, Slice the onion into large chunks. After the 2 hours add the onion, carrots and potatoes to pot. Turn to med heat and cover back up for 1 hour. Cut cabbage into 4 pieces, add to pot for 15 min. Remove corn beef, slice and serve with a little of each vegetables on a plate.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook. Don't forget to check out cookwithnick.com for much more.

If you have a different recipe or would like to give me your input please share it in the comments bellow.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pigs in a Blanket Recipe

Day 17
11 Recipes
2 Projects in progress
1 Restaurant Review

I am going to keep the recipes simple for the next couple of days. Today I am doing pigs in a blanket, a recipe that most of you know or think you know. If you are anything like my friends you each have your own way to make them. I have heard of hot dogs wrapped in croissants, sausage in pancakes, even little smokey's wrapped in biscuits. I am not going to say any of those ideas are wrong …. Wait, yes I am! The true way is to make them with sausage and biscuits.

Pigs in a Blanket
2 Packages 8 ct Farmer johns pork sausage
1 Pack Pillsbury jumbo biscuits

In frying pan cook the sausage until it has a nice golden brown coat. Open the biscuits and cut each biscuit in half. Flatten one of the halves with your hands and wrap around a cooked sausage link and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all biscuits and sausage are done and bake for 10 - 15 min at 350, once biscuit's are light brown remove and place on plate to cool. Goes great with honey mustard dipping sauce.

You can switch out the sausage and biscuits for your favorite types.
 Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook. Don't forget to check out cookwithnick.com for much more.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shrimp Won Ton Soup Recipe

Day 16
10 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress
1 Restaurant Review 

When I was a kid, I would always want to go to Hong Kong restaurant. A little chinese food place in Lakeport CA near where I had grew up. I don’t remember much of what I ate, except 2 dish’s stand out in my memory one was pot stickers, the other won ton soup. As a kid I don’t think I even cared that much of the soup, I was more excited to use one of those big Chinese soup spoons.. Now that its years later I have learned to also enjoy the soup it’s self.  It is a simple recipe, and healthy.


Shrimp Won ton Soup

Won ton’s
½ Pound raw Shrimp
1 Large Carrot
2 Cups napa cabbage
¼ Cup soy sauce
Won ton Wrappers

Soup
10 Cups Chicken stock
1 Bok Choy
2 Large Carrots
salt to taste

Add Chicken stock to large pot, Slice bok choy into med strips across the leaves and stems. Chop all the carrots into small squares, place ⅔ of the carrot and the bok choy in pot with the stock. Cover and turn to med high heat. Remove any skin and tail from shrimp and chop into small pieces. Chop napa cabbage into small pieces. In large bowl mix the shrimp, remaining carrots, cabbage and soy sauce. Place about 1 spoonful of the shrimp mixture on each won ton wrapper and fold.
When soup begins to boil, drop in won tons. Do not over crowd pot with to many boil for about 7 min and serve.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook. Don't forget to check out cookwithnick.com for much more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sausalito Bakery and Cafe

Day 15
9 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress
1 Restaurant Review

On my way home from San Francisco, CA, I thought it would be nice to stop and get something to eat. Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Fransisco is the water front community of Sausalito, a town world renown for its food; so you understand picking a place to eat was difficult. With over twenty restaurants in walking distance of downtown, I asked a few of the locals what they recommend. My choice was made. I went to Sausalito Bakery and Cafe, a small restaurant right on the seaside strand in the heart of town.
    As you walk through the doors, you are instantly greeted and taken away by its peaceful and private atmosphere. The lighting was dimmed down, letting the natural light from the sun shine through the front windows. And the tables placed in there own hollows in the back walls gave for a very private and romantic vibe.
   The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. I was able to meet with Fariba Azar, the owner of the cafe, who has been running the restaurant for over 10 years. She had a few recommendations. It was hard to choose, everything looked great. I went with the meat lasagna with a slice of their uniquely made bread pudding. I loved the serving style. Almost everything is prepared and displayed in their cases, so you can have more of a visual as you choose. You place your order and sit down as they prepare your dish and bring it to your table. 

