Monday, December 23, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Greek Lamb Wellington

© Constantine William Spyrou

Holidays are the perfect time to get together with friends, have fun, and cook amazing special occasion dishes. These dishes are ones you want to really go all out on. Take it to the five-star level. Doing that wows guests, family, and sometimes, even yourself. Having a set of special occasion dishes in your cooking repertoire is something great to have, and something everyone should look into, especially for the holidays. 

That special, fine-dining level holiday kick is exactly what I was looking for in this recipe. I wanted to merge together my favorite things about Christmas: lamb, spanakopita, and avgolemono soup. These are all classic Greek holiday treats, and together form a great full course holiday meal. I decided to merge all of these together into one sublime, five-star level dish: stuffing the lamb and spinach inside of phyllo dough, wellington style, and serving it with an avgolemono sauce. This provides all of the great Greek flavors, served in a British style presentation. It'll be a definite and interesting treat for sure! 

Recipe will serve 4.

For the lamb: 

6 sheets phyllo dough
Olive oil to brush on the phyllo and sear the lamb.
1 1-pound lamb tenderloin
Salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup olive oil (for the marinade)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
2 teaspoons dried oregano

For the spinach filling:

1/2 pound sauteed spinach (press all the water out of it! This is crucial.)
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dill
Salt and pepper to season

For the avgolemono sauce: 

2 cups chicken stock
Juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine the marinade ingredients: Olive oil, mint, oregano, and lemon juice. Set aside.
2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and sear on all sides with olive oil on a high heat. When each side is colored, let the lamb rest (it should not be fully cooked!). Brush it with the marinade on all sides as soon as it comes out of the pan.
3. While the lamb cools, combine the pressed sauteed spinach, feta cheese, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper, and dill. Let sit for a few minutes, and make sure to press any excess water out of this mix.
4. Layer each sheet of phyllo dough down onto some plastic wrap. Brush each sheet with olive oil before adding on the next sheet. Repeat for all of the sheets.
5. Add a layer of spinach (no more than 1/2 inch thick) onto the phyllo dough. Place on the lamb, and roll up the phyllo dough so everything is encased inside. It should be sealed in the bottom layer of plastic wrap. Roll and tighten up the phyllo dough until everything is encased inside, almost like a sausage. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let firm.
6. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Take the lamb wellington out of the fridge, and let it come up to room temperature. Lightly brush the top with olive oil and a light sprinkle of water to keep the phyllo dough from completely separating.
7. Bake the lamb in the oven for about 30 minutes to achieve a medium rare.
8. While the lamb is in the oven, make the avgolemono sauce. Combined the chicken stock and lemon together in a sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk in the egg slowly (but whisk fast!), then add salt and pepper to taste. The egg will lightly thicken the sauce.
8. Let the lamb rest for about 15 minutes before serving. Cut into portions, and serve with the sauce drizzled over the top.

This has a great balance of flavors and textures, which is what any high-scale dish should achieve. It has citrus and tang from the lemon and feta in the wellington, richness and gameyness from the lamb, and crunch from the crisp phyllo dough. It really is a great take on Greek classics.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Recipe: Chicken Phosole

© Constantine William Spyrou

I come from a very interesting family. All of us have ended up pursuing different interests - my dad is a software designer, my mom has a MBA, my older sister is into criminology and education, I'm a foodie, and my little sister is the athlete. We also all have varying forms of some kind of genetic diseases and allergies, which can make dinner plans a little chaotic. My sister has a fish and gluten allergy, my dad has a nut and egg allergy, my little sister hates cheese, I'm the lucky one who has no food allergies as of now, and my mom has a severe fish allergy. She was recently diagnosed with it, and she's been sad because there's a lot of food she can't eat because she can't eat fish.

A lot of foods have now become inaccessible to her because of the fact she can't eat fish. Anything with Worcestershire or fish sauce is off limits, so a lot of South Asian cuisine and British cuisine is off of her plate. My mom grew up in Hong Kong and loves Asian/South Asian food a ton, and now she can't really eat it because a lot of it uses fish sauce. One of the dishes she loved the most was Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. The Vietnamese use fish sauce in a lot of their cooking, and it is one of the central ingredients to Pho. Because of this, my mom can't eat it. I decided to try to make a recipe that slightly resembled Pho that would still be okay for my mom to eat. 

Fish sauce adds a deep, pungent, but lightly salted flavor to dishes, so the goal of my Pho was to achieve that without fish sauce. I decided to use a blend of Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines (which use a ton of similar ingredients already) to try to achieve this balance. To get the umami from the fish sauce replaced, I drew on garlic and lightly smoky chilies such as chipotle and dried Guajillos to get an umami level of flavor. This is very much a Pho that uses some Mexican ingredients, however, so it still has that distinct Vietnamese flair with a little Mexican kick. 

Recipe serves up to 12 people.

For the Pho Broth:

2 gallons chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped and bruised lemongrass
2 large white onions, sliced
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
1 cup chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
1/2 pound dried Guajillo chilies
12 cloves garlic, whole
1/4 cracked black peppercorns
2 bunches cilantro stems
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons star anise, whole
2 sticks cinnamon, broken
2 blocks rock sugar (if you can't get this, chopped sugarcane or brown sugar both work great)
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons whole cloves

For the Pho Bowls:

4 pounds chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
4 packages dried rice noodles
2 pounds bean sprouts

Cilantro leaves
Sriracha hot sauce
Thinly sliced jalapeno
Thinly sliced radish
Whole basil and mint leaves
Chopped green onion


1. Soak your dried chilies in warm water for about 2 minutes to let them reconstitute. Remove the seeds and stems from the chilis, and puree them until smooth.
2. In a hot large pot on a high heat, add olive oil. Place in your onions, ginger, and garlic, and cook off until the onions turn translucent. Deglaze the pan with your regular soy sauce, and in the five spice, Mexican oregano, chipotles in adobo, and sesame oil. Cook out for a couple more minutes.
3. Pour in all of your chicken stock, and add in the rest of your broth ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cook at a simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain your broth once it's cooked, and bring back up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low so the broth stays hot.
4. Soak your noodles in warm water according to package instructions.
5. In your bowls, place in the sliced raw white onion, bean sprouts, and raw, thinly sliced chicken meat. Add in the noodles, then ladle in the broth until the bowl is full. The amount of onion, bean sprouts, chicken, and noodle depends on the size of the bowl you plan on serving the pho in. Serve with all of the garnishes so people can pick and choose what they want.

The pho broth itself is complex and has a ton of ingredients, but once that's out of the way, making the rest of it and serving to people will be a cinch. It has tons of layers of flavor, as you can see from the multitude of ingredients in the broth. It's also customizable, making it a fun and enjoyable dish.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Holiday Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

© Constantine William Spyrou

The winter holiday break has to be one of my favorite times of the year. I can relax from the stress of finals, catch up with my friends from home, and really let the creative juices flow for making new dishes and recipe ideas in my kitchen at home. It's a time of joy, wonder, peace, love, and fun! One of the best things about the holidays, though, has to be the winter baking. From cookies to cakes and everything delicious and sugary between, the holidays just call for warming and comforting desserts that take you back to being a kid.

This is my take on those desserts - a double chocolate chip cookie with a holiday twist. First off, I'm using my own special recipe for cookie that I developed in high school. These cookies have a nice and crisp bottom, but are soft, light, and fluffy inside. My best friend Ashley has dubbed these "Scookies" because they're kind of like a mix between a scone and a cookie. The secret is changing up the basic cookie recipe by adding some milk to lighten up the batter as well as utilizing cake flour instead of all-purpose flour to make a much more fluffy inside. Spiked with spices like cinnamon and cardamom, these will be a pleasant treat for friends and guests on your table during the holiday season. 

Recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.


