“We can’t have a funeral until we put on a pot of beans,” I mutter while carrying a handful of fresh green beans from the strainer in the sink to the pot with caramelizing onions and bacon pieces sizzling away in the bottom. I let the beans fall from my hands and a few droplets … Continue reading The Funeral
If you think about it, a hamburger is nothing more than a sausage without a casing. Once you accept this notion, you open yourself up to endless burger possibilities! I mean really, there are as many burger recipes as there are cooks. Everyone has their own little tweaks and a go-to recipe.
With that being said, I am not going to sit here and try to convince you this is a recipe for the best hamburger in the world — even though it is — because someone will undoubtedly draw a line in the sand, slap me with gloves in hand, and challenge me to a duel. It’s inevitable. Continue reading “Building a Better Burger”
Marie’s Freedom Tire Shop
Marie, in her sixties, ran Freedom’s Tire Shop in Freedom Indiana. It had been years since anyone bought tires but they kept coming for the gasoline. The station sat at the edge of town across the street from the only grocery. Marie’s husband had been dead 15 years when I met her in the late 1980’s. Her only source of income had been her husband and his business. When he died she decided she would run the gas station and each day, with walking stick in hand, she would walk to work. She had never had possession of a drivers license nor did she want too. Continue reading “Marie’s Freedom Station and Crispy BBQ Chicken Thighs”
Midwesterners like pork and we like beef, even chicken but we do not like change.
Well, that’s not exactly true. We understand that change is inevitable, we just don’t like it sneaking up behind us and yelling BOO. We prefer change we don’t see, change that slips on like a comfortable pair of socks that go unnoticed throughout the day, not a constant reminder like a fancy necktie.
Growing up in suburban 1970’s Indianapolis “barbecue” meant baking a chicken and basting it in a bottled sauce. If there was smoke it was liquid, if there was fire it was a heated oven. This was the logical extension of my mother’s Midwest, the pot-roast, chicken-and-dumplings-tuna casserole Midcentury Midwest. Spice was reserved for vacations south of the Mason Dixon line. But even as we were tucking into ketchup-mild barbecued chicken, tiny outposts of smoke, fire and mostly pig, had long-since migrated north.
Stubbs, you see, is tall. His cowboy hat makes him taller. His hands make him appear well, like a folkloric hero, his hands are big enough to palm a turkey, thick and calloused and more heat resistant than a fireman’s glove.
One was Zeb’s barbecue, a shack I spied from the back window of the station wagon as I was ferried to Saturday morning art lessons. The place billowed smoke. I was sure that one Saturday we’d see a line of fire trucks, the red glare of emergency lights, firemen unfurling their hose to do battle with a five alarm, sirens blaring.
But week after week, the cloud of smoke billowed across the avenue without a fire truck in sight. The smoke smelled like Sunday morning bacon — and slow cooked pork. Continue reading “The Midwest, Barbecue, And Zeb’s All Purpose Mambo Sauce”
The little bit of lemon in the tea is wonderful, but something about citric acid causes Stanley’s tongue to become clumsy. It makes him sound Duchy when he speaks. Not in a God-awful way, and no more difficult to understand than Mr. FitzDermot’s heavy Irish brogue as they sit and converse in the tiny living room of the old house.
The FitzDermot Bed and Breakfast is much larger than it looks from the street, and on most nights it is near capacity–the tenants being Mr. FitzDermot’s twelve children, ten of whom are old enough to be out on their own. The tea bread, sweet with currants and speckled with tiny pieces of crunchy toasted walnuts, cures Stanley’s speech impediment, the salted butter slathered over it acting as a lubricant for his tongue.
Stanley sleeps away his first two days in Ireland. He doesn’t know if it is jet lag or if he is afraid, but he has knots in his stomach. He’s very much an introvert when it comes to strangers and it didn’t once cross his mind when he impulsively bought a one-way ticket to Shannon, that he might have to talk to people. But very quickly he found he didn’t have to–the Irish would do all the talking and all he had to do was listen. Continue reading “An Affair”
I have a deep affinity for crackers. Not gourmet varieties, or even homemade, but good old plain Jane everyday crackers, be it Captain’s wafers, or saltines, and especially any kind that comes two-to-a-pack.
I don’t think anyone needs a reason to like crackers but my fondness, I am certain, begins with my childhood memory of inexpensive family restaurants and sit down pizza joints that bring cracker baskets to the table instead of bread. I love the cracker basket and who in their right mind doesn’t? They hold something for everyone after all. Remember those crunchy breadsticky thingys, the sesame rounds, or the oblong townhouse crackers shaped like flattened capsules all wrapped up, by twos, in cellophane.
Wandering along my merry way as we do in life, I eat crackers. I eat crackers without much thought. I eat Club crackers wrapped in thinly sliced bacon and then baked, I learn it is okay to drink a martini with saltines topped with pickled bologna and American cheese because they are a match made in heaven, I will never forget having Georgia cracker salad and realizing it is nothing more than a tomato, mayo, whitebread sandwich on steroids, and my favorite, I use all kinds of crushed crackers as croutons for my salad. To this day every time I walk past a stick of butter I can’t help but want to drag a saltine down the length of the stick before popping it into my mouth, the perforations at the edges of the cracker leaving the soft butter to look like a perfectly raked zen garden. Continue reading “The Wonder Of Store-Bought Crackers”
All afternoon and from inside his parent’s house, as Bill and I sit outside in the comfort of lawn chairs talking, trumpeters one after another run through their scales, do re mi fa sol la ti do, over and over again. The notes drop from the open windows like fall leaves from the trees. It … Continue reading The Music Lesson
I don’t know why but I always find the silence during heavy snowfall deafening. It’s a wonderful time for reflection. Amy moves about uncomfortably in the hospital bed. I look down at the pulse monitor on her forefinger. It is a bright red beacon in the darkness. On her arm closest to me I … Continue reading To Give Thanks
I don’t make anything fancy for Thanksgiving. I like, and my family likes, a good homey kind of Thanksgiving. One that we have eaten in some iteration for as long as I can remember. I figured out a long time ago my food is far better when I don’t try to hide behind fancy. Don’t … Continue reading Day Two: Green Bean Casserole
It’s my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving is.