     The lasagna was served piping hot, on a hot plate placed on a square plate for a nice artistic touch, with 2 slices of that famous San Francisco sourdough bread. Everything is made right there in the bakery from scratch using only local fresh ingredients. The lasagna was great with several layers of delicious homemade noodles and sausage, topped with extra feta and mozzarella cheese. The addition of a few Kalamata olives gave the perfect touch to this dish. The bread pudding is the other dish they served. Standing about 5 ½ inches tall was their moist homemade bread pudding topped with hot blueberries and a scoop of fresh whipped and chilled cream. Delivering the perfect combination to end a great meal.
       Don’t think that what I got is all they have, they have a little something for everyone with several vegetarian meals including lasagna and other pastas. Along with pastries and cookies of all types to fresh made drinks and shakes. So whether you are wanting to sit down for a whole meal or just grab something sweet on your way through or sit outside and enjoy the ocean view, Sausalito Bakery and Cafe have something for everyone.




Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook. Don't forget to check out cookwithnick.com for much more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spanish Rice Recipe

Day 14
9 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress

Did not get to a post yesterday for anyone that is following. Went to San Francisco for the day, I did review a nice little bakery in Sausalito, so check that out in tomorrows post. Today I am sharing my recipe for Spanish rice, it is really simple and works great as a side for almost any Mexican dish.

Spanish Rice

2 Cups Rice
½ Cup oil
2 Cups Chicken Stock
½ Cup water
3 Tbs Chopped Onion
1 Tbs Minced Garlic
1 Jalapeno (Minced)
3 oz Tomato Paste


Heat oil up in pan on med high heat, add rice to hot oil and stir until rice turns bright white. Strain out oil add rice back to pan with chicken stock, water, onion, garlic, tomato paste and jalapeno. Stir once and cover, reduce heat to med low for about 30-40 min until all liquid is gone. Fluff with fork and serve.





Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Tacos

Day 12
8 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress

Not much to explain here, we all know of tacos. I created this dish as a way to use up some extra salsa I had. It turned out so moist and flavorful that every time I make my salsa I put some aside for this tacos. The recipe is not very complex and is more about what you have sitting around so don’t worry if you need to modify it a little.

Tacos
Meat
1 Pound boiled Chicken meat (I use the thighs but any meat is fine just make sure bones are removed)
1 ½ Cups Salsa Quemada (This salsa is my choice as it has a perfect blend of spice and freshness)
1 Tbs Fresh crushed oregano
1 tsp Chile flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs olive oil

Condiments
Greens (I used spinach)
Cheese
Avocado Cut into thin strips

And tortillas (I highly recommend the la tortilla factory hand made style white corn tortillas)

In skillet heat up oil on med high heat. Toss in chicken, chili flakes, cumin, oregano and ¾ cup Salsa. Fry for about 5 min, stirring until most of the moisture from the salsa is gone. Add the remaining ¾ cup of salsa, mix for a min or two to make sure it is hot then place on warm tortillas add your choice of toppings. Makes about 8 tacos.


Hope you enjoy,





Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and Facebook

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fried Corn Recipe

Day 11
7 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress

As you can see this is not the most beautiful dish to look at, but it is truly one of my favorite holiday side dish’s. Right up  there with green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. My father would always make this and I was to busy shoveling it into my mouth to think how it was made. Last year he was unable to make it do to his arthritis and gave me the recipe. Takes a little time but not much work and its a great recipe to start as you do other things.

Fried Corn
6 Corn on the cob
5 Garlic cloves
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
6 slices bacon
1 Large onion
Salt and Pepper

Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces and throw in frying pan, meanwhile cut corn off the cob and milk the cob and put aside. In another bowl mince garlic, chop celery, onions and carrots fine. Once bacon is crisp add corn and fry for about 5 min. Then add garlic, onions, carrots and celery cover to top of vegetables with water, add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil on med high heat. Once at a boil stir and turn to med heat cover and let slowly boil for 2 hours.

This can be served with the liquid drained or as a soup.
















