Mike’s  Kitchen
Most people who know me well, know that I not only love to eat but I also love to cook.  Not a great cook though, as I would describe my cooking skills as just “good”.  Kind of in-between average and chef levels.  In the last 50 years since being on my own, I have taught myself how to do almost everything.  TV cooking shows are among my favorite things to watch and along with the internet and easily accessible recipes, I have and continue to learn much.
Below, I have posted for your enjoyment, some of my very favorite recipes.  Those that I make most often – primarily, because I always get good reviews from those that eat here.  Along with everyday cooking, I also bought an electric meat grinder and have learned how to make sausage of varying kinds and a smoker, where I slow-smoke meats.
MIKE’S FAVORITE RECIPES

Edited: July 31, 2016

These are recipes I have made over and over usually, in my own version of an old recipe.

  1. Shrimp Bisque Soup2
  2. Pasta w/ Potatoes and Peas and Pea Pesto
  3. Gazpacho Cold Soup
  4.  Cajun Jambalaya
  5.  Potato – Celery Root Soup
  6.  Enchiritos (My version of Chicken Enchiladas but Burrito style)
  7. Spice-Scented Carrots and Figs
  8. Croque Monsieur Sandwich w/ Basil Tomato Soup
  9. Cheese Blintz
  10. Ratatouille
  11. Melon Relish Salad
  12. Beef Stew
  13. Chicken Pot Pie
  14. Mike’s Corn Chowder
  15. Braised Ribs w/ Pearl Onions and Potatoes
  16. Grandma Adolph’s Beerocks
  17. Squash Casserole
  18. Chicken Marsala
  19. Rueben Sandwich w/ Soup
  20. Tagliarini
  21. Root Vegetable Gratin
  22. Seafood Gumbo
  23. Dolmas
  24. Mike’s Eggs Carmel (My special Eggs Benedict version)
  25. Tuscan Bread Salad
  26. Potato Soup
  27. Tomato Basil Soup
  28. My famous Apple Chicken Sausage
    Cookies / Dessert:
  29. Peanut Butter Cookies
  30. Lemon Squares
  31. Fresh Peach Pie
  32. Snickerdoodle Cookies
  33. Persimmon Cookies
  34. Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
  35. Carmelita bars
  36.                                                                                                                                                    Pasta w/ Potatoes and Peas and Pea Pesto
    I found this Pesto-Pasta recipe interesting for several reasons. First, that any pasta with a fresh, homemade Pesto is always tasty for me. Second, this recipe calls for using Potatoes, and then adds green Peas to compliment the Pesto. Lastly, you can make this recipe with literally any kind of hearty pasta, from a penne to a gemelli to elbow to shell to spaghetti or linguini.
    INGREDIENTS:

3-Cups Fresh Peas, shucked and divided into half (one for Pesto and the other half for the pasta later). Note: You may also substitute frozen, thawed and cooked or canned already cooked Peas.).
2-Bunches of Fresh Bazil Leaves (Some stalks are okay).
2-Cloves of fresh Garlic or 1-Tblsp. Minced Garlic.
2-3 Tblspns. Pine Nuts (Insure they have not gone rancid).
½-Cup Parmigiano Grated Cheese (Fresh or pre-grated), for Pesto, Plus more later for garnish.
Olive Oil. EVOO for adding to Pesto plus extra for sautéing Onions.
1-Bunch of Scallions (Green Onions), thinly sliced.
Optional: 1-Sml. Leek, thinly sliced.
16-Oz. of any kind of hearty Pasta (Not Angel Hair, etc.)
2-Yukon Potatoes, Medium-sized, peeled and diced into ½” cubes.
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper (To taste).
COOKING DIRECTIONS:

If Peas are not already cooked, in a sauce pan, bring to boil 3 cups of water that is salted, boil peas for 4 minutes and plunge immediately into an ice bath to arrest the cooking process. Separate into two halves.
PESTO:In a food processor, add the Basil, the Peas, Garlic, Pine Nuts, Salt, Pepper, and Grated Cheese. “Pulse” to first combine ingredients, then while set on “slow” drizzle in Olive Oil until a nice loose consistency is achieved. Not too thick, as it is hard to combine later with pasta and the overall consistency of the dish will be too heavy.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil (takes about 15 minutes), meanwhile…
In a large sauté pan over a medium heat, add 2-Tblspns. Olive Oil (additional 2-Tblspns. Butter if desired), add Scallions (Leeks if using) and second half of Peas. Season with Salt and Pepper and sauté until tender only – about 2-3 minutes.
To the now boiling water, add the Pasta and Diced Potatoes and cook per pasta pkg. instructions until al dente. Note: Save/ set aside about two generous ladles of the pasta water. Drain and return to pot – along with the set-aside water.
Add the Pesto (slowy – see note below), and remaining half of the Peas and gently toss until pasta and potatoes are evenly coated. Note: If there seems to be too much Pesto, do not add, as too much may be overpowering. Use just enough to coat nicely for flavor.
Turn out into a nice serving platter and garnish with Grated Parma Cheese and, if desired, drizzle lightly with EVOO for appearance sake.
You may want to add additional vegetables; Minced Carrots, Whole Kernel Corn, Black Olives, etc. to make a more vegetable-rich dish. My first time, I used Corn and Olives, as my daughter dislikes Peas (Snicker).
Gazpacho Cold Soup