Amy is lying down and not feeling good when I walk into the bedroom to ask if she wants to have Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. She hesitates, not saying what we both already know, about how we are planning to put the house up for sale, but by the look in her eyes I know she wants too so I jump in and tell her I think we should and she agrees. Continue reading “Day One: My Turkey Stock Recipe”
THE TOMATOES FROM MY garden slowly begin to trickle into my kitchen. Just a few barely ripe ones at first, the kind that are still a little green at the stem end. I pick them out of excitement, now they need to sit on the counter for a day or two to fully ripen. Soon they are followed by deep red fully ripe tomatoes, enough to slow roast a tray of San Marzanos until they shrink and shrivel and get the tell tale taste of raisin and intense tomato. Continue reading “The Best Tomato Soup In The World”
I have always said, “if I am going to cook one chicken, I might as well cook two.” It’s not really any more work. I have come to believe the same about pot roast, pork roast, and just about anything that is braised, smoked or roasted.
Continue reading “RECIPE CARD: 3 Cheese Beef & Noodles + How To Get The Most Out Of Prep Day”
This is the Midwest and we like baked potatoes and we aren’t ashamed to say so. Loaded baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, simple baked potatoes, in my part of the country it is un-American not to like them. For that matter, how good is a baked potato on those nights when they are what you crave? Truth is we like all kinds and cooked lots of ways. That is what is so good about this soup, it can be dressed up or kept very basic but no matter what at the dinner time it is nothing short of delicious. Continue reading “RECIPE CARD: Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup”
I am new to slow cookers. I bought mine with the intention of immersing myself into the world of the crock pot. My reasons are simple I need to create a few bigger blocks of time each week to immerse myself into other projects. It feels like the right thing to do. Continue reading “Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (For the Slow Cooker)”
I can’t tell you how many times I made crab cakes while working at different restaurants. I am pretty sure even I don’t want to know. What I do know is many times they had lots of flavors sans one, crab and I often thought the cakes were more bread crumb than crab. So here is a quick, easy, and very crab tasting recipe that can be made any night of the week. This recipe makes a lot of cakes but realize you can make the cakes and freeze them in sets of 4 cakes or whatever works for you. Continue reading “RECIPE CARD: All-American Crab Cakes”
My wife Amy and I had the pleasure of eating a multi-course vegetarian meal a few years back. The dinner came with many drink options, wine, cocktails, and homemade sodas/mocktails. For no reason other then curiosity, we chose to drink the mocktails and we were glad we did. It was an amazing dinner all the way around. Continue reading “RECIPE CARD: Celery and Lemon Tom Collins (mocktail or cocktail)”
I like the unexpected. Especially when it is something new to me, or it tastes and sounds exotic but in reality it has a longstanding history—a marriage of flavors that is natural. Flavors tried and tested over time, in this case, in towns all across Portugal.
Octopus is a food that falls into a category that not to many foods do—it is either flash cooked very quickly or it is stewed for a very long time. Both methods intended to render the octopus meltingly tender. I have tried flash cooking octopus several times and either I am an idiot and just can’t get it right or my definition of tender is radically different from everyone else who uses the flash cooked method. Continue reading “Octopus and Potato Salad with a Tomato Vinaigrette”
There has never been a more one-of-a-kind pizza like the bar pizza. For the most part they are never good, many times they are awful, but that has never stopped anybody from ordering one. Patrons order them because they are drinking. Combine it with hunger and it makes these pizzas far better then they would ever be if a shot of better judgement was in hand. Without exception a bar pizza reigns over the pink pickled eggs languishing in the murky liquid of the large glass jar back by the whisky. Bar pizzas are also infinitely better then the microwavable cups of Spaghetti-Os or the burritos ensconced in a cardboard tortilla. Even so, that doesn’t make them good. Continue reading “Bar Pizza—It’s What You Crave”
I have cooked with whole grains for a long time. My fascination began, simply enough, with bulgur wheat used to make tabouleh. It was a gateway to all sorts of other grains; winter wheat, soft summer wheat, oat groats, farro, you get the idea. There are lots of grains readily available that a few short years ago were very difficult to locate. A good earthy health food store went a long way to rectifying the shortage but now about every food store carries some sort of whole grain. Continue reading “Barley Salad with Kalamata Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Parsley”
I went to my regular restaurant, the one I favor over all others. I ordered my favorite dish only to be disappointed. It lead me to wonder why it wasn’t as good as usual. In my head I worried the quality of the restaurant was slipping, are they ordering a lower quality product that isn’t … Continue reading Peanut Butter, Butter, and Lingonberry Jam Sandwiches
If you are like me, you have made what seems like hundreds of variations on beef stew; the classic tomatoey American version, a Korean version, Chinese, Irish, with beer, or with wine. It’s all done in the name of variety and the constant quest for new flavors to excite the taste buds. We do it … Continue reading A Very French Beef Stew
As a kid, learning to cook a fried egg and bologna sandwich is like teaching me how to load a gun without establishing any safety guidelines. While the combination of griddled bread, egg yolk, mayonnaise, seared bologna, and American cheese is white trash foie gras, perfecting the fried bologna without having made a grilled cheese, … Continue reading Cheats, Lies, and Hucksters (How to Cook a God Damned Grilled Cheese Sandwich)
