TRY AND HAVE ALL INGREDIENTS CUT AND PREPARED BEFORE COOKING SINCE THINGS COOK FAST!
THIS IS CLASSICALLY KNOWN AS “MISE EN PLACE” (French for, “everything ready and in place”)
PS: WASH HANDS OFTEN!!
Amuse Bouche (French for appetizer, or “happy mouth”)
Smoked mussels with horseradish mayo
8 – 10 oz smoked mussels (Canned are fine but drain the oil)
4 oz (1/2 cup) plain mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated horseradish (or to taste)
Dash of lemon juice
Pinch of white pepper (optional)
Toothpicks for skewers
Recipes below feed 10 – 12 people
Beef and Italian sausage slider burgers
2 lbs ground beef
1.5 lbs hot Italian sausages, loose ground or removed from casings
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard
Any dried herbs on hand (Italian seasoning, oregano, thyme, etc.)
4 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons cooking oil.
10 – 12 slider rolls or burger buns
Traditional toppings: Sliced tomato, sliced red onion
Parmesan topping: warm marinara sauce and grated mozzarella
(Because the Italian sausage adds strong flavor, mozzarella works better than American or cheddar cheese, if desired.)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until blended together. (It’s ready when you can’t tell the difference from the beef to sausage.) Burger mix should be a light red color. Form into a ball, rub with a tablespoon of oil, cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge.
To be efficient with time: After the burger mix is set aside in the fridge, and while the potatoes are boiling, prepare the carrots and mushrooms. as they will cook the fastest. (See below.). After the vegetables are cooked, covered and off the heat, drain and season the potatoes and place in pre-heated oven. Pour the hot potato water over the sliced carrots in a separate bowl and blanche, off-heat, for five minutes. Carrots will cook much faster (see full recipe below.)
Using hands divide burger mix into 10 or 12 good-sized “meatballs”. (Don’t work the meat too much or the burgers will be tough, but the goal is to remove any air bubbles from your “meatball.”) Again with hands, press the burgers on a cutting board until they are flat but still hold together. The raw burgers should be slightly bigger than the rolls/buns. Once formed, take your thumb and put a good sized “dimple” in the center of each one (this keeps their nice shape when cooking.). Sprinkle a dash of salt one one side of each burger and pre-heat frying pan on medium, then add the oil until hot. SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY add the burgers, salt side down, with a spatula. Cook 3 – 4 minutes, until side-down is browned, then flip and cook another 1 – 2 minutes. Finish in the oven for five minutes until meat registers 145 – 150 degrees with a meat thermometer. Have toppings ready, especially cheese and marinara if desired, so the cheese melts slightly. Ps: a little horseradish mayo on the bun adds a kick!
Roasted garlic potatoes
3 pounds small white or fingerling potatoes
3 hands (bulbs) of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped or sliced.
(Dried granulated garlic also works, about two tablespoons)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Dried herbs, especially Rosemary or oregano
1/4 cup cooking oil
Wash well but don’t peel the potatoes and cut into quarters, so the pieces are all about the same size. In a large pot, bring about 2 quarts of water to a roiling boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the hot water, then SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY add the potatoes, keeping the water boiling. Cook for 15 minutes uncovered. When the potatoes start to soften, carefully drain them in a colander and set aside until they are not too hot to touch. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and have two racks available. Cover two large cookie or baking pans (they must have sides) with parchment paper, or coat lightly with cooking oil. In a large bowl, toss the warm potatoes with the other teaspoon of salt, pepper, chopped garlic, dried herbs and the rest of the cooking oil. Stir well to coat until all the potatoes appear to have seasoning. Pour potatoes into baking pans/cookie sheets and spread them out evenly, in a single layer if possible. Roast in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy.
Sautéed carrots and mushrooms in beef stock sauce
2 pounds small-to-medium size carrots
2 – 3 cups fresh mushrooms or two 10-12 oz. cans sliced mushrooms
1/2 stick butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 tablespoons flour or corn starch
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 oz. beef stock or bullion (try to avoid cubes with MSG)
4 oz. hot water (if using bullion cubes)
Trim the carrot ends, peel and cut into nickel-size discs. Put a large frying/sauté pan on medium heat and add the oil when hot. While the pan pre-heats, blanche sliced carrots with the hot potato water for five minutes in a separate bowl, then drain well. Add the carrots to the sauté pan and stir to cover with the oil. (Stir consistently so carrots don’t burn.) While they cook, trim the mushroom stems and slice the caps into a similar size as the carrots. Add them to the pan and stir together. If using bullion cubes, add them to the hot water one at a time until broth is rich but NOT TOO SALTY (taste as you go.). Add the black pepper to the pan and stir to coat the carrots/mushrooms, then add the butter cubes until all melted, and keep stirring to coat the mixture. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of the flour or cornstarch and immediately pour in some of the beef broth. Stir vigorously to dissolve the flour. Add more stock as needed until the vegetables sit in a light brown sauce. Turn off the heat and cover.
VEGETARIAN OPTION: In lieu of beef stock roux, make a simple syrup of brown sugar in hot water and pour over at the end of cooking; about 1/4 cup brown sugar to 1 cup hot water. Let liquid reduce by half on low heat.