Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sicilian Margarita, the perfect drink to celebrate memorial day!

Celebrate the American Experience with Sicilian and Mexican deliciousness!

It is memorial day weekend in the US. 
I'm sure you will be at a BBQ or picnic or party this weekend as most American are. 

Memorial day is an entire weekend that we honor and celebrate our soldiers who fought to preserve and protect our American democracy. 

While you are celebrating, don't forget these soldiers who fought and died to protect our flag were indeed Immigrants! 

In my father's family alone, 5 brothers, all second generation Sicilians served in the military and three served and fought in World War II. 

Think about your own family's history. Unless you are Native American, your family came here from another country, seeking either asylum from religious or political oppression, poverty, or just a better opportunity.

Either way, we are a nation of immigrants, 
So what better cocktail to enjoy but a Sicilian Margarita. 

Sicilians and Mexicans are two immigrant groups who were and are victims of bigotry, unfairness and even discrimination, yet still work their asses off to achieve the American dream and still fill the ranks of the U.S.Military with honor. 
Americans of all races, genders, colors and creeds defend American Ideals

God Bless America!  Now have a drink!

Sicilian Margarita.
I just returned from a Magical trip to Sicily and in late spring, among the spring onions and fava beans and wild asparagus and wild fennel, the markets are brimming with the blood oranges and lemons and they are AMAZING! 

In the US it is also blood orange season so get yours now. If the are not available, try Cara Cara oranges, clementines or regular Valencia oranges, but please be sure to squeeze the fresh juice. As for the lemon juice, fresh is best, but there is bottled Sicilian lemon juice at many local grocers. It's great, and supports Sicilian farmers so I have no problem using that, especially if I am making a lot.
Please note that since the blood orange juice is so sweet, you needn't add triple sec or any sweeteners! 
Here is single drink recipe and a recipe ratio by parts so you can make drinks or pitchers!
Also--to last a little longer on a hot day, try a Sicilian Margarita Frizzante!. 
Simply fill a tall glass with ice, pour over a single Sicilian margarita and then top with sparkling water --Frizzante!

And PULEEEZE...don't get al stupid with your choice of tequila here. It's a fruit drink. Buy a decent Silver that makes you feel good... but remember there is no need for $75 stuff here. I find Espolon to be a perfect mixing tequila that is clean and doesn't give me a hangover either. But do your thing. 

For one drink
2 oz blood orange juice
1.5 oz silver tequila
.25 oz Mescal ( optional...but...)
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Stir, pour over ice, Garnish with a lemon or blood orange wedge. Enjoy

Bulk recipe
4 part blood orange juice
3 parts Silver tequila
1 part lemon juice
mescal to taste 

Sicilian Margarita, American Immigrant experience in a glass. Enjoy your day!

Don't forget to follow me!
Ric Orlando
Chef/Consultant/Speaker/ and...I do Parties
FOOD: New World Bistro Bar, Albany NY
PODCASTS: One Million Stringbeans  and  Clam Bellies and Apizza

FB  ricthechef
Twitter chefricorlanddo

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Texas Caviar, scoop and eat! By Ric Orlando

Texas Caviar.This is a simple yet addictive dish.You can eat it scooped onto chips at your desk at work as an alternative to hummus, but you can also...Present it on a party table...Make a sexy hors d'oeuvre with it...Top grilled fish or pork chops with it...Toss with with hot or cold pasta, rice, cous cous or quinoa for a healthy meal or side dish.
Simple, delish, healthy, lasts forever...sounds like a partner for life!

You can use canned beans or cook them from dry. I am not adverse to using good quality canned beans because they are always perfect. Too often beens cooked from dry are either too broken down, or worse, too hard. Hard beans suck and have no place in a good kitchen. They are indigestible and are not nutritious. 
So here is my quick and easy version of this classic dish. You can cut back on the heat if you like, just keep it a secret from me.

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and neatly diced
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and neatly diced
1 small red onion, neatly diced
stalks celery, neatly diced
1 medium fresh tomato, neatly diced
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup mild hot sauce like Texas Pete, Frank's or Crystal
1 tbls Cajun Seasoning 
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup EVOO 

Mix vegetables together in a bowl.
Pour over dressing ingredients.
Now add the blackeyed peas and allow to sit at room temp for 20 -30 minutes before refrigerating,
Store covered in the fridge.
Lasts for a week

How to cook blackeyed peas from dry.

