Sunday, January 27, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Healthy Chicken Fried Steak with Crushed Potato Salad

© Constantine William Spyrou     

One thing that my family has always stressed is eating very healthy. We rarely go out to restaurants because we get worried of there being too many calories, and prefer home-cooked food to eating out. This translates into my college experience because I miss being able to cook a lot, which is one of the reasons why I created this blog. When this year is over, I'll be able to finally cook my own food again, which will be exciting! Anyways, the inspiration for this dish came from a challenge I presented myself in my college writing class: to write an article on food that could be served in a restaurant without being fatty, high-sodium, or anything else that is bad for you. Using a calorie counter website ( , check it out!), I was able to create a dish that was under all of the USDA guidelines for a main entree.

USDA Guidelines:
Maximum limits for a main entree dish:
667 calories
26 grams of fat (35% of calories from fat)
7.4 grams of saturated fat (10% of calories from saturated fat)
767 mg sodium

1 serving of this dish:
442 calories
14.6 g of fat (29.7% of calories from fat) 
3.5 g of saturated fat (7% of calories from saturated fat)
317 mg sodium
52 g of protein
25.5 g of carbohydrates
139 mg of cholesterol

Fitting comfortably under all of the USDA guidelines, this hearty dish is a light version of surf-and-turf that will be sure to liven up your taste buds, from the rich steak to the bright potato salad, this will be one that any restaurant would love to serve- at a good price too! Note that the steak is extremely lightly battered in this dish.  

Recipe will make 4 servings of this dish.

For the Steak:

4 3.5-ounce portions of top round steak
About 1/4 cup flour (slightly less is optimal)
4 egg whites
4 tsp of water
4 tsp black pepper
4 tsp salt
4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp rosemary
2 tablespoons canola/grapeseed/soybean oil (grapeseed and soybean oils have less cholesterol and don't add flavor, so they make great choices for frying the steak.)

For the Potato Salad:

1 cup (3/4 lb) red potatoes, skin-on
1 cup chopped fresh green onion
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 tsp olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/2 pound cooked dungeness crab meat
4 tsp salt
4 tsp black pepper


1. Pound the portions of steak to about 1/8-inch thick. Season with the steak portions of salt and pepper.
2. In the flour, mix in the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and rosemary.
3. Add the water to the egg whites, then whisk until the egg whites are combined and foamy (don't let it start to stiffen! You can't make a good batter with stiffened egg whites, make sure they are still liquid!)
4. Quickly lay the steaks in the egg white wash, coating both sides, then transfer to the flour, lighting coating the steak on each side evenly. Make sure the whole steak has flour on it!
5. Add the oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Place the steaks in, cooking to golden brown on each side- about 4-5 minutes total, or roughly 2 minutes per side.
6. As the steaks rest after cooking, boil the potatoes in unsalted water for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.
7. When the potatoes are done, drain them and place into a bowl. Gently crush the potatoes with a fork, leaving plenty of large chunks.
8. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, and slowly mix into the potatoes. Then. add the salt, pepper, and green onion, and mix again. Finally, add the chopped parsley and dungeness crab meat into the potatoes, and mix once more until everything is evenly distributed.
9. Each serving should have one of the portions of steak and a fourth of the potato salad.

This dish is really fresh, light, and delicious. Using the egg whites as a batter lets it stay much less fattening while still adding a good, crunchy batter. Egg whites are actually used to batter chile rellenos, a popular Mexican dish of fried chiles stuffed with cheese, so they are not uncommon to use in frying. 

Let me know what you think of this dish, and any questions/comments you may have! Enjoy! 

