Today’s Gift…It’s Not Just Another Day…

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The Gift of Time

 

Just got this from a friend.  It’s a special message that someone in your life will appreciate today.  It could be anyone and today might be exactly the right day to send this to them.  Share it…and don’t forget to share the gift with yourself!!

Click on this Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?feature=player_embedded&v=nj2ofrX7jAk

Enjoy.

Blooming Flowers…Blooming Hearts

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Hot! Guys, you are about to be the most popular guy of the day!! 

English: Blooming weeds Strangle weed flowers.

Blooming Flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If some of the ladies in your life love flowers, now’s the time to read my blog!  If you follow my extremely simple instructions, I guarantee you will be awarded  substantial WOW! (Winning Over Women) Points–today, right now, not tomorrow, but at this moment!! One of my blog followers sent this to me.  Check this out boys.  Click the below link.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/27920977?title=0&%3bbyline=0&%3bportrait=0href=

Ok, so maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lady on earth that wouldn’t love this little video clip.  Take my word for it–send this clip to them and you are in for a great day of appreciation and attention.

Who should you send this to?  The special lady in your life can be your Mom, wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, executive assistant, secretary, neighbor, friend or new or old flame.  Don’t be afraid–just send it to anyone you want.  It’ll brighten their day and brighten your status in their lives.  Guaranteed.

And if you want to get some at-a-boys, applauds and serious appreciation from your guy friends, tell them to check out this post on http://hotcookingguys.com.  Otherwise, they will be catching up to you for the next week.

It’s pathetically simple guys!  Just do ONE of the following options: Send the ladies in your life:

1.  The link to this post.

2.  The link to this blog with a note to check out the “Blooming Flowers…Blooming Hearts” post

3.  Copy and paste the following link to an email and send it to her.

Hot! Guys, if you really want to make some serious Bonus WOW! Points, send them a personalized note to them when you do one of the above tasks.  Oh! and if you brought home REAL flowers tonight as a surprise, who knows what could happen!!  It might be more than just dinner!  Yesssss!

Have some fun with this guys.  It’ll be a great day.  And I’ll bet the ladies in your life will pass this onto others who will love them for it.

Nymphaea spp. from the San Francisco Conservat...

Nymphaea from the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding…Love at First Taste

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Paella Festival

Paella Festival (Photo credit: elsua)

About two weeks ago, one of my friends invited us to their home for an outdoor Paella Festival. It was intended to be a mini-version of the one’s they hold in Spain, only it was held in Pittsburgh, PA.  Close enough I suppose.  We had two very different paellas, prepared by two very talented chefs: one of them a food editor for the Post Gazette, our Pittsburgh newspaper. The other chef, and host for the day, was my friend Mike, a spectacular guy and professional chef that prepares the most amazing food for private parties. I’ve worked beside him a couple of times, and I learn something magical every time. The day was a little chilly and gloomy, and it rained for a short time, but we had a nice tent to protect us from the elements, a warm campfire, a couple of portable propane-fired warmers, plenty of wine and beer and great company to share the afternoon.The paella’s were spectacular. Mike’s was a ‘Cajun style’ paella, made with his own homemade smoked andouille sausage, a deeply carmelized tomato soffrito, and sautéed shrimp added to the paella pan for the final pairing of flavors, textures and eye appeal. The other paella was of the more traditional style, prepared with a lighter, more delicate soffrito, chicken, spanish chorizo, shrimp, clams and mussels. Both were made with homemade chicken stocks and a nice big dash of saffron to authenticate the dishes. Frankly, anything made with saffron is amazingly special. Cooking the paella on outdoor fires gave us all a chance to get a flavor for the way it was prepared back in the ‘old days’. They were terrific! Here’s some pictures.

Mike’s Amazing Cajun Syle Paella

While our two chefs prepped the paella, the guests were expected to bring appetizers, salads, something to go with the main course, or a dessert.

 I had been itching to prepare a bread pudding I had been working on for almost a year. I had experimented with it quite a bit, and I thought I finally had it right. I had literally researched 10’s of recipes, read reviews, tried different ingredients and tested different combinations of flavors to cobble together a very special, uncommon bread pudding. I knew this would be a discerning group of friends–they would be honest about the bread pudding, but appreciative of the effort, even if it didn’t turn out perfect.

