Shisito Peppers

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Looking for something new for your football parties? These delicious little chile peppers are served with beer and sake in Japan and are perfect finger food. The fact that there’s virtually no prep involved is a bonus. They are called Shisito peppers on Japanese menus. Spanish tapas fans will know a similar pepper, the Padron pepper, which is prepared in the same fashion and also enjoyed with cocktails and beer in tapas restaurants. Both pepper varieties are addicting, especially with a cold brew.

Like the Padron peppers, Shisito peppers are generally mild and almost sweet, with one out of every ten peppers falling into the spicy range. They are small, thin-skinned and very easy to prepare. A brief sizzle in a hot frying pan to blister the skin and a sprinkle of coarse salt is all that’s needed. Shisitos come with stems attached, giving them their own handy serving utensil. To eat, the pepper is picked up by the stem and eaten in one bite, seeds and all, with the stem then discarded.

Fresh Shisito peppers may be a bit difficult to find, unless you are lucky to live in a town with an Asian grocery that sells fresh produce. However, don’t despair if you don’t. If you are a gardener, seeds for the easy-to-grow Shisitos are now available in a number of popular seed catalogs. I found the peppers you see in the photos here at my favorite Korean supermarket here in Vegas where they are labeled “Twisted Peppers”.009 I have also seen them called this in the seed catalogs.

I would suggest purchasing ½ pound per person. To prepare, wash, drain and dry well on a dishcloth while preheating a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Place the peppers in the dry pan (no oil is needed) and toss frequently until the skins are blistered and slightly charred in places, about 3-4 minutes. Don’t sauté for too long, or the peppers can lose their texture and become overly limp. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt right away and serve in a bowl. Enjoy these tasty bites hot or at room temperature.

A note to BBQ and grilling fans: .these peppers can also be skewered and grilled until blistered for an outstanding side dish for grilled meats and chicken
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Cross Country Cookout with the Rib Whisperer

Worlds Largest BBQ
Heads up, Las Vegas. The world’s largest BBQ grill will be rolling into Vegas this weekend and will be serving up free Texas BBQ at the famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop parking lot on Las Vegas Blvd. this Saturday.

The 80-foot long Ultimate Smoker and Grill, designed and operated by grill-master Trace “Rib Whisperer” Arnold, is the size of a tanker and is hauled by a semi. In the unique smoker chamber, Arnold can slow-smoke more than 2,000 pounds of meat. Hidden beneath the 20-foot hydraulic lid is a wood-fired grill with the capacity to cook 1,000 hotdogs, 500 hamburgers or 200 16 oz. steaks at once.

History Channel and Pawn Stars fans in Las Vegas are welcome to visit the History Cross-Country Cookout to sample the Rib Whisperer’s tasty hickory-smoked ribs and jalapeno cheddar sausage and play backyard games like cornhole and ladder golf to win History merchandise and prizes. Learn more about the History Cross-Country Cookout tour at http://www.history.com/interactives/cookout.

Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
713 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Saturday, August 10: 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

cookout

Nobu Restaurant at Caesars

Nobu
Thanks to an epic royal dealt by a generous video poker machine earlier in the evening, two of us recently dined with wild abandon at the newest Nobu, this one located at Caesars Palace. Pricey, yes, but worth the price of admission if faultless seafood, impeccable service and legendary Nobu ambiance is on your Las Vegas list of things to-do.

Fans of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his global restaurant empire are drawn to his exquisite traditional sushi as well as his modern twists on classic Japanese cuisine. We enjoyed a couple of unique cocktails (we loved the Cracked Basil), while navigating a menu that required a bit of expertise from a well-informed waiter. The sizable menu with a small, pricey list of exclusive sakes tends to be a bit tricky to sort the starters and small plates from the main dishes. Highlights of our dinner, an assortment of sushi (the toro was divine), shared plates of buttery Kobe “sashimi” and skewers of grilled squid set the stage for the stars of the evening-the legendary Miso Black Cod and a flawless lemony lobster and shrimp combo. We’re still dreaming about the buttery Black Cod.

Would we dine at Nobu again? Sure, especially if we were at Caesars and had another lucky evening in the casino (or dining on someone else’s corporate expense account). With a normal dining budget and with so many outstanding Japanese restaurants in Las Vegas, Nobu may not be our first choice, but it certainly was one of the more memorable meals we’ve had on the Strip.

