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! =)