JOHN VARGO
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Pocket Warmer sandwiches:Image result for foil wrapped sandwiches
Here is a sandwich that I invented years ago while serving in the Army in Friedberg Germany. I was a cook in the Elvis Presley Dining Facility (so named because it was the same unit that Elvis served in and where he met Prescilla). The Army runs on it's stomach as everyone knows, so our usual breakfast line consisted of all of the ingredients necessary for the assembly of my post meal service concoction. Army cooks always eat after the meal service, before or during cleanup. Usaully a sandwich makes it possible to eat and clean at the same time. I would go down the line and assemble the following ingredients:

2 pcs. Texas toast French toast
6 strips of cooked bacon
2-3 very thin onion slices (paper thin)
1/2 oz. maple syrup
6-8 drops of Tabasco sauce ( very important to use ONLY Tabasco!)

Note: you can substitute any and all of the ingredients any way you wish. Just DO NOT call your version a Pocket Warmer Sandwich!


Now for the reason for calling the sandwich a "Pocket Warmer"-
One day I was going ice fishing with a few buddies, and I was charged with breakfast duty for all. We were running late, and wanted to catch "the bite". So I figured I would make something that we could take with us on the ice. I remembered how delicious my Army sandwiches were, so after checking to be sure I had all of the ingredients, I got to cooking. Because we were taking our sandwiches to go, I decided to wrap each one with tin foil in order to keep them hot. The guys were all anxiously waiting for me to finish so we could get going asap. As I wrapped the sandwiches, I handed two to each of the fishermen, and told them to put them in their pockets until we got out on the ice, and had a few holes drilled before we ate. As we drilled holes and set tip-ups, our hands would get cold from submersion in the icy water. We realized that the sandwiches, one in each pocket of our thick wool coats, were keeping those pockets toasty warm! After we got all set up, we talked about the amazing "Pocket Warmer" sandwiches, and how they had kept our hands warm and functional. As we ate our still hot breakfast, the sweetness and saltiness along with the rich egg coating and warming Tabasco sauce did their jobs to warm and reinvigorate our spirits! Since we each ate only one sandwich for breakfast, we had one warm pocket left till lunch!
These sandwiches should be placed in your pockets as soon as they are made, to retain the heat for your hands as well as your belly. They would be great for any cold weather activity such as football games, parades, skiing or snowshoeing. Enjoy!







 


 

 

Featured seafood recipes:

 

Jamaican escovitch of Long Island Porgy

-a highly sustainable, wild New York fish!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 whole cleaned LI Porgies (your fishmongers will do this for you )

Fryer or deep skillet and soy oil for deep frying

All purpose flour for dredging the fish prior to frying

1 large Spanish onion sliced thin

2 large red or green bell peppers sliced thin

1 T minced garlic

3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T dry oregano

1/3 C tamarind vinegar or Worcestershire sauce

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

Procedure:

Place enough flour in a casserole dish to allow for dredging the whole fish. Coat the fish inside and out with a generous quantity of flour, and then knock off excess flour.

Gently place the coated fish into 325 degree soy oil to deep fry to a golden brown- about 12-15 minutes.

While the fish is frying, heat a medium saute' pan to medium high temperature.

Add the olive oil, onion and pepper slices and minced garlic. Saute' on medium high heat until the garlic starts to turn golden brown.

Immediately add the tamarind vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce) – bring to a quick boil, then turn down to a low simmer. - A touch of water can be added if the vegetables soak up all of the vinegar. There should be liquid in the sauce when it is finished.

Add the dry oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Keep hot.

Remove the porgy to a paper towel lined platter and dab excess oil from hot fish. Remove the paper towel and return fish to platter for service.

While the fish is very hot and crispy still, pour the escovitch sauce over the entire fish- don't forget the head, that's where the cheeks are!

Serve immediately with a side of good quality short grain rice such as Goya.

If your guests get impatient while smelling all of the incredible flavors, tell them “soon come mon”!

 

Notes:

Additionally, this recipe works well with the following seafood:

Spanish Mackerel, Red snapper, Grouper, Pompano, Long Island bluefish, Red ocean perch, Freshwater- bass, pike and walleye.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Mullet (Rouget) with IPA and ginger snaps

-Recipe translated from a Paris restaurant where John trained

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 skin on scaled fillets of Rouget

1 cup of chopped and washed (3times!) leeks

¼ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced fennel

8 very thin slices of celery root- blanched

¼ pound sweet cream butter- unsalted Plugra works best

½ ounce extra virgin olive oil

12 oz can of your favorite India Pale Ale

6 ginger snap cookies

salt and fresh ground black pepper

 

Procedure:

Place the skin-on fillets of Rouget on a clean plate and season both sides with a rub of olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large saute' pan to medium temperature.

