Diced! Dessert Challenge Round 2 – Goat-Cheesecake with a Pistachio Crust and Poached Pears

Well if anyone is into cheesecake, this is my 2nd version for the competition over at the Ranting Chefs Blog. Plenty of other desserts and meal recipes and ideas over at his blog as well.

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Diced! Dessert Challenge – Round 2

The Diced! Dessert Challenge continues…

Each participant in round 2 won their first round and is ready to battle for more.

I will post a pairing each week on Wednesday and Thursday and open the polls for voting. The polls will be open from Thursday until the following Wednesday (before the next pair posts). The winner of each matchup with the most votes will move on to the next round and the chef will produce another recipe for their new matchup. The overall winner will receive any prizes I can acquire. To date the winner will receive:

This week’s pairing is:

Cookies with cheesecake (Chad) vs. Non-Fruit Pies (Stephanie) . Chad beat out pudding/moussee to advance and Stephanie beat out Ice Cream. Today we have…

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Orange-Chicken Fried Rice

With all the great weather we have been having lately, the random days where it decides to rain- or hail, i’m left to scrambling to come up with some various dishes. With what I had in the pantry I knew I had to be a tad creative (as the wife is not a huge fan of rice), so I had to kick up the flavor intenstity. In the end, I wound up making my own version of orange-chicken fried rice with broccoli and asparagus.

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The rice part was simple enough. Boil it like you normally would, drain it, and then set aside. Similar regards with the vegetables as i steam em first (not quite all the way) and then set aside. The main component of chicken had already been packaged with diced garlic and soy sauce before I froze the package. Once thawed out, I took the pieces and cut into smaller cubes. I tossed these in a bowl along with some chili powder, a little pineapple juice (optional), a little more soy sauce, some cor starch (give the chicken a crispyt coating while cooking), and I zested two oranges. All of this was mixed thoroughly and I proceeded to cook on my 2-burner griddle in some grapeseed oil (slightly higher smoke point). As this was getting close to the point that I wanted (slight crispiness) I then tossed in the vegetables to finsih cooking them through and for the flavors to soak in.

At this point, I also cleared off a portion on the front of the griddle, tossed on some oil, and poured on the rice to start “frying” it. Once it got to a point I was happy with, I then proceeded to mix all of the ingredients together on the griddle.

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Enjoy.

Diner Inspired Sandwich- Grilled Ribeye with some Sauteed Onions

This is a nice, fun, and somewhat quick meal which can be tailored in many ways to suit one’s own liking. In this particular instance, I kept it in similar fashion to a version I had tried a few months back at a retro 50’s themed diner.

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On to the fun part: Start off with a nice boneless ribeye or two (or more depending on how many you are feeding), season to your liking- I used some cracked peppercorns, black-garlic salt, and some rosemary. Toss on the grill and cook to your liking (I did mine to about medium-rare as they will cook a little after you pull em off).

For the onions, I sliced up a nice large yellow sweet onion. Threw it in a skillet of already heated up olive oil, threw in some pepper to taste, and tossed in a little Worcestershire sauce. Cook til golden brown. Throw it all together on a nice roll, toss in a side of homemade broccoslaw and some pickles and bam…you have a complete meal. Quick, easy, tasty…what more could you want?

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Enjoy.

Holiday Breakfast Endeavours: Variations of French Toast

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend (for those of you who had it). The mornings were nice as the sun was coming up and to have the opportunity to make some breakfast, go out on the balcony, and relax.

First attempt: The first attempt at french toast i went with a caramelized pear combination which I then added crished macadamis nuts too. It was quite tasty and had the flavors reminiscent of a monkey-bread. It was also topped with blueberries.

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Second attempt: The second day, I went with more of an apple-berry flavor combination. I diced up apples into small pieces, put into a small saucepan, and then i added blackberry port. This was then thickened with a little corn starch to make more of a syrup as it was heating it.

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Both came with the side of homemade bacon which can be seen here.

Enjoy.

Some Quick and Easy Grilling (Healthy Too): Spaghetti Squash and Grilled Chicken

This was a nice meal as it did jnot take terribly long (just over a half hour) to cook, and the results are quite flavorful and it’s an all-around healthy meal.