3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 pinches of salt
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup skim milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 16-oz package semisweet chocolate chips

For the Topping:
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon


1. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with a mixer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture rises in size and lightens up significantly in color. You should start on a lower speed then increase the speed as the butter and sugar combine.
2. Add in your milk, eggs, cocoa powder, and spices to the butter and sugar and combine well.
3. Sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt so there's no lumps left and the three are evenly mixed. With your mixer on a low speed, add the mixture in about a third at a time so it can evenly mix well. Repeat until all of the flour is fully incorporated into your cookie dough.
4. Let the cookie dough chill in your fridge for at least 2-3 hours if you plan on making them the same day. You can make this dough the night before and freeze it, then take it out about 30 minutes before baking to let it thaw out.
5. Once the dough is chilled, out of the fridge/freezer, and ready to go, preheat your oven to 395 degrees F. Scoop out your cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper (or cooking spray). The mound should be no more than half an inch wide and a quarter inch high. Take a sheet of parchment paper and press your cookies down lightly to help them achieve a wider shape.
6. Bake your cookies for 1 minute at 395 degrees, then immediately lower the temperature to 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Raise the temperature to 385 for another two minutes, then take the cookies out. Make sure to switch pans around in the oven if using multiple pans. Changing up the cooking times like this allows the cookies to spread slightly as well as crisp up on the bottom, cook, and then get a more brown color over the top over the final two minutes.
7. As your cookies bake, combine together the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl or cup of some sort. Once the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. They will melt into the cookie, but also add texture.
8. Let your cookies cool, then serve!

Changing up temperatures is a great way to achieve more texture and go for the exact kind of cookie you like. You can change up this recipe however you like to make the cookies your desirable texture. If you like wide cookies with a lot of crunch, use baking soda and take out the milk, for example. These will be delicious no matter what way you cook them! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Spicy Asian Pasta Vodka

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the keys for me to create a new recipe is to be inspired by something interesting, fun, or just completely strange. This recipe was definitely inspired by something strange.

Yesterday, my friend Jake showed me an article that talked about a company making Sriracha infused vodka. Don't punch yourself or pinch yourself, you are awake and just read the above correctly. It's crazy, but it's an interesting idea to combine the chili garlic flavor that we love in Sriracha with the bold and strong vodka. I decided to take it even a step further and put an Asian spin on the traditional Italian vodka sauce that is commonly used in pasta dishes. 

Now, it might sound strange to blend Asian flavors into an Italian dish, but the Italians did really get the pasta idea from Asia (Marco Polo can be thanked for that.) So an Asian spaghetti isn't really an out of hand idea. This uses an Asian style pasta- Chinese rice noodles - that really absorb the sauce well and stir fry beautifully. You might recognize them for the use in chow fun. These should go brilliantly with the spicy and savory flavors of this vodka sauce. 

Recipe will serve up to 4 people.


1 package dried rice noodles
3 cups water and a water heater
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
3 oz (2 shots) Sriracha vodka
1 cup water chestnuts, diced
1/4 chopped green onion
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
White pepper to season


1. Boil your water in the water heater, and soak the rice noodles in the boiling water in a bowl for 10 minutes. Make the sauce while the pasta soaks so it can drain and go instantly into the sauce.
2. Add olive oil to a hot pan. Just when it starts to smoke, add in your garlic and shallots. Season with half of the soy sauce, the ginger, and white pepper to taste.
3. Saute off, then deglaze the pan with the Sriracha vodka. Add in your chopped tomatoes and sesame oil, and stir. Bring to a boil and cook down for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add in your drained rice noodles, the water chestnuts, and the rest of the soy sauce to help color the noodles. Mix for about a minute, and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the green onion.

This is a simple dish that has loads of flavor and complexity from all the things that are going on! You get richness from the tomato, a spice and alcohol kick from the vodka, crunch from the water chestnuts that goes perfectly with the soft and delicate rice noodles, and vibrance from the green onion to bring it back together. This is perfectly by itself, but can accompany Asian-style meats like Korean shortrib, Teriyaki chicken, or Asian Barbequed Pork brilliantly.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Mexican Buttered Turkey (Thanksgiving Special, Part 2)

© Constantine William Spyrou

The single dish looked forward to the most out of all on Thanksgiving day is the centerpiece of the meal: Roast turkey.  There's many different ways to do it, from deep frying the whole turkey to brining it before roasting. The method that I've chosen is to rub the turkey with a scented butter and then roast it, which keeps the turkey extremely moist. I've put a Mexican spin on the butter to give it some great aromatic flavors from ingredients like garlic, cilantro, lime, and the like that all help to boost up the turkey. Stuffing the cavity with even more vegetables will help to punch up the flavor even further, so I'll be using onions and citrus to help boost the flavor of the turkey. This will create a delicious, moist, and aromatic turkey! 

Recipe will feed up to 20 people.


1 14-16 pound turkey
1 cup unsalted softened butter
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds
1 large white onion, skinned
2 whole limes
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to season


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Create your scented butter by combining the lime zest and juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin seeds, and butter together. Season to taste, then set aside.
3. Lightly separate the skin of the turkey from the breast. Take the butter and rub all of the breast and inside of the turkey with the butter. Use any remaining butter to rub down the legs and wings.
4. Season the inside of the turkey cavity with salt and pepper, then add in the onion and limes. Tuck the wings of the turkey under the legs at this point. The turkey is all ready to go, just rub it down completely with olive oil and season the skin.
5. Start the roasting at 475 degrees for 25 minutes to help crisp up the skin. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This turkey will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours to roast at this temperature, the internal temperature should be at around 165 degrees F. Make sure to baste the turkey every half an hour!
6. When the turkey is done, let it rest for at least an hour, covered with foil so it doesn't lose too much heat. You can always warm it up with a hot gravy, however.

This is one of my favorite ways to make and roast turkey, which will be succulent and delicious. don't forget to baste and rest, as these help keep the turkey juices and flavor inside of it! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)

NEW RECIPE: Spicy Vegetarian Stuffing (Thanksgiving Special, Part 1)

© Constantine William Spyrou

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I hope you all have had an awesome day with familiy and friends enjoying good company and food. I sure have! My favorite part about Thanksgiving has to be the food, and this year, I got to help my mom out a lot with making dishes! This is one of the dishes that I made for Thanksgiving. I actually made this actual recipe a couple of weeks ago with some of my friends, then transformed the recipe with some ingredients that my mom had in store for Thanksgiving. This recipe is the original, however, with a completely vegetarian recipe that has some interesting twists that will be interesting! 

Recipe will serve up to 10 people.

For the Wet Vegetable Mix: 

1/2 diced large white onion
2 large diced bell peppers
2 roughly chopped leeks
2 cups roughly chopped squash
1 cup diced carrot
3 cups finely chopped celery
4 cups vegetable stock
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried sage
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon dill weed
3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper to season

For the Bread Mix:

1 2 1/2 - 3 foot French baguette, diced
1 tablespoon dill weed
Salt and pepper to season


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine the Bread mix ingredients together in your baking dish, then set aside.
3. Add some olive oil to a hot pan. Saute all of your vegetables and the garlic together with all of your herbs, spices, and seasonings until the onions turn translucent and the carrots and celery begin to soften. This should take about 10-12 minutes, and you should see the volume of vegetables reduce in the pan. When this happens, add your vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and slightly reduce.
4. Combine the wet vegetable mix with the bread mix, and mix well until thoroughly combined. Cover the top with your grated parmigiano reggiano, then bake for 45 minutes. Serve as part of a twist on Thanksgiving!

This stuffing has all of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors of sage and stock and bread, but the serrano helps to turn up the heat, the parmesean gives it a nice nuttiness and helps to calm down the heat of the serrano, and the cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg give it a really nice holiday lift that just helps you remember what kind of season it is! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Vegetarian Chili

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the best things about college is getting together with your friends and doing awesome things. This weekend, I did just that, spending yesterday making chili with my awesome friends Ashley and Lauren. This is the recipe that we made last night using that chili recipe. We all very thoroughly enjoyed it (and the cheddar biscuits we made using a quick online recipe) and it just made for an awesome night of community, fun, and chili.

This chili recipe is a spin on my mom's chili recipe. She loves using dark chocolate in her chili, and it's something I've come to appreciate because it darkens the color and deepens the flavor. Combining that with a cavalcade of spices and a variety of vegetables, and this becomes an extremely flavorful chili with flavor profiles hitting on all levels!

Recipe serves up to 8 people.