Monday, January 21, 2013


© Constantine William Spyrou

I think that one of the reasons I love cooking so many different kinds of food is that I have a plethora of different ethnicity in my blood, and enjoy eating and cooking all of those cuisines and more. My main cultural background is Chinese, so that is the food I tend to make the best. My personal favorite Chinese dish is Ma Po Tofu- a spicy yet savory combination of soft tofu and ground pork. I've made tons of different variations of it- a version with ghost pepper sauce, combined with dried Chinese sausage, placed into an Asian-inspired casserole- but I always use the same base recipe at first, which is what I'll be posting up today. I've found that even people who don't enjoy tofu will like this dish, as usually it is broken down to a point that the textural oddities are hard to point out. The pork is the main star usually in this dish, so its flavor and texture are very dominant. 

Recipe will serve up to 6 people


1 pound ground pork
1 pound soft/silken tofu, chopped up into small cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil (spicy sesame oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 splash of Mirin (Rice wine vinegar)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/8 cup Sriracha hot sauce (this can vary depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. I personally like quite spicy)
1/8 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning


- Season the ground pork with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place it into a hot pan with the canola oil and crushed garlic, and cook about 75% of the way through.
- When the pork is mostly cooked, add in the tofu and mix into the pork.
- Add the soy sauce, ground ginger, sesame oil, and chili oil, and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add in your Mirin and chicken stock, and use it to deglaze the pan.
- As the chicken stock starts to reduce, add in the Sriracha sauce. Reduce the liquid by about half.
- Before the dish comes out of the pan, add in the fresh green onion, stir well, and then plate it.

This dish goes really well with steamed Jasmine rice, and can be altered in tons of different ways. My personal favorite was combining it with dried Chinese sausage and adding a little curry powder, but you can use it however you like! Let me know if you make your own variation! Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Breakfast Fried Rice

© Constantine William Spyrou

I have to give the inspiration for this recipe to my older sister. She told me to come up with some kind of fried rice. Fried rice is awesome in that the rice and egg combination actually makes a great canvas to soak up several other flavors, and can work in lots of different cuisines, not just Asian-based. Friends of mine have made hot dog fried rice and spam fried rice, and I even made steak fried rice once as a leftovers treat for me and my dad. I decided to do an American-style fried rice, but for breakfast. In Asia, lots of people will eat rice for breakfast, so why not combine the concept with American classics like eggs (scrambled, of course) and sausage (made from scratch)? I chose to make a scratch-made chicken apple sausage for this dish because it's my sister's favorite sausage. I felt like it needed some pork, though... so it's more of a chicken-pork apple sausage blend. But it's still tasty! 

Serves up to 8.

For the Sausage:

- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 medium apple, peeled and grated (This allows for the apple flavor to really penetrate through via osmosis but it will disintegrate, leaving it not too visible in the finish product but adding a nice tartness to the sausage.
- 1/8 cup sage leaves, finely chopped (this is the predominant flavoring to the chicken apple sausage)
- 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- Salt and pepper to taste for seasoning

For the Rice: 

6 cups cooked Jasmine rice
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup diced bell peppers (any color works, try using yellow, red, and green!
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 splash of Mirin (Japanese rice wine vinegar)


- Combine the ground pork and chicken into a mixing bowl.
- Peel and core the apple, then grate it into the meat. Mix thoroughly.
- Add onion, seasonings, and sage leaves. Mix well.
- Place the canola oil in a hot pan. When it starts to smoke, drop in the sausage and let it cook most of the way through.
- Add in half of the chopped green onion, the bell peppers, and the garlic, and stir.
- Deglaze the pan with the Mirin. Add the ground ginger, stir, then add in the eggs.
- When eggs are mostly cooked, add in the rice.
- Mix the rice complete in and add the sesame oil and soy sauce, mixing in well.
- Just before taking the fried rice out of the pan, add the rest of the green onion. Remove from pan, and serve.