Friday, March 9, 2012

Parmesan Potato Patties Recipe

Day 10
6 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress

Left over mashed potatoes is something we all have after thanksgiving or a large dinner. I remember growing up my mom use to make potato patties, she would use the left over mashed potatoes and throw in a egg and some salt and pepper an fry them up. I still love them to this day but wanted to touch the recipe up a little. So the other night I was stuck with some extra mashed potatoes and thought this is my chance.

Parmesan Onion Potato Patties

2 Cups Mashed Potatoes
¼ Cup onion minced
¼ Cup flour
½ Cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric root
1 egg

2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Butter

In mixing bowl combine potato, onion, flour, cheese, salt, pepper, turmeric, and one egg. Mix everything together. In hot pan add butter and oil and heat on med high. Spoon batter into pan like a pancake and press down tell about ½ inch thick. Fry for about 3-4 min tell golden brown, flip and repeat. This is a great breakfast item and makes about 4-6 patties

There you have it, I think this recipe gives my mom’s a run for its money, sorry mom.

Check out www.cookwithnick.com for recipes and more also follow me on facebook


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meatloaf Throwdown #10

Day 9
5 Recipes Completed
2 Projects in progress

    Meatloaf Throwdown

I first would like to thank every one that showed up to the meatloaf throwdown this was our 10th throwdown, I think every thing is starting to run very smoothly. So again thank you to all the judges, cooks and every one that showed there support.
    If you were not at the throwdown we did meatloaf for the first time. We had three entrees that included my roommate Chris Johnstone a baker for corporate grocery store Safeway.  Also entering was long time friend and past high school enemy Sebrina Dollosso, phlebotomist by day and self taught chef by night. And we had my self Nicholas J Cole.

The battle was on, in 3rd place we had Chris, he was going for a more traditional meatloaf with a slight twist of bell peppers, mushrooms and onions blended and mixed into meat mixture with cheddar cheese pockets all throughout the loaf. He topped it off with a spice honey mixture that was placed on half way threw the cooking process, and served the meal on paper plates the way a home cooked meatloaf was meant to be served.

Ahead of Chris was Sebrina with her barbecue themed meatloaf consisting of finely chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, and bacon that she had spiraled threw out for a pleasing appearance when cut. She served hers to the judges on a nice white and blue designed rectangular plates,. the meat was placed on a bed of barbecue sauce for a little extra kick.

Winning the throwdown by only 2 points was my Mexican style Boiled Meatloaf from yesterdays post. I tried to grab some of the originality points by creating a Mexican style meatloaf consisting of a mixture of beef, pork, rice, onions, and fresh mint chopped up and mixed together. It was boiled in a soup mixture of tomatoes, carrots and chilies to cook the rice and infuse the flavors. I then served it fanned out on a plate with a few of the complementing vegetables and juice from the soup, topped with a mint leaf for the garnish.
The judges consisted of freelance writer Dylan Duarte, Free lance artist Jeff Morin, and long time friend Ladona Hartman. The judges had a hard time for all the dishes were put together wonderfully, Dylan being a full time judge for all the throwdowns was looking for more of the bold flavors, Chris's did not deliver as it was a little to blended for any one flavor to stand out, he did find what he was looking for in Sebrina's with her sweet barbecue touch. Jeff was looking for a little something different, Sabrina's did not have quite enough spice to offset the sweetness for Jeff's taste he found more comfort in the the mint and meat mixture in my meatloaf with the spicy juice and sweet vegetables of my dish. Ladona seemed to enjoy them all, she did note the nice touch of cheese in Chris's.
    They had to make there choices it was judged with a 1-10 for each category of Taste, Originality, and Presentation with a x2 added to the taste category for its importents in the dish.
Final results



Chris - even thou his flavor was good it was a little to basic and he lacked in the presentation. Score 55

Sebrina - Did very nice in each category and came in first in taste by 1 point but fell behind 2 points in each Originality and Presentation
Score 95

Nick - Great in each category lost taste by a hair but picked up originality and Presentation for the win
Score 97



Check out cookwithnick.com for more throwdowns and follow us on Facebook