I don’t get the allure of risotto. Years ago at culinary school, every student revered the dish except me, and slowly I’ve come to hate it. It’s overrated. I’ve practiced making it at home with the guidance of some of the best cookbook authors of the day. I stand at the stove as instructed, stirring, … Continue reading Searching for the Perfect Risotto
I don’t know when it came to be that chefs and cooks decided that your veggies needed to be cooked al dente. While I know they retain more of their vitamins when cooked a minimal amount I also know it’s not like the vitamins just vaporize into thin air but instead I am pretty sure, … Continue reading Middle Eastern Braised Green Beans
What you need to know about lentil soup is everyone has their “simple” version. Knowing this, it reminds me how easy it is to get a nutritious hot bowl of soup to the table. It also tells me that it must taste really good if there is a reason to keep publishing simple lentil soup … Continue reading A Delicious Lentil Soup With A Dirty Little Secret
Just about anything can be cooked in a pressure cooker. It does lots of things well. Stews, roasts, soups and one pots all come to the table hot and delicious. Even so, what really keeps the pressure cooker on the stove top is the basics. A pressure cooker cooks beans, grains, rice, and stocks effortlessly … Continue reading A Simple Pot Of Beans (And Tips For Pressure Cooking Them)
Pasta Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish that every one loves. Here we take the classic and give it a Midwestern twist. Continue reading Pasta Carbonara (A Midwestern Hybrid)
I remember the first time I saw a bison up close and personal. It was out on the rolling prairies of South Dakota. No, it wasn’t wild. Reality is, I am not sure there are to many of those left. Maybe in Canada and Yellowstone but beyond that I think most herds are domesticated, sort … Continue reading Bison Sirloin with Mushroom Ragu
If your weekend was anything like mine then you are comfortable having put summer to bed, tucked-in snugly with the knowledge it will sleep tight until it awakens again next year. Windows will close, doors are shut, and the nuanced smells of long simmered foods become more prevalent. I can’t imagine a life without seasons. … Continue reading Asian Spaghetti, Changing Seasons
Years ago, when I was first starting out in the restaurant business, I put together a business plan. The idea came to me early one morning while rolling out Danish dough in pastry class. Lots of ideas came to me while I was in pastry class. I think it was all the coffee and sugar. … Continue reading Chocolate Chiffon Pie
Is it the heat in August, or the midday cicadas—grinding, grinding, grinding—that reminds me of the time of year? The horizon, corn pollen and gravel dust, is smudged. This is the first August I can ever remember going outside after lunch to find it refreshing instead of repressing. The sun is as bright as on … Continue reading Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
In a sense, to smush, press, or mash a sandwich could feel redundant but it’s not. It is a tool employed to make certain kinds of sandwiches better. Case in point, a Cuban, panini, a shooter’s sandwich, and pan bagnat. I love all these sandwiches. Classics, each and everyone. In the heat of summer, I … Continue reading Pan Bagnat – Summer’s Best Sandwich
Something as simple as good corn on the cob shouldn’t be elusive. There shouldn’t be any big secrets but there is and it is this, the best corn on the cob in the world is cooked in a pressure cooker. It couldn’t be simpler to do and the results are divine. I live in corn … Continue reading The Best Corn on the Cob in the World
I often wonder what makes a recipe so good it goes viral. I am sure it’s lots of factors. Sometimes it’s the recipe itself, other times it is what the author expresses in words through their post, and sometimes it is simply because the author is very famous. This recipe, originally posted on the … Continue reading A Life-Changing Loaf of Bread (Redux)
Something like you find at a pizza shop, made of Romaine and iceberg lettuce cut into chunks, mini-wedges meant to soak up a heady dressing and topped with everything but the kitchen sink, this salad is a simple summer salad. It doubles as a full on dinner salad or as a side. It is laced … Continue reading With What Remains of Summer: Two Salad Dressings
It is almost August. The month in which my parents would always load me and my siblings up in the car and we would head to the east coast for vacation. It was as much a search for a cool ocean breeze as it was a temporary reprieve from the mundane everyday Midwest. Sometimes while … Continue reading The Lobster Roll’s Better More Lovable Brother
(Arcadia, Indiana) The barn yard is silent tonight. After a day of carefree sex, pecking Blackie the Rabbit on the head for eating chicken feed, and scaring the children when they try to collect the eggs, Rusty the Rooster is dead. Long considered the venerable dean of a cadre of free range cocks, he … Continue reading Rusty the Rooster, A Cock of Notable Size, Is No Longer
Next to farm fresh brown eggs, nothing conjures up an image of the farmhouse kitchen quite like the site of a pressure cooker. It’s Rockwellian in that it brings to mind iconic images of the aproned farmer’s wife peeling home grown carrots at the counter while on the stove behind her sits a huge pot-like contraption whistling and blowing steam through a small whole in its lid.
The image leaves you with a feeling of wholesomeness much like homemade whole wheat bread. It’s as if the pressure cooker does something magical that only the farmer’s wife knows. After all, for some reason, we always equate wholesome home cooking with the country kitchen. Continue reading “Pressure Cookers + Chicken and Dumplings”
If you can fortify coffee by whizzing in butter and making it into an emulsion of sorts, or make fortified wine by upping the alcohol to give it a boost, aging it, and calling it port then why not fortify your bone broth? Great chefs have known the deliciousness of consommé for centuries. Now I … Continue reading Putting the Bullet into Your Bone Broth: Consommé
Today was supposed to be a day off from running or lifting but sometimes you just know it’s best to go ahead and put on your favorite running shoes, put your favorite song list on the iPhone, and get it done. It feels better to do it than not.