So Hot! Guys, let me tell you about this Bread Pudding.  If your lady loves chocolate, she is going to love you big time if you prepare this dessert.

Just so you know, I call this recipe “My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding”.    That’s because, after My Kathy had her first bite, she stated “she would kill for it”, and proceeded to take physical possession of the remaining leftovers.  My Kathy loves, loves, loves chocolate.  I love, love, love bread pudding.  So, this recipe was created to satisfy both of our passions for a special occasion dessert.

Our Guest Chef’s Traditional Paella

Hot! Guys, read on because this is one of those recipes you will want to have in your repertoire.  I personally guarantee you will be awarded serious WOW! Points with this one, even if your main squeeze isn’t passionate about chocolate.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, it had to be special, made with high-quality ingredients that would turn out a memorable experience, not just an average experience.   As I already stated, it has chocolate—high quality chocolate.  I know very few women who won’t hug a Hot! Guy bearing chocolate!  I wanted the chocolate to be in chunks, spread throughout the dessert like pockets of diamonds waiting to be discovered.  I wanted the bread to be unexpected–a special surprise that one rarely sees in a common bread pudding.  It had to be smooth and silky, soft and pleasing–a sensual texture in the mouth.  And balanced–it had to have just the right amount of the sweetness–not overpowering in any way.  I wanted it to have layers of flavors and textures that could be individually tasted , not a glob of blended undistinguishable flavors.

It had to be souffle-like–light and airy, but rich so that just a little square would be enough to satiate her appetite without being heavy at the end of a romantic meal.  Instead, it would brighten the end of her dinner when accompanied by a glass of Extra-Dry Champagne, a Tawny Port or a hot and steamy Cappuccino.

And it had to be stupidly easy to make.  It had to have just a few great ingredients creating a complex, satisfying dessert.  So simple, that any one of my Hot! Guy followers could make it, knowing with near certainty that it would come out perfectly every time.

Just so you know, I got so many compliments on this dessert from the Paella guests, that everyone wanted the recipe and insisted I post it on the blog.  I barely got a chance to take a picture before it was gone–totally gone.  I had some leftover ingredients and made another batch the next day to give to some of my ‘at home’ friends.  The calls the next day were very encouraging.  There was obviously a lot of “killing’ going on that weekend in my neighborhood.

OK Hot! Guys, this is not an inexpensive dessert.  But, if it’s just you and your main squeeze sharing it, or just two couples, you can easily cut this recipe in half, and you’ll still have plenty leftover for the morning after.  By the way, it’s just as good cold as it is warm out of the oven.  Try it!  I’ll bet you’ll love it too!!  And let me know how many Bonus WOW! Points you were awarded for this one.  I’ll bet it’s a big number.

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 35 mins | Makes: About 16 servings | Difficulty:Easy

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 12 stale croissants, cut into bite size cubes (See Notes)
  • 12 ounces Nestle’s or Other High Quality Chocolate Chunks: Milk, Semi-sweet, Dark or a mix
  • 7 cups heavy cream
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vanilla
  • Zest of one orange (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°.  Place oven rack in middle of the oven.

2. Layer croissants and chocolate chunks into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Two layers should do it.  Just make sure you have some of the chocolate chunks on the top layer so it’ll melt all the way down to the bottom of the pan.

3. Mix cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla in bowl and pour over the top of croissant layers.

4. Bake for 35 minutes or just a little more until top lightly browns and the texture is souffle-like. Careful to not let top burn.

5. Remove from oven, let cool to warm and serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just by itself.

Notes:

A. This can be easily scaled to a smaller or larger quantity.

B. Instead of croissants you can use stale French baguettes as well as challah bread, or my favorite is to use 1/2 croissants and 1/2 challah.

C. I added some golden raisins to one of the batches.  Not too many, but they added a nice layer of flavor and texture.

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection

Odd Couples, Watermelon and Chili Oil

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For those of us old enough to remember the movie or TV series called the “Odd Couple“, you know the plot was all about the ups and downs of two recently divorced and very different guys living together in a smallish New York City apartment.  Felix was the worrying, fussy, conservative, martini drinking type, while Oscar was the care-free, sloppy, live in the moment, beer slugging type.   Audiences were entertained by how they managed to stay friends despite their many differences.

