Cooking Contest Central

bobby dean

One of my favorite recipe contest moments. Bobby Dean sneaks in a hug at the Beringer Great Steak Cook-Off

Lots of people ask me about how to get involved in recipe contests. I always recommend my favorite go-to web site for recipe contest information. It’s Cooking Contest Central or better known as CCC. Some may balk at the yearly $25.00 subscription rate, but truthfully my time is much more valuable. Instead of searching the web for contests or visiting other sites that may be free I prefer this easy to use up to date source. It has all the information I need including contest news, rules and regulations plus a forum to chat with other like-minded cooking enthusiasts. Not only that, but CCC often runs exclusive recipe contests for its members. A real bonus because who doesn’t want to win $500.00 on occasion. The contests are judged by real food experts and don’t involve the dreaded voting. I recently won a contest sponsored on the site by Mann’s. The contest required I use their broccoli slaw and I think I stood out in the field because I used it in two ways. I hope you like the recipe as much as the judges did.img_3524

Stir-Fry Shitake & Broccoli Slaw Burgers

For the slaw

1 (12 oz.) bag Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 (4 oz) package stemmed and sliced fresh shitake mushrooms

¼ cup sliced scallions

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

For the burger

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 ½ cups Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw (reserved from slaw recipe)

1 tablespoon mirin

1 pound (80% lean 20% fat) ground beef

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup sliced scallions

4 brioche buns, toasted

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 crisp lettuce leaves

Reserve 1½ cups of broccoli slaw for burgers. Pour remaining slaw into a large bowl; toss with salt. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms have released their liquid and are just golden brown. Add mushrooms and scallions to slaw mix in bowl. In small bowl, whisk soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, fresh ginger and sesame oil until blended. Pour dressing over slaw mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toss again. Set aside while preparing burgers. In same skillet used to cook mushrooms, heat 1-teaspoon olive oil. Add reserved 1 ½ cups slaw and cook stirring 5 minutes or until softened. Add mirin, stirring, just until liquid evaporates. Cool slightly. In large bowl, combine ground beef, salt, pepper, scallions and cooled slaw mix; blend well. Shape into 4 patties about ¾-inch thick. Grill, broil or pan-fry burgers 4 to 5 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Layer bottom half of toasted rolls with hoisin sauce, lettuce and a burger. Top with a generous amount of shitake slaw. Cover with bun tops and serve.

You can also check out the CCC Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/CookingContestCentral/

 

Blended Mushroom Meatball Sub

img_3366

A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the World Food Championship experience here. Today I want to share one of the recipes I prepared in the kitchen arena. This sandwich is a tribute to my home town of Kennett Square (AKA mushroom capital of the world) and my Italian roots. It’s a bit of a twist on a chicken parmigiana sandwich and filled with flavor thanks to Saucy Mama.

img_3882

Fontina Stuffed Chicken & Mushroom Meatball Sub with Crispy Cheese Frico

1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes

1 shallot, peeled, halved

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

parmesan cheese rind

4 ounces cremini mushrooms, very finely chopped

1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus additional for sautéing meatballs

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, ground

2 links Italian sausage, casings removed

2 tablespoons parmesan garlic marinade

½ cup day old Italian bread crumbs

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus ½ cup coarsely grated

1 egg

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped plus additional for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, plus for garnish

12 (1/2-inch) pieces fontina cheese

Italian seeded or plain rolls, sliced through top and opened like a boat

Pour tomatoes and juice into a medium saucepan. With hand, crush each tomato. Add shallot, butter, salt ,sugar and cheese rind; bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare meatballs. Brown mushrooms in olive oil until they have released their liquid; cool slightly. Gently, but thoroughly, combine mushrooms, chicken, sausage, marinade, breadcrumbs, ¼ cup finely grated parmesan, egg, pepper, basil and parsley. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 12 leveled portions of meat mixture. Dampen hands with water and form each portion into a meatball pressing one piece of fontina into the center wrapping the meat around the cheese. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sear meatballs to a golden brown, turning as needed. Add browned meatballs to sauce. Cover and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Heat oven 350F. Crisp rolls on sheet pan in oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Prepare parmesan cheese frico. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a ½-inch apart. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.

