Sunday, February 24, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Lemon - Basil Crusted Filet of Sole with Fisherman's Rice

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the disadvantages of living at a farm town college far away from the ocean is that it's hard to get a good piece of fish here that is inexpensive. I go home every now and then, and I'd love to get my mom's delicious home cooked fish then, but sadly, the majority of our family has developed an allergy to fish, so it doesn't get cooked in our house anymore. It's really sad, because my mom really was great at cooking fish (among other things of course). This is a tribute to one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes- she will crust filets of sole in flour and then quickly saute them so that the fish doesn't crumble as easily. I loved eating this with her awesome version of fisherman's rice. I don't know exactly what she puts into it, but I hope this version is relatively close. One thing I did change with the fish though: I brushed it with a lemon butter marinade and crusted it with basil and parsley to give it a nice aromatic lift. 

Recipe should serve around 4-5 people

For the Fish:

12-15 Pacific sole filets, skinned and checked for bones
2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season
Canola oil for frying
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley (no stems!)

For the Marinade:

1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pepper to season

For the Rice: 

5 cups rice, washed (I recommend either jasmine or basmati rice. Any long-grain will do just as good.)
1 cup thin noodles
Canola oil for frying
4-5 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to season


1. In a medium pot set on high heat, quickly fry the noodles to a brown color using a small amount of oil. Add some chicken stock so that the noodles can absorb it, but not all of the stock.
2. Add the rice to the pot, then the salt and pepper, then the rest of the chicken stock. Combine well, and cook until the rice is done, approximately 40 minutes.
3. On a plate/dredging tray, combine the breadcrumbs, dried basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. In a bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, soy sauce, and pepper. Get a brush ready!
4. Lightly coat each of the sole filets in the breadcrumb mixture, then brush lightly with the marinade.
5. In a medium-high pan, add oil. When it gets hot, add the fish, and cook for about 2 minutes each side or until fully cooked. Serve with the fisherman's rice.

This is a fresh and delicious tribute to my mom and her great seafood cooking which I can sadly no longer enjoy at home. Let me know what you think of this dish, and enjoy! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Cheeseburger Patsitsio

© Constantine William Spyrou

As a lot of you have probably figured out by now, I am a HUGE fan of creating fusion cuisine. I mainly enjoying combining cuisines that work well together onto one dish, such as Mexican-Thai fusion or my recent Italian Shredded Beef Tacos. Well, I'm back at again, but I'm going to take two cultures I really haven't touched on yet: Greek and American. People usually don't associate Greek and American food going well together, but the similarity they share with each other is exciting- both enjoy utilizing meaty and cheesy dishes, for example. This classic Greek dish is an example of that: Traditionally, Patsitsio is like a Greek lasagna, with a bottom layer of ziti pasta and ground beef and a top layer of creamy bechamel sauce that is baked to a golden brown. This is an American spin on this Greek classic, with cheddar and American cheese mixed into the bechamel to help give more of an authentic cheeseburger flavor. This will definitely be one hearty meal to enjoy!

Serves 8-12 people


2 pounds ground beef
1 large white onion, diced
2 kosher dill pickles, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/8 cup Greek olive oil
2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
2 pounds Ziti pasta
3 eggs, separated into whites and yolks then beaten
1 cup American Cheese, grated
1 cup Orange Cheddar Cheese, grated
5 cups milk
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp chicken base


1. Place the olive oil into a hot pan. Add the diced onion.
2. When the onion turns translucent, add the ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Let the meat cook for about 20-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
3. When the meat is cooked, add the diced pickles and tomatoes, mix well, then take off of the heat and let it cool.
4. Place the ziti into seasoned, boiling water, and cook for no more than 3/4th of the desired cooking time to ensure that the ziti is not overcooked in the finished product.
5. Heat up the milk in a pot.
6. In a separate pot, melt the butter. Add the flour, and slowly mix until a roux is formed and there are no real lumps. The roux should clump together and turn a golden yellow.
7. When this happens, add the hot milk and quickly stir into to the roux, making sure no lumps remain and the roux dissolves into the milk. Add the chicken base and some more pepper, and stir well.
8. Add the egg yolks and QUICKLY STIR so that the eggs completely temper into the milk, like a custard, and so that you don't make scrambled eggs inside of the bechamel.
9. Slowly add the American cheese and half of the cheddar cheese into the bechamel, stirring so that each grouping of cheese is fully melted into the sauce. Let the bechamel cool.
10. Drain the cooked pasta, and combine the pasta with the ground beef mixture, the egg whites, a small portion of the bechamel, and some more salt and pepper. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish or large lasagna tray, then pour the bechamel over the top.
11. Sprinkle the last part of the grated Cheddar over the top. Baked in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is browned. Let cool, then serve.

