Good Grief Cook’s Best Recipes

What to Write? What to write? What to write? I got nothin’! So instead I will share YOUR top 3 favorite recipes from all my years of blogging. BTW-your favorites are for sure some of mine. May love always guide you in the kitchen.

heart cookie

Sweet William’s Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Not one bit surprised that the recipe that got me started writing made the list. Who doesn’t love a perfectly crisp chocolate chip cookie with a soft inside spiked with bourbon? https://goodgriefcook.com/2013/10/21/following-in-his-light-with-cookies/

 

chicken mole

Shredded Chicken Mole

I love this recipe not only for its easy great flavor, but also for inspiring me to learn more about food photography. This one made the foodgawker list and I could not have been more proud. Hope to graduate from my iPhone to a real digital camera in 2017. https://goodgriefcook.com/2015/04/30/building-relationships-flavor-a-give-away/

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Maple Smoked Pickled Pork Sliders

Last but not least is this porky goodness on a Hawaiian roll. It’s the contrast in temperatures, textures and flavors that makes this one a winner. https://goodgriefcook.com/2016/07/17/wills-meerkats-pork-sliders/

Gather the ones you love most as often as you can.

More Happiness in 2017

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World Food Championships & Moving Forward with Egg Salad

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Like a pat on the back for a job well done once in a while I need a reminder from William he is here with me. When I cook he comes through, so I cook. This past week I was celebrating him at the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida. He and I along with my Comare* Lynn cooked up a few recipes including one bad-ass egg salad sandwich. More about that special sandwich later.

Lynn, my maid of honor and William's godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:

*Lynn, my maid of honor and William’s godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:
“Comare… women used this term… [to describe other women in their group] to honor a close bond of mutual assistance.”(Guglielmo, 2010). It was a woman who worked with other women while the men were in the fields, they relied on each other for support in Sicily in the early 1900’s.
When my son passed away, Lynn never left my side. I am so honored to have her cook with me and so our team name (as we both are suffering with hot flashes right now-lol): “Too Hot Comares”.

The World Food Championships (WFC) brought hundreds of professional chefs and home cooks from around the globe to compete in 9 categories for over $350,000.00 in prize money and bragging rights. IMG_7713Having played this game before and getting my butt whooped I never in my wildest dreams thought I could advance through the ranks in my qualifying category of “sandwiches”. Luckily, it’s never about winning or losing for me. I just like being in the mix, cooking to the best of my ability and hoping for a little extra icing on what is already a spectacular cake. Truly, this competition feels more like a family reunion than a cutthroat kitchen. To be passionate and endure in this hobby it has to be about friends first and competition second. Think about those athletes who only care about winning and how quickly they lose the love of the game. I never want that burn-out to happen to me.

good old days with my family

good old days with my family

Others strongly believe in me when it comes to food sport. My daughter Caitlin for one. She never stops believing I can win. She nudges me forward with her simple notes and texts, “You got this mom” or “I know you can do it mom”. Does she know how much her thoughtful, gentle touch means? Same with my husband. He is the perfect coach. His support and encouragement never waivers. He never acts surprised when I bring home a medal or a prize when usually I am picking myself up off the floor in disbelief. And then there is William…..

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic…cooking from the heart always wins ❤

Like in sports the WFC is a tournament style competition. My first sandwich requiring the use of Kansas City Steaks ribeye was judged at #6. Next up is my signature sandwich inspired by my lunch dates with William at Aventura’s Italian deli in Waterbury. The judges liked it and launched me into the #4 position. What?  Hot damn! After two rounds of judging I am still in it. I made Top 10 and would be required to create an egg sandwich in the final round using American Humane Certified free range eggs from The Happy Egg Co.

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Just one problem. I never believed I would make Top 10, so I never prepared any kind of elevated egg sandwich recipe before I left home for the event. Exhausted but exhilarated I had less than 24 hours to figure it out. Before I went to bed that night I had nothing. It was like recipe writer’s block. Lot’s of anxiety. This is going to be embarrassing.

my good luck charm

my good luck charm

…..and then there is William. Just before I turned out the light I held a good luck charm in my hand (thank you Patrice Hurd) and had a little chat with my boy. I closed my eyes and hoped for a little Will Keys intervention. He never disappoints me.

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Guess who woke with a start and jumped out of bed at 3 am with a complete egg sandwich recipe in her head? Not just any egg sandwich, but one bad-ass egg sandwich that scored the second highest score of the Top 10. It shot me into a 3rd place finish, but more importantly it reminded me that William is always here helping me move forward. This is why I cook. This is why I love the competition. It’s putting my grief into a passion. What is your passion?

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

As always I owe a debt of gratitude to those who went above and beyond to support me at the WFC. Big thanks to Felipe Rivera and Jennifer Daskevich for rescuing me from a major bread snafu; to Amoroso’s Bakery for supplying the most delicious rolls; to Carlino’s for vacuum sealing the imported speck and to Suzy and Colette of Saucy Mama for seeing and believing in me and taking me on this whirlwind of a ride. I am so proud to be a part of your team.