6 cups vegetable stock
1 medium can corn kernels, drained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped (we used 86%, anything darker works just as well. This is about 2-3 squares.)
1/2 large white onion, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
4 baby bell peppers (about 2 large bell peppers), diced (pick your colors)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Salt and Pepper to season
Chopped Green onions, Chopped Cilantro, Sour Cream, and shredded Cheese for garnish


1. Fry the onions, bell pepper, and garlic in the avocado in a large pot. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, half of your cumin, half of your chili powder, and half of your onion powder.
2. When the onions turn translucent, create a hole in the middle of the pot. Add your tomato paste, let it cook out for about 30 seconds, then stir into the vegetables.
3. Deglaze the pot with Worchestershire sauce. Add your stock, tomatoes, beans and the rest of your spices. Bring up to a boil.
4. Add your chocolate and stir in until it is all melted and incorporated. Let the pot reduce by a tiny amount, then bring to a simmer for 45 minutes.
5. About a minute before the chili is ready to go, stir in your corn. Serve warm with your favorite garnishes from the above and your choice of bread (cornbread, toast, or our choice: cheddar biscuits).

This is an awesome one-pot dish that you can leave for a while and still have fun with your friends. It's a lot of fun to cook with others and is a delicious dish with a little kick and a dark, rich color and flavor. This is a more liquid chili than normal, but it works in this case. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Lemon sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Hazelnuts

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the most intriguing vegetables to me has to be Brussel sprouts. They are well-known for being completely hated by kids and it's hard for people to grow into liking them. I am admittedly one of those people, but I've started looking at Brussel sprouts differently, and it's helped me start enjoying these compact little vegetables. Brussel sprouts are just like tiny little cabbages in terms of flavor, and can be used in similar styles. For this dish, I decided to use Sauteed Brussel sprouts because they have an amazing taste once they are caramelized. Perfumed with lemon and served with toasted hazelnuts, this becomes a great, robust dish that can be used as a delicious side or a great vegetarian entree. 

Brussel sprouts do need to be blanched before sauteed, but as long as you don't overcook them at first, they become amazing and don't really have too much of the stink that kids know them for. Try making these and seeing how your kids like them! 

Recipe serves 4.


2 pounds brussel sprouts, washed and cut into quarters
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan.
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped dill


1. Blanch the brussel sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes, then shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
2. Add the brussel sprouts to a hot pan with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and sautee for about 5 minutes, allowing a brown color to caramelize onto the outer part of the brussel sprouts. Add your dill and toasted hazelnuts towards the end.
3. Just before the brussel sprouts are done, squeeze in your lemon juice and allow to quickly steam the brussel sprouts for 30 seconds. Cool, and serve.

This recipe is extremely quick but packs a lot of flavor. The lemon and dill complement each other and help perfume the brussel sprouts, and the hazelnuts add a great wholesome crunch and some richness to the brussel sprouts. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

NEW RECIPE: Guinness Braised Prawns

© Constantine William Spyrou

One thing I love doing is centering a dish around an ingredient and building off of it to give it a great and new flavor. One of my friends, Sinja, suggested I make a dish with prawns, one of her favorite ingredients. This dish takes prawns and makes them incredibly tender while cooking them in an odd way- New Orleans barbecue style.

New Orleans has this amazing dish of barbecued shrimp in a homemade barbecue sauce that the shrimp are cooked in and served with the sauce, which is very messy but very delicious. I'm putting an Irish spin on it with a Guinness-based sauce to give it a deep, bold flavor that takes the prawns to a whole new level. 

Recipe serves one.


1 cup Guinness Beer (any dark stout works just as well)
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
6 large tiger prawns (head-on or not doesn't matter)
Salt and pepper to season


1. Add olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. Add your onions and garlic.
2. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. When the onions start turning translucent, add your brown sugar to speed up the caramelization process.
3. Deglaze the pan with Worchestershire sauce. Add your Guinness and butter soon afterward. Bring to a boil, and begin to reduce.
4. When the sauce has reduced to 2/3rds of its original height, add in your shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. 30 seconds before the shrimp are done, add your lemon juice and 1/2 of the parsley. Quickly mix, then take off the heat. Serve and garnish with the rest of the parsley.

This is a simple and quick dish but hits so many flavor profiles - dark and rich from the beer, sweetness from the sugar and shrimp, brightness from the lemon, and freshness from the parsley. It's essentially an Irish spin on barbecue sauce that has a good balance.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)

NEW RECIPE: Easy Mulled Apple Cider with Merguez-Chicken Pastilla

© Constantine William Spyrou

I really, really love fall because the weather starts to cool down, the general number of bees around in Davis goes down (which is good for me because I HATE bees), and apple cider comes back into season. Apple cider is easily one of my favorite warm beverages because it just warms you really well and has a great amount of spice to it that you can really taste. This dish is dedicated to apple cider and pairing it with great and delicious food. 

This pairing might seem a little bit strange, as I've chosen a Moroccan classic dish to go alongside this American classic drink. However, Chicken Pastilla, which is a lot like a chicken pot pie but done way better with levels of flavor, is a great companion to the apple cider because of its warmth, spice, and sweetness. Pastilla and apple cider are great segways to each other, and go brilliantly. These two recipes aim to show you exactly how this does so. 

The Pastilla, which is chicken filling wrapped in multiple layers of phyllo dough, also features a spicy Lamb Merguez sausage, which is popular in North Africa. There is a recipe on how to make your own Merguez within this recipe, so check it out! 

Recipe serves 8 people.

For the Apple Cider:

1 gallon apple juice
Muslim cloth or Cheesecloth for wrapping the spices up
3 sticks cinnamon
5 pods star anise
2 tablespoons dried orange peel (If you can't find this in stores, make your own! peel an orange and cut away the pith (white part), then cut up and bake at 250 degrees for 25 minutes.)
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel

For the Merguez:

2 pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
12 small dried red chilies (chile de arbol is great for this)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1/2 tablespoon sumac
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to season

For the Pastilla:

12 sheets of phyllo dough
2 pounds chicken thighs
3 beaten eggs
2 pounds merguez
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 large white onion, diced
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon diced ginger (or 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger)
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (flat-leaf is better for this)
1 cup melted butter (can be replaced with olive oil or another oil if you wish)
Salt and Pepper to season


1. Make the merguez the night before. Start by blending together the garlic, chilies, olive oil, and some salt and pepper to make a basic harissa paste. Mix this and the rest of your spices into the lamb, then let sit in the fridge overnight to marinate.
2. For the cider, wrap all of the spices into the muslim or cheese cloth and tie off. Add to a pot of the apple juice, bring to a boil, then let simmer on a very low heat so it's warm when you're ready to serve it.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Get a hot pan with some olive oil, and saute your onions, ginger, and garlic until the onions turn translucent. Add the regular sugar, half of your cinnamon, and half of your nutmeg at this point.
5. When the onions turn translucent, add the chicken thighs and the merguez, and cooked through until all of the meat is cooked. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and let it reduce part way. Mix in the beaten egg and almonds at this point.
6. When everything is just about fully cooked, add the fresh chopped parsley and mix. Set aside to cool.
7. In a large round cake tin or other baking dish, add 4 sheets of phyllo dough to the bottom. Make sure to lightly brush each sheet with your butter/fat of choice. The phyllo should drape out of the pan, since that overlap will be used to help make the top crust even better.
8. At this point, spoon in about half of your chicken filling. Layer 4 more sheets of brushed phyllo dough, then add the rest of the chicken/merguez mixture.
9. Add 2 more brushed sheets to the top, then crumple all of the overlap phyllo dough over the top to create a nice covering.
10. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Afterwards, turn the pastilla around (easiest way is to use a plate and press it against the cake tin, flip over so the pastilla comes out, then slide that back in so the other side crisps up) and bake for another 10 minutes.
11. To serve, dust with the remainder of your cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered sugar all combined together. Eat with the delicious apple cider.