This classic Greek comfort dish just got even richer by adding some great cheese and the complexities of an all-American burger. Let me know what you think of this dish if you try making it, and enjoy! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Duck "Hearts" with Wild Mushroom Risotto (Valentine's Day Special)

© Constantine William Spyrou

Ok, guys, Valentine's Day is coming up. If you're not taking your spouse, fiance, significant other, etc. out for the night, you can still make Valentine's Day very romantic by cooking your own meal! I bet your special someone will be extremely pleased to see something normally ordered in 5 star restaurants on their plate in your home. One of the best romantic dishes? If you're going all-out fancy, this duck dish is the way to go. Duck is deliciously gamey and provides a huge amount of flavor to the dish. Paired together with a rich wild mushroom risotto and a tasty Syrah wine reduction, this is sure to please any palette. Syrah is a fruity wine that goes well with both the mushrooms in this risotto and the duck. Mushroom risotto is a great, rich dish that really complements the duck. Utilizing the duck fat just adds further flavor to all of the dish, and will make it seem almost heavenly. Now, this recipe is called Duck "Hearts" because I will be cutting the duck breast into a heart shape to make it more romantic. You can then also truss up the plate how you want... Imagine spelling out I <3 U using the duck and the Syrah reduction for example... 

Recipe is for 2 people, and goes well with candles. And rose petals.

For the Duck:

2 duck breasts, cut into heart shapes
Salt + Pepper to season
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

For the Syrah reduction:

1/2 bottle Syrah wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
Salt + Pepper to Season

For the Wild Mushroom Risotto

1/4 cup Porcini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup King Oyster mushrooms, chopped (Button mushrooms also work if you can't get these)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups arboreal rice
4-6 cups chicken stock
Salt + Pepper to Season
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Parmesean Cheese
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Thyme


1. Score the duck breasts so that the skin is covered wits diamond score marks. Don't penetrate into the meat, just score the skin and fat layer.
2. Season the duck with salt and pepper, and place it in a hot dry pan, SKIN SIDE DOWN, on low heat. Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan.
3. While the duck begins to cook, make the Syrah reduction, checking to see when duck fat begins to come out from the breast. Bring the Syrah and chicken stock to a boil, and add the salt and pepper. Reduce by half, then added the butter. When it melts, take the reduction off the heat.
4. When the duck is ready, turn up the heat and color both sides, then finish off in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Take the duck and garlic out of the pan, but leave the rosemary in.
5. In the same pan, which should have duck fat in it, take out about half the duck fat. Turn on the heat, then add both kinds of mushrooms. Season with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. When the mushrooms turn brown and are cooked through, remove them from the heat and set aside.
6. In a different hot pan, place the olive oil. When it begins to lightly smoke, add the rice and cook to a light golden color. Begin adding 1/2 cup of stock at a time until the rice fully absorbs it. When the rice is fully cooked (15-20 minutes), add the wild mushrooms, Parmesean Cheese, and Butter, then stir until fully combined and the butter and cheese are melted.
7. Plate up in any way you see fit, but make sure the duck breast "heart" is over the risotto. Hope you and your special someone have a great night!

