Friday, December 26, 2014

NEW RECIPE: A Gluten-Free Christmas

© Constantine William Spyrou

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and holiday season! Our family got together for the first time in a while, and it was great to have everyone at home. Because my sister has Celiac, I was tasked with creating a gluten-free Christmas meal that could be enjoyed! This recipe contains three different dishes, each gluten-free, that I made for the dinner! 

The first recipe is a simple crab cake recipe that focuses on the crab flavor. It has a good background of traditional ingredients like spring onion, Old Bay, and the like, and is a tasty opener to the meal. 

I also made another appetizer: Indian "Arancini." Arancini are Italian risotto balls filled with meat or cheese and deep fried. This is a much healthier version, with curry-spiced rice and peas in the center. Instead of deep-frying or battering, these are simply crisped up in a pan, making them stress-free, easy to make and create, and a unique spin on an Italian classic! 

The main course was Roast Beef tenderloin with mushroom au jus and sauteed mushrooms. It went with a spiced purple sweet potato mash to bring it all together and make a tasty base for the steak! 

Recipe 1: Crab Cakes

Makes 8-10 crab cakes.


1 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crab meat
1 1/2 cups bell pepper, diced (I went tricolor with this, but any bell peppers you have work fine!)
1 egg
1 cup roughly chopped green onion
1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 clove minced garlic
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine all of the ingredients together for the crab cakes and form into 4-inch diameter patties at least 1/2 inch thick. You can leave these to set up in the fridge or cook with them straight away.

2. In a pan on medium-high heat, cook the crab cakes with some vegetable oil for 1-2 minutes on each side to ensure that the cakes are heated and a golden brown color is on each side. Serve!

These crab cakes are mostly crab with almost no other filler. The combination of egg and xanthan gum serves well as a binding agent while helping the Old Bay and other spices to evenly distribute throughout the crab as it is mixed, as xanthan gum with liquid does great with holding spices evenly. These are super simple to prep and cook, making them a great and tasty choice for a stress-free Christmas appetizer or entree! 

Recipe 2: Indian "Arancini"

Serves up to 8 people.


2 cups arborio rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to season
1 package frozen peas
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Mix together the rice, half of the garam masala and curry powder, all of the turmeric, and the vegetable oil in a rice cooker or pot. Add in the chicken or vegetable stock, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be somewhat mushy and overcooked, this is on purpose to help it stick and form the rice balls.

2. In a separate pot, blanch the peas in salted boiling water for about 5-7 minutes. Drain, then mix with the remain garam masala and curry powder, along with salt and pepper to taste, the ground ginger, and the garlic powder.

3. Let the rice and the peas cool to room temperature. Then, take 3-4 tablespoons of the rice (a small scoop) and form it into a flat shape. Cup it, then place 5-6 peas in the center and form the rice around them to make a football or ball-like shape. Keep going until all of the rice is formed into balls.

4. In a pan on medium-high heat, crisp the rice balls on each side with a small amount of vegetable oil for about a minute on each side. Serve!

This dish took the longest overall time to prep and make, but the overall flavor is worth it! The garam masala and curry powder are two spice blends that combine to give the rice nearly 15 different spices to punch up its flavor! The stock makes a nice, rich background for the rice as well, and it being soft makes it perfect to encase the spiced peas. Once everything is cooled, the prep and cooking is super quick, making it another stress-free appetizer to add to your list! 

Recipe 3: Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Purple Sweet Potato Mash

Recipe serves 4 people.


3-4 pounds beef tenderloin (we went untrimmed, but its best if trimmed!)
2 purple sweet potatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms, separated into individual stalks
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper to season
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons butter, roughly chopped
Finely chopped chives for a garnish


1. Place the purple sweet potatoes into salted boiling water, and cook for 15-20 minutes until they are soft.

2. Season the potatoes and mash them until smooth with a fork, adding in the butter, half of the garlic powder, and all of the ginger in the process.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

4. Liberally season the tenderloin with salt, pepper, and the remaining garlic powder. Place into a pan on high heat with vegetable oil and sear until golden brown on each side. Be sure to sear the top and bottom of the tenderloin as well in this step!

5. Remove the beef from the pan and place on a roasting tray. Brush with the horseradish, and give it 5 minutes to absorb the horseradish before placing it in the oven. 30-35 minutes should give it a medium-rare temperature.

6. As the beef cooks, make the mushroom gravy by sauteeing the button mushrooms with salt, pepper, and a clove of garlic. Deglaze with the beef stock, and bring up to a boil. Leave it uncovered on a medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the stock reduces by half. Strain, and transfer to a serving bowl.

7. Sautee the chanterelle and oyster mushrooms together with salt, pepper, the remaining garlic clove, and the thyme.

8. When the beef is done, let it rest for 10 minutes before carving slices. Layer some of the sauteed mushrooms over the beef slice on a plate coated with the purple sweet potato mash, and ladle a small amount of the au jus over the top. Garnish with fresh chives to balance out the flavors.

This dish is all about rich, savory flavors from the beef and mushroom. However, the sweet potato mash provides a background that makes these flavors stand out even more because of the more neutral and sweeter flavors that contrast against the rich beef and mushroom flavor. This is a great entree for Christmas or any other holiday! 

I hope you enjoyed this trio of recipes for Christmas, or any other holiday! Let me know what you think or what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy, and happy holidays! =) 

Friday, December 19, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Cod and Tofu Chow Fun

© Constantine William Spyrou

One of the reasons I made this blog was to have a place to put up some of my favorite dishes. For example, I've got recipes for my favorite burger (the Greek Lucy), curried chicken, and risotto that I all love. This recipe is for one of my favorite Chinese dishes of all time: Chow Fun. 

Chow Fun is a stir-fried rice noodle dish that has soy sauce as a good base and can have plenty of other flavors added to it. In restaurants, beef chow fun is probably one of the most popular versions. However, I tried adding cod and tofu into a chow fun recently, and it was a delicious dish! I marinated the cod beforehand to really give it a lift in flavor. The tofu also took on flavor as it was cooked in the sauce, and the rice noodles brought everything together in a great-tasting and simple dish! 

Recipe serves 4 people:


1/2 pound cod fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (the firmer the tofu, the better here. A flavored tofu like baked tofu or tofu nuggets also work great for this)
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon chopped chilis (or chili paste)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon hoisin
1/2 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tablespoon white pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped green onion
2 tablespoons diamond-cut green onion (to get this cut, slice the green onions on a vertical bias to create somewhat thick shards)
1 package (about 1-1 1/2 ponds) rice noodles (I got mines fresh from an Asian market, if yours are dried, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and drain them first)


1. Combine the ginger, garlic, chili/paste, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin, five spice, and white pepper in a bowl. Add in your chunks of cod, and mix. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

2. Add some vegetable oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Remove the cod chunks from the marinade and cook them for about 1 minute on each side to get some color.

3. Add in the onions and chopped up tofu. Cook for another 2 minutes until the onions get soft.

4. Pour in your marinade and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to combine all of the ingredients. Fold in your rice noodles, and cook for another 2-3 minutes to ensure the noodles are cooked through and the fish is done.

5. Stir in the roughly chopped green onion for 30 seconds, then plate up and serve! Garnish with the diamond-cut green onion.

This dish has a great balance of flavors to it from all of the various flavors. The cod, tofu, and rice noodles make a great base of varied textures for the saltiness of the soy, the sweetness of the hoisin, heat from the chili and ginger, as well as some garlic, five spice, and green onion notes of fragrance that liven up the dish and make it delicious! This is a great dish for the cold holiday times!

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! =) 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NEW RECIPE: White Truffle Salmon Cakes with Lemon, Pistachio, and Scallion

© Constantine William Spyrou

Finals week is upon us at this moment, and it causes a lot of stress. This may make it seem like it's impossible to cook during this time, but if you have a bunch of recipes that are very fast and can use ingredients that you can store for a while, then it makes it very easy to cook delicious food during finals week!

This is one of those recipes that I like to have. With the exception of green onion and egg, all of the food in here keeps in cupboards or in fridges for a quite a long time and is easy to remake time and time again when you're crunching on time. Here, I'm using leftover salmon to create a delicious fish cake. Canned salmon, canned tuna, or any other leftover cooked fish that you have work just as well for this, as all take on the citrus flavor very well.

Why I chose salmon for this is because this dish gains a similarity to salmon en croute as a result (which is salmon wrapped in puff pastry). It has the lightness and delicateness of the fish, but has some great crunch and balance with pistachio, green onion, and the outer crust. With just 5 minutes to prep, and then letting it sit while you study, and just another 5 to cook, this quick and easy dish to prep is a must to have! 

Recipe makes 12 salmon cakes of about 1-2 ounces each.


12 ounces grilled salmon (or any other cooked/canned fish), flaked to shreds
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tsp white truffle oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios
Salt and Pepper to season


1. Combine all of the ingredients well in a mixing bowl, and form into small cakes about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap, and set into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place each cake into a pan on medium high heat with olive oil. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side until the cakes are brown. Everything inside is cooked, so it's all about the color and heating through for this!

3. Serve with your favorite starch and fresh parsley for a quick complete meal!

Yes, even the cat likes it! (I didn't let her actually eat it, but she was smelling it for quite some time...). Anyhow, this dish has a great amount of balance because of not only textures (the smoothness and delicateness of the salmon and the crunch of the pistachio and green onion) but of the flavors (the acid of the lemon, freshness of the green onion, earthiness of the pistachio, and richness of the truffle all elevate the flavor of the salmon)! It takes so little time to make, but will make you comfortable enough to get back to studying! (Plus, fish is a brain food!)

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! =)