Chicken Piccata

Chicken Picatta

Last on our tour of schnitzel around the world is the Italian inspired chicken piccata. Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several Italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities.  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from.

One of the main reasons piccata is so popular though is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic Italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Traditionally, the chicken may only be dusted in flour before being lightly fried, but you can also lightly bread it as I have in the recipe here. It will give the chicken a little more substance, and by flavouring the breadcrumbs, give another layer of seasoning, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup margarine
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced*

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter into the oven to warm. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate, and season them with the garlic powder and lemon zest. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and pan-fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not over crowd the skillet, adding more oil as needed. Place the chicken onto the warmed platter in the oven.

When you are finished with all of the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook and stir the minced garlic and shallot in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and scrape up and dissolve any brown bits that may have become stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces by about a third, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers, and simmer again until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the margarine into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the margarine is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley, and remove the sauce from heat and set aside. Arrange the chicken on a serving plate and spoon the sauce over to serve.

Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

Chicken Katsu

So in our schnitzel tour around the world, how about a stop in the Far East? Katsu is one of Japan’s favourite Western-style foods. So, what is it? Simply, it’s a bread crumbed cut of meat, usually served with shredded cabbage and a thick, salty and sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce.

Now for a little bit of history… Pork katsuretsu (cutlet) was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s.

Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Emperor Meiji – in his bid for Japan to become a more modern country and lead the way in terms of development – encouraged Western influence. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken (torikatsu), fish and vegetables.

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 chicken breast fillets
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
olive oil spray
½ – ¾ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded to serve*
½ – ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded to serve*
¼ cup mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

For the tonkatsu sauce:
¾ cup tomato sauce
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ teaspoon ground allspice

* Click here to learn how to clean different types of cabbage.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
To make the tonkatsu sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and allspice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

To make the chicken:
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded chicken to the lined tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Spray the top of the chicken with oil. Cook for the chicken for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and spray with oil. Cook the chicken for a further 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Thickly slice the chicken diagonally. Arrange the Chinese cabbage and red cabbage on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle the mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce over the chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

German-Style Chicken Schnitzel

German Chicken SchnitzelSo one of my favourite foods on this planet is schnitzel. I don’t know why. I just love it. It is so simple, and yet, so easy to mess up! It can be over fried and dried out, or burnt, or greasy… or, worse, undercooked! Salmonella poisoning anyone? What I also find interesting is that depending on where you’re from, you can vary it to match your local dining style. Did you know that pretty much every culture has some version of schnitzel? I thought this week I would show some of the ways a simple breaded chicken breast can be adapted and savoured all over the world!

Today, we’re going to start off with a traditional German-style chicken schnitzel. Most people have heard of wienerschnitzel. “Wiener” means Viennese (from Vienna) in German, not pork or veal as some people think (those words would be Schweinefleisch and Kalbfleisch). But while the Austrians may have perfected the wienerschnitzel, the origin of the schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) preferred his meat covered with sheets of gold. And of course, what the Kaiser does, the wealthy soon copied, but not everyone could afford to dine on gold. The solution? An alternative “yellow gold” coating of bread crumbs was used instead. And the rest they say, is delicious history!

Ingredients:
6 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thickness
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 ¾ cups breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley*
lemon wedges (for serving)

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick) with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in the oil to measure ½” deep and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 315°F (you want a moderate heat here because chicken breasts are so thin, they will cook quite quickly).

Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, dip into egg mixture, turning to coat evenly, then carefully coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken until it is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and season with salt. Top the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Classic Beef Burger

Classic Beef Burger

I’m actually out of the office today, but I couldn’t leave my readers hanging on such an important theme week! Okay, maybe it’s only important in my head, but my head is a cool place to hang out, y’all should come over some time! Anywho…. Today’s burger! I thought I’d end the week off with a classic “All Canadian” burger (yes, I said Canadian). This is your straight up, nothing fancy, plain, honest, but delicious burger. You can rely on it to hit the spot, and please all that try it. The only sort of spin that I do is that I add onion to the patty itself, but I hate biting into chunks of hard onion in my burger meat, so I nuke the onion (with some garlic, ‘cause, why not?) first for a minute or so, so that it gets a head start on cooking before hitting the grill. This way, the onion is nice and soft in the burger, and is not sharp in taste or texture. For those that aren’t fans of onions, feel free to skip this step. I would suggest going for the bonus round though, and grilling up some verscht (salami). It is SOOOO good and makes a nice pre-burger nibble or hipster topping to your burger! Either way, it’s a win!