After the movie became a huge success, the popular TV series took the oddities of their daily relationship struggles to the next level, entertaining fans for years.  In the end, the stories about their lives together always made us laugh, because people can be fascinated by how odd couples, unusual matches, opposite personalities, or widely disparate cultures can find ways to work things out.  The series was not the most intellectually challenging, certainly nothing too complicated, but there was always a life lesson in each episode.

The truth is that opposites are attractive to us because it’s fun to get to know someone who isn’t like you.   The fact is that each of us are affected by the people around us.  Some of them teach us things.  Some of them bring out the worst in us.  Some of them bring out the best in us.  Some of them just accept us for who we are.  I submit there is value in every relationship because each one forces us to constantly test where we are in our personal evolution.  Sometimes we make dramatic changes because of the impact others have on us.  At other times we make imperceptible changes in our perspectives, attitudes and behaviours because people with different points of view, philosophies and mannerisms make us more aware of the impact we have on those around us as well.

I honestly believe life is more interesting when it is less predictable–when we are open to adventure and exploration with the people around us and with ourselves.  We love it when something surprises us.  For example, is there any guy out there that isn’t thrilled when our ladies show up for date-night in a new dress or with a new piece of jewelry?  And Guys, I’m pretty sure our ladies love it when we surprise them with something unexpected–like flowers on a day other than their birthday, your anniversary or on valentine’s day.  (Hot! Guys–do it now!!  Call the Florist!!  Order flowers ‘Just Because She Makes Everyday a Special Day Because She is in Your Life’.  Use your words, but do it!!  There’s some serious WOW! Points right there. I guarantee it.)

I think it’s hard for another person to be your soul mate if they always think like you, live like you, love the same things you do or play like you.  I agree that as a relationship progresses we discover many things we have in common, but we also discover more things we have in contrast.  There are some who may disagree, but I believe relationships last longer and remain vibrantly sustainable when there is always something new to discover about your commonalities and differences.  In the end, it’s good to know you aren’t like everyone else out there, and that someone loves you because of your differences.  That’s a pretty powerful validation of who you are and who you will likely become, and good reason to celebrate the differences you and your soul mate have.

watermelon

S&B La-Yu chili oil - Momotaro Rahmen

Get Chili Oil in Asian Food Stores or at Whole Foods Store

So what does Watermelon and Chili Oil have to do with all this?  Well, let me ask this:  would you have ever guessed watermelon and chili oil could ever be companions in a salad?  No, me either.  But this Odd Combination is not only compatible, they do a fantastic dance together in a salad with Arugula, Pistachios and Goat Cheese!

A couple of weekends ago, we had this salad at a neighbor’s home.  We were shocked by how good it was.  We tasted the cool sweetness of the watermelon followed by the peppery arugula and then this slight spark of heat from the chili oil in the back of the mouth.  It was not spicy it was just an amazing experience.  While our neighbor didn’t have a recipe, per se, she told us the general ingredients.  I spent yesterday experimenting with the recipe, and last night we served it to 11 dinner guests in our home.  Virtually EVERYONE raved about Kathy’s meatloaf and the Watermelon, Arugula and Chili Oil Salad.  To a person, everyone asked if I would blog it so they could make it while watermelon was still in season.

Guys, this is one of those recipes that couldn’t be simpler.  I know you can cut up watermelon?  Can you pull Arugula out of the bag and put it in a bowl?  Can you buy some toasted pistachios or pine nuts and add them in?  Can you squeeze a lemon and add some chili oil?  I’m pretty sure you can find goat cheese at the store and crumble it on top.  Guys, that’s it.  Couldn’t be simpler.  I guarantee this salad will surprise and delight her.  She will have discovered something about your cooking skills that will make you an interesting person.  Serve it with a chilled New Zealand Marlborough County Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp Pinot Grigio and you have an incredible luncheon salad or a side salad for burgers or beef off the grill.  There’s major WOW! Points for this one too.

Make it a double play!  Buy her some unexpected flowers and make her this unexpected salad combination.  That’s serious WOW! Points in the bank!  Good luck.

 

Watermelon, Arugula, and Chili Oil Salad

 

Prep Time: 15 mins | Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 4 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes

    Looks Great! Tastes Fantastic!

