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! =)