I'm going to give you my quick soak method, where you can make dried beans perfectly without overnight soaking.
 Makes about 1 quart.

1 1/2 cups blackeyed peas, dry, pickled over for stones and broken pieces.
6 cups plus as needed water
2 bay leaves 
2 tsp salt (Pay attention! This is for use later, never cook beans in salted water!!!)

Put the peas in a colander and rinse well. 
Put in a heavy pot and cover with water by two inches.
Bring to a rolling boil. Allow to boil for 45 minutes then turn off heat.  Let the beans soak for 15 minutes then drain. 
Put the beans back in the pot with the 6 cups of water and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low so that your water is just perking a gentle boil. 
Cook for 15-20 minute slowly and then taste a pea.
Is it still chalky? Keep cooking and come back in 10 minutes.
They will soon be pefect, not chalky, not mushy.
Now here is the secret. When they are done DO NOT STRAIN.
Add the salt to the cooking liquid and store the beans in that liquid.
Beans need to be packed in liquid or they will dry out all over again.
Strain them when you are ready to make bean salad but store them in their cooking liquid.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Saigon Street Style Calamari and My Vietnamese Salad by Ric Orlando

Two New World Classics
Saigon Street Style Calamari and My Vietnamese Salad

Though I have no one real favorite cuisine, if I could think of one region that mesmerizes me more than others it would be Southeast Asia. The intensity of the flavors absolutely makes my head spin. Tonight we’ll make and eat the New World Classic dishes that rely on the flavors of Southeast Asia. You’ll cherish these recipes for ever.

Let's start with my signature Vietnamese salad. I have always loved the mix of raw veggies, sprouts and herbs in a good Vietnamese salad. I have made it with so many ingredients; green mango and papaya, bitter lettuces, long beans, shaved melon ... and they are all great, but they have limited seasons. I wanted this to be a year round dish on my menu so I worked it to the existing set up of cabbage, carrots, daikon, cukes, scallions, sprouts, herbs, peanuts and just a bit of lettuce. When designing the dressing I originally went with a basic Nuoc Cham; fish sauce, shallot, lime, sugar water. But I needed more tang and that is where the tamarind comes in. This dressing is so addictive.

Now onto to my beloved Saigon Street Style Calamari dish. When this dish evolved, it started as a presentation for soft shell crabs on a mess of cucumbers, rice and herbs with my basic Satay sauce (the recipe is below). Crispy crabs, fresh salad, peanut sauce; what's not to love?
I wanted the shells to crisp without an excessive amount of breading. I tried a few flours, but after a few experiments with corn starch, chestnut flour and tapioca, I settled upon fine white rice flour because it did exactly what I wanted. It added a crisp but very thin shell to the crabs. Well, after crab season ended, I had to keep going with this presentation; the peanut sauce, the cucumbers, the mess of herbs, the hot chile sauce! It was just too good to run for a few short weeks during soft shell crab season. After a few earnest tries on shrimp, perch and scallops (all good), we tried calamari and calamari it was and will be! Alas, a signature dish was born.
There was only one adjustment to make.
The satay sauce was just a little too thick for the delicate calamari so I had to thin it out without sacrificing its luxurious flavor. I tried lime juice and rice vinegar, too tart. I tried sugar water, too sweet. Then it hit me that tamarind water would be perfectly tart without being to citric or vinegary. I went to the panty to get the tamarind concentrate and spied three nicely labeled quarts of my Vietnamese dressing. Any chef loves a shortcut, one less prep item to add to the list, so I whisked a little Vietnamese dressing into the peanut sauce base and ..well, the rest is history, really.

After Blackened String beans, this is the biggest selling appetizer of both New World restaurants. We only use Rhode Island calamari and i have estimated that in the last 10 years I have purchases well over 50,000 pounds of calamari. Supporting Local, more or less.
Get some tamarind Concentrate at you local Indian, Asian or Online market. It's a life changer.