This is kind of an autumnal twist on pastilla, with warm and spicy notes both inside and outside from the cinnamon, nutmeg, and merguez. Combined with the apple cider, the two should play off of each other very well.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

NEW RECIPE: Mexican-Style Fish and Chips

© Constantine William Spyrou

Davis has a wonderful melting pot of restaurants that not many people realize, and it's always interesting for me to go and taste different cuisines and identify their differences. In Davis, there is Middle Eastern, Greek, Indian, Irish, Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, and so many more cuisines! There's also a small fish and chips shop that has combined with a dumpling restaurant. I went and tried the fish and chips for the first time recently, and it inspired me to put my own spin on fish and chips!

Traditional British style fish and chips is traditionally beer-battered fish and deep-fried chips with lots of fat in them. I want to keep my version healthy, however, so I'm going to used oven-roasted potatoes as the "chips" for this recipe, and I'll be pan frying the fish with a simple breading rather than deep-frying. Punching up the flavor with some Mexican-style marinade will make this a quick and easy treat for you to try at home! 

The fish I'm going to used for this is sole, which is a very delicate white fish that packs a lot of flavor and doesn't taste too fishy. Other common Mexican fish that you could use if you can't get sole are tilapia, red snapper, flounder, and catfish. 

Recipe serves up to 4.

For the Chips:

2 large Idaho Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into long strips
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 tablespoon toasted cumin seed

For the Fish:

1 pound Filets of Sole, cut into 4-ounce portions
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs mixed with 2 tablespoons of water, whisked


1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Take your sliced potatoes and blanch in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and season with salt, pepper, and the toasted cumin. Lay out evenly onto a oiled baking tray, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
3. Squeeze the lime juice over your filets of sole, and add some salt to season. Let sit for around 20 minutes.
4. While you're waiting for the fish and potatoes, make the breading. Season the flour with some salt and pepper, and set into one bowl. Place the eggs with water into another bowl. Thoroughly mix the oregano, parsley, and cilantro with your breadcrumbs, and place into a final bowl.
5. Take each fish portion and lightly coat with the flour first. Shake off the excess flour, then dip each side of the fish into the eggwash. Lightly tap against the bowl to remove excess, then lightly coat the fish in the breadcrumbs. Do this for each portion.
6. Add olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. Cook the fish portions for about 3 minutes on each side.
7. Serve your fish together with the roasted potato "chips."

This combines British food and Mexican food in a wonderfully fresh and vibrant way that puts a great Mexican spin on the British classic. The lime and the herbs work together to scent the fish and make it delicious, whilst the chips add a punch of great flavor thanks to the toasted cumin. These work together to make a great contrasting meal.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Herb Butter New York Strip with Fondant Potatoes (50th Recipe Special)

© Constantine William Spyrou

....Wow. I can't believe that just about 10 months ago, this blog was getting started. I've been creating tons of new ideas since then. And you've all been supporting me since then. Seriously, thank you all. Getting to 50 new recipes that I've come up with is an accomplishment in and of itself. Here's to many more to come!

Anyways, getting on the topic of this recipe... Since 50 is a significant number of recipes to reach, I wanted to create a dish that really brought the punch and knocked all of the other recipes I had out of the park. I came up with this recipe as a result of that - Herb Butter New York Strip. 

In fine dining restaurants, New York Strip is arguably one of the most popular steaks because of its marbling and great flavor. Chefs in these restaurants cook the steaks to perfection each time, but also can do it quicker through a method they have learned. Many restaurants now baste their steaks as they are cooking to help speed up the cooking process. The ingredient they utilize for this? Butter. It has a great nutty flavor that enhances the richness of the steak. This got me wondering about how it would taste to make a great herb butter for a rich steak, and this is what I got as a result. 

This steak is served with potatoes, but cooked in an amazing way- fondant style. Basically, they are seared off and then roasted in an oven with stock to help soften them. It's an amazing way to enjoy potatoes if you've never done it before! 

Recipe Serves One.  

For the Steak: 

1 8-oz New York Strip Steak (take out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking)
2 cloves of crushed garlic, skins on
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to season
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Herb Butter:

1/4 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season

For the Fondant Potatoes:

2 potatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Start off by making the herb butter. Allow the butter to partially soften, then mix in the chopped parsley, thyme, lemon juice, and season. Let chill in the fridge overnight so that the flavors can marry.

2. Preheat the oven to a little under 400 degrees F (200 degrees Celsius). Take your halved potatoes and season them liberally. In a deep roasting pan (about 2-4 inches deep), place on high heat and add the olive oil. Cook the potatoes until they get a nice golden brown color on each side, about 1 minute per side. Before turning the potatoes, add your sprig of rosemary and butter into the pan.

3. Once all of the butter has melted, shake the pan around to ensure even distribution. Add your chicken stock, bring to a boil, then roast in the oven for 12 minutes. Cool once done.

4. Season your steak with salt and pepper and the dried thyme leaves. Press the seasoning into the steak to make sure the flavor penetrates all the way through the meat.

5. Add the olive oil to a hot pan on medium high heat. Just when it starts to smoke, add in your meat. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then turn over. During these inital 2-3 minutes, add the garlic into your pan and allow its aroma to mix with the beef's as it cooks.

6. This is where it gets exciting. Take a generous spoonful of your herb butter and place it on top of the steak once it's turned over. The heat from the steak will melt the butter into the steak and throughout the pan. Place the garlic on top of the steak, and spoon the butter back over the steak as it melts out. Finish cooking (about another 3 minutes), then take out and let the steak rest. It should achieve about a medium-medium well cooking temperature with these times.

7. Serve the steak together with the fondant potatoes.

I got really hungry again typing up this recipe because it just sounds so amazing! You get the freshness of the herbs and the lemon to cut through the richness of the steak and the dense, soft potato. This great balance really makes for a delicious flavor for this awesome steak.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Mom's Greek Orzo Salad

© Constantine William Spyrou

It's definitely been a longgg while since I posted last. Mainly because of college. I've been extremely busy most days, and this is the first time I've found in a while to relax and write a blog post, which I'm really happy about.

This blog post goes to home for me. It's my favorite recipe of all time that my mom made. The weeks that she made orzo salad, I would eat it for pretty much every meal because of how much I loved it! I tried making it in my apartment this past week, and I was able to replicate it pretty well. This is the version I came up with. It's really delicious and lasts a long time (given it's not eaten for 3 meals a day, although it definitely can be). This orzo salad packs in protein, vegetables, plenty of great flavor, and a close-to-home feel that I enjoy when I eat it. I get my childhood back. 

Recipe will serve up to 15 people.


1 large package of orzo (about 8 oz uncooked)
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups diced cucumbers
2 cups diced cherry tomatoes (sun-dried tomatoes are a great alternative to this as well)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced kalamata olives
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons garlic powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to season


1. Cook the orzo to package specifications. This usually means boil in hot water with some salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil for around 9 minutes.
2. When the orzo is cooked, drain and add the remainder of your olive oil along with ample amounts of salt and pepper. Let cool for 30 minutes.
3. While the orzo is cooling, prepare your chopped vegetables and cheese. Once the orzo is cooled, mix all of your ingredients together well, and serve!

This is an extremely simple recipe that is so much fun to make and completely enjoyable. I have a great love for this dish, and plan to make it a lot more now that I'm in my apartment and can have a lot of freedom with cooking.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Sweet Potato Latkes

© Constantine William Spyrou

Most of the best ideas you get in your life come from talking to people. Especially if it's your family. My mom and I are both huge foodies and love watching food shows. Recently, we were watching one about latkes and we started getting ideas about how to make them with sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are extremely nutritious, which is why we had the idea (my mom is huge on health food, and it's rubbing off on me a bit as well). 

Now, making something savory with a sweet potato isn't something that is extremely tough to accomplish. Sweet potato fries are a great example of that, as they take on an amazing flavor when deep-fried and crispy. It adds a great level of umami to the dish (umami being savory flavor). However, transforming it into a latke is a bit harder because it utilizes more ingredients than just the sweet potato, so you have to make the ingredients work together. I think I have found a way, however. 

The bridge for this recipe between the sweet potato and the more savory ingredients is black pepper. It really spikes up the flavor of sweet potato fries already, and would do just the same for the latkes. It seems simple, but the complexity of the dish will blow your mind as you take a bite! 

Recipe will make 10-12 latkes.


