Muffalettas

This is the other New Orleans sandwich – not as famous as the Po’ Boy, but just as delicious, it’s a legacy of the city’s large Italian population.

Olive condiment

6 oz Sicilian green olives, or regular  green olives, pitted and chopped finely

1/4 cup hot giardiniera

1–2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

olive oil

Loaf of crusty Italian bread

1/3 lb Prosciutto, sliced very thin

1/4 lb Genoa salami, sliced

1/4 lb Mortadella, sliced

1/4 lb Provelone, sliced

1/4 lb smoked Cacciocavala, or other smoked semi-hard cheese, sliced

Mix the olives, the giardinara and the garlic (if using). Add enough olive oil to moisten all the ingredients well. Set aside until needed.

Cut the bread into individual sandwich portions, and then cut each lengthwise into two pieces. If the loaf is really thick you may want to scoop out some of the insides (save it to make breadcrumbs). Lay out the bottom slice of bread. Alternate the sliced meats with the cheeses – how many slices of each is up to you! Slather the second piece of bread with a liberal layer of the olive condiment, getting lots of olive oil on the bread (add even more, if you wish), and place it olive side down on top of the stack. Slice each sandwich in two if desired.

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Mexican Spare Ribs

Although we love baby back ribs, this recipe is actually better with the less meaty spare ribs (they get crispier). Simply cut one or two racks into separate ribs and salt and pepper them liberally on all sides. Lay them in one or two roasting pans, being careful not to crowd them. Roast them in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until they’re crispy. Remove fat and turn them every now and then. Serve while hot.

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Merguez Sausage Couscous

1 lb Merguez sausage, chopped into 1/2″ lengths

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 T unsalted clarified butter, in all (see note)

1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice

4 small zucchini, cut into a 1/2″ dice

1 tsp turmeric

3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 1/2 T tomato paste

3 1/2 cups chicken stock1 3″ long stick cinnamon

1 large bay leaf

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika

1 can (14.5 oz) small white beans, drained

one box instant couscous

Heat a large casserole on high for 30 seconds, then add 1 tablespoon clarified butter and let it heat for 30 seconds. Add the chopped bell pepper and stir until the pepper is somewhat browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pepper to a bowl, and in the same casserole heat 1 more tablespoon clarified butter. Add the zucchini and stir for about 10 minutes, until cooked and somewhat browned. Remove to the bowl and add a third tablespoon of clarified butter. Heat, then fry the onions until soft and slightly browned, then add the lamb sausage and fry, stirring frequently, until the sausage pieces are browned and have rendered all their fat. Add the turmeric, cayenne, tomato paste, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cumin and paprika, and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to package directions. I like to add 1 tsp salt and 1 T butter to the water, whether it says to or not. After the couscous is cooked and has been fluffed, let it sit, covered, until needed.

When the stew has simmered 30 minutes, uncover it and add the bell pepper-zucchini mix, and the canned (drained) beans. Simmer until the beans are heated through. Give the prepared couscous a final fluff, and arrange it in a ring in a large bowl or on a large serving platter. Pour the lamb stew into the space in the middle and serve. I like to serve couscous with a salad made of spring greens to which I have added bits of mint or Thai basil, dressed with a nice vinagrette.

Note: Clarified butter is butter from which the milk-fat solids have been removed, which means you can bring it to a higher heat, suitable for frying. It’s very easy to make. Melt one or two sticks of unsalted butter over low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. The milk-fat solids will separate out and rise to the top as a white foam. Turn off the heat and skim off as much of the foam as you can with a spoon, then remove the rest by straining the butter through several layers of cheesecloth. Use when pan frying fish or steaks, among other things. Store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator.

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Fiesta Nachos

Nachos make any party more fun!

Fresh Salsa:

1 large tomato

2 serrano chilies

1 medium white onion

½ cup fresh coriander leaves

tortilla chips

1 can refried beans, heated

8 oz. Mexican chorizo, cooked and crumbled

8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Prepare the salsa: seed the tomato and chop it. Seed the chilies and mince them. Chop the onion. Combine the tomato, chilies and onion in a bowl, add the coriander leaves, and mix well.

Lay tortilla chips out side by side on a large baking or pizza tray. Top each one with a dollop of beans, then add chorizo and top with the grated cheese. Bake in the top 3rd of the oven for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove to a platter, and top with the fresh salsa.

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Bruschetta Pomodoro

These make a very tasty first course for an Italian meal, or any buffet.

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

8 scallions, trimmed and chopped (including green tops)

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut in 1/4″ thick slices

4 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half along the short axis

10 T olive oil (in all)

1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine the diced tomatoes, scallions, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and refrigerate until needed.

Toast the slices of bread on both sides under the broiler, then rub each side with a cut clove of garlic. Dribble 1 tsp olive oil over one side of each slice, then sprinkle generously with grated parmesan. Return to the broiler until the cheese melts (watch carefully so they don’t burn), then top with a dollop (drained as much as possible) of the tomato mixture. Serve at once.

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Barbequed Corned Beef

1 pre-seasoned uncooked corned beef (3 lbs)

Sauce:

1/8 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce

1 tsp minced garlic

1 T prepared horseradish

2 T vinegar

3 T Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 c (packed) brown sugar

Place the corned beef in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Bring back to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer 1 hour per pound, until fork-tender. If all you can get is an un-seasoned brisket, add the following to the water: 1/2 green pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1 large clove garlic (smashed), 1 stalk celery and 1 medium onion (sliced).

About an hour before the corned beef will be done, prepare your barbeque grill. Let the coals get white (you don’t want active flames).

Prepare the sauce by mixing the rest of the ingredients together. Set aside until needed.

When the corned beef is done simmering, remove it from the water and let it drain. Pat it dry with paper towels. Brush it on all sides with the sauce and barbeque, turning and brushing with more sauce, until the outside is crispy (about 10 minutes, if that). Remove to a platter, slice and serve.

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