To assemble sandwiches: fill rolls with meatballs. Sprinkle with herbs and crumbled parmesan frico. 

img_3904

Thanks to my fabulous friends for the memories in Orange Beach

Good Grief: Lasagna Two Ways

Joyful activities. We need them. Remember what makes you happy and start filling up your bucket. Celebrate you and you celebrate those you have loved and lost. “Good Grief” in the blog title. Whenever you see it, going forward, something joyful will follow including, as always, a most delicious recipe and maybe a bit of a surprise. These are “no more tears” blog posts.

stop & smell the roses

stop & smell the roses

First, the fun surprise. It is a D.I.Y. project perfect for this time of year known as lasagna compost gardening. It is a no-till (aka no back-breaking work) method of turning a sunny grassy area into a new garden. “Lasagna”, in this case, refers to the layering of nitrogen rich green material like grass, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and manure with carbon-rich brown elements like cardboard, dead leaves, straw and newspaper. Continue alternating green and brown layers, watering in between, until the pile measures 2 to 3 feet.

6 months later you will be ready to plant your new garden

6 months later you will be ready to plant your new garden in a loamy soil loaded with earthworms

Now for some real lasagna. This is one of my favorite recipes from Epicurious. As always I tend to tweak things according to my taste. For instance, I did not have porcini mushrooms, so I used dried shitakes and I used a large enough skillet to cook all the button mushrooms, zucchini, onion and garlic at once. Make the filling the day before to stream-line the whole process.

wild mushroom lasagne

wild mushroom lasagne

from Epicurious.com

Wild Mushroom Lasagna

For mushroom filling
3 cups water
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
2 pounds fresh white mushrooms
2 large zucchini (about 1 pound)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons Sherry
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For sauce
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
4 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
eighteen 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne (about 1 pound)
1/2 pound freshly grated mozzarella (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
preparation

Make filling:
In a small saucepan bring water to a boil and remove pan from heat. Stir in porcini. Soak porcini 20 minutes. Lift out porcini, squeezing out excess liquid, and reserve soaking liquid. In a sieve rinse porcini to remove any grit and pat dry. Chop porcini and transfer to a large bowl. Simmer reserved soaking liquid until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Pour liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into bowl with porcini.

Quarter white mushrooms and in a food processor pulse in 3 batches until finely chopped. Cut zucchini into 1/4-inch dice. Chop onion and mince garlic. In a 12-inch heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook one third white mushrooms with 2 tablespoons Sherry, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they begin to brown. Add mushroom mixture to porcini. Cook remaining mushrooms in 2 batches in butter with remaining Sherry in same manner and add to porcini mixture. In skillet cook zucchini in 1 tablespoon butter until tender and stir into porcini mixture. In skillet cook onion in remaining tablespoon butter, stirring, until softened. Stir in garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir onion into mushroom mixture until combined. Filling may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Make sauce:
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, mustard, and salt. Remove pan from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper. Sauce may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.

Assemble lasagne:
Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in baking dish and cover with 3 pasta sheets, making sure they don’t touch each other. Spread one third filling over pasta sheets in dish and top with 3 more pasta sheets, gently pressing down layers to remove air pockets. Top pasta sheets with one third mozzarella. Continue layering in same manner with sauce, pasta sheets, filling, and mozzarella, ending with mozzarella (dish will be filled to rim). Spread remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with Parmesan. On a foil-lined large baking sheet bake lasagne in middle of oven until bubbling and golden, about 45 minutes. Let lasagne stand 20 minutes. Lasagne may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring lasagne to room temperature and reheat before serving.