2 cups shredded and peeled sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon grated white onion
3 eggs
2 tablespoons matzah meal (if you can't get this, all-purpose flour works just as well)
1 tablespoon schmaltz (chicken fat. To keep it vegetarian, use vegetable shortening or margarine in place of this.)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Peanut oil for frying (schmaltz and butter also make great alternatives for this.)


1. Wash the sweet potatoes and wring them out with a cheesecloth before shredding to extract as much moisture as possible.
2. Combine all of your ingredients in a mixing bowl well.
3. Add some of your fat of choice to a hot pan. Add a good spoonful (about 3-4 oz) of your latke mixture into the pan, and flatten into a circle (no more than 1/2 inch thick). Brown on each side for about 2 minutes.
4. Drain your latkes, then serve piping hot with applesauce or another condiment of your choice.

This is basically a traditional latke but done with sweet potatoes. The cinnamon and parsley are additions I made because of how well cinnamon and sweet potatoes go together and how the freshness of the parsley helps to contrast the sweetness a bit as well. Schmaltz is the fat of choice here because of tradition, but you can always use other fats as well to keep it vegetarian. And, of course, sweet potato latkes definitely go well with applesauce (thanks to the cinnamon) and sour cream (that contrasts perfectly with the black pepper and sweet potato)! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Monday, September 16, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Watermelon Agua Fresca

© Constantine William Spyrou

Summer is about to come to a close for me, and it's been a crazy wild one, doing all different kinds of things, working full-time, landing an internship, helping to run a Sea Cadet boot camp, etc. It was a lot of fun, though, and although I am looking forward to heading back to school, I am definitely going to miss the relaxation that summer provides. This drink is kind of a tribute to the summer, as it is very refreshing - just like summer has been with my mind - and packs a lot of punch with just a few ingredients. This is my take on a popular drink known as agua fresca, which is usually made with just fresh fruit and some herbs that combine together to create a great, fresh flavor. This particular one is extremely simple, with just watermelon, lime, and some fresh mint. It packs a lot of flavor, and is a great way to send off the summer. 

Recipe will serve 4 people.


4 cups fresh watermelon, chopped (you don't need to remove the seeds, but can if you want).
Zest and juice of 1 lime
8 fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups crushed ice
2 cups water

Making the Drink:

1. Add the ice to the bottom of a blender, then place the watermelon on top of that.
2. Fully zest the lime into the blender. To get the maximum juice out of your lime, roll it on the counter first to help release the juices before you cut it in half and squeeze the juice into the blender.
3. Roll the mint up into a cigar-like bundle, chop into ribbons, and add into the blender.
4. Pour in the water, it should be enough to just cover the watermelon.
5. Blend on high until everything is combined and smooth. No large chunks should remain.
6. (Optional) If you want to strain the drink, feel free to do so. Some people like leaving it "dirty," however, which just means that the blended up seeds and leaves still remain in the drink.
7. (Adults only) Add a small shot of tequila to your glass before adding in the agua fresca to make a nice "margarita" of sorts.

This drink is extremely healthy since its literally made with just fruit, citrus, herbs, and water. No sugar, no cream, no yogurt, no nothing. It's simple, delicious, and great on a hot summer's day. No better way to send off the summer than with this great beverage!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Turkey Ouzo Poblano Meatballs with Risotto de Posole

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the great things of cooking at home is that there are no restrictions on what you can make - literally, the world is your oyster when it comes to what you want to make in the kitchen. All you need are the right ingredients to create anything you want. It's the ultimate lab for me, because you can experiment with so many things and figure out just how you want it. 

I aimed to do that after my mom made a dish a few years ago for my friends and I. For dinner, she made Turkey, Ouzo, and Jalapeno burger patties that were extremely delicious. I've always wanted to create my own spin on it, and I was able to find it. Using Poblano to keep the heat at a lower level, and adding in the richness of a risotto, this makes a truly comforting but delicious meal. The turkey meatball recipe is my own, but it was inspired by my mother's recipe from all those years ago. The risotto is also my own recipe, and has its own innovative Mexican spin on it: the stock used to cook the risotto in is actually posole-style stock, which is a traditional Mexican dish. It contains Guajillo chile normally, and the soup itself is served with hominy (a type of corn) and chicken. This dish won't have the chicken, but it will have corn to play off those hominy notes and add another level of sweetness. 

Recipe will serve 4 people.

For the Posole Stock: 

6 cups chicken stock
2 cups dried guajillo chillies, steep in warm water to be reconstituted
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt and pepper to season

For the Meatballs:

2 pounds ground turkey meat
1 whole poblano chile
2 shots ouzo (about 2-3 fl oz or 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons dill
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season

For the Risotto: 

2 1/2 cups arboreal rice
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup fresh corn off the cob
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Parmesean cheese
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season


1. Start by making the posole stock. Combine all of the ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then blend together to make a uniform stock. Set aside.
2. Roast the poblano chile on an open flame until it is charred on all sides, about 2-3 minutes. Place in a plastic bag, then rub to remove the skin off of the poblano. Dice up the poblano chile afterward.
3. In a mixing bowl, add the turkey, spices, ouzo, and diced poblano. Combine well, then form into about 2-oz meatballs (no more than 1/2 inch in diameter).
4. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Place the meatballs onto a greased baking sheet. Add a small amount of water to keep the meatballs from sticking. Bake for 40 minutes.
5. In a hot pan at medium-high heat, add the olive oil to the pan. Add your shallots and the minced garlic, and quickly sautee for about 1 minute. Add the rice, and quickly toast for another minute until the rice turns a light golden color.
6. Add your posole stock about 1/2 cup at a time until the rice has fully absorbed all of the stock, constantly stirring throughout. This process will take about 20 minutes.
7. When the rice is fully cooked, add your corn, butter, Parmesean cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir and combine well until the butter and Parmesean are melted into the risotto.
8. Serve about 4 meatballs each on top of your plates of risotto for each person.

My favorite part about this dish is that there are so many cuisines working together here! You've got the Mexican notes of the poblano chile and the posole stock, richness from the Italian risotto, and some licorice-like notes from the dill and ouzo in the meatballs that evoke a Greek flavor. Having all of these cuisines work together makes the dish exciting and fun to make too! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Pork Chile Verde

© Constantine William Spyrou

I love tons of different cuisines of food because each has their own intricate flavor and innovative style to do food. The Greeks are huge fans of the basic combination of lemon, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, for example. Thai cuisine is infamous for having the perfect balance of all five flavors: spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and tangy. French food is known for refined technique and delicate cooking processes. However, I'm pretty sure that the cuisine that takes the cake for me is Mexican. It's got a great balance of not only marinating meat (one of my favorite attributes of cooking), but also able to do slow cooking very well, from dishes like carnitas and machaca to one of all my all-time favorites: Pork Chile Verde. 

Pork Chile Verde consists of slow-cooked pork that simmers with acidic tomatillos, warm chiles, and plenty of spices for hours and just gets this amazing flavor that is hard to replicate in other dishes. This is my version of Pork Chile Verde, which is extremely slow but has an amazing taste to make up for it. This goes great with rice, tortillas, or a rainy day. It's sure to warm and fill you up while destroying your tastebuds with flavor! 

You can also easily make a vegetarian version of this dish by replacing the pork stock with vegetable stock and not utilizing pork. Slow cooking the chilles and tomatillos creates an amazing green chile sauce that you can put over anything and make taste great! 

Recipe will serve up to 20 people.


5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into about 1 inch-thick cubes
5 cups tomatillos (Blanch them first to remove the skins, then blend into a puree before adding.)
1 cup serrano chiles, chopped
2 cups Anaheim green chiles, chopped
1 quart water
1 quart pork stock (If you can't get it, vegetable stock works just as well)
2 large Spanish white onions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried Mexican Oregano
10 cloves of minced garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper


1. Take a large pot (about 4+ gallons should suffice) and place it on high heat. Add olive oil once the pot is hot, then add the chopped onions and garlic. Add about a third of the spices at this point as well.
2. When the onions turn translucent, add in the pork and sear on all sides, cooking for about 10-15 minutes to ensure all of the pork is colored. Also add in another third of the spices.
3. When the pork is all seared off, add the water and pork stock. Stir in the remaining spices, your tomatillos, and the chiles. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is fork tender (falls apart when you touch it with a fork).