Gently cook the fillets until firm, being sure to crisp the skin without too much browning. Remove to serving platter and keep warm- without allowing them to cook further.

Place the butter, leeks, celery, and fennel into the still hot pan.

Cook the vegetables until translucent and tender over medium-low heat.

Add the IPA and turn up the heat to cook out the alcohol at a fill simmer- about 5 minutes.

Place the celery root slices into the sauce and heat them gently for about 1 minute. Drape the translucent slices of celery root over the cooked Rouget fillets on the serving platter.

Finish the sauce by adding the ginger snap cookies and whisking them in to thicken the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the Rouget fillets immediately and serve.

Accompany this dish with a smooth puree of potato or butternut squash.

Garnish with fresh fennel fronds and slices of blood orange that have been caramelized on a grill or griddle.

 

Notes:

Additionally, this recipe works well with the following seafood:

Sea scallops, Long Island bluefish, Red snapper, Grouper, Tilefish, Monkfish, Shell on deep water Gulf shrimp or Langostines. Basically, any firm fleshed and full flavored ocean fish will work.


Quick Oysters Rockefeller

(SERVES 4)

2 dozen fresh Gulf oysters

6 Tblsp. butter – softened

1 Tblsp. finely minced garlic

6 Tblsp. finely-minced fresh fennel

6 Tblsp. each of finely minced tarragon and chervil

3 Tblsp. finely-minced onion

3 Tblsp. finely-minced parsley

1 cup panko

Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Rock Salt

Lemon wedges for garnish

Preparation:
In a medium skillet on medium heat, add the butter, minced onion, fennel and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft. Place the panko, tarragon, chervil, and parsley in a food processor and add the vegetable- butter mixture. Puree together in food processor until smooth. Shuck the oysters over a bowl, and reserve the liquid that comes out. Place the half shell oysters in a roasting pan that is 1/3 filled with rock salt. The salt will help keep them level, and will impart a brininess to the shell. Add the oyster liquid and a few drops of Tabasco sauce to the mixture in the food processor, and mix until emulsified. Put a generous quantity of filling over each oyster using a piping bag or spoon. Be sure to cover oyster to edges. Place the roasting pan under a broiler and roast until golden brown. Serve immediately with a garnish of lemon wedge.

 

Teriyaki glazed skate ribs

(serves 4)

4 whole bone in skate wings (about 2 pounds)

1 cup Tamari soy sauce

2 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1-20oz. Can Dole crushed pineapple in juice

¼ cup brown sugar

chopped fresh scallions

Preparation:
Have your fishmonger clean and trim the skate wings and leave in the center “bone”. Cut them into 1” wide pieces that resemble pork spare ribs. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Place the skate ribs into the mixture and let marinade for two hours in the refrigerator. Pre heat your gas or charcoal grill. Place the ribs on the hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, turning only once. Meanwhile, place the remaining sauce in a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, then turn off. Place the cooked “ribs” in a large bowl and pour the hot sauce over them and toss to coat. Place on a serving platter, and pour over the remaining sauce from the bowl. Serve with cornbread and perhaps a side bowl of basmati rice. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. 

 

Key lime gulf shrimp

(serves 4)

1# U-15 Gulf shrimp

½ # butter

2 Tblsp minced fresh garlic

½ cup Key lime juice

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 ripe mango – chopped fine

1 can coconut milk

2 Tblsp. Yellow mustard

1 fresh habanero pepper -(optional)

Preparation:
With kitchen shears, cut the back of the shrimp shell and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the shell on. In a bowl, mix the garlic, key lime juice, chopped mango, mustard, coconut milk and habanero. Place the shrimp in this mixture for 1 hour. Place the butter in a large skillet and place on stove at medium-high heat. When the butter starts to brown, drop the shrimp in one at a time until all are used. Turn them once after about 30 seconds. Cook for another 30 seconds on the other side, pour in the remaining sauce from the bowl, and bring to a quick simmer. Pour out of the pan on to a platter of cooked rice. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.


Note: The  shrimp must be peeled while eating, but the flavor and sweet juiciness of the shrimp are worth the extra effort!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                



                                                                                             












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