Ingredients:
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
3 eggs
1 – 1 ¼ cups matzo meal
2-3 tablespoons onion soup mix
3 tablespoons ketchup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 buns
Optional: 1 log beef salami
tomatoes, pickles, onions, condiments, etc.

Directions:
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the diced onion and minced garlic for 1-2 minutes, so that they are almost cooked through. Once done, set the garlic and onions aside to cool down so that they can be easily handled. Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick!

In a large bowl mix together the beef, eggs, onion soup mix, ketchup, salt and pepper. Add the cooled semi-cooked garlic and onions. Mix together to combine. Slowly add the matzo meal, just enough to bring the mixture together without making it overly “crumby”, you want your burgers to be mainly meat, not filler! Divide the meat mixture into 6 balls, and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger!

Bonus Ingredient: If you like, after removing the plastic wrapper, slice up a log of beef salami into ¼ inch slices, and make a slit half way into the slice (so your slice looks like Pac-Man). Grill these alongside your burgers; they are delicious on their own, but will make a yummy “topping” to your burger as well!

Serve your burgers on some fresh buns, along with your favourite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!

Hawaiian Luau Burger

Hawaiian Luau Burger

So for today’s recipe I was thinking, it’s so hot out, I might as well fantasize a proper locale to go with the heat…. I know, Hawaii! I can picture it now, white sandy beaches, beautiful crashing waves, large erupting volcanoes… ahhh, scratch that last one. Well, most of my heart is in the right place, so I thought why not a burger that is fit for a luau? I knew I wanted the different Pan-Asian flavours, with the ginger and pineapple, and the hit of teriyaki in the glaze will really kick this burger up a notch. Normally, this would be topped with cheese and honey glazed ham, but seeing as we’re a kosher site, we’re skipping the cheese, and using a honey glazed deli turkey instead. I also kinda liked having a drink with yesterday’s recipe, so I thought, why not, and added a mai tai recipe at the bottom today. I figured, no luau is complete without a mai tai! Again, there are alternatives for those you don’t wish to imbibe. Enjoy everyone, hang ten!

Ingredients:
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 pounds lean ground beef
6 tablespoons pineapple juice
6 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
12 slices honey glazed deli turkey
12 slices red onion
lettuce*
mayonnaise
6 big sesame seed hamburger buns

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce.

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick! In a small bowl, mix the pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce together, and then set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, ginger and garlic powders, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Divide into 6 balls and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Baste your burgers with the pineapple teriyaki sauce as your burger cooks. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger! While the burgers are grilling, grill the pineapple slices until pineapple have golden brown grill marks on both sides.

Toast the hamburger buns by placing on grill until grill marks form.  Do not walk away during this process; toast can turn to ash in the blink of an eye! Spread mayo on bottom bun, then top with lettuce, burger, grilled pineapple, red onion and the honey glazed turkey. Serve and enjoy!


Mai TaiClassic Mai Tai Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the rum and top up with a bit more pineapple and orange juice. You can even top up with seltzer instead for a fizzy treat!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons spiced rum
1 ½ tablespoons coconut-flavoured rum
1 teaspoon grenadine syrup
⅓ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
orange slice and maraschino cherries, to garnish

Directions:
In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

Bloody Mary Burgers with Horseradish Dressing

Bloody Mary BurgersSo for today’s burger, I thought I’d go for something a little different. Bloody Mary’s anyone? Admittedly, this has to be hands down my favourite cocktail. Now while I’m not too particular over the brand of vodka used (or tequila for what I call a Bloody Maria), I am quite particular that I only like hot sauce used, and NOT horseradish! Horseradish is for gefilte fish and roast beef! Which is why I make the exception in this recipe using horseradish with this beef burger. There is something about the sharp bite of the root, mixed with the dense meat of the burger that just works well together. As a bonus to today’s recipe, I’m going to throw in a quick recipe for Bloody Mary’s to accompany your meal. You can always skip the alcohol for those who are underage or don’t drink. I’m sure everyone will enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 ¼ teaspoons prepared horseradish
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
6 to 12 dashes hot sauce, plus more as necessary
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of medium and lean)
A little canola or olive oil, for brushing

For the dressing:
1 (1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inch piece) fresh horseradish root, freshly grated
3 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
6 good bread buns, ciabatta rolls, or thick slices of baguette
A few romaine lettuce leaves*
A few tomatoes, sliced
ketchup, optional

* Click here to learn how to clean romaine lettuce.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce in meat dishes.

Directions:
For the burgers: In a medium bowl, mix together the tomato paste, horseradish, celery seeds, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Add the beef and mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure the seasonings are spread throughout the meat. Let stand for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Meanwhile, make the horseradish dressing.