My nature is not that of a runner. It goes against everything I can think of about myself. But I have been and with consistency. Some days it is much harder then others but running is always better then not running at all.
Lunch today! Continue reading “Thai Collard Wraps (day 5 )”
I ran out of booze last night. It is a rare occasion that I would let that happen but I did it on purpose. Even though I miscalculated by a day or two and because I have no intention of replacing it for a while, this does nothing but allow me to start my fitness … Continue reading A 90 Day Fitness Challenge (Breakfast Day One)
Some people collect cars, for others it is playing golf, for me, it’s barbecues. I don’t collect them per se but rather I cook with them. Their value isn’t termed by condition but in hours of use. Much like a cast iron skillet I can gauge the worth of a good smoker by the black … Continue reading A Real Winner: Seared Cauliflower Steaks with Salsa Verde and Almonds
You don’t need a recipe. You can make these from scratch and it will take you less then 10 minutes. Of course that doesn’t include grocery time, I am making the assumption you did a little pre-planning. Although when I made this the other day it came out of leftovers, no planning required. (Don’t want … Continue reading No Recipe Greek Nachos
It’s not for a lack of eggs. I raise chickens, I have more eggs then I can use most days. So what drives me to this dish. I especially like sprouted tofu, a lot. It’s not just tofu though. I like the process, the feel of the tofu as I crumble it between my fingers … Continue reading My Favorite Tofu Scramble
While it is not ever my first choice, hydrating droopy vegetables is worth the effort if your vegetables aren’t too far gone. I am not talking about trying to save rancid moldy vegetables but rather the carrots I bought yesterday that were crisp, fresh and gorgeous but somehow, within a 24 hour span in the fridge, have gone wilty, maybe even beyond wilty but nowhere near rotten.
It pains me to throw out food. Generally I would make a stock with vegetables like this just to use them up but I was really counting on this particular gorgeous bunch carrots for dinner. I wanted to roast them in a high heat oven, taste their sugary goodness alongside a perfect roast chicken, but not now. At the end of an hour in a hot oven they would be nothing but mush. Continue reading “Hydrating Droopy Vegetables”
Rarely do I use my microwave. I use it to take the chill off my coffee. I heat leftovers for lunch. Whenever a recipe calls for “butter, melted” onto the glass turntable the fat filled Pyrex measuring cup goes. I don’t cook with my microwave in any real culinary sense. I sometimes wonder why I have it, why I allow it to take up precious counter space when I know everything for which I use it can be done just as easily on the stove.
Of course there is also the fear that has been around as long as the microwave, that somehow it poses some sort of health risk. I don’t know if it does or not but if I error on the side of solid scientific research, it would tell me the microwave is harmless. Even so, I will lean on the side of caution and repeat the mantra I continually voice to my children, don’t put your face right up to the microwave door to watch as a cooking pizza pocket swells and shrinks, as if it is coming to life, and please, stand back an arms length.
I don’t believe the microwave has ever lived up to its original space age expectations. Nonetheless I read an article touting the healthy aspects of cooking vegetables in a microwave. Because it basically steams the vegetables, the vegetables retain a large portion of nutrients then if you used other cooking methods. It made sense, and I am buying in, or at least I want to and there are lots of reasons why. Continue reading “Perfect Microwave Broccoli”
“Last night I had a glass of wine. Not so much to celebrate the new year but more to bury the last, there have been better years.” This is what I had to say on New Year’s Day. I am still mulling over my words.
As is my usual, I didn’t make a resolution. I am more likely to sit in a chair and assess last year rather then try to change the new one. Assess I did, and of all the good things that happened, and good things did happen, I made a conscious decision in October of 2013 to become physically fit. Continue reading “A Simple Smoothie”
I have been, and will continue to be a believer in simple good recipes that follow great technique. I often feel as though complicated directions and hard to find ingredients set us up for disappointment and failure. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the law of diminishing return. That today’s worlds best recipe will be boring tomorrow.
We need to search out new tastes, techniques and flavors but it is also important to return to the classics. For me, I also like to share my childhood favorites with my children. These rolls are a part of me. They connect me to my past, and by sharing them, they connect me to my children. Continue reading “Dinner Rolls and a Bonus Southern White Loaf”
As with anything in cooking there are many ways to cook a turkey. It is only limited by your imagination. Beer can, the Louisiana Turducken, deep fried, you name it and someone has attempted it, some with better results then others. Simply put, I am from the midwest. When it comes to the holidays I want to know what I am getting into. On the holidays I don’t like change, I am good with tradition and see no need to break with it. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Turkey”
We love our wings in the Midwest but until I made wing sauce, equal parts real butter to hot sauce, I hadn’t had wing sauce. Sadly, and I know it is about cost, I doubt a single wing shop uses real butter in their sauce anymore. The good thing is you can have the real deal, easily, and without having to buy a pre-made version that is less then stellar. Continue reading “Farmhouse Chops in Wing Sauce”
Some lucky people grew up eating okra; there are even families with rich okra histories that they pass on from generation to generation. I am not one of those lucky people.