Like with most Mexican dishes (the mole being one of the few exceptions to this), this pork chile verde is simple to make. You just have to wait for the cooking to finish, but once you do, this dish has a great balance of acid, heat, and rich pork flavor that goes together so well!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make this at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Savory French Toast

© Constantine William Spyrou

In fine dining restaurants (well, restaurants in general, to be honest), one of the newest ideas that has gone around is taking a classic dish that everyone knows well and putting a new, creative spin on it that takes it to the next level. Some are simple but extremely effective, such as making hot dogs from scratch or roasting turkey with a homemade compound butter. However, some really transform a dish into something that deviates from the norm, such as a deconstructed eggs benedict or inside-out fish tacos and such. 

I decided to take a challenge and try this idea out for myself. I chose to go the crazier route and make something that deviates from the norm. The dish I chose? French toast, a classic sweet breakfast dish that is loved by adults and kids alike. While it is known for being amazing, especially with powdered sugar and maple syrup, the route I am taking with this French toast doesn't really call for either of those things. I opted to go for a savory French toast rather than the classic sweet version. 

Now, French toast may seem like it wouldn't go too well for the savory route because of what it's known for. However, when it's broken down, French toast is literally just bread dipped in an egg batter then griddled on both sides. It can easily be spun into a more savory dish just by changing bread types and what goes into the batter. 

This French toast is going to be made with Sourdough bread to give a nice tang and lend to the savory spices that will be present in the egg batter. Using savory and flavored oil to cook the French toast instead of butter just takes the flavor up that much more!

Recipe will serve 8 people.


16 slices Sourdough bread
4 eggs, scrambled
1 cup milk (skim milk works best for this)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Extra Virgin Olive oil for the griddle
Salt and pepper to season


1. Create the batter by mixing together the eggs, milk, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, cayenne, salt, and pepper until well combined.
2. Brush a hot pan or griddle with olive oil. Quickly dip both sides of the Sourdough bread in, the place on the griddle. Cook each slice of Sourdough for about 90 seconds each side. Cool and serve.

The cool part about this Savory French toast is that it really complements and goes even better with a lot of savory breakfast meats and dishes as a result of the more savory flavors. Try it out and let me know what you think!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Orange, Coffee, and Chipotle Pulled Pork

© Constantine William Spyrou

Inspiration for dishes can come from almost anywhere at anytime. I've gotten inspiration for some of my dishes from places such as work (Duck Confit Nachos), parents (Turkey Meatloaf with Avocado in it) and even from college classes sometimes (I came up with the Healthy Chicken Fried Steak recipe as a result of a writing class in college). However, I think this next dish might take the cake in terms of where I drew inspiration from. I had the chance to hang out with some of college friends in Southern California while visiting my sister this past weekend. During our trip, we took a break at Starbucks and got some drinks. I noticed they had a new drink on the menu: Orange Spiced Iced Coffee. I tried it and thought it was extremely interesting and tasty. It gave me an idea to try to use orange and coffee in a dish. For that, the ideal choice was pork and a barbeque sauce. Balancing the coffee bitterness and orange sweetness could work quite well in a barbecue sauce, which draws from multiple flavor areas to make a unique sauce. Adding chipotle for some extra heat helps balance the dish perfectly! 

Now, this isn't the traditional pulled pork that is made in a smoker, this is more of a braised pulled pork than anything, simple to make at home in an oven or even a crockpot. The key to making pulled pork tender and delicious is to cook it at a low temperature for a long period of time, which is what happens here. The steam from the liquid the pork is cooking in as well as the convection of the oven will cause the pork to just fall apart and become extremely tender and flavorful over time, making it one of the most delicious dishes that you can cook!

Recipe will serve up to 20 people.


1 5-pound pork shoulder (preferably bone-in, its just one bone that is easily removed after cooking)
Juice and zest of two large oranges (save the orange halves as well)
1 cup of chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup coffee, cold (Any kind works, but the best ones to use for this dish are Guatemalan/Costa Rican blends)
4 tablespoons seasoned salt
4 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons dried mustard
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 bruised sticks of cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3 cups water


1. Preheat convection oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the pork shoulder, orange halves, and cinnamon to make the sauce well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan and cover it with the sauce. Add in the orange halves and cinnamon to the liquid.
4. Cover the roasting pan with a tinfoil "tent," and roast in the oven for 12 hours. Let cool, then shred and serve.

Pulled pork that's tender and delicious does take a long time to make, as seen in this recipe, but its worth the amazing flavor that you get out of the pork once it's done. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Philly Cheesesteak Crepes

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of my favorite food crazes that has started to go across the nation in various forms is the filled crepe. At UC Davis, this craze has run rampant with two great crepe places close to or on campus that you can get delicious, made-to-order crepes filled with anything from Feta cheese to curry sauce to artichokes. Crepes don't just have to be made for sweet food, they're great for savory food as well, and provide a warm, soft fluffiness to a dish that just takes it to the next level for me. 

I decided I wanted to put something into a crepe that I hadn't seen done before. With tons of combinations that I've tried and seen going through my head, I stumbled across a discovery while driving back towards my home. In this small plaza near my house is a Cheesesteak shop, and I remember that as I drove past and thought: Why not put a Philly Cheeseteak into a crepe? 

This Philly cheesesteak is my personal favorite type of cheeseteak, so it's got a lot of my ingredients and favorite things in it that may not be in a normal cheeseteak - or a crepe for that matter, since the batter has roasted garlic and herbs inside of it. However, it still is very close the original and provides a great flavor and overall crepe experience! 

Recipe will make around 8-10 crepes.

For the Crepe Batter: 

1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter (plus extra for the pan)
1 pinch of salt and black pepper
1 clove of roasted garlic (To make this, take a bunch of garlic cloves, submerge them in olive oil, and roast at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the garlic is soft)

For the Cheesesteak Filling:

2 1/2 pounds ribeye of beef, thinly sliced
1 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced jalapenos
2 cups diced bell peppers
1 1/2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups diced white onion
4 cloves of roasted garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine all of the crepe batter ingredients together in a food processor. Blend until smooth and chunkless, then place in a pitcher and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter.
2. To cook the crepes, rub some melted butter into the pan (for each crepe, you need to do this). Place a tiny amount of batter into the pan (no more than 1 ounce), and swirl around so the pan is fully coated and the crepe is extremely thin. Flip after about 30 seconds, and cook on the other side until golden brown. Take the crepes off and let them cool (they can be stacked).
3. In a hot pan, add some olive oil, the bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, and jalapenos. When the vegetables are sweated down and the onions turn translucent, add the beef and mix around. While cooking, make sure to break up the beef into smaller pieces by chopping it while in the pan with your spatula or cooking equipment. Add the spices and roasted garlic.
4. When the meat is fully cooked, add the cheese over the top and let melt. Place about 4 ounces of the mixture into each crepe, and fold the crepe up to enclose the filling. Enjoy!

This is a quick, easy, yet delicious recipe that blends together French and American cuisine in a brand-new way.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Spanish Lasagna

© Constantine William Spyrou

A lot of my recipe ideas come from fusion of multiple cuisines. In order to accomplish this, you have to look at what flavors go together really well from different cuisines to merge them and create a successful dish. Probably the easiest cuisine to fuse in my opinion is Thai food. This is because it has a full-flavor spectrum, with each dish's goal being to attain the perfect balance of all 5 flavors of sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and tangy. Because of that, you can match up almost any cuisine to Thai food. 

Thai food isn't the only easily fusible cuisine, however. I find that Italian cuisine goes well with a lot of other different flavors because it has a lot of different flavor profiles as well. Italian foods tend to have a lot of sweet, salty, and savory notes to it, and have quite a few sour dishes as well, making it able to pair up with a lot of other cuisines as well. Italian food can especially blend well with cuisines in the European area. 