For the dressing: Mix the grated horseradish, non-dairy sour cream and vinegar together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Break off a small piece of the beef mixture, the size of a walnut, and fry in a little oil until well cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

To serve: Heat a grill. Shape the meat into 6 patties about ¾ inch thick. Lightly brush each one with oil, then place on a grill over high heat. It’s hard to give exact cooking instructions due to variables such as the thickness of the burger, the heat of the grill, and personal preference. For a medium-rare burger, you will probably need to grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. If you’re cooking the burgers indoors, use a lightly oiled grill pan set over medium-high heat. Let the burgers rest for a minute or two while you prepare the buns.

Toast the buns or other bread lightly on the cut side, then top with the lettuce leaves and tomato slices. Add the burgers and smear with horseradish sauce, and a dollop of ketchup if you like. Top with the other half of the bread.


Bloody Mary Cocktail

Classic Bloody Mary Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the vodka and top up with tomato juice.

Ingredients:
¼ cup vodka
¾ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
celery salt, for rimming the glass
salt and pepper
lemon wedge and celery stalk, for garnish

Directions:
Pour some celery salt on to a small plate. Take the lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the glass. Turn the glass upside down, and dip it in the celery salt on the plate. The celery salt will now coat the rim of the glass. Pour the tomato juice and vodka into the glass, and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce , hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add ice if desired. Garnish with a fresh lemon wedge and a celery stalk. Enjoy!

Fresh Herb Burgers

Herb Burger

So I was wondering what to blog about this week, when I realized that I haven’t done a week on the almighty burger! This is definitely an error on my part. So seeing as we have a long weekend coming up, and people will definitely have their barbeques out, I thought, why not hit you up with a few yummy meat treats? One thing that I love to use when making burgers is a hamburger patty press. Yes, I know you can make a burger without a gadget. However, and hear me out on this one, the press is just awesome! We have an old, plain one that you can get at your local hardware/home supply store, but they make a million different kinds these days (as witnessed by late night TV infomercials). What I personally like about the press is that it allows a couple of things to happen:

  1. Uniform circumference on my burgers. You’re not going to get one that over takes the bun, while another looks like a slider.
  2. Uniform thickness. You won’t have one thin leathery burger, and one super thick meatloaf one.
  3. It allows the burgers to set up and chill. Once you’ve formed the patties, sometimes they just need to relax and bit and mellow out. Stick them in the fridge, and let the flavours get to know one another while you get the grill heated up and the toppings ready.
  4. Easy grilling! It makes it really easy to pop the patties out of the tube (the maker we have is tube shaped) and plop them on the grill. I’m not trying to delicately peel a patty off a plate, have it break, or lose its shape, or any other culinary disaster. It goes from maker to grill, in one step. It’s a thing of beauty.

So that’s my personal take on the hamburger patty maker, without an official sponsor! Hint, hint! You should see me when I’m actually being paid to endorse something! Starfrit? T-fal? Ron Popeil, I’m talking to you!


Fresh Herb Burgers

Ingredients:
2 ½ pounds ground beef (mix of lean and medium)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
¾ -1 cup matzo meal
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced*
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, minced*
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, minced*
Salt
Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these fresh herbs.

Directions:
Lightly oil your grill and set the heat on the BBQ to medium. In a large mixing bowl lightly whisk the eggs with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Crumble in the ground meat, mixing it with your fingers to combine it with the eggs and herbs. Add the matzo meal as needed to bind the meat mixture. Try not to overwork the meat, you want it to just come together, but not be overmixed.

Using your hamburger press or your hands, shape the mixture into about 8 patties, about ¾ of an inch thick. Using your thumb, make a shallow depression in the centre of each burger to prevent puffing up during cooking.

Place the burgers on the grill, close the lid, and cook the burgers until they are no longer pink inside, turning once, about 6 – 8 minutes per side. An instant read thermometer should read 160°F.

Don’t abuse your burgers by pressing with a spatula, pricking with a fork or turning frequently as precious juices will be lost! Tuck into a warm crusty bun and add your favourite toppings!

Copycat Recipes – Famous Mains!

So it was kinda hard to choose which mains to find recipes for. I actually googled, “Most Popular Restaurant Dishes” to see what would come up, and low and behold, I got a few of the beauties below. I did go for some Canadian flavour though, and threw in Swiss Chalet’s famous rotisserie chicken and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, not a kosher issue (other than, you know, the establishment itself not being kosher). I hope you all enjoy!


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp“Bonefish Grill” Bang Bang “Shrimp”

So with this recipe, the only real change is the obvious, using imitation “shrimp” instead of the real McCoy. Other than that, this recipe is pretty kosher friendly!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
2 cups buttermilk*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds imitation “shrimp”

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

* Don’t have buttermilk? Check out my cheat tips here.