I came late to okra — or at least my love for it did. Since I didn’t come from a family of okra-eaters, I always remained skeptical of the vegetable. My relationship with it was like that of boys and girls at an elementary school dance: standing at opposite corners of the room. It’s not that I didn’t like okra — it was that I had no idea what to do with it. I preferred to stay in my comfort zone and stick to eating green beans. Continue reading “Shrimp and Okra Stew”
This recipe is a throwback. It was extremely popular in the 1990s — along with duck confit and tuna steaks, seared rare. I still see it now and again on menus, but it has largely disappeared due to overexposure; we became bored with it simply because it was everywhere. But, it’s been long enough. … Continue reading Barbecue Chicken Pizza (+ How You Should Think About Prep)
My favorite kind of coleslaw is the classic, creamy variety; it comforts me because I grew up eating it at a mom-and-pop catfish bar whose coleslaw was second to none. Their version was made with finely grated cabbage and bright orange ribbons of carrot. It was a bit tart and a little sharp — the way horseradish can be — because the cabbage was freshly grated. It paired perfectly with deep-fried catfish, whose crispy tails tasted of bacon. This is the slaw by which I judge all others. Continue reading “Classic Creamy Coleslaw”
Great barbecue is about the cut of meat, the smoke, the rub, and the sauce. But just because sauce is only one part of the equation, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be excellent. In fact, barbecue sauce should be so delicious that you can use it for much more than simply dipping or brushing. Continue reading “Memphis Style Barbecue Nachos”
There is something about big hunks of meat cooked over long periods at low heat that appeals to us at a very basic level. Pit-cooking traditions like hog roasts, barbacoa, and luaus aren’t just barbecues — they’re celebrations. They conjure up visions of earthen pits and long buffet tables with folding chairs, all set up for a multitude of guests.
This kind of cooking takes judgement and practice, though, so unless you host these kinds of events on a regular basis, you’re more than likely cooking blind. After all, you probably aren’t buying a whole lamb or calf more than a couple times a year. It could take you a few years to get it right. Continue reading “Small Batch Barbacoa Beef for Tacos”
Barbecue is a far cry from the days past when you were simply handed a platter of meat and sent outside to a grill. I mean, you don’t see leg of lamb braising contests at every turn, or weekend-long fish sautéing competitions — at least not yet — and while you won’t see men look longingly at a stock pot, they will ogle a smoker or a grill like it’s the centerfold of a men’s magazine. Continue reading “All About Smoking + A Pulled Pork Sandwich”
Now that picnic season is upon us, I get nostalgic over classic summertime fare. There is nothing quite like a family reunion over fried chicken and a potluck dinner, tables threatening to buckle under the weight of all the CorningWare and Pyrex.
Of course, there are the old favorites: green bean casserole, scalloped potatoes, pea salad with bacon and mayonnaise, three bean salad, and most certainly a mustardy potato salad — and, if luck is with me, an old-fashioned custard pie sprinkled with a little nutmeg. I love all these foods — but this year, I want something new. Continue reading “Three Bean Salad, Redux”
I am a last-minute baker — a procrasti-baker. As such, I am most likely going to make the least complicated sorts of desserts and baked goods. On the occasions I have my act together, I like to make cakes — and even then, I want them to fit my schedule. At one point, I believe, Mandarin Orange Cake — also known as “Dream Cake” or “Pig Pickin’ Cake” — was made from scratch. Continue reading “Mandarin Orange Cake”
There was a time when my father and I would have walked the distance up the hill to Gordon’s Rocky Top. We would have crossed the creek, stepping gingerly across the slick rocks like seasoned hopscotch players, hiked to the fork in the path, taken the trail on the left, and then quietly ascended the long, wooded hill. On our way, we would have walked past the pond, and if we were lucky, we might have spooked an owl or happened upon some white tail deer. Continue reading “Morels with Asparagus & Five Reason to Eschew Recipes”
Spring always seems rushed. It’s as if we spend months climbing a mountain called winter, and when we finally reach the peak, we’re so grateful that we run as fast as we can down the other side — past spring and directly into summer. It’s even true for the vegetables we’re attracted to — the fleeting cool weather crops that are harvested and eaten before spring has truly begun. Continue reading “Poulet á l’ Estragon (Chicken Tarragon)”
A whole roast duck is as satisfying to eat as it is pretty on the table; while foie gras is a rich man’s food and confit is pure comfort, a delicious seared and crispy-skinned duck breast is one of the real luxuries of eating.
Duck is versatile, but quirky to cook. And when something is unusual, people tend to keep it at an arm’s distance in a that’s my crazy uncle sort of way. But I’m here to say that it is simple to prepare; no matter which cut you’re preparing, cooking duck comes down to two things: rendering off the fat, and getting the skin crispy. Continue reading “The New Steak (+ a Recipe for Duck Teriyaki)”
There is something wonderful about a one-pan sauté. Sure, a quick dinner and easy clean-up would be enough to pass muster for most, but what I love is how wonderfully delicious dinner becomes as you build flavors in the pan. Starting at the bottom of the pan, there is an order to how things go; it is not a dump-it-and-go process. Continue reading “Greek Style Shrimp in Tomato Sauce (+ 10 Tips to Better Sautéing)”
I won’t lie to you — I like steak. To be specific, I like pan-seared steak. It’s the roar of the hood fan as it comes up to speed; the exhilaration and anticipation of the pop, crackle, and sizzle of red meat on a hot pan; and the wisps of white smoke curling around the steak’s edges, like a passionate embrace that gently kisses the bits of ground black peppercorn and fat. And, as always, the resulting taste of the brown butter against the crispy-edged meat. This kind of carnivorous zeal should be illegal.