There are many versions of this recipe and ways to dress it for serving. This recipe is my version.  My very first experience was in the early 80’s, while attending a League of California Cities Convention in San Diego as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Pacific Grove.  About 10 of us left our Mission Valley Motel after a cocktail party, stuffed ourselves into two cabs and headed for Papagayo’s Restaurant located on Mission Bay.  As the newbie, I had to order both the reservations and cabs for city officials and elected council members – so the pressure was really on my shoulders to pick a good place or never here the end of it back in PG.  It was a big success and in the process I discovered for myself for that evening and for the first time, this cold tomato soup.  Since then, I have made this many times, loving it best in hot summer meals with it well chilled.  It is always well received.

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 – Lrg. Cloves of Garlic 1- cut in half, the other 2 minced fine.
6 – Lrg. Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes (or 10-12 Smaller Tomatoes) – Lrg. dice.
2 – Lrg. and Firm Cucumbers – Remove skin, and remove seeds or not. Lrg. dice.
1 – Lrg. Green Bell Pepper – seeds removed – Lrg. dice.
4 – Med. Stalks of Celery, w/ tops and bottoms removed, washed and Lrg. chop.
1 – Sml. Can of Diced Green Chiles (Optional).
1 – Lrg. Can of Tomato, V-8 or Clamato Juice.
2 – Tbsp’s. Virgin Olive Oil.
2 – Tbsp’s. Red Wine Vinegar (More if desired).
2 – 4 Tsp’s. Salt.
1 – 2 Tsp’s. Fresh Ground Black Pepper.
1 – Tsp. Ground Oregano.
1 – Tsp. Ground or whole Cumin Seeds.
Juice of 2 Lemons.
1 – Lrg. Purple Onion (or Maui or Vidalia) – Lrg. dice.
3 – Green Onions – cleaned and rough chopped.
1 – Cup Cilantro – rough chopped. Note: Save some for Garnish.
2 – Tbsp’s. Worchester Sauce.
Optional:1 – Sml. Jicama – small diced for topping sprinkle.
Red Food Color as desired for increasing deeper coloring.
1 Red Pepper – seeds removed – Lrg. dice. Note: Both Peppers could be small diced and instead of adding to soup base, used as a garnish to sprinkle on top.
DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the above “base” ingredients, toss together and ladle into a food processor or blender and “puree’” until consistency desired. I prefer my texture somewhere between a chunky salsa and the average soup.
Rub inside surface of a large glass bowl with halves of Garlic. Place processed soup in this container and cover. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 3-hours.
Serve in colorful bowls and garnish as desired.
Bowl can be kept cold by placing on bed of ice.
There are many versions of this recipe and ways to dress it for serving. This recipe is my version.  My very first experience was in the early 80’s, while attending a League of California Cities Convention in San Diego as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Pacific Grove.  About 10 of us left our Mission Valley Motel after a cocktail party, stuffed ourselves into two cabs and headed for Papagayo’s Restaurant located on Mission Bay.  As the newbie, I had to order both the reservations and cabs for city officials and elected council members – so the pressure was really on my shoulders to pick a good place or never here the end of it back in PG.  It was a big success and in the process I discovered for myself for that evening and for the first time, this cold tomato soup.  Since then, I have made this many times, loving it best in hot summer meals with it well chilled.  It is always well received.

