Archive | July, 2020

Virtual Dinner Party #19 Jambalaya


2 T olive oil, divided
1# Andouille or other highly seasoned smoked (chicken or pork) sausage, diced
½ C green bell pepper, diced
½ C red bell pepper, diced
1 C yellow onion, diced
½ C celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t jalapeno, seeded and minced *or to taste
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
2 t dried basil, chopped
1 t dried oregano
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 C converted rice
1 C tomatoes, chopped
2 t tomato paste
¾ C dry white wine
1 ½ C chicken or vegetable stock
½ bunch scallions, sliced diagonally into ¼” pieces
2 T fresh parsley, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat a large saucepan with 1 T olive oil and cook diced sausage until nicely browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage and set aside.

Add the ‘trinity’- peppers, onion, celery, along with the minced garlic, and jalapeno (if using). Lower heat to medium and sauté until everything is well browned and flavorful. This could take as long as 12-15 minutes.

Add the next six ingredients and cook stirring until combined and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add converted rice and remaining 1 T of oil. Stir constantly taking care to coat rice with oil.

Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Sauté until rice grains are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

Add stock and white wine to rice mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is just cooked through and tender.

Remove from heat. Remove lid and layer a double thickness of paper toweling on top of pot and replace lid. Let stand covered for 3-5 minutes. *This extra step absorbs excess moisture and produces perfectly fluffy rice every time.

Remove bay leaf and fluff rice with fork. Add reserved sausage, scallions and chopped parsley.

Serves 4 with ample leftovers
Chef’s Tip: Jambalaya with poached eggs and sautéed spinach makes an excellent breakfast –just sayin’



2 ¾ C (14.8 oz.) bread flour or all-purpose flour

1 t instant dry yeast

1 t granulated sugar

1 ½ C (12 oz.) room temperature water               

3 T high quality extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 t table salt

Pan spray or additional olive oil for pizza pan

2 t fine cornmeal (optional)


Fig, Prosciutto & Arugula

3 T high quality olive oil, divided

2 C baby arugula

4 figs, thinly sliced

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

2 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced

¼ C blue cheese or goat cheese, crumbled

For this topping option:  Do not add topping ingredients until after the pizza is baked. Toss arugula, red onion and figs with 1 T olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar in a bowl. Taste for S and P. Remove pizza from grill and cool slightly. Top pizza with thinly sliced prosciutto, followed by salad mixture and crumbled blue cheese.

Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil

2T high quality olive oil, divided

4 oz. fresh mozzarella

2 tomatoes, sliced and drained

2 T basil pesto (homemade or store bought)

½ C mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 T fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped fresh herbs for serving


For the dough: Combine flour, yeast, sugar, water and 2 T oil in a bowl. Stir until no dry flour remains. Cover bowl with plastic film and set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Remove plastic film and sprinkle salt over top of dough. Mix until fully incorporated – dough will be somewhat sticky. Cover with plastic film and set aside for 20 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Using lightly floured hands and a bench scraper or spatula, begin folding dough over on itself. Working quickly, repeat folding technique adding the smallest amount of flour possible to prevent sticking. * If you are finding this process difficult, you can try lightly oiling your hands and countertop to help prevent sticking.  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl (or spray with pan spray) and lightly oil the top of dough. Cover bowl tightly with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 16 -24 hours (up to 48 hrs. is fine.) This longer refrigeration period will develop more nuanced flavor and texture in your finished crust.  

Video prep:

For the Toppings: Prepare ingredients for topping and set aside. (Toppings listed here are for a ½ and ½ pizza.)

Prepare crust: Spray a pizza pan or sheet pan liberally with pan spray and dust lightly with fine cornmeal. Transfer dough to the prepared pan and with oiled fingers gently press and pat the dough into a thin crust.  Top with 1 T of reserved olive oil, spreading evenly over dough.  Cover with plastic film and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

30 minutes before baking preheat grill to medium high – high heat or 450-500 degrees. You may also bake pizza in a conventional oven. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat to 450 degrees.

Prepare pizza: Remove plastic film from dough and distribute toppings evenly over dough. Using fingertips gently press dimples across pizza surface. Place pizza on the grill and close lid.  Bake 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is brown and slightly charred.  Rotate pizza 180 degrees midway through cooking.  *Note: Grill temperatures vary greatly.  You may have to adjust baking time to accommodate your specific grill. Top pizza with Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh herbs, S & P before serving.

Serves 2 with ample leftovers.



½ C stone ground mustard

 ¼ C honey            

1 ea. garlic clove, minced

¼ t crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

¼ C Italian parsley, minced

2 T white wine vinegar

4 T olive oil

Generous pinch of salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 boneless skinless chicken breast paillards

2 C Romaine

¼ C red onion, slivers

½ cucumber, peeled and sliced

2 nectarines, pitted and sliced

½ C fresh blueberries

½ C fresh basil, torn into rough pieces

3 T pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

¼ C goat cheese, crumbled


In a mixing bowl, combine first eight ingredients for the vinaigrette.  Whisk well and taste for salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Cut chicken breast in half horizontally and place between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper and use smooth side of meat mallet to pound chicken to half its thickness. Place chicken in 1-gallon zip-top storage bag along with 3 T of the honey mustard vinaigrette. Seal bag, squeezing out as much as air as possible, and let chicken marinate in refrigerator while preparing grill.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Remove chicken from marinade taking care to let excess marinade drip back into bag. Place chicken on grill.  Cook for 1 ½ -2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and let chicken rest while preparing the salad. * Grilling tip: There are three things that keep grilled foods from sticking: oil, heat, and a clean, seasoned grill.  Because this marinade has a bit of sugar (honey) in it, sticking will be a problem unless you prep your grill properly. Before putting your chicken on the grill, make sure your grill is clean, lubricated and good and hot.

Combine 2 C Romaine and the next five ingredients in a salad bowl. Toss with ¼ C of the grainy mustard vinaigrette. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Place a paillard in the center of each dinner plate and drizzle with 1 T of vinaigrette. Top each paillard with a handful of the salad. Sprinkle chopped pistachios and goat cheese on top and serve. Pass extra vinaigrette at the table if desired.

Serves 2


4 pcs regular cut bacon

2 ea. all beef or pork hot dog

2 ea. high quality hot dog buns (top split) with poppy seeds

1 ea. avocado, mashed with 1t lime juice

½ C homemade or high quality mayonnaises

2T cilantro, minced

½ ea.  lime juice

½ C pineapple, diced

¼ ea.  red bell pepper, minced

2 t  red onion, minced

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 t brown sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prepare pineapple relish:  Combine diced pineapple, red bell pepper, red onion, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Prepare cilantro mayo: Whisk cilantro, mayo and lime juice together.  Set aside.

Prepare hot dogs:   Place 3 layers of paper towels on a microwave safe plate and arrange bacon on top in a single layer.  Cover with 3 more layers of paper toweling.  Microwave on high power until fat renders but bacon is still soft and pliable. 3-6 minutes depending on strength of microwave.  Carefully spiral-wrap each hot dog with a piece of bacon.  I have not found it necessary to secure bacon with a toothpick but you may want to just to be safe.  Set aside while grill heats.

Heat grill to medium low. *Video preparation

When the grill is hot, place wrapped hotdogs on grill and cook, repositioning as needed to avoid flare ups and prevent burning.  Because the bacon is partially cooked and much of the fat has been rendered flare ups should be minimal.  When the bacon and turkey dogs are cooked through remove from heat.  Grill buns just until heated and lightly toasted.  Serve bacon wrapped dogs in buns with avocado mash, pineapple relish and cilantro mayo.

Serves 2