Nobu at Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(Inside Caesars Palace

Phone: (702)785.6628

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace

charcuterie
The majority of Las Vegas buffets are pretty much the same. Given the nature of a buffet, the food from one to the next is going to be standard, non-descript fare. Reviewing Las Vegas buffets is pointless unless the food is comically bad (like the one at the Rampart Resort in Summerlin), or notably good. The newly renovated and re-defined Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars is notably good. At $45.99 for the dinner seating, it’s not the cheapest buffet on the Strip, but when it comes to buffets, you’re likely to get your money’s worth.

If you are a meat-eater, you’ll stand a very good chance to get your money’s worth at the dinner buffet. On the evening we dined at Bacchanal, the prime rib was very good, as was the sirloin. Lamb chops were an overcooked, dry disappointment, but there were at least six other grilled, roasted or barbecued meat choices that looked impressive. We actually went back for seconds for the truffled scallop potatoes that were a good choice with our prime rib.

Other notable stations on the buffet line were the Mexican, Italian and Asian offerings (nice little dim sum selection and noodles cooked to order). The bread, cheese and charcuterie sections midway through the buffet were also outstanding, and would have been a great way to begin our meal if they had been closer to the start of the line. We went back for seconds for the raw oyster shooters from the seafood bar, but wished we hadn’t put the crab legs on our plates. They were watery, salty and a few days past their prime.

Any buffet worth its price of admission should end with a memorable choice of deserts and Bacchanal certainly stands above many of the other buffets on the Strip in the desert department. An endless assortment of very fine pastries, brulées, and gelatos was a fun way to top off what really is a outstanding buffet (we loved the creme brulée that we topped with fresh fruit).

The hits outweigh the misses at Bacchanal. To maximize the cost of admission do what seasoned Vegas buffet diners do and cruise down the line to check things out before you grab a plate and start loading up. Very often the treasures in a buffet are near the end of the line.


Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace
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Breaded Whole Pork Tenderloin

sliced breaded tenderloin

A whole pork tenderloin is hard to beat for entertaining or special family dinners. It’s easy to prepare in a variety of ways, easy to slice and there’s virtually no waste. The only prep needed may be to remove any tough silver skin on the outside, and this is easily done with a sharp knife. Very often, this is already done for you when you purchase the meat.

This recipe coats a nicely seasoned whole tenderloin in a conventional 3-step breading process that ends with crisp panko breadcrumbs. Panko is now available in most major grocery stores next to regular breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs may be used, but you’ll miss out on the great crunch from the panko crumbs.

The USDA now recommends cooking fresh pork to an internal temperature of 145°F (down from the older recommendation of 160°F) which results in a juicier piece of meat that is slightly pink. I like a two-step cooking that involves browning the meat first on top of the stove and then finishing the cooking in the oven to assure even cooking. I always use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

The end result is a succulent, fork-tender mini-roast with an addictive crunchy coating. It is important to permit the meat to rest after removing it from the oven. This allows the juices to evenly redistribute throughout the meat and makes slicing easier. An average whole pork tenderloin will serve four people. Count yourself lucky if you have any leftovers. Cold and thinly sliced, this tenderloin makes a terrific sandwich the next day.

Breaded Whole Pork Tenderloin

1 whole pork tenderloin
Seasoned Salt (I prefer Lawry’s but plain salt may be substituted)
Black pepper to taste
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Rinse pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. If the ends of the tenderloin are loose or very thin, tuck them under and tie with kitchen twine to secure. Season on all sides with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, tapping off any excess flour.

Beat the egg in a pie plate and roll the tenderloin around in it to coat with the egg. Place the panko on a large piece of wax paper in an even layer. Roll the tenderloin in the panko to coat well, gently pressing the crumbs into the egg coating.

Over medium heat, heat about one inch of oil in a non-stick skillet large enough to hold the tenderloin. When the oil is hot, carefully place the breaded tenderloin into the oil and brown evenly on all sides. Turn the pork carefully to avoid scraping the breading off. Tongs are helpful with this step. While the oil is heating, pre-heat oven to 350°F.

When the tenderloin is browned on all sides, remove from the oil and place on a rack in a baking pan. Roast the tenderloin at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°F on a meat thermometer.

Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, before slicing with a sharp knife.

Serves 4.
Breaded Whole Pork Tenderloin

Perfect Corned Beef

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With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I’ve received a few emails about corned beef. I am re-publishing this post from two years ago about corned beef in hopes it will be helpful to new readers. This is still my preferred method for turning out a corned beef that starts with a store-bought piece of meat. I’ve been meaning to try corning my own beef brisket from scratch…perhaps next year!

Corned Beef

Ever wonder how deli-style corned beef can be sliced into perfect slices without shredding like your Sunday pot roast?

Finding the right cut is the first step. You will find plenty of bargains around St. Patrick’s Day. Supermarket corned beef comes in two versions, a “point” cut and a “flat” cut. If you like a corned beef that has a high amount of fat and is difficult to slice go for the cheaper of the two cuts, the point cut. If you want a piece of corned beef that yields picture perfect slices that are great for sandwiches you’ll want to sort through the corned beef in the butcher case to find a flat cut. This cut has very little waste and can actually be a better bargain than the cheaper point cut that can often be 50% fat.

Take a minute or two and pick the packages up; look at them closely. Find one that is about 2-3 inches thick. Look at each side and go for one that looks even with no streaks of fat running through the middle of the meat. A layer of fat on the top is desirable, but not running through the middle of the cut. Buy a piece larger than what you need, it will shrink quite a bit while cooking, but one that will fit in your pan.

My preferred cooking method for this is a pressure cooker. You can also simmer corned beef on top of the stove or braise it pot-roast style in the oven, but pressure-cooking will remove much of the excess salt used to cure the beef, leaving the meat tender and moist. It also cooks in an hour.

Remove the meat from the package and rinse it well. Throw away that nasty little package of spices that often comes with a vacuum-packed corned beef. There’s really not enough of anything there to give much in the way of flavor and I feel the stale bay leaves overpower the meat.

Tie the roast in both directions to help keep it’s shape and place on a rack in a pressure cooker. Add plain water according to your pressure cooker’s instructions. In my 6-quart pressure cooker and a rack that holds the meat about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan, I need about 3 quarts of water. No need to season the water, the beef is already highly seasoned, probably even too highly salted for most tastes.

Cook the beef under pressure for 60 minutes (alternatively, simmer, covered, on top of the stove or in the oven for about 2-3 hours or until fork tender). Remove the roast from the pan after the pressure drops and the lid is safe to remove. Discard the cooking water-it’s yucky. Simmer your cabbage and potatoes separately in chicken broth, if your menu includes them.

Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, place on a flat plate. Place another plate on top and weigh it down with heavy cans, or a very heavy pan (the more weight the better). Allow the meat to cool for at least an hour (or over night). Unwrap and slice with a sharp knife. Voila! Corned beef that can be sliced as thick or thin as you like, without shredding. Serve with cabbage that is stir fried in a little bit of butter until just tender and a glass (or two) of Guinness.
Corned Beef
perfect corned beef

Miso Fried Eggs

Miso Fried Egg
Something really good happens when butter is mixed with miso. It’s a classic combo for sautéing fish and seafood dishes, especially scallops. So why not eggs?

The flavor of miso, light miso in this recipe, is very close to good soy sauce. No big surprise considering soy sauce is basically liquid miso (more or less) with a touch of caramel. Both are just different stages of fermented soy beans. The subtle, savory flavor of miso does something very interesting to a fried egg.

A miso fried egg is terrific on top of fried rice or a bowl of ramen noodles, but I happen to love these for breakfast served just as I do with plain eggs, over easy with a side of buttered toast. The miso adds something so tasty to a fried egg, you won’t even miss the bacon or sausage.

Miso paste comes in a variety of styles, with light miso being the mildest version. These days, miso can be found in most major supermarkets in the refrigerated specialty food section. It keeps for a very long time tightly covered and refrigerated.

Miso Fried Eggs
2 eggs
4 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons light (sometimes called white) miso paste

Melt the butter over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Add the miso paste and loosen it up with a spoon or fork, mixing it in with the butter.

When the butter begins to sizzle, gently break each egg into the pan on top of the butter-miso mixture. Gently cook the eggs over medium heat, giving the egg whites time to set before flipping over to cook the other side. Fry until desired doneness. Do not increase the heat while cooking to avoid scorching the miso. The eggs should almost “poach” in the miso butter.

Serve right away on top of fried rice, ramen noodles or with buttered toast.

Miso Fried Egg

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