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 – Lrg. Cloves of Garlic 1- cut in half, the other 2 minced fine.
6 – Lrg. Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes (or 10-12 Smaller Tomatoes) – Lrg. dice.
2 – Lrg. and Firm Cucumbers – Remove skin, and remove seeds or not. Lrg. dice.
1 – Lrg. Green Bell Pepper – seeds removed – Lrg. dice.
4 – Med. Stalks of Celery, w/ tops and bottoms removed, washed and Lrg. chop.
1 – Sml. Can of Diced Green Chiles (Optional).
1 – Lrg. Can of Tomato, V-8 or Clamato Juice.
2 – Tbsp’s. Virgin Olive Oil.
2 – Tbsp’s. Red Wine Vinegar (More if desired).
2 – 4 Tsp’s. Salt.
1 – 2 Tsp’s. Fresh Ground Black Pepper.
1 – Tsp. Ground Oregano.
1 – Tsp. Ground or whole Cumin Seeds.
Juice of 2 Lemons.
1 – Lrg. Purple Onion (or Maui or Vidalia) – Lrg. dice.
3 – Green Onions – cleaned and rough chopped.
1 – Cup Cilantro – rough chopped. Note: Save some for Garnish.
2 – Tbsp’s. Worchester Sauce.
Optional:1 – Sml. Jicama – small diced for topping sprinkle.
Red Food Color as desired for increasing deeper coloring.
1 Red Pepper – seeds removed – Lrg. dice. Note: Both Peppers could be small diced and instead of adding to soup base, used as a garnish to sprinkle on top.
DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the above “base” ingredients, toss together and ladle into a food processor or blender and “puree’” until consistency desired. I prefer my texture somewhere between a chunky salsa and the average soup.
Rub inside surface of a large glass bowl with halves of Garlic. Place processed soup in this container and cover. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 3-hours.
Serve in colorful bowls and garnish as desired.
Bowl can be kept cold by placing on bed of ice.
Cajun Jambalaya

(Called “Cajun” because of the Creole-style of spiciness)

Note: I make a large amount and you can easily reduce this recipe by 0ne-Half. If making as per my instructions, use a very large pot for all the final ingredients to cook.  You can also omit Shrimp from this recipe.  My larger version (below) will easily make 10-14 large-size servings.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

8- 10 CHICKEN THIGHS – Fully cooked, cooled and diced into about ¾” or 1” cubes. (Or 4-Breasts). I prefer the boneless, skinless Thighs because of the creamier texture and ease of preperation. You can either bake or fry. I bake my Thighs completely following my favorite “Baked Chicken Thigh” recipe (With or without marinade). Set aside and let cool. Dice and set aside. You can also dice Breasts and pan sauté until brown and then add to mixture during rice simmering until fully cooked. If you do this, add the Creole or Cajun seasoning while pan frying.
2 – 10 Oz. ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE – Sliced into ¼”+ thick pieces and browned in skillet using either Peanut or Olive Oil. Set aside with diced Chicken.
1-2 Lbs. Frozen SMALL SHRIMP – Comes Pre-cooked and thawed (in warm water and rained), to set aside until last addition. DO NOT leave out for long thawed!
1 – Lb. Frozen MEDIUM SHRIMP – OPTIONAL (w/ Tails) – Comes Pre-cooked and thawed (in warm water and rained), to set aside until last addition. DO NOT leave out for long thawed! I really like the inclusion of these larger Shrimp for both taste and visual appeal. Though the smaller Shrimp do add taste, they tend to get lost visually in the final recipe.
2 – YELLOW ONIONS – Diced.
1 – GREEN BELL PEPPER – Diced.
½ – 1 Cup CELERY – Diced.
3-4 Tblsps. GARLIC – Minced or small Dice.
2 – 16 Oz. Cans – CHRUSHED ITALIAN TOMATOES
4 – Tblsps. WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
2 – Tblsps. CREOLE or CAJUN SEASONING.
2 – Tsp. FILE POWDER (Optional)
1 – Tsp. RED PEPPER FLAKES (Optional).
2 – Tblsps. SIRACHI SAUCE – Or other Hot Sauce. Milder or hotter to taste.
4-5 Cups CHICKEN BROTH
5 Cups UNCOOKED WHITE RICE
SALT and PEPPER for seasoning.
COOKING DIRECTIONS:

Using the same skillet that Sausage (and / or Chicken) were sautéed in, add ¼ to ½ stick of Butter (Optional) and sauté Onions, Green Bell Pepper and Garlic until Onions are almost translucent. Salt and Pepper as desired.
Transfer to Lrg. Stock Pot the above and add Crushed Tomatoes, Worcestershire Sauce, Hot Sauce, Red Pepper Flakes (If using), File Powder (If using). Also add Creole Seasoning here. Can be added while sautéing Onions or Sausage.
If Chicken is not fully cooked – Add here and let cook for 10 – Minutes, stirring occasionally. Medium to Med. – High heat. Then reduce heat to simmer and add White Rice and Chicken Broth.
If Chicken and Sausage are cooked – Add here along with White Rice, Chicken Broth, reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes until Rice fully absorbs all the liquids. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to bottom.
Serve on large Platter or Glass or Ceramic Bowl. May Garnish with Med. Shrimp.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLE-CHICKEN-CINNAMON SAUSAGE

This recipe is taken from Bruce Aidell’s book “Complete Sausage Book” of 2000. This was the first sausage recipe I tried making with my high school alumna Patty Hartsog.  With breaks, we spent about 5 hours that first Sunday and had lots of laughs and learned a lot in the actual doing.  We doubled the recipe from the 3.5 Lbs. shown to 10 Lbs. and learned that just multiplying the spices by 3 was insufficient spicing.  So I will not only copy the original recipe but offer my amounts of ingredients for the larger batch and my beginners observations on how to DIY both bulk and cased.  At the time I wrote this 3-9-15, the Chicken Thighs were about $2.48 a Lb. and the Casings for this size batch were somewhere around $3 or $4.

INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                                       1 – Cup Apple Cider – Boiled down to 2-3 Tbsps, Tripled, use at least 10 Tablespoons.

3.5 Lbs. Boneless Chicken Thighs with Skin on. 10 Lbs. (See Note. 1 below)
3 – Ounces Dried Apples.            Use dehydrated apples with moisture or dried and re-hydrate. For 10 Lbs. of meat, I would increase this ingredient to about 20 Ounces.
4 – Teaspoons Kosher Salt          12 Teaspoons seemed just salty enough. Our box was slightly course, which seemed to worked okay.
2 – Tsps. Fresh Ground Black Pepper       Use 12 Tsps.
2 – Tsps. Dried Sage      Use about 8 Tsps. (We used finely chopped fresh and was okay).
¼ Tsp. of Ground Ginger            Instead of about 1-Tsp. of ground, we used 2 Tsps. Fresh Grated and turned out nicely flavored.
1/8 Tsp. of Ground Cinnamon      Use generous amount of Fresh Cinnamon here. You want the flavor of this to be prevalent. We used about 2 – Tsps.
1/8 Tsp. of Ground Nutmeg – We fresh Ground and entire Nutmeg for our 10 – Lb. batch.
1 – Chicken Bouillon Cube dissolved in 2 – Tbsps. Boiling Water. Triple to 3 Cubes and 6 – Tbsps. (use microwave to heat water and add water to dry if using powdered Chicken Bouillon.
Medium Sausage Casings. Use Hog Casings (See Note.2 below)
Notes:

3.5 Lbs. is a very small amount to spend the time making. In my mind, it takes almost the same amount of time to make a larger batch than the smaller. And if you have a friend helping (advisable because two hands are simply not enough to stuff casings), you will want to split the end product(s). At my Meat Butcher, they simply do not have 10 Lbs. of this type of meat in their refrigerated case. So I bought a 10-Lb. bag, which comes frozen in a plastic bag. 10 Lbs. was just about right for our first batch also. You will need to leave the unopened bag of frozen thighs in your kitchen sink overnight to begin to thaw then put them in the fridge for at least another 24 hrs. They will be thawed and still very cold, which is how you want the meat to be when feeding the grinder. Cut the meat (w/ skin) into roughly 1” sq. x 2” L., which will feed nicely.
Neither the Grinder’s printed and enclosed instructions nor the book, explained how to transfer the Casing onto the “Horn”. The Hog Casing I bought from my butcher came over a firm plastic tube with blue parallel lines. We learned during the third set of stuffing that this tube is a huge value in both starting the tiny end onto the horn, and also feeding an amount down onto the horn. Cut with a sharp knife the desired length and tie off end. When done with the casings, return the unused to its original plastic bag, cover with salt and place in freezer.
You will find on a small home meat grinder that the meat comes out of the Horn and into the Casing only as fast as the person pushing the ground meat down into the shoot. After a short while, you will develop a rhythm.
You will find this kind of sausage to be sticky and messy, getting all over everything. Keep surfaces clean and wash down with hot soapy water or Chlorine Bleach solution to sanitize. Do not let meat product exceed room temp. If necessary, return to fridge for 30 minutes or more.
DIRECTIONS:

Coarsely grind the meat into a large glass bowl.
Add all of the above mentioned remaining ingredients.
Hand blend or gently knead (Just like making Meat Loaf). Do just enough to evenly combine ingredients. Do not over blend and make mixture mushy. You want to retain the meats texture and coarseness.
Fry a patty to check for seasoning and add additional to suit taste.
If making Links try to make about 5” lengths.
Frozen keeps for 2-3 months and Fresh 2-3 days in cold refrigerator. You can store in aluminum foil, plastic wrap or plastic zip-lock baggies.  ½ Lb. portions of bulk are a typical storage size.

 

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