One such cuisine that I found that pairs well with Italian food is Spanish food. Spanish food is very flavored in savory, salty, and spicy areas. These pair very well with the sweet notes of Italian food and tomato sauce as well as the matchup of savory and salty to make great combinations. This Spanish lasagna's goal is to showcase how well Italian and Spanish food can blend together. 

The lasagna itself will have three different layers, each with Italian marinara sauce made from scratch and a blend of Italian and Spanish Cheese to really amp up the flavors from both cuisines. The layers will be all foods from Spanish cuisine: Albondigas (or meatballs), Chorizo (spicy pork sausage), and Serrano Ham (a spicy cured ham). The flavors from these three meats will go great with the tomato sauce and the cheese. Garnished with Spanish chicharron (fried pork skins), this should be a real treat! 

Recipe makes 1 lasagna that can serve up to 12 people.

Lasagna Base Ingredients:

12 cooked lasagna sheets, cooked and cooled
2 cups shaved Parmesan Cheese
2 cups grated Manchego Cheese
4 cups crushed or pureed tomatoes
4 minced cloves of garlic
1/4 cup dried basil
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to season (for the tomato sauce)
1 cup crushed Chicarron (fried pork rinds, you can find them in markets. If you can only find pork rinds, make sure they are dehydrated completely then cut them up and fry them until they puff up and are crispy, then crush into small pieces)

Lasagna Layer Ingredients:

1 pound chopped Serrano Ham
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup breadcrumbs soaked with 2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to season


1. In separate mixing bowls, make the albondigas mixture, the chorizo mixture, and the marinara mixture using the appropriate spices from the above recipes. The marinara does not need to be cooked, just mix it well and set aside.
2. Form meatballs from the Albondigas mixture, and bake in a 375 degree oven in a water bath for 40 minutes. Let the meatballs cool, then chop them up.
3. Cook the chorizo in a hot pan with some olive oil for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked. Cool and set aside.
4. Preheat your convection oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large, deep baking dish, layer the bottom with three of the cooked lasagna sheets. Add 1 cup of the marinara sauce, 1 cup of blended Manchego and Parmesan cheese, and all of the Serrano ham.
5. Layer with the next three lasagna sheets and another cup of the marinara as well as another cup of the blended cheeses. Add the chopped albondigas to this layer, then cover with three more lasagna sheets.
6. This next layer gets marinara and the blended cheese again (1 cup of each) as well as the chorizo. Top with the final three lasagna sheets. Add the final cup of marinara sauce. Over this, add the crushed chicharron, and cover with the remaining cheese.
7. Bake in the oven for an hour, let cool, and serve.

This dish really goes for those varying flavors of salty from the serrano ham, savory from the meatballs, spicy from the chorizo, sweet from the marinara, and a layer of crunch and fat from the chicharron. The mix of the Parmesan and Manchego cheese just takes the flavor up another notch.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Duck Confit Nachos

© Constantine William Spyrou

Just like writers get writer's block at times, I went through a period of recipe writer's block this past weekend. I just couldn't think of something interesting and exciting that I wanted to create! Luckily, one of my co-workers (thanks a ton Jordan!) had a solution. I was talking to him about how I couldn't think of recipes and he asked if I wanted his Kahlua Pig Nachos recipe (which sounds dynamite, by the way). Almost immediately, a lightbulb went off in my head, and I began thinking of a nachos recipe- not with Kahlua pig, but with duck confit, one of my favorite proteins. 

Duck confit is extremely rich and buttery and delicious. Its cured or brined duck legs that are then roasted in their own fat for hours until they become fall-apart tender. The process makes them extremely delicious and flavorful. It's commonly used in French cuisine, so this will be a French spin on the warm, cheesy American classic. 

The nachos will be made with chips that come from a variation on my homemade masa recipe (see this recipe for that original recipe. Served with luscious duck confit and a warm, spicy cheese sauce, this will be a truly special nachos dish that will be an ultimate meal! 

Recipe will serve 2-3 people.

For the Chips:

2 cups organic field corn
2 tablespoons food quality cal lime
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons vegetable stock
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seed
2 teaspoons salt (separate because this is used to season the chips after cooking)
1/2 cup chopped scallions

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk
2 cups sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 cup gruyere cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot would be good for this, or Tabasco)
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and pepper to season

For the Duck:

4 duck legs, skin-on
1/2 gallon water
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup crushed black peppercorns
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 cup juniper berries
6 cups rendered duck fat


1. Create a brine by adding the salt, water, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, and juniper berries into a container. Add the duck legs, and let sit in a fridge for at least 24 hours.
2. Rinse your field corn. Gently heat the water for the masa in a pot and dissolve in the cal lime.
3. Add the corn and slowly bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover once it reaches a boil. Let the corn sit overnight, then drain the corn and soak in fresh water. Rinse off the skins by rubbing the corn.
4. Place the corn into a food processor with the salt and pepper and vegetable stock. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and shapeable, then set aside.
5. Place the brined duck legs into the duck fat in a roasting pan. Cover with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 3 1/2 hours. Let cool, then pull the duck meat off of the bone and set aside.
6. In a large pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour to form a blond roux. Add the milk and stir until combined. Add the cheeses a little at a time until all fully incorporated and melted. Stir in the hot sauce and cumin, and let sit for another 20 minutes on low heat.
6. Form the masa into 8-inch diameter rounds, and cut into eight pieces. Heat up about a quart of canola oil in a pot, and fry the chips until golden brown. Just before they come out, toss in the rosemary and thyme sprigs to infuse the flavor into the chips.
7. When the chips come out, toss with the cumin seed and salt and set aside to drain.
8. In serving dishes/bowls, layer the chips on the bottom. Add the cheese sauce over the top, and sprinkle the duck confit meat over the chips. Garnish with the chopped scallions.

There is NOTHING like having your own homemade chips from scratch, so using the masa recipe is worth it! You can always just purchase tortillas and fry them to make chips, but the flavor won't be as good as making it at home. 

Anyhow, the richness of the duck and cheese sauce is perfectly cut by the scallion in this dish, and the chips add a whole other layer of texture that just makes these super awesome nachos!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Vegan Mushroom Casserole

© Constantine William Spyrou

Over the course of the past 10-15 years, tons of new food movements have started springing up around the nation. There's been a huge street food movement that's swept across America, with food trucks becoming some of the new hip things around. Farm to table has been a huge one, with people being concerned about eating from local farmers to get the freshest ingredients. There has also been a large movement concerning vegan diets, with many people switching to vegan with the ideal that going vegan is much healthier for you (or other environmental reasons). Having tasted vegan food, I do notice that it is common to find vegan dishes that tend to lack in flavor. Even though vegan dishes don't have meat or dairy in them, that doesn't need to be the case. You can create delicious flavor in vegan dishes through technique and proper seasoning, as well as combining the flavors of vegan ingredients very well. 

This recipe takes on the vegan world and aims to give it a new level of flavor and deliciousness by taking some of the best things of vegan cuisine into one dish: earthy, rich mushrooms, rice, and herbs that just punch up flavors to that next level. Utilizing all of these flavors in a mushroom casserole will help give deep, rich, and delicious flavors into the vegan world. This dish is also made with a great vegetable stock, which is included in this recipe! 

Recipe will serve up to 12 people.

For the Casserole Base:

1 pound button mushrooms, chopped
1 pound shittake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped (save the stems for the vegetable stock!)
1 pound cromini mushrooms, chopped
1 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups Homemade Vegetable Stock (see recipe below)
4 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
2 cups red wine (Merlot is the best for this, or any other full-bodied red wine)
2 large Spanish onions, diced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
Zest and juice of two lemons
6 cups long grain rice, cooked
Salt and pepper to season

For the Homemade Vegetable Stock:

(Note: For all of these vegetables, its okay to leave skins on if you want, as this stock will be strained out at the end anyways.)