Enjoy this wonderful Valentine's Day Dish, and if you do choose to make it for that special someone, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Italian Shredded Beef Tacos with Caprese Salsa

© Constantine William Spyrou

Although they seem like they have almost nothing in common, Italian and Mexican food are actually extremely similar to each other. Both put an emphasis on low and slow cooking and longer preparation times that make dishes deeper in flavor and completely worth the wait. Sauces, especially tomato-based ones, are also common in both cuisines, as are cheeses. Since I love fusion dishes so much, I decided to make a dish combining the flavors of Italy and Mexico. Using my friends' inspiration of tomato and basil (you two are awesome, by the way =) ), I decided to create a caprese salsa. Caprese is a traditional Italian salad made with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. All of these seem like they would go great in a salsa with just some heat and citrus needed to balance everything out- again, that 5 flavors concept coming out to play. The shredded beef is a classical Chicago-style Italian Beef, which is simply seasoned and roasted (sometimes with vegetables to deepen the flavor, which will be done here), but will be spiced up with Mexican chiles and Italian arrabiata sauce to really complement and accentuate that fresh salsa.

Recipe should make around 15-20 tacos.

For the Salsa:

2 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced (Roma tomatoes work best, but San Marzanos/Stanislaus tomatoes also work well)
1 1/2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced
1 cup diced red onion
2 cups fresh chopped basil
1 cup diced jalapenos
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Let sit for up to 36 hours in the fridge.

For the Beef: 

1 4-pound portion of top round beef
2 cups water
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp dried marjoram
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup capers
4 cups crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 pound guajillo chiles, dried
1/2 pound celery, roughly chopped
1/2 pound carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 pound onions, roughly chopped

Taco Assembly Ingredients:

About 20 corn tortillas
1 head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
Parmesean Cheese for garnish


1. Rub all of the salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder onto the beef. Let it sit for at least 12 hours to take in all of the flavors.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. In a roasting pan, lay in the celery, carrots, and onions. Pour the water underneath the vegetables, and lay the chiles around the vegetables in the water. Place in the beef. Mix together the capers, tomatoes, and red pepper, then pour that over the beef. Leave uncovered, and roast in the oven for about 2 hours or until the meat shreds apart.
4. Let cool, then shred apart the beef in its cooking liquid. Warm up the tortillas, and place about 2-3 ounces of beef into the taco. Lay in a layer of cabbage, followed by the salsa. Finish the taco off with a sprinkle of Parmesean cheese.

These tacos bring together the freshness of Mexico with the warmth of Italy in a great way. Let me know if you make these tacos and how they turn out! Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Recipe: Asian Hot Wings!

© Constantine William Spyrou          

Today is the Super Bowl, the Harbowl, or whatever you like to call it. While I don't follow football too much, I always love when the Super Bowl comes around because of the commercials and the awesome food people make for parties! One of the most traditional American game day foods (especially for the Super Bowl) that I can think of is wings. There's about a million different ways to do wings, but when it comes to an Asian style of wings, most people think teriyaki, which is a sweet and salty Asian marinade that provides no spice to the palette. This is a spicy, Asian-flavored hot wing that is sure to fire up your taste buds as well as be delicious! Try to make some room for these on your game day table next time you host a party!
        These are grilled wings, because I prefer the char-grill to baking or frying wings, but you can cook them in whatever style you like, and they should still taste amazing! 

This recipe makes 2 pounds of wings, which, just on their own, can feed up to 8 people. At a party, you'd probably want to make a lot more than just 2 pounds of this, though...

Marinade and Wings:

2 pounds chicken wings (I prefer them on the bone because it gives it more flavor)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds (can be found in Asian supermarkets)
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 cup Sriracha Hot Sauce
1/4 cup coconut milk

Wing Sauce (makes about a pint of sauce)

2 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Sriracha Hot Sauce
1/8 cup ginger ale


1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl. Add the wings and massage them thoroughly, then let them sit in the fridge overnight.
2. Take all of the wing sauce ingredients and bring them to a boil in a saucepan. Let the sauce reduce by about a third, then take it off the heat.
3. Heat up the grill, and grill for about 2 minutes each side. Baste regularly with the wing sauce, making sure to do so as they go on the grill, when they turn over, and just as they about to come off at the very least.
4. Serve with a cool dipping sauce (Ranch might work well?).

These emulate regular hot wings, but with more of a grilled Asian style. I really hope that if you try these wings, they turn out super awesome! Let me know what you think of them, and enjoy!