To start, I took the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. I then score the inside with a fork and then drizzle on some oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, paprika, lemon/lime zest, and then some parsley. Once cut and seasoned, I put these on the grill, cut side up. Since this takes about 35 minutes to cook, I then had a few minutes to prep the chicken and toss it on the grill as well.

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The chicken I initially tossed on the grill unseasoned and cooked both sides slightly. I then applied a mixture of balsamic and honey and cooked until almost done. I then applied my homemade bbq sauce (has stuff like tomoato paste, worcesteshire sauce, ground up garlic, onion, anaheim peppers, amongst other “secret” ingredients). I then cooked until i got a nice slight char on the sauce coating.

While that was going on, I placed some asparagus on the top rack of the grill and basted in a combination of truffle-infused oil and pumpkinseed oil.

Upon removing everything from the grill, I scooped out the squash and plated and then I cut up the chicken and placed on top.

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Enjoy.

Stuffed Pork with Some Roasted Potatoes

Here is another somewhat easier meal to do if you take the time and plan ahead. In this case, I made some simple roasted pork along with some potatoes to go with.

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From my past experiences working in a meat room during part of my college tenure, I came to learn the various cuts of meat as well as different cuts of meat which are in actuality the same thing, just cut differently to look different. This is very apparent when it comes to boneless pork. Your boneless roasts are utilized as: roasts, pork chops (thick or thin) and also these lovely pieces they call country-style ribs (comes from the end roasts as opposed to the chops coming from the center part). So as it is cheaper by the pound to get the roast, I do that and then cut at home to whatever thickness I may choose. For the instances of stuffing- I make them a little thicker. I typically buyt whatever else I may need in the same grocery trip (unless I already have the needed supplies) so then when I get home, I can prep the meals, and then freeze the meals.

Here, I did a simple stuffing of apple pieces, diced up red onion, some brie cheese, and I crushed up some walnuts. Put these in a bowl together, mix and then cut a slit in the middle of the chops (not quite all the way through) and then stuff. Then weeks later since these are prepped and frozen, I can take them out and toss right in the oven.

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The potatoes I find it quicker to par-boil them, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, dice up and then sautee in oil and other spices. Here I used some olive oil, cut up some garlic, sweet paprika, salt, and some fresh parsley.

Enjoy.

Always Fun to Walk into a “Real” Bucher Shop- Followed by Grilled Elk-Blackberry Sausage

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This past weekend I had the fun time of heading over to Philadelphia and walk around the Italian Market Festival. Streets were lined with vendors selling all different types of products, fresh produce stands were out in abundance, and along the streets in the storefronts you had everything from pastry shops, cafes/restaurants, cheese shops, to one of my favorites- the butcher shop.

Of course they had the traditonal styled butcher shop- got all of your beef parts in one case, pork in another (I did get a nice 4.5 lb. piece of pork belly), and others with poultry, lamb, etc. It was when I went into another more “exotic” shop, that the fun began.

It started off just by looking at the display in the front window…quail, snake, kangaroo…the list goes on. So when I went inside i started looking around and the variety was quite distinguished. And so I ended up buying a nice package of quail for future cooking endeavours, however for this post we will go into the sausage that I obtained: Elk sausage with blackberry.

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Now, some people may be turned away by some of your gamier meat- but not me (especialyl when it is cut with something like blackberry to add a slight sweetness and some mositure when cooked. So at that point it was sausage (check), then I needed to get some rolls (check) and well a look in the fridge and we found some toppings (check).

I started off by throwing the sausages on the grill. While that was happening outside, I had a pot of water boiling (with salt added) on the stove and tossed in some broccoli rabe to cook for about 2 minutes. When it was done I drained in the sink and flushed with cold water to stop the cooking process. I then had a pan set up with some olive oil, butter, diced garlic, and black pepper. I then checked on the sausage and at the appropriate time I sauteed the broccoli rabe so it was nice and hot just as I borught the sausages inside.

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I started off with cutting the rolls. I then grated some cranberry-cinnamon cheddar onto the roll, tossed on the sausages, and then topped with the broccoli rabe. Overall, a nice flavorful meal which did not require too much time or effort. If you happen to stumble upon elk sausage, I would say buy some and try it- you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy.