Friday, July 31, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Pan-Roasted Halibut with Crushed Potato Salad

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved. 

Combining a rich and dense protein like fish always calls for something light yet tasty to balance out the rich sweetness of the protein. Halibut, for example, is a sweet, firm, and rich fish that loves the lighter citrus flavors to balance against it and create a great meal. This dish provides a light, citrusy side in a fragrant potato salad.

This potato salad has light flavors such as lemon and parsley to wake up the fish and keep it from being too rich. It also adds textures of crunch and softness! 

The fish is cooked in a special, fine dining style for this recipe as well. It is cooked with the skin on to add another crisp layer but to also protect the fish from getting colored too much and preserving its incredibly texture and flavor! You can eat the skin if you like, it adds a fishy crispness to the dish. Otherwise, simply remove it after cooking and enjoy the fish and potato salad without the skin! 

Recipe serves 3 people.


1 1/2 pound halibut filet, cut into three equal filets
Salt and pepper to season
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds potatoes (fingerling or Yukon gold), washed
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tbsp dried parsley
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tbsp paprika
2 cloves minced garlic


1) Boil the potatoes in salted water by starting from cold and then up to high heat. Once the water is at a gentle boil, cook for 15 minutes or until fork tender.

2) Crush the potatoes lightly with a fork, not mashing them but leaving large pieces. Toss with 3 tbsp olive oil, both kinds of parsley, the lemon zest and juice, green onion, paprika, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, then set aside to cool in the fridge.

3) Let the halibut slack out for at least 20 minutes to reach room temperature. Lightly score the skin with a knife, and season both sides with salt and pepper.

4) Start the halibut filets, skin side down, in a cold pan with the remaining olive oil. Start on a low heat, then gradually bring up to a medium heat over 5 minutes.

5) Use the halibut filets as a measure of cooking progress; they will turn white as that part of the halibut cooks. When about 75-80% of the halibut is cooked, and the skin is crisp, turn over and finish cooking for 2 minutes.

6) Let the halibut rest, then serve with the potato salad.

This is a brilliantly balanced dish of lightness, richness, and great flavors! It plays into many different textures as well, with the crunch of the herbs and spring onions, the firm delicate fish, and the creamy potato to make an overall dish yet light summer dish!

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, July 21, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Iced Orange Chia Seed Shortbreads (Gluten Free AND Vegan)

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved. 

Cookies are by far my favorite dessert to make. They are one of the first things I ever learned how to make back in culinary class in high school, and have stuck with me since. I have created cookies with key lime, holiday spice, and many other ingredients infused in them. 

Sadly, my sister was diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple of years ago. As such, she couldn't eat the cookies I made because they had wheat in them. I decided to try and come up with a recipe that involved the making of gluten-free cookies. However, I also decided to go with a vegan route to make cookies that could be enjoyable in any time of the year or fasting period. To ensure that they were vegan, I used soy-free oil sticks(non-hydrogenated, of course) in place of butter and a chia seed trick I discovered as a nifty egg substitute. 

These cookies are extremely surprising in that for a gluten-free, vegan, cookie, they taste almost nothing like one. They have almost identical feel and smell, and one of my friends had no idea they were gluten-free or vegan until after I told them! This flavor, iced orange, is my personal favorite because it has a perfect balance of sweet and citrus on it.

The icing is not a traditional thick icing, but rather a simple, clear paste that hardens on the cooled cookies to give them more texture and a boost in flavor. All in all, this is a delicious cookie that is easily one of my more signature desserts! 

Note: The recipe below is given in BOTH metric and US measurements, because I've developed it with both in mind. 

Recipe makes 18-20 cookies. The US version makes more than the metric measurements.

For the Cookie Dough:

225 g or 1/2 pound solid soy-free oil sticks (I recommend the Earth Balance brand for this)
225 g or 1/2 pound granulated sugar
450 g or 1 pound brown rice flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp chia seeds, ground
1/4 cup/2 fl oz water
Zest of 1 large orange or 2 small oranges (about 2 tbsp)

For the Icing:

Juice of 2 large oranges or 4 small oranges (about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered/icing sugar


1. Mix the ground chia seeds and water extremely well, and let sit for about an hour for the mixture to thicken and take on a gel-like consistency.

2. Cut the oil sticks into small pieces and add with the sugar into a mixing bowl. Cream using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until all of the oil is broken down and the mixture doubles in volume, about 3-4 minutes on high speed. (Start on a low speed for a minute first for optimal results).

3. Add in the chia seed mixture, the vanilla extract, and the orange zest. Mix slowly for a minute to combine well.

4. Slowly add in the brown rice flour in small portions until fully combined. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Evenly shape and space out 1 1/2-inch diameter cookies onto greased or parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.

6. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool.

7. As the cookies cool, whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar to make the icing. Once the cookies are cool, spoon a half tablespoon of the icing over each cookie, and let set before serving.

These shortbreads have amazing flavor from the fragrance and acidity of the orange combined with the sweetness of the sugar inside that balances it out perfectly. Brown rice flour has some of the best texture for gluten-free baking, and the chia seed mix acts like eggs would in normaly cooking dough, making these the most normal gluten-free vegan cookies you'll ever try!

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, July 12, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Eurasian Stir-fried Pork with 5-Spice Soba Salad

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved. 

One of the greatest things about not only making your own food, but trying food from new restaurants, is that you get to experiment with a variety of different flavor combinations and evaluate them. You can even come up with your own or take something you like and transform into something that you enjoy even more! 

One flavor combination I ran across in an Asian restaurant recently was soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. It combines the savory umami of the soy with a sweetness but depth of the balsamic to make an amazing sauce. It has increasingly become one of my favorite flavor combinations!

I decided to take it one step further in this dish and add an aromatic note to the flavor combination that already screams out "fusion." Using a variety of Asian and Spanish ingredients, I came up with this pork stir-fry. I accompanied it with a soba noodle salad in traditional Japanese style - only it was made using Chinese flavorings like 5-spice. This makes for a truly unique, fragrant, and delicious dish! 

Recipe serves 6 people.

For the pork:

1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced pork chops, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon black cumin oil (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns, ground
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh diced ginger
2 pinches saffron
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice
Fresh mint to garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Noodle Salad:

1/2 large package soba noodles, cooked and cooled (roughly 3 pounds of noodles)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
2 cups bok choy stems, cut into diamonds
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup bok choy leaves, cut into strips
2 whole bell peppers, cut into thin strips(Julienne)


1. Combine all of the ingredients for the noodle salad together well, and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

2. Combine the pork with half of the soy sauce, and all of the balsamic, cumin oil, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, saffron, agave, 5-spice, and sesame oil.

3. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan or wok on medium-high heat. When the oil is just starting to smoke, add in the ginger and garlic, and quickly saute for a minute. Add in the marinated pork and cook until colored nicely on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4. Add in the remaining soy sauce and lime juice and toss the pork in it quickly to finish cooking. Garnish with picked fresh mint leaves.

This dish manages to be intricate and complex while being healthy and super easy to make at the same time! It takes less than thirty minutes to make the entire meal, and you get the depth of flavor of a complex dish because of the fragrance of the spices, the varying textures of the noodle salad, the hot-cold balance that is very popular in Japanese cuisine, and the overall richness of the pork that is boosted by the agave, balsamic, and soy sauce. This is a flavor combination done at its best! 

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! =)