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Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Bacon & Crispy Potato Strings

12 large Happy Eggs

2-tablespoons Saucy Mama Orange Habanero Wing Sauce, divided

1-tablespoon water

1-tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Smoky Garlic mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

½-cup diced Duda Farms Dandy Celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Backyard Brat Mustard

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 slices Wright Apple Wood Bacon, diced

1 russet potato or other frying potato, peeled and thin julienne

Canola oil for deep-frying

1 teaspoon smoked salt

6 (8-inch) whole grain sandwich rolls

½ cup clarified butter

1 bunch fresh arugula

Place eggs in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let eggs stand in hot water for 16 to 18 minutes. Immediately remove eggs from hot water and plunge into an ice bath. When cool, peel eggs. Separate the yolks from the whites. Chop egg whites and reserve in a large bowl. Place yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Add wing sauce, water, vinegar and garlic mustard; pulse to blend. With Food processor running, slowly add olive oil, processing until mixture is smooth, stopping and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Add celery, dill, chives, pickle, whole grain mustard, zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to assemble sandwiches.

In non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel and discard grease from the pan. Return bacon to pan. Over low heat, add remaining 1-tablespoon orange habanero sauce to bacon, stirring to coat the bacon. Set bacon aside in a single layer until ready to assemble sandwiches.

For crispy potato strings: Fry potato strings in 350F hot oil for 1 minute or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel; sprinkle immediately with smoked salt.

Brush cut sides of rolls with butter. Place rolls, butter side down, in skillet over medium heat. Toast 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.

To assemble sandwiches: place a layer of arugula on bottom half of roll. Top with egg salad. Sprinkle with bacon and crispy potato strings. 

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings

Grief Inspired Sandwich That’s Italian

fresh mozzarella, proscuitto and roasted red peppers

fresh mozzarella, proscuitto and roasted red peppers

It’s been 4 years, 4 months and 14 days since William died. I have grown leaps and bounds through this grief experience, but surprisingly still learning how to deal. I must be a slow study or maybe, just maybe, this is typical of the grief process when one loses a bright light in their life.

goodness knows what he was about to do to his sister

goodness knows what he was about to do to his sister

At this stage, most days are typically filled with happy thoughts of William. The boy was a crack-up in most situations and filled with fun surprises. He was a double-dog dare me kind of guy who constantly kept us entertained with his antics. Swallow a live fish? Sure, no problem. Jump into an ice covered lake? He wouldn’t think twice. Dress in camo, soldier crawl the lawn and crash a neighbor’s party hiding under their deck? All in a day of the life of William. These memories just make me smile or sometimes laugh out loud. I am so grateful to have them.

the annual plunge into a frozen Lake Quassapaug

the annual plunge into a frozen Lake Quassapaug

On the other hand, this summer brought some surprisingly dark days that I did not quite understand. After watching a wedding video of a mother-son dance I was a complete mess. What the hell? I did not even know these people, yet watching that groom smile into his mother’s eyes I knew I wanted some of that and could not have it. And then there are those college graduations. Those are the memories with William that I want so bad, but never will have. I only, this week, recognized that those are my triggers. It’s what I did not get to have with William rather than what I did have that causes me grief.

don't even want to know what he lit on fire

don’t even want to know what he lit on fire

It’s just sad until I remember that I did have a dance with him the night before he graduated high school. I am holding on tight to the night he agreed to hold my hand while I twirled around him. The poor guy was on crutches at the time, but that didn’t stop him from smiling into my eyes and giving his mama this beautiful memory.

Oh, happy day his high school diploma in hand

Oh, happy day his high school diploma in hand

It’s 64 days, 16 hours and 6 minutes until I compete in the sandwich category at the World Food Championships. Trying to reign in on just a few ideas has been difficult until William popped into my head. William had a favorite deli-cious sandwich. Whenever he was home we would jump into the car and make our way over to Waterbury’s Avventura Market and Deli. He adored their “Avventura Special” which was a grilled ciabatta of mozzarella, prosciutto and roasted red peppers. Thanks for the help, William. I know you are still here cheering me on.sandwich

The way one layers a sandwich is a personal matter. I leave it up to you to play with these ingredients and add or subtract as much meat, cheese, pesto and peppers as you like. Make your own perfect and inspired sandwich creation. When it comes from your heart it is guaranteed delicious.

Memory of the Avventura Special Sandwich

1 small clove garlic

3/4 cup packed basil leaves

¼ cup fresh celery leaves

2 tablespoons walnut oil

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 ciabatta rolls, split

1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced

6 slices prosciutto

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, sliced

2 teaspoons hickory smoked balsamic vinegar or plain balsamic syrup

shredded fresh basil

With food processor running drop garlic through feed tube and process until finely minced. Add basil, celery leaves and oil; pulse until combined. Add lemon juice, walnuts, parmesan, sugar and salt; blend until smooth scraping down sides of bowl, if needed. Spread generous amount of pesto evenly on bottom half of each roll. On top of the pesto evenly layer desired amount of the mozzarella, prosciutto and peppers. Drizzle peppers with balsamic, sprinkle with some shredded basil and cover sandwich with roll top. Gently press sandwich together. Grill sandwich in a lightly greased Panini maker or on a griddle, pressing with a weight, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Genovese Basil: gotta love my garden

Genovese Basil: gotta love my garden