I hope you enjoy this fusion of Asian cooking and American breakfast! If you choose to make it, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

PAST RECIPE: Lime-Horseradish Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Rice

© Constantine William Spyrou      

 One of my favorite cuisines to cook or eat is Latino food. I say Latino because this applies to not only Mexican cooking, but also Cuban, Costa Rican, Puerto Rican, etc. The main reason for this is because I enjoy the freshness Latino food brings to the palate, particularly in the flavors of cilantro (my all-time favorite herb to utilize) and fresh citrus (lime topping my favorites). What's interesting is that Latino food is a lot more intricate than people tend to think it to be, because you can generate so many complex flavors into one dish with Latino styles of cooking (mole, a sauce made from tons of ingredients to achieve a perfect balance of all flavors, being one of the prime examples). This dish is an extremely light and fresh Latino-style marinated chicken that is then grilled. It goes great with Cilantro-infused rice. I made this dish at my high school graduation party, and it was a huge hit (people liked it more than both of my mom's meat dishes at the party, sorry Mom!) 

This recipe will do the measurements of rice by the cup, but the chicken will serve up to 15 people comfortably.

For the Rice (1 cup) 

  • 1 cup basmati rice, thoroughly washed
  • 1 cup Water 
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, half of it bruised, the other half finely chopped
After washing the rice in a pot, fill the pot with the same amount of water as you put in rice. The water level should be higher than that of the rice . Season the rice with salt and pepper to your liking, then add in the bruised portion of cilantro. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Each cup of rice should take roughly 8-10 minutes to fully cook. The best way to tell if the rice is done is to see if any of the rice grains are still bright white in the center. If they are, the rice needs more time to cook. After the rice is done cooking, let it rest for about 5-10 minutes, then fluff it with a fork. Mix in the chopped cilantro, and serve. 

For the Chicken

  • 5 pounds chicken breasts, cut to your liking (I cut them into small 1-ounce portions, but had to use grill paper on the grill so that it wouldn't fall through/disintegrate. On the other hand, the chicken cooks much more quickly in smaller portions, so do what you want for this part. 
  • Zest and juice of 5 limes (1 lime per pound)
  • 3 cups of fresh chopped cilantro, stems and all
  • 1 1/2 diced red onions
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Not a traditional Latino seasoning, but this dish prefers soy sauce over salt to help bring all the flavors together)
  • 1 cup grated horseradish
  • 1/4 cup tropical hot sauce (This is an interesting ingredient that adds some heat. I used pineapple habanero salsa for this.)
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons 
Combine all of the above ingredients together, and let the chicken marinate for at least an hour (overnight is preferable, however). Grill the chicken on high heat for both sides (1-2 ounce portions will take approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side to cook thoroughly. Serve with cilantro rice. 

Let me know what you think of this dish, and what you would do differently! If you make it, let me know how it tastes! Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Quick Coconut Curried Chicken

© Constantine William Spyrou

Ever since I was a kid, I've loved curry chicken. It has a nice mild heat and great flavor, and goes very well with rice, which was a staple in my Asian mom-run household. In college, its hard to make a really nice curry chicken stew with onions, potatoes, etc. because it costs a lot of money. However, if you can bring a spice rack from home, all you need is rice (which is a college staple), soy sauce, chicken, and coconut milk, and you're set to make this dish! It will be warming and delicious without being overly spicy. 


  • 1 pounds chicken breast, cut into tenders
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (or any yellow curry powder) 
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Green Onion, Chopped, for garnish
  • Avocado oil (any neutral-flavored oil will also work)

Massage the salt and pepper into the chicken cubes so they are nicely coated with seasoning. In a hot pan, add a small amount of canola oil. When it just starts to smoke, add chicken pieces. Brown on each side until each side starts to turn brown. When each side is browned, deglaze the pan with coconut milk by adding it then folding around the coconut milk and chicken in order to help get the drippings of the bottom of the pan. Add soy sauce and the rest of your spices, and milk well. The coconut milk should go an orange-yellow, and the chicken should be coated with the sauce evenly. Lower the heat and let the chicken simmer uncovered for 5 minutes so that the sauce can reduce. Once its cooled, the sauce will be slightly thick as a result. Cover the chicken afterward and cook for about 15 minutes. Serve the curry chicken with rice (or naan bread or other bread if you so desire.)