  • 2 cups arugula or watercress
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tbsp chili oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios (toasted)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta salata, goat or feta cheese, crumbled
  • fleur de sel (optional)

 

Directions:

 

1. Whisk together lemon juice, chili oil and salt in a large bowl, whisking until well mixed.

 

2. Add watermelon to bowl and mix well.

 

3. Let watermelon marinate (macerate) in the dressing in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Taste the watermelon. The sweetness of the watermelon should be followed by the subtle heat from the chili oil at the back of the tongue. Add more chili oil if desired, to taste.

 

4. Just before serving, add the arugula or watercress and nuts and toss to coat well. Then sprinkle with cheese and fleur de sel (if using).

 

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection
Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager

 

Chef Pierre’s Turn On the Hot! Seat

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Pierre and Ryan–Friends in Food and Life

Yesterday was a special day for Pierre, his family, and for me.  From a earlier post [Chef Ryan on the Hot! Seat, June 30, 2012] you know our son Ryan has attended the Culinary School at Manchester Bidwell for the past year.  Over the past months, he has made a great friend named Pierre, also attending the school. 

In that earlier post, you also know that each student gets to have a day where they are the “Executive Chef” for the day.  In effect, they plan an entire meal, supervising its preparation and service.  When I attended Ryan’s day in the Hot! seat, I had a blast witnessing these young chef’s doing their very best to make their day a Hot! Day.  It was quite impressive. 

I’ve also enjoyed getting to know Pierre during his visits to our home with Ryan, and I was truly honored to be invited to partake of the meal he planned for his Challenge Day at the Institute.

Like the others, Pierre has been planning for this challenge for weeks. Prior to his assigned Challenge Day, he was responsible for selecting and creating the recipes for the multicourse menu he chose. He then collaborated with the professional staff chefs to order, purchase and cost out the ingredients for the menu items. He created a detailed workplan and timeline for the 14 or so student chefs that would be under his guidance for the day as they prepared, cooked, sauced and served the meal to about 20 or so people.  Yesterday, Pierre had to lead and guide the student chefs through the execution phase of the dinner and be ready to serve it at precisely 2:30 pm.

The most daunting element of the Challenge is that the students and professional staff rate the meal and his performance as the head chef for the day. There’s nothing more challenging than having to tell people what to do in a multi-tasking environment, and then have the workers who performed the tasks critique the outcomes.

Awesome Salad of Spinach, Balsamic and Strawberries

Yesterday, I arrived a little earlier than I had planned, and  had a chance to see Pierre in the last stages of executing his responsibilities.  He did not seem the least bit nervous or rattled. Pierre always seems to have this big ole’ smile that just beams ear-to-ear, and it was there in full bloom yesterday.  He appeared in-control and confident that the team of student chefs had performed admirably and expertly to create his menu exactly as he desired.

Pierre invited me to join his Dad, Mom, Grandfather and younger sister at the family table.  I was again delighted for this honor.  We had a wonderful time admiring Pierre’s performance and chatting while all the great stuff was happening around us.  His Grandfather, also named Pierre, has a smile like Pierre and he didn’t stop beaming the whole time.  He could not have been more proud of his grandson. 

My Favorite-Curried Cauliflower Soup

At one point, I caught Pierre’s Mom shedding a few tears.  That’s OK Mom–we understand the softer side of pride from our Mom’s–it’s what makes us Guys human beings.   Dads show pride in a different ways.  In this case, Pierre’s Dad totally consumed every morsel of food we were served.  There is no bigger compliment than that!  And his sister and I agreed the soup was the star of the meal, although it was all fantastic!!  A little later, Pierre’s girlfriend joined us, and I’m thinking she’s pretty happy to see she is dating a Hot! Guy.  Oh yeah!

Of course, I took pictures, knowing I’d blog this special event in Pierre’s road to graduation.  I even asked them to prepare another plate of salad because I had forgotten to take a picture in my haste to dig in when it got served.

Fish and Pork and Rice and Broccoli–Beautiful Plating

The plating was terrific, the food tasted fresh and healthy, and the menu items worked well together to create a great tasting dinner!! Dessert was even a flaming specialty to make sure we ended Pierre’s meal on a Hot! note.  Compliments were flowing freely among the student chefs and the professional staff chefs, because they were pleased with the outcome knowing they had each contributed much to the dinner.

Ryan and Pierre have come a long way since beginning Culinary School, and we couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished, and of the potential they both have as Chef’s in their newly found career.  Pretty cool (or should I say Hot!) to be a young person with a lifetime of mastering recipes, creating menus and learning cooking techniques before them.

Flaming Apples Foster for a Hot! Guy Finish

Get Flirting with Mussels

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Mussels and barnacles in the intertidal near N...

I know, I know…not everyone loves mussels, but personally, I think they are one of the most romantic things to share with your main squeeze.  There is just something about these jewels of black shell filled with little morsels of tasty shellfish that makes flirting with you special lady so easy to accomplish.  Somehow, the act of using your hands to pick them out of a steaming bowl of the broth placed between you, plucking the meat out of the shell, and then dunking crusty bread or ‘frites’ when all the mussels are gone makes eating them an almost sensuous experience.  And of course the shared beer or wine makes it an even more romantic experience.

Almost every culture in the world has recognized mussels as an important part of their cuisine.

 

For example, in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, mussels are often served with french fries or bread.  In Belgium, mussels are sometimes served with fresh herbs and flavorful vegetables in a stock of butter and white wine.  Belgian beer is almost universally associated with them in most places around the world.  In the Netherlands, they are sometimes served fried in batter or breadcrumbs, particularly at take-out or at street vendor locations.  In France, you will find baked mussels along some of the beaches in the South of France.

In Italy, mussels are often mixed with other seafood, or eaten with pasta.  I have an awesome recipe for this in my collection.  I’ll share it sometime soon.

In Spain, they are consumed mostly steamed by boiling white wine, onions and herbs, and serving the broth with lemon. They can also be eaten as a sort of croquette using the mussel meat, shrimp and other fish in a béchamel sauce, then breaded and fried.

In Turkey, they are either covered with flour and fried or filled with rice and served cold,  usually with beer.

They are prepared in Ireland by boiling them in seasoned vinegar, serving the “bray” (broth) as an accompanying hot drink.

In Cantonese cuisine, mussels are cooked in a broth of garlic and fermented black beans.

In New Zealand, they are served in a chili or garlic-based vinaigrette, processed into fritters and fried, or used as the base for a chowder.

In India, mussels are popular in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka-Bhatkal, and Goa. They are either prepared with drumsticks, breadfruit or other vegetables, or filled with rice and coconut paste with spices and served hot.

Mussels are just not that hard to prepare well.  Guys! You can do this!  If your lady likes them, and you serve them as an appetizer or as a main course with a fresh green salad, crusty bread, beer or wine or her favorite iced tea, you will have made her day, and I’m guessing yours too!

In Lou’s culture, we keep the recipe simple.  These little mollusks just don’t need a lot of help from heavy spicing or sauces.  And if this takes you more than 10 minutes to prepare and serve, you are over thinking the process or overcooking the mussels.  And if you’ve never had them before, try this recipe because I’m pretty certain they’ll become a mainstay of your eating-out or eating-home menus.

Mussels In White Wine

Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 18 min | Makes: 2 servings | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sweet onions, chopped

    Get Flirting With Mussels

  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine (prefer Pinot Grigio or Prosecco)
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 pounds live mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 5 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crusty bread

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil.

2. When the oil is hot, saute the celery, onions and garlic until translucent and tender.

3. Add the wine and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

4. Add the mussels.

5. Sprinkle the thyme, parsley, butter and several grinds of fresh black pepper on top of the mussels.

6. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

7. Simmer the mussels for 5 to 8 minutes until the shells open and the mussels are done.

8. Discard any that do not open.

9. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

10. Divide the mussels and broth between two bowls (or share them right out of the pot) and serve with crusty bread and a spoon to enjoy the broth.

Notes:

A. Careful with the salt. It really doesn’t need a lot because the mussels tend to be salty.

B. If desired, add just a little cream at the end of cooking to offer another layer of taste.

C. I’ve also added a jigger of Anisette or Ouzo at the end.  Awesome!! For a change of pace.

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection

Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager

 

Cooked mussels DSC09244

Properly Cooked Mussels