New World Classic Vietnamese Salad

VEGGIES Included but not limited to
Cabbage, shaved
Crispo lettuce, shaved
carrots, julienne
daikon radish, julienne
cucumbers, peeled and sliced into half moons
scallions, chopped
mung bean sprouts
chopped peanuts
basil, Thai or cinnamon basil, mint, cilantro, torn into pieces
I like to cut everything not too small, as if it were going to be a stir fry

1/2 cup palm or brown sugar
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate * Asian or Indian market
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Heat the vinegar and water and pour over the sugar and tamarind. Dissolve the sugar and tamarind in the warm water and vinegar. Then add the oil, fish sauce and sesame seeds. Whisk together well.

At New World we layer mix of cabbage, crispy lettuce, carrots, scallions, mung bean sprouts, cucumbers, daikon radish, mint, cilantro, basil and chopped peanut for our Vietnamese salad and we serve it in a bowl with chopsticks.

Drizzle the dressing over generously.

Saigon Street Style Calamari with Tamarind Peanut Sauce
Serves 4
Chef’s Note: Frying at home shouldn't be a hassle. Billions of people do it worldwide.Remember to always have a tight fitting lid on hand JUST INB BASE there is a flare up in the oil. NEVER add water to oil. If by rare chance the oil flares up don't panic. Simply cover the pan, turn off the heat and allow it to cool down for about 10 minutes. No worries.

24 ounces calamari (tubes and tentacles)
2 cups or more white rice flour
Black pepper
Peanut or sunflower oil for frying

Garnish Salad
Julienne cucumbers
Mung bean sprouts

Make your sauce ( below)
Set up your bowls with generous handsful of julienne cucumbers, cilantro springs and mung bean sprouts in big nests. 

Heat oil in a wok or dutch oven to 375. Use a fryer thermometer or candy thermometer.
Season the flour well.
Fry in small batches to keep the oil temperature from dropping too much,
Add the calamari a handful at a time and toss to coat with flour. Carefully add to the flour and fry for one minute,. It needed get dark brown, the rice flour with remain off white when crispy. Remove from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon.
Allow the oil 30-60 seconds after removing each batch to come back up to heat.

Chile Sauce
1/4 cup Chile Garlic sauce
2 tablespoons sriracha
2 tablespoons lime juice

Tamarind-Peanut Sauce
1 cup Ric’s basic peanut sauce (recipe below)
1/2 cup Vietnamese dressing (recipe below)

Peanut Sauce Base
Chef’s Note: This is also the sauce I use for satay, thinned with a bit of coconut milk. It’s so good you’ll want to use it on everything!

1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems and bottom halves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoon light brown sugar or palm sugar
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4  fresh jalapeno
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

Making the base for peanut sauce. make sure to mince up those cilantro stems or your base will be stringy

In a food processor, puree first 9 ingredients well, then add peanut butter and coconut milk.
Store leftovers chilled and covered for up top one month.

Get more of my food pics and ideas on

Thai Italian Love--- Panang Bolognese by Ric orlando

Thai-Italian Love Panang Curry Pappardelle Bolognese
By Ric Orlando
Serves 4
This is the BOMB!
Ha, this dish has a story. About 15 years ago I was a guest on the PBS TV show EasyThai Cooking
with Tommy Tang. We were in a break and the director told us we went too fast, and we'd have to fit
in 5 more minutes of cooking to complete the show. Tommy said, "No worries, Ric and I will make
"Thai Italian Love!"
Sensing Tommy's sense of humor, I assumed we would be having sex on screen, but alas,
it was much more innocent!
The Madman Himself, Tommy Tang!

We proceeded to improvise a pasta dish, each of us adding one ingredient at a time. Tommy
added oil to the pan, I added garlic, he added lemongrass, I added tomatoes, he added
chopped shrimp..etc, etc.. and by the end we concocted a creamy Thai flavored pasta dish
with tomatoes and ground shrimp--it was like a perfumed, spicy Bolognese.

Eight years later, in 2009 when I was designing the opening menu for New World Bistro Bar,
I was plowing through my folders of notes and the scribbled page I had jotted of this pasta dish story
emerged from the pile. I tweaked it, switched to ground beef and a legend was born;
New World Thai Italian Love!
It is one of my bast selling dishes ever and continues to be a restaurant favorite.

serves 4

1 lb high quality Pappardelle pasta. I like Dececco
Peanut  oil
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic. minced
3 tablespoons Maesri Brand Panang curry paste, or more to taste *
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 10 oz cans coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 makrut lime leaves, also known as Kaffir lime leaves, shredded

Put the ground beef in a deep skillet or wide pot and cover with salted water. The water should be as
salty as pasta water.
Bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Poach the beef, breaking it up well, until it is just cooked and there is no pink remaining.
Pour the contents of the pan through a colander and allow to drain well.
Reserve the meat.
Wipe out the pot to use again.

In the same pot, cook onion and garlic in peanut oil over medium heat until aroma is released.
Add both pastes, stir in well and fry a minute or two to release the aromas.
Add meat and coat well.
Add tomatoes, coconut milk and heavy cream and simmer for 20 minutes to tighten up.
Make sure to skim any fat off the sauce!!!!!
Stir in lime leaves at the end.

Put a large pot of well salted water on to boil. Cook the pasta until done, not too soft, but also
not too al dente. Pappardelle will break up if it is not cooked enough. It should be almost elastic.
Drain the pasta into a large serving bowl but RESERVE about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
(NEVER rinse drained pasta. You want the starch to remain on the pasta.)
If your pasta is done too long before the sauce is ready, add a few drops of oil and toss
to coat to prevent it from sticking together too much.

When the sauce is ready ladle it onto the pasta in the bowl and add the half cup of hot pasta
water (you may have to reheat it). Toss well, coating the pasta.
Twist up and serve in bowls.
Serve a little South Asian hot stuff on the side.

Or come and get it cooked for you from my kitchen at New World Bistro Bar in Albany, NY
Get more of my food pics and ideas on

Maesri is the Industry's best Thai curry line. It is available at any reputable Asian Market. The other brands like Mae Ploy are ok-ish, but Maesri is the most authentic tasting I have found.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Four Cheese and Mushroom Stuffed Mushrooms by Ric Orlando

Mushroom Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 24

These are a big favorite of my catering clients, and why not? They are so simple and delicious, vegetarian, gluten free and...addictive.
You really should stuff button mushrooms here, they have the shape you need. If you forage or just have a love of shiitakes, the filling can handle a mix in of any mushroom. As a matter of fact, it's a great place to use up the trim and broken pieces of Morels, Chanterelles or Boletes. Juts avoid any woody, stringy stems.
And don't be weird. There is absolutely nothing wrong with white cultivated mushrooms. It's not like the are white versus whole grain. Someone once asked me if brown mushrooms were healthier. People get the stupidest ideas sometimes! These work GREAT for stuffing and state delish.
It's ok, white  mushroom are cool too.

32 large button mushrooms
Neural vegetable oil as needed, I like sunflower or grapeseed oil and
Salt and pepper
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated smoked gouda or smoked gruyere cheese
¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup grated Parmigiana cheese, divided in half

Preheat oven to 400.

Examine the mushroom and brush any debris from them. Do not wash! Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and reserve.
Put the mushroom caps in a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup vegetable oil and gently toss to coat well, getting the mushroom good and wet. Season with salt and pepper. Yea, it seems like a lot of oil, but as they roast they will give most of it back, which you can use for roasting the stems in step two.
Arrange the 24 biggest, prettiest mushroom caps on a cookie sheet and bake for 4-6 minutes until sizzling but still a little firm.
Pour off any oil and juices that accumulated on the pan and reserve.

Meanwhile roughly chop the remaining 8 mushroom caps.
Mix these with all of the stems and toss back in the mixing bowl with the reserved oil and juices from the first roast.
Add a little more oil if needed to coat them thoroughly, then season with salt and pepper generously.
Lay out on a cookie sheet, roast for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
Put this roasted mix in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Mix with all of the cheeses except half of the Parmigiana. Stuff the mushroom cheese mix into the roasted caps. At this point the mushrooms are ready to bake.

Bake at 400 for about 4-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. You can also refrigerate them up to 48 hours or freeze for later use. If reserving, sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiana before baking.

Look at that earthy, cheesy lusciousness!!!!

Sicilian Margarita, the perfect drink to celebrate memorial day!

Celebrate the American Experience with Sicilian and Mexican deliciousness! It is memorial day weekend in the US.  I'm sur...