Again, this recipe is super simple, which is why I love it so much. It makes cooking extremely quick and efficient. You guys should try to make it and let me know what you think and if you would modify it in any way! Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

PAST RECIPE: Country Italian Polenta "Sandwich"

© Constantine William Spyrou
(Sadly, post comes without a picture.)

Intro: I created this dish my senior year of high school in my Culinary Arts Class. We had just learned how to cook polenta, and our teacher had us do a "polenta contest" over the next two classes in which we had to create a polenta dish. He wanted us to use polenta cakes, however, not just the actual creamy-like polenta from fresh out of the pan. He also encouraged us to flavor the polenta. We watched a "Good Eats" episode as part of the polenta lesson, and it compared Italian polenta to Southern grits. It got me thinking that Italian and Southern cuisine flavor profiles could actually be mixed and matched to make a hearty dish. This dish combines Italian polenta and sausage with an Italian-inspired pimiento cheese that has a nice sharpness to it, compared to the strangely sweet and overly tangy pimiento cheese I tend to find in stores. With a basil mascarpone palette cleanser, this one is sure to be a big hit. (By the way, this dish was the top favorite among all of the judges and won that contest in high school.)

(Recipe will make about 12-15 sandwiches)


  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used low sodium, but if you think it won't be properly seasoned then regular is fine)
  • 1 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (that's approximately half a stick)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary (I made the mistake of not chopping it enough, and there were big pieces of rosemary in the polenta that tended to be intrusive. Don't make my mistake!)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon bits (I like mine crunchy and the fat pretty much all rendered out.)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (Parmesean cheese can also work)
  • 2 rolls of Italian sausage, formed into patties no bigger than 1 in x 2 in
  • 1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 pound grated White Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 pound shaved/shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (Again, Parmesean works, but not the powdered stuff from pizza places and such) 
  • 1 4-ounce can diced pimientos
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Green Tabasco Sauce
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Halved cherry tomatoes to garnish
  • Toothpicks
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped roughly
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh arugula
For The Polenta:

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal, then lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, or until the polenta thickens. Turn off the heat, and add in the butter, parmesean, marinara sauce, bacon bits, and rosemary. Stir until fully incorporated and the butter is completely melted. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper, and pour the polenta into it. Once it begins to cool, transfer to a refrigerator and let it set (In our class, we did this for overnight.) 

For the Pimiento Cheese:

In a bowl, combine the pepper jack, parmesean, white cheddar, pimientos, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cayenne, tabasco, and mayonnaise. Let it sit for at least an hour in the fridge for the flavors to really marry together. 

Garnish Prep: 

Fold the mascarpone cheese and work it until it begins to soften. This could take a while if it you start just out of the fridge, like I did, so be patient. Once its soft, add the chopped basil and let incorporate. Soften again when you are ready to plate. 

Cooking and Assembly: 

Cut the cooled polenta into about 1 inch by 2 inch rectangles, and griddle in a pan with oil until its golden brown on both sides and hot all the way through. In a separate pan, cook the sausage patties for about 2 minutes on medium heat, then turn over. After another minute or so, add about 2 tablespoons of the pimiento cheese, and place a a teaspoon of water in the pan (ok, who cares about the amount there, a little water.) Cover and let the cheese melt and the sausage steam for about a minute to 90 seconds, or fully cooked. 

On the plate, line around the edge lightly with the basil mascarpone mixture. Place down one polenta cake, then the sausage patty with cheese. Add some fresh arugula to the top of that, then layer on the second polenta cake. Spear with a toothpick and half of a cherry tomato.

This recipe is very time-consuming and complex, as you probably could have guessed, but its great if you know you have a gathering coming up with friends or family that you can plan for, and will definitely be pleasing. If you choose to make this dish, let me know what you think of it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy!