Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Filtering by Category: "Grilling"

Homemade Salsa

Ahhhh Summer, one of my favorite times of year. The smell of fresh cut grass and bbq's in the air. This past weekend we had a cookout for Mother's Day, well a cook-in since the weather didn't cooperate. I had a craving the whole week for salsa and when asked if I was bringing anything to the party I figured, what the heck, I'll bring some salsa! There is just no comparison between homemade salsa and store bought, the freshness factor just makes it so much more flavorful. The best part?? It literally takes 10 min to make, win-win in my book! 

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes w/ Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel, diced tomatoes & green chilies
  • 1/4 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, sliced 
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 Lime, juiced 

This is quite a large batch of salsa, which is great for a party. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (I actually charred the outside of the Jalapeno's first with a blowtorch to give it some smokey-ness, this is of course optional). Transfer with a spoon to a food processor bowl, depending on the size of your food processor you'll have to do a few batches. Pulse 10-15 times until you get a nice consistency. Transfer to a container and repeat until you have used all the mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving or can it for delicious salsa all year long!

**Note: If you want your salsa to be less spicy, remove some of the jalapeno seeds and membrane...that's where all the heat is**

Song of the Recipe

I have always loved Pearl Jam and when Eddie Veder released this solo album, it definitely made me curious. But, it's an awesome album and made me fall in love with the Ukulele. This whole album is perfect for patio sitting & margarita drinking! 

Mary Had a Lamb-a-Letta

This past summer I entered in a national sandwich competition through Mezzetta (they sell imported olives and olive oil). I didn't win the competition, but I really liked the sandwich I came up with and wanted to share it. This is a twist on a traditional New Orleans sandwich called a Muffaletta, which typically features Italian meats and an olive salad. My version uses sliced leg of lamb, smoked gouda, baby arugula, the olive salad and a garlic aioli. It's a little bit of a pricey sandwich to make, but if you're entertaining and want to show off a bit, this will definitely do the trick! Bon Appétit!


For Lamb:
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied (ask butcher)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary, bruised to release oils
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and crack black pepper
 For Garlic Aioli:
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For Olive Salad:
  • 3/4 Cup Spanish Olives w/ Pimento
  • 1/4 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1/4 Cup Giardiniera (use at lease one of each veggie)
  • 3 Peperoncini, stems removed and seeded
  • 4 Cocktail Onions
  • 2 Tablespoons non-pereil capers
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For Assembly:
  • 4 Chibata Rolls, sliced in half & lightly toasted
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Sliced Lamb 
  • Smoked gouda, sliced
  • Baby arugala
  • Olive Salad Mixture

Add the first 4 ingredients for lamb into a large ziplock bag or bowl and stir to combine. Add the lamb to the marinade and seal or cover. Allow the lamb to marinate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before grilling. 

Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard all of the garlic slices and rosemary. Season both sides of the lamb very liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. 

Grill over medium-high, fat-side down first for about 15-20 minutes, then flip and grill for another 15-20 minutes for medium rare. (The cook time maybe adjusted for other degrees of doneness) Beware of seriously flare ups that may arise from the fat-side down direct flame grilling. You may need to move the meat to a portion of the grill that is not directly over the flames to prevent serious charring. Remove the meat from the grill and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for at least ten minutes before slicing. 

For the aioli, Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  For the olive salad,  Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse, being sure to scrap the sides until blended. Dish the olive salad into a bowl and refrigerate. 

Slice the lamb in thin slices and split sliced lamb up into even piles.  Slice the chibata rolls in half and lightly toast. Place the bottom half of the chibata rolls on a work surface and spread the Garlic Aioli on the bread, then top with the sliced lamb and a slice of smoked gouda. Set your oven to broil, place sandwich bottoms on a baking sheet and broil on high to melt the cheese. Take the top half of the chibata roll and press the inside of the bread to form a bowl shape. Pile the olive salad mixture into it. Remove the bottom half of the sandwich from the broiler and top with baby arugala. Put the top on, cut the sandwich, plate it and enjoy the Mary Had a Lamb-a-letta!

Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon

As most of you know, this has been a very emotionally draining week in Happy Valley. So what better way to lift our spirits than some soul food! Food that no matter what is going wrong in our life will make us forget for a brief amount of time what's going on in the outside world. This is definitely one of those dishes. A beautiful piece of filet mignon, wrapped in bacon, nestled in creamy smoked cheddar grits, topped with a spicy cajun hollandaise sauce. Bon Appétit!


For the Grits

  • 3 cups Water
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned grits (not instant!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 ounces grated smoked white Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the Filet Mignon
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 Filet Mignons (4-6 ounces); at room temperature
  • Salt, Pepper & Garlic Powder to taste
  • 2 Slices of bacon
For Cajun Hollandaise Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons New mexican chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile de arbol
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, clarified and melted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce


Preheat oven to 400°F

In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add a generous teaspoon of salt and the grits and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When grits thicken, add the milk, cream and butter and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the sauce pan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until grits are very tender, smooth, and creamy-thick. Add the Cheddar, season with black pepper, and stir until cheese is melted.

While your Smoked Cheddar Grits are simmering, heat 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a medium sauté pan. Generously season your filet mignon with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Next we want to wrap the strips of bacon around the outside of the filets. You want to wrap the bacon fairly snug around the filet in order to give the it a nice cylinder shape. The ends of the bacon should over lap and adhere to each other enough that it won’t come apart. If the bacon doesn’t stick together, slide a tooth pick in or wrap a piece of butchers twine around to keep it in place. Once your oil is nice and hot, we want to sear both sides of the filet until it’s nice and caramelized, about 2 min per side. Place steaks on a broiler pan and bake until internal temperature is 130° (Medium Rare). Please, for the love of god, don’t cook these beautiful pieces of meat to well done.

Filet's brought to Room Temperature

Filet's seasoned and wrapped in bacon

Filet's post sear

Stir together the paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, chile de arbol, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Place the egg yolks and lemon juice in a medium stainless steel bowl, set over a pot of simmering water not touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the yolks until pale yellow and fluffy. Slowly add the clarified melted butter, a few tablespoons at a time and whisk until thickened. Season the sauce with 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture, salt, and pepper, and a dash Worcestershire sauce. Keep warm until ready to use. Hollandaise Sauce is a challenging sauce to make and does take some practice. If you are having trouble, refer to this video to aid in visualizing the techniques: Hollandaise Sauce Video

Kitchen Word of the Day

Tempering To bring to a desired consistency, texture, hardness, or other physical condition by or as if by blending, admixing, or kneading. 

In the case of this recipe we are talking about the temperature of the Filet Mignon. In general, tempering is very important when cooking any meat. Before we sear, bake, broil, sauté, fry any meat it is important that we bring it to room temperature. Think about it, in every cooking method we are setting the device to a certain temperature. If we add a cold or frozen piece of meat to that pre-heated device, we will in fact lower the temperature. Tempering your meat before cooking aids in lowering the cooking time and cooking your protein evenly. 

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