1 gallon of water
3 large white onions, halved
1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
4 large carrots, roughly chopped
4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 cups of roughly chopped leeks
Shittake mushroom stems from above
1/2 cup cracked black peppercorns
1/4 cup juniper berries
1/2 cup fresh parsley, bruised
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed

For the Topping: 

2 cups sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Roast the onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and fennel for the stock in the oven for 40 minutes. Keep the oven around for the casserole baking.
3. Add the roasted vegetables (and any of the pan "drippings") to a large pot. Add the aromatics, mushroom stems, and water. Bring to a boil for 90 minutes, then strain.
4. Season the chopped mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add to a hot pan with olive oil and the diced onions, and cook until they are all browned and the onions are starting to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and herbs at this point. Cook for another 5 minutes to let the flavors mix, then add the lemon juice and zest. Stir for 2 more minutes, then add the red wine, vegetable stock, and some more seasoning.
6. Bring the mushroom mixture to a boil and let the liquid reduce by half. Mix in with the cooked rice, and transfer to a casserole dish rubbed with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
7. When the casserole is cooled, sprinkle the top with fresh parsley, and serve.

This dish is all about mushrooms and deep, rich flavors. Without meats and other animal products to help deepen the flavor of the mushrooms casserole, it is a challenge. However, this dish shows that even vegan dishes can taste absolutely delicious. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Triple Meat Asian Sausage

© Constantine William Spyrou

When I cook dinner, the typical breakdown goes like this: My mom (teacher and mentor in the culinary world) tells me she's going out for a bit and asks me to make dinner. She tells me what vegetables and meats we have in the fridge, and then leaves. I'm left to my own culinary devices for some time after that, and sometimes I just come up with some ridiculous ideas. I've done things like Greek Lemon Ground Beef, Asian Crispy Tofu, and other dishes that I can't name because I just put seasonings, sauces, spices, and proteins together to make something that hopefully tastes good. This time, I decided to write down exactly what I did so I could turn it into a recipe.

When my mom went out, she told me we had green beans, spinach, pork, and bison that I could potentially cook with. Hunting around, I also found green onion, cilantro, dried Chinese sausage, and some bell peppers. I felt like being in an Asian mood, so I decided to make Asian-flavored sausage patties using the pork, bison (because its lean and goes well with the pork as a result), and dried Chinese Sausage as the meats. Chinese sausage kind of tastes like a cross between jerky and bacon, and is really interesting. The combination of meats went together way better than I expected, and turned out to be really delicious. 

This sausage also has vegetables in it. Normally, you don't see vegetables in sausage unless they are ground up. However, I used a technique I discovered while in Holland swimming several years ago. The hamburger patties there had vegetables inside the burger, giving another level of flavor to the meat. I decided to apply this to the sausage patties, and it helped really bring more flavor out. I'm really proud of these sausage patties.

Recipe will serve up to 8 people.


1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground bison (beef works too, but try to keep it at no more than 10% fat)
4 ounces dried Chinese sausage, diced
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped green beans
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons red chili oil (spicy sesame oil)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (or roasted garlic olive oil to punch up the flavor)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried sage


1. Mix all of the ingredients together except for the olive oil well into a mixing bowl. Go for uniform distribution of the veggies and meats together.
2. Form the sausage meat into 3-4 oz patties by hand. In a hot pan with olive oil on medium-high heat, sear the patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Set on a plate to rest, then serve with rice.

This sausage is really simple to make once you get all of the ingredients together, and tastes truly delicious. For added flavor, make this a few hours before cooking to allow all of the flavors to marry. The Asian flavors really get punched up thanks to the Chinese sausage, and the bison deepens the flavor of the meat as a whole.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Friday, July 26, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Mexican Meatloaf

© Constantine William Spyrou

Meatloaf is a classic American comfort dish that is very rich and satisfying. Traditionally made with meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, and sauteed vegetables, this baked loaf is a staple in most diners across America, as well as in many other American restaurants in the US. Meatloaf also usually gets served with a rich, creamy gravy that complements the meatloaf perfectly. 

That is what happens to traditional American meatloaf. However, I'm going to put a Mexican spin on this American classic, which means almost entirely changing up what meatloaf is supposed to be. There are going to be no eggs and no breadcrumbs in this meatloaf. It will be held together with avocado instead, which also makes it creamy and even more rich, meaning you don't need any gravy! Because of this, instead of traditional beef and pork meatloaf, this will be a turkey and pork meatloaf (because turkey lends a lot more to traditional Mexican flavors and is more common in Mexican cooking anyways). Add some great Mexican seasonings to it, and you're set for comfort in a new, elevated way like you've never seen before! 

Recipe will feed about 12 people.


3 pounds ground turkey
3 pounds ground pork
2 whole avocados
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
2 ounces tequila
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 pound skinned tomatillos
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
2 jalapenos, whole
2 serrano peppers, whole
2 green bell peppers, diced
Zest and juice of 4 limes
Olive oil for cooking/sauteeing
Salt and pepper to season


1. Preheat a convection oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Start by making the tomatillo sauce that will be mixed into the meatloaf. Saute half of the bell peppers, red onions, and white onions in some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic. When the onions start to turn translucent, add chicken stock, water, jalapenos, serranos, and tomatillos. Cook down on high heat for about an hour, then blend the sauce until pureed and combined. It's okay if the sauce is chunky at this point.
3. In a separate pan, saute the rest of the bell peppers and onions with salt, pepper, and a small amount of the cumin.
4. Combine turkey and pork in a mixing bowl until well mixed. Add your tomatillo sauce, sauteed vegetables, lime zest and juice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic, tequila, cilantro, and avocados. The avocado acts as a binder for the meatloaf, so breadcrumbs and eggs are not necessary. Combine well, then form into a log.
5. Transfer the meatloaf to a greased sheetpan. Add water until it just covers the sheet pan to keep the meatloaf from drying out or burning. Cover the pan and meatloaf with tinfoil, and bake covered in the oven for 45 minutes.
6. Remove the foil, and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes to get a nice crust on the top. Serve!

This meatloaf is meant to achieve a great balance between richness and bright acidity, which is why the tomatillo sauce factors in. It takes on a whole new flavor thanks to all of the Mexican seasonings and sauces that are mixed in. The fact that turkey is used in the meatloaf helps to complement all of the flavors, and the avocado provides the fat that the meatloaf is missing otherwise, making it creamy and rich.

I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Picadillo

© Constantine William Spyrou

Even though I am Greek and Chinese, my favorite foods to make and eat tend to come more from the Latin American area of the world, especially from Cuba and Mexico. I've had an obsession with being able to try Cuban food, which is hard to get around where I live. Almost nowhere sells or makes Cuban food of any kind, so I decided to go for broke and try making my own Cuban dish: Picadillo.

Picadillo is a traditional Cuban stew that is made with ground beef, olives (preferably Spanish olives), and sofrito, the traditional seasoning vegetable saute used in Cuban cuisine. The basic sofrito calls for onions, bell peppers, and garlic, though you can vary it to your liking. I also used cumin and oregano for the sofrito in this recipe. Sofrito is the base of most Cuban food, so a good Sofrito leads to a good Picadillo in turn.

Cuban food isn't necessarily spicy, but it is full of flavor and is good, hearty food. This picadillo embodies that, as the combination of the sofrito, beef, and olives harmonizes together well to make a full-flavored delicious entree. 

Recipe will serve up to 6 people.


3 cups Jasmine/White Rice or 2 lbs yellow potatoes, boiled and halved
1/2 large Spanish white onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
(Optional: 1 tablespoon roasted garlic olive oil, if you have it. Not necessary.)
1 pound ground beef
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 cups Mexican-style Beer (Any lager or light beer is perfect for this)
1 cup Spanish olives (with pimientos), halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to season


1. In a large saucepan, add the olive oil at medium high heat. Add in the diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions sweat and turn translucent.

2. Add in your ground beef and season once again. Break up the ground beef into small pieces to ensure that it browns quicker and better. Cook until all of the ground beef is browned, which should take another 5 minutes.

3. Deglaze your pan with the beer, and bring up to a boil. Turn down to a simmer once you reach the boil and let the beef simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with rice or boiled halved potatoes (if you use the potatoes, stir in with the beef before serving for the traditional Cuban picadillo experience!)

The dish is very simple to make, as you can see from the small amount of steps, but packs a huge amount of flavor into each bite. The long and slow cooking allows all of the flavors of the sofrito, spices, and beef to really combine and make a stunning dish. The beef stock just adds that extra depth to the flavor, and the olives help to balance it out.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)