Finally, the long standing blanket of snow has begun to recede and melt back into the dark earth, but not without leaving behind a disheveled landscape — like lifting an area rug you have meant to clean under for the past year. It is ugly outside, and depressing too. It is the worst time … Continue reading Chicken Legs in Tomato Gravy ( + 5 Tips to a Better Braise)
This is a television feature piece I did recently on venison. Click continue reading for the recipe.
Whenever a simple, delicious dish — like this spicy chickpea curry — is placed next to me at the table, it doesn’t just make me happy; I become protective of it in a selfish, rabid dog sort of way. This recipe is based on Indian khatte channe, which is grounded on good Indian home cooking … Continue reading Spicy Chickpea and Sour Tomato Curry with Pasta
Chef Leichte spun on the balls of his feet. A millisecond ago he was heading forward, and I was following him. Now we are face to face, and he pokes my chest with his finger. “Commit!” he says in a raised voice, his chef’s toque rising from his head and towering above me like the leaning Tower of Pisa. “Quit asking all these questions and cook! Commit to the recipe; if it fails, we will fix it, but realize you will probably learn more from your mistakes than if I coddle you through the process.” Continue reading “Tips for Reading Recipes (& Chinese Style Honey Hoisin Sticky Ribs)”
To be honest I lost interest in New Year’s Eve a long time ago. If memory serves me, the last New Year’s Eve I celebrated was sometime late last century. For that matter, I am not sure what year it was that I last made it to midnight. It doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate, I … Continue reading 5 Resolutions to Make You a Better Home Cook (+ Pot-Roasted Collard Greens )
Last summer, my mother asked me to make cupcakes for the June birthdays. We have several in June and, in order to make it easy, we celebrate them all at once. Nevertheless, I forgot to make the cupcakes and I was on my way to the party when I remembered. “Oops,” or as Vivian, my daughter who never misses an opportunity to repeat a cuss word, noted from the back seat, “Oops” was more like a cuss word or three. Continue reading “The Best, 5-Minute Smoked Salmon Appetizer”
Through most of the month of December, I spend a lot of my time preparing recipes that taste great but don’t absorb a lot of my time. It’s the holidays after all, and not only do I want to enjoy them but I have other things to do: trim the tree, make cookies, go to the neighbors’ caroling party where they serve the punch that requires a second cup of coffee and a little extra recovery time the next morning. Continue reading “Mustard Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Sauce Robert”
Have you ever had a friend who knows no strangers? The kind of genuine person to whom everyone in the room gravitates — someone who doesn’t have to work at meeting new people, because somehow it is coded into their DNA for others to like them? For me a potato gratin is just such … Continue reading A Classic Potato Gratin With No Recipe
In the dessert world, there is a whole mess of what I like to call pantry pies: pecan, pumpkin, the chess family, derby, custards (like sugar cream), and last but not least, shoofly (or its aliases: shoo-fly, molasses, sorghum, or Montgomery). All of them are good with coffee, exceptional for breakfast, and of course, we all know that they are standards at the Thanksgiving table.
The least known of this group is the shoofly. While most have heard of it, few, I will wager, have eaten it. Maybe it’s all the molasses, which can be overwhelming, or maybe it’s because it isn’t much known outside of Pennsylvania Dutch country and a few select pockets of the South. Continue reading “Shoofly Pie, with or without gluten”
While it might not be haute cuisine, chopped meat is surely economical, flavorful, and versatile. From meatballs to croquettes to tacos, it can do it all and can do it with ease. It is an uncomplicated ingredient, often interchangeable, and more often than not is a beacon signaling out comfort food to anyone within range.
Take for example chopped steak: it is nothing new. Salisbury steak for instance has been around since 1897. Named after a doctor, Dr. Salisbury, who created it. Salisbury was also a believer in a low-carb diet, fancy that. Continue reading “Recipe Reclamation: Bringing Back Chopped Steak”
Each year I look forward to making this recipe with the first broccoli from the fall garden. I’ll make it several times from mid-autumn to early winter. It requires but a few humble ingredients which, when combined in the soup pot, are as satisfying as knowing you have an uncommitted hundred dollar bill in your … Continue reading Marcella’s Broccoli and Potato Soup
I like repetition. It guides me from one task to another. Like how in the morning I’ll make my wife’s coffee exactly the same way and take it to her while she is getting ready for work before making my own. Then I’ll pack the kids’ school lunches, followed by preparing breakfast, and every Tuesday, … Continue reading The Virtues of Routine and Braised Cabbage
It is not generally in my nature to go out of my way to make a shepherd’s pie from scratch. Instead of cooking all the individual components — breaking them down only to put them back together — it always seems like a job best done by leftovers. I don’t mean to pick on shepherd’s pie alone — this goes for most meat and potato casseroles. And while not meat and potatoes, it reminds me of the time I looked at a recipe for turkey tetrazzini and the first step in the instructions was: Roast a turkey. Continue reading “Pork Confit Parmentier (or “Sorta” Shepard’s Pie)”
Grilling boneless skinless chicken breast presents a set of problems. I’m a firm believer that leaving the skin on and the bones in your chicken goes a long way to alleviating tough, dried out breast. But it’s an unpopular decision, because of the convenience and the ease with which we can gobble up the boneless … Continue reading 5 Tips for Better Grilled Chicken Breasts
Sadly, as I sit at the bus stop watching my daughters play, I have to tell myself: summer is so last season.
