A Real Thousand Island Dressing

Thousand Island Dressing

Yeah, you can make this. Yep. Your own thousand island dressing.

In fact, I’ll give you two ways to make this amazing dressing, one using commercial products and one using your own mayo, ketchup and even your own pickle relish, if you care too. Why bother? Well, whether you use only a couple of prepared ingredients or go to the trouble to make your own, the end result is truly unlike anything you’ve ever had from a jar. And I’m not kidding around. It’s way better.

The first version — written out below — is made using good mayonnaise, pickle relish and ketchup. And that’s a very good basic recipe that can usually be made in about the time it takes to cut up the shallot and garlic and give it a mix. At the end of the recipe, you’ll find how to make your own mayonnaise, some ketchup, and even some pickled sweet relish, if you want a pure dressing with no artificial ingredients at all.

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Argentine Mixed Grill with Chimichurri

Argentine mixed Grill With Chimichurri

Chimichurri is one of those things you have to experience before you really get it. In it’s most basic form (as in the recipe below) it consists mainly of finely chopped parsley and oregano, combined with some garlic, oil and vinegar. But drizzle chimichurri over some grilled steak, sausage, a few succulent shrimp and you have a feast. What those herbs and the silky olive oil and that splash of acidity do for grilled meat is nothing short of fantastic.

So when I set out to come up with a solid chimichurri recipe I could count on and repeat reliably, I knew I’d be firing up the grill, and I also wanted to take advantage of some of the techniques I’ve been learning from reading Francis Mallmann’s cookbook, On Fire. Mallmann is quite an interesting character. He’s a classically trained chef who grew up in Patagonia and after a stretch working in Europe, returned home to apply his classical skills to the traditional ingredients and cooking techniques of his native Argentina. In a nutshell, it comes down to cooking mainly with an open hardwood fire. 

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Silver Queen Crab Cakes with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce

silver queen crab cakes

The origin of the Silver Queen crab cakes recipe is a household mystery here at Discovery Cooking. My lovely wife Carol began making them in the 1990s, I think, though it might have been even earlier.Since then, we’ve refined the recipe a great deal. My best guess is that we came across the original somewhere on Maryland’s eastern shore, which you could rightly call the intersection of Silver Queen corn and blue crabs. If you’re not familiar with Silver Queen, it’s a white corn that’s among the sweetest varieties I’ve ever tasted, in part because we live close enough to the main areas of cultivation that getting ears of Silver Queen the same day they’re picked is not very difficult.

Silver Queen crab cakes are found all over the eastern shore. There are dozens of recipes online, but this one is a bit different from most of the ones I’ve tried. The crab cakes are creamy with just a thin crust and the flavors are perfectly balanced. It’s a cliché, but they really do melt in your mouth. They’re great by themselves or make a really good sandwich.

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Pan Seared Cod and Roasted Vegetables With Classic Aioli

aioli

Aioli is the name for a classic French/Spanish sauce that’s been adopted by the culinary world to include a number of egg-oil emulsions that stray pretty far afield from the original idea. The aioli made for this simple dinner of roasted cod and vegetables is the classic version, prepared the way aioli has been made for several centuries, I’d guess. It’s delicious, rich, full of garlic flavor with just a hint of lemon. It’s perfect for dressing up fish and vegetables.

I’ve actually included two preparation methods — the traditional method using a mortar and pestle, and the modern method using a blender. I use both or either, depending on how much time I’ve got and the demands of the meal I’m making. Aioli can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days. 

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Quick and Easy Hollandaise Sauce

hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce is a basic French sauce that’s an essential part of a cook’s repertoire. It consists of an emulsion of lemon juice and butter, held together with egg yolks. The result is rich and creamy, pale yellow and it’s outstanding on vegetables like asparagus and broccoli, on pan seared or grilled fish or scallops, and perhaps most famously, drizzled over eggs in a classic eggs Benedict.

The classic preparation of hollandaise sauce is done by hand and it’s both tricky and tiring, requiring a good 10-15 minutes of constant whisking. The method below is much quicker, easier and produces more consistent results. I first learned to make this from a Julia Child cookbook many years ago and have tweaked it and played with it until I got it just where I want it.

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Wine-Infused Cranberry Relish

cranberry relish

I was never a fan of the cranberry sauce we had for Thanksgiving. Depending on where we were celebrating, the sauce was either that gelatinous stuff that came from a can, or when my dear mother was cooking, a Jello-based dish with pineapple, carrots and cranberries ground to a pulp.

Last year was different. For the first time in many years, I celebrated Thanksgiving in my own home and made all the dishes, including this amazing cranberry relish. I’m now a fan of cranberry “sauce,” provided it’s made this way.

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Lamb Sliders with Homemade Tzatziki

Lamb Slides and Homemade Tzatziki

Lamb sliders are one of my favorite things. They’re as flavorful as their beef counterparts and maybe more so — especially with some grilled onions, some feta and tzatziki — the creamy Greek condiment that makes the lamb sing (figuratively, of course).

The only trick to making the sliders is finding good ground lamb. If you’re local meat department doesn’t offer it along side the ground beef, you can probably persuade them to grind up enough lamb shoulder to fit your needs. I’m fortunate to live where ground lamb is readily available at several groceries, and when the farm market is open, I can get good free range ground lamb, which is a nice bonus.

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