Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Tomato and Basil BruschettaHow refreshing is Tomato and Basil Bruschetta!

Notice my Title question about Tomato and Basil Bruschetta isn’t a question; it’s a statement.  It’s absolutely the truth.  Only the finest Italian ingredients can pull this off, and I just so happen to have the ingredients to the best recipe on earth for you and your loved ones to personally enjoy what you already love, or what you thought was just an okay appetizer.  My recipe is guaranteed to kick your opinion up a notch no matter what the case!

Bruschetta

Bruschetta Essentials

First you need to understand that there are various recipes and different styles of Bruschetta; Mushroom Bruschetta, for example, but there is usually only one specific recipe on the menu at your local favorite Italian restaurant’e and that’s Tomato and Basil Bruschetta.  The secret to great Bruschetta, no matter which variation you choose, is fresh ingredients.  The ones that make a difference anyway, and the one that makes the biggest difference is Basil.  Never EVER use dried basil.  Dried Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Majoram and Sage are all great examples of seasonings that taste wonderful when they are dehydrated.  But, I’m telling you, Basil is not one of them.  It doesn’t even taste like the same ingredient side by side as a fresh Herb vs. the dried shaker style.  It’s such a difference for me, that I’m even offended by the thought of using dried Basil.  So now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s dive into this recipe, shall we.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Ingredients:

2 Roma Tomatoes
1/4 Chopped Red Onion
1 Chopped Green Onion (Scallions)
1 Large Garlic Clove or 2 average 5 Large Chopped
Several FRESH Basil Leaves
1 tsp Italian Seasoning (Oregano, Thyme, Majoram, Sage, Rosemary, Basil)
1/4 tsp Margarita Salt or Kosher, Sea Salt if you prefer
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil

Chop all Veggies very small, especially the onion, but don’t turn your tomatoes into soup.  Combine all ingredients and serve your Tomato and Basil Bruschetta over the top of your favorite toasted Italian bread or French Baguette.

Mac and Cheese Clarkston Union Style

Mac and CheeseMac and Cheese from a Box!

If you haven’t seen the Mac and Cheese special that Kid Rock appears in on “Diners, Drive In’s and Dives“, then you’re in for a real treat!  The Clarkston Union has a Macaroni and Cheese recipe that will knock your socks off.  Personally I’ve never been a real big fan of the standard box recipe, but my kids sure love it, and if it’s on the menu when we dine out for something a little more exotic than what kid taste buds are ready for, then we order it.  I don’t know if you’re like me, though, anything my kids order, I usually try for myself.  Usually when it comes to kids meals in restaurants, especially Mac and Cheese, I’m rarely impressed.  And since Macaroni and Cheese is such a big deal for children, you would think that the recipe would be a little more perfected in restaurants by now.  I mean, don’t you think it’s sad that a box of Kraft or even the “Generic” brand has got your local Chefs beat?  Well not at Clarkston Union, and I’m going to show you how to take a regular box of Mac and Cheese and turn it into a Clarkston Union Style Macaroni.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

1 Box of Cooked Macaroni
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Chopped Onion (Optional)
1/4 cup of Butter
1/2 cup of Half and Half or Cream
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Cheese packet
3 slices of Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 tbsp Bread Crumbs or Panko

Follow the Mac and Cheese box instructions to cook the Macaroni.  Strain, add the olive oil and stir it all together.  In a hot pan add the butter, then 1/4 cup (half) of the Half and Half or Cream (Also the onions if you’re using them).  Add the dry ingredients, Nutmeg and Pepper.  Bring to a boil and add a touch more of the cream just to calm the boil, then add the powdered cheese mix and then the Macaroni Pasta.  Stir while adding the rest of the Half and Half.  Be careful not to drown the pasta but be sure that it’s cream and not dried out when you are done stirring.  Remove from the heat and add enough Mac and Cheese to cover the bottom of an oven dish.  Add the Cheddar Cheese, then cover with the remaining Macaroni.  Add the Mozzarella Cheese and Panko, then Bake at 425 degrees in the center of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Let the Mac and Cheese Cool for a few minutes then serve.

Soy Sauce Chicken or Shoyu Chicken

Soy Sauce Chicken

North Americans Call it Soy Sauce Chicken!

Soy Sauce Chicken is what the Hawaiian’s call Shoyu Chicken. Obviously a Soy based recipe involving chicken.  Not too complicated, but it does take a good hour and a half to get to the finished product.  Reduction is your friend when it comes to cooking this recipe, so you do need to pay attention to what you are doing; to an extent anyway.  Once you have all of the ingredients put together, all you have to do to manage the cooking is flip the chicken back and forth in a timely fashion; every 25 to 30 minutes.  In between I usually do other things.  I actually got a work out in and exercised in the back yard the entire time I filmed this recipe.

In the video, I mention that you can further reduce the sauce after you’ve pulled the chicken from the pot.  The reason why this is a good idea is because you can lay down another layer of sweet caramelized sauce over the top of the chicken once you pull it from the grill, and you can add it to your rice.  My biggest problem is that I don’t like to waste.  If I can flip the reduction and turn it into an awesome sauce, that’s a win-win for everyone.  I mean, we make gravy from Beef Roasts and turkey don’t we?  Exactly!

Soy Sauce Chicken

So there’s one of two things you want to do when you’re making this Soy Sauce Chicken.  You can add all the ingredients at the beginning and have a perfect sauce just waiting for you after you’ve taken the Soy Sauce Chicken to the Grill(which is easier and more ideal), or you can spare yourself the sugar content and control how much you add when you reduce the Shoyu Chicken Sauce.  Because we are reducing, the salt from the Soy Sauce is going to impose an overwhelming flavor if you don’t add other ingredients to get it under control.  Among these ingredients is Vinegar, more Sugar and water.  And it’s simple.  You add twice the sugar, half the vinegar and an equal amount of water.  That means, if you started out with 1 cup of sugar at the beginning of the recipe, you are going to add a second when you reduce the sauce; 1/2 a cup of white vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of water.  Taste it.  If it’s too bitter or too salty, just add more sugar.  Bring this to a boil and reduce while you’re grilling the Soy Sauce Chicken.

Soy Sauce Chicken Ingredients:

1 dozen mixed chicken pieces, wings, thighs, legs and Breasts
8 oz Soy Sauce then fill to the top of chicken with water
2 Green Onions
4 slices of Ginger
1 cup of Brown Sugar
1 tsp Anise
Fresh Cilantro (small hand full)

Bring all the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to medium, stirring and turning the chicken occasionally (every 25 to 30 minutes).  Cooking time will take approximately 1 1/2 hours to fully absorb the flavor and get tender enough to take it to the grill.  Be sure to save the leftover sauce in the bottom of the pan for basting and also for seasoning over rice.  Grilling on High heat will only take about 5 minutes.  It’s not required but it puts a nice texture and some beautiful grill marks on the skin.  I hope you try this Soy Sauce Chicken recipe soon!