Directions:
To make the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a small bowl and then set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and hot sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and set this aside as well.

In a large bowl, combine the panko, onion and garlic powders, basil, oregano, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dip a “shrimp” into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Working in batches, add the “shrimp” to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sweet chili sauce.


“Cheesecake Factory” Louisiana Chicken PastaCheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta

So with this recipe, there were quite a bit of changes needed, as there was a lot mixing of dairy and meat in this recipe. I think I’ve found a happy balance, omitting somethings, and substituting others. I hope you agree!

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup non-dairy milk

For the Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
¾ small red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups non-dairy creamer
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced*
1 (12 ounce) packages bow tie pasta
salt, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.

Directions:
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to the skillet, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the non-dairy creamer, as well as the chicken stock, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the basil, stirring to incorporate, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken.

For the chicken, pound the chicken breasts until they are very thin (the thinner the better). Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and flour. Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then in the milk and then back in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan set to medium-high heat, and fry the chicken until golden crisp and cooked through. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper-lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Once done, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce that has been reducing and toss the pasta to coat. To plate, dish up a healthy portion of the pasta, and top with a golden piece of chicken and the remaining basil.


PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps“P.F. Chang’s” Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s amazing about this recipe is that I didn’t need to change a thing! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water chestnuts, minced
2 cups mushroom, minced
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
12-15 iceberg lettuce leaves*

Special Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
⅜ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons hot water
1-2 tablespoons garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce:

Directions:
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.  Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

In a wok or large frying pan, bring the oil to a high heat. Sauté the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as small as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil (to the oil that was left over from cooking the chicken). Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the hot pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan, and sauté the mixture for a couple minutes then serve in the lettuce leaves with the special sauce.


“Swiss Chalet” Rotisserie ChickenSwiss Chalet Chicken and Dipping Sauce

As a Canadian, how can you not want just a bite of that beautifully, crispy, spinning rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken? Well, it turns out, making it kosher isn’t that hard! In fact, I didn’t have to change a thing! Keep in mind though, that unless you have a rotisserie feature on your oven/bbq, it will not come out exactly the same as the commercials.

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dehydrated tomato soup mix
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon dried savoury
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into a whole chicken. Place the chicken in the bag and let it marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Cook the chicken in a rotisserie oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.

“Swiss Chalet” Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups water
¼ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
6 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
In a saucepan, add the water, tomato juice and all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon juice, cornstarch, final 1 tablespoon water and vegetable oil. Using a whisk, stir the sauce thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water into a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the sauce. While still whisking, add the oil to the sauce. Continue to whisk the sauce while it cooks for a few more minutes and it will thicken up. This will make 3 cups of sauce.

Steak Tartare

Steak tartare

So to round out the end of our look at some raw dishes, how about the classic steak tartare? So I did a little digging into the background on this dish. I had always thought it had something to do with the Tatar people of Central Asia, and how they were so fierce in battle that they didn’t take time to cook their meat, they would just travel with it under their saddles so that the meat was tenderised enough by riding that it could just be eaten raw between bouts of fighting. Apparently this is a kitchen urban legend and the dish really has nothing to do with them at all.

Now here is where it gets a little confusing. The original recipe, which was quite popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was served “à la tartare” or “with tartar sauce”, and really wasn’t anything like our modern day steak tartare. In the early 20th century, they came out with a variation on this recipe called “Steack à l’Americaine” which resembled what we are more familiar with, raw ground beef and raw egg. Over time, the distinction between the two dishes disappeared, with the name from one and the recipe from the other sticking around.

Ingredients

2 pounds trimmed beef rib-eye roast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks
⅓ cup canola oil
6 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained, and minced
3 tablespoons minced parsley*
1 ¾ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
5-6 cornichons, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
french fries, for serving
mixed salad greens, for serving*
toast points, melba toast, crackers, for serving

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley and salad greens.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat.

Directions:

Place beef in the freezer to firm, about 30 minutes; this will make it easier to chop finely. Meanwhile, whisk mustard and egg yolks in a large bowl; while whisking constantly, slowly pour in oil to create a mayonnaise.

Add capers, parsley, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cornichons, and onion, and season with salt and pepper; refrigerate flavourings until ready to use.

Remove beef from freezer and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Transfer beef to bowl of flavourings and stir to combine. Keep beef mixture chilled until ready to serve.

To serve, divide beef mixture into 4 to 6 equal portions, and shape each into an oval disk, or you can get fancy and use a cookie cutter or tin to shape your tartare. Serve immediately with toast points, crackers, fries and greens.