All summer I have been grilling vegetables for salads. Mostly zucchini and summer squash; I char it deeply and then chop it and toss it with basil, lemon juice, and olive oil, in sort of a grilled chopped salad. It captures all the flavors of early summer one could want. But at some point, either the zucchini or I tire and the dish no longer appears on the table. At least not until next summer, when the annual craving for these flavors peaks again. Continue reading “Everything but the Hamburger, Special Sauce Included”
I quit eating bananas years ago because I would buy them and not eat them. They would sit in the fruit bowl idling away, eventually passing through the different stages of ripeness. I would watch, like a gambler calling another’s bluff, knowing that I had until they turned black to do something with them. It was then that I would convince myself I needed to make banana bread. I even froze them for future use and had a stack of them in the freezer, until one day they fell out onto my wife’s toe and broke it.
Continue reading “Grilled Bananas with Buttered Maple Sauce and English Toffee”
I can’t get enough of taco night. Neither can my wife Amy or my daughters. We love it, and especially me, because I can do everything — with the exception of chopping with a knife or the food processor — on the grill. It makes for easy clean-up, and who isn’t for easy clean-up? … Continue reading Taco Night on the Grill
The sacks on the table, dotted with spots of grease and limp from French fry steam, are from Burger Chef. I have a plain cheeseburger. It is the first burger I remember eating. I eat them with glee and in anticipation of the next time my father would pile us into the back of the … Continue reading The Best Burger in the World
Frying chicken, at its best, is a state of mind formed much in the same way as the quiet back beats of a porch-sitting session with a dear friend. It has a rhythm. It is good company on a sunny summer afternoon. It is pointless to rush. Futile, even. Besides, the comfort of a good friend comes from the effortlessness of meaningful conversation and is further heightened by the knowledge you have nothing you would rather do. Continue reading “The Art of Honest Fried Chicken (A Lifestyle Choice)”
Look at the three lazy beasts lying on the cool concrete floor of the garage and you might think it’s the dog days of summer. If I’m in need of another sign, I don’t look any further than the Indiana state fair, which starts this week. The dog day heat always coincides with the fair … Continue reading Farmhouse Chicken Salad
I use a pair of kitchen tongs and quickly flip a steak, pull back to let my hand cool for a split second before diving in again behind the safety of the tongs to flip another. The hair on my forearm recoils from the heat. Even with a long pair of kitchen tongs I can’t bear the sting of the glowing coals like I used too.
I have lost my commercial kitchen hands. The hands that could take the heat without flinching, the same hands that could grab thermonuclear plates, or could move steaks around on a grill without ever noticing the heat. The heat abused hands that were once this line cooks badge of honor.
The wind shifts, a wisp of white smoke blows back. My eyes catch a little before I can turn and shut them. The smoke underneath my eyelids stings and my eyes begin to water. Continue reading “Grilling: Tips, Skirt Steak and more…”
Because my parents taught me right from wrong, I am going to complete my homework and turn it in. It is the right thing to do. I expect no mercy from the teacher. None.
I crack open a bottle of wine and pour a glass. What, that is what I would have done in high school, just kidding mom and dad. I never would have done that in high school. I was more a Jack Daniels and Coke kid. Did I just say that out loud? Continue reading “The Troublemaker Blend 6”
A lemon cake. That’s what I want. Something to replicate the Lemonheads from the snack bar at the drive-in movie theater. The sour pucker is perfect for the late summer heat. You could say I am fond of lemon. I always have been a borderline addict. Sunday is family night and we are going to … Continue reading A Drive-in Movie and Candied Lemon Sheet Cake
Inside the house a Frank Sinatra record blares loudly from the phonograph, a big stereophonic console meant to look like a fancy sideboard. The family room windows of the atomic ranch-style house are open wide. The music makes its way through the open windows to the patio, soft enough to be background music for the adults socializing on the small concrete patio.
There are tall, slender glass pitchers of Tom Collins set on a picnic table bar next to a faux gold ice bucket, highball glasses, and an assortment of potluck appetizers. The parents sip cocktails and have lively chats. Their laughter can be heard four houses down at the babysitter’s, where all the children are being housed for the evening. Tiki torches release black citronella smoke meant to keep mosquitoes at bay, and in the belly of the kettle-shaped grill the coals glow the color of the suburban sunset. Continue reading “Kebabs Come of Age”
In the summertime, I want food that is casual, soulful, and unpretentious — food that can double as a family meal and an intimate dinner for entertaining. Any dish that almost needs to be eaten with the hands (but not quite) or that can be scooped-up with röti, flatbread, or tortillas and goes well with … Continue reading Island Style Chicken Fricassee
Stanley Coats, sprawled out in his overalls and dozing on the porch swing, knows he’s becoming the old dog with the saggy balls. The one beginning to get gray around the snout. At the sound of tires on gravel, he lifts his head a little. The dog dozing on the porch floor below him does the same, and they both crack an eye open to see who’s coming up the drive.
The searing pain behind his other eye has abated. Stanley refuses to believe it could have anything to do with a hangover and instead diagnoses himself with becoming his mother. He hopes it’s not terminal.
It’s not that he doesn’t love his mother. It’s the naps. For as long as Stanley can remember, sometime between two or three in the afternoon, his mother always took what he has come to call a twenty-minute sink-down. Continue reading “Stanley Coats: An Introduction”
I always thought my friend Steven was lying when he told me that over the course of a few years he sold enough of his handmade old timey-looking leather fly swatters at the Indiana State Fair to pay for his log cabin and farm, until I myself moved to the country. Turns out he is … Continue reading Honest Peach Pie
If I didn’t already have a list of reasons I need lots of herbs in my life, Italian Salsa Verde (green sauce) alone would be enough to convince me. It’s delicious on almost anything. Take my dinner tonight: salsa verde is outstanding on steak and takes long-cooked kale up a notch. And when I got a little on my baked potato with sour cream, it was no longer a plain old baked potato. It was sublime. Continue reading “Using Herbs with Abandon”
I have a simple rule, whenever I figure out what good restaurant cooks like to make at home I follow suit. It’s because most professional cooks like simple but deeply satisfying meals, roast chicken is one of those, it is a cook’s meal. When I say simple I don’t mean in flavor and not necessarily … Continue reading A Delicious Roast Chicken for Any Night
You can make meatloaf out of anything, from lentils to venison to duck. You can get fancy and have the three meat combo made from equal parts beef, veal and pork or even a seafood loaf made from salmon. The possibilities are endless. From what you choose to make your meatloaf isn’t as important as … Continue reading Turkey Meatloaf with Peas and Gravy
There are foods in each state that should be considered regional treasures. In Indiana the two that readily come to mind are breaded pork tenderloins as big as your head and biscuits and gravy. Here in my home state I have had lots of variations on both dishes. When it comes to biscuits and gravy … Continue reading Biscuits with Ramp and Giblet Gravy
I grow sorrel every year. That’s not true, it’s a perennial so it comes back every year all on its own. So I am not so sure I grow it as much as just let it be. Either way I have access to it each spring. The thing is I rarely use it. It is one of those vegetables where you always say to yourself you will get around to it but never do. I guess for me sorrel is like when I lived in New York City and I always said to myself I need to go to the top of the Empire Stare Building or get out to the Statue of Liberty and then moved away before I ever did any of those things.
Last year though I started to make pesto from sorrel and I found it exciting and delicious but after that I found other vegetables and pretty much left sorrel at the side of the dance floor.
This year so far has been different. I have made a sorrel gratin, creamed sorrel and now this quiche. Maybe sorrel is a vegetable that takes time to get to know before you can become close kitchen friends. Continue reading “Pancetta Lardons, Sorrel and Mushroom Quiche”
I know, I know you are thinking cheese and you are right to do so. It is, after all, one of the many things fondue can mean but simply put it means “melted” but fondue is also used in other culinary applications beyond the Swiss national dish.
To fondue something is to sweat it over low heat until it becomes very tender. Vegetables are often used in fondue where they are left on the stove over low heat eventually breaking down into an unctuous mess of jam. It is looser then jam and while I am sure you could preserve or can fondue I don’t. I usually don’t make a fondue in those quantities. I more or less consider it a quick jam or pickle, and much like a quick pickle it is something I will store in the fridge and use within week or so.
This particular fondue goes well with grilled pork chops, is better then great on beef quesadillas and is wildly good on hotdogs and brats. In other words you will want to have this little gem around for summer grill outs.
I really like chowders and really like French onion soup. This is the best of both those worlds. I don’t like pasty chowders so I didn’t thicken it except for the starch released from the potatoes. One tip I learned from Jasper White’s 50 Chowders is to let the chowder rest covered for thirty minutes. … Continue reading Three Onion Chowder
There are two things I get hung up on when it comes to making Asian food at home — woks and procuring hard-to-find ingredients. But I look at it this way: I make Italian pasta at home, so I know I can make any noodle at home. There are a few technical issues that … Continue reading Stir Fried Noodles
Everyday my diet pushes further in a vegetarian/vegan direction. I don’t know if it is because I am older, my tastes changing, or maybe I am I just tired of all the same foods I have spent life eating. If I really think about it, which I am prone to do, I don’t think I … Continue reading Lentil Cakes, Red Onions and Sweet Potato Fries
This morning little Lynnie keeps yelling and pointing in excitement at the cake I made for last night’s Sunday dinner. She is telling me she wants it for her birthday. The heels on the last three slices of the cake have been nibbled. Last night she kept slipping her little hand in and under the … Continue reading Breton Butter Cake
The rain is really coming down now.
On the few days it has been nice I have been to the garden looking for the tiniest hints of spring. Maybe thin asparagus tips might be peeking at me through the damp dirt. The tarragon is growing, so is the sorrel and savory. The purple chive blossoms are ready to burst open and there are strong whiffs of lovage. I have already made my beloved lovage cream cheese spread even if it is only beloved by me.
I know I could go to the store and buy asparagus. I know it would taste good. I have already seen countless asparagus recipes tempting me, one for an asparagus tart that looks amazing.
The mustard greens are blooming now, a toad has dug his way up from the mud. Around dinner time he wrestles himself in between clumps of dirt getting himself as close to the earth’s warmth as he can. He needs to protect himself from the night time cold. During the heat of the day a snake is searching the compost pile for mice. Soon…I think to myself…soon you will get to taste the sweetness of the asparagus that only happens when you grow your own. Continue reading “The Asparagus Has Not Sprung”
If my extended family’s eating habits are an indication as to what the preferred meat was on my grandparents and great grandparents farm then it is obvious to me I come from a long line of pork eaters. It’s not as if this matters or that I need some sort of familial approval for my … Continue reading Seasoning with Pork: Polenta with Peas and Pork Sausage
When I used to go to the bookstore looking for cookbooks to add to my collection I could spend hours flipping the pages of different books. It was much like when I was younger and I would buy albums, then CDs, flipping through the alphabetized record bins searching for disk in hopes of finding something … Continue reading A Girl and Her Pig
A wonderful blend of deeply caramelized onions, spicy tomato broth and creamy chickpeas. Khatte Channe, as it is know in India, is traditionally served with a flatbread but as it is cooked in this recipe it has lots of sauce so it makes sense to serve it with simple steamed rice and some sort of … Continue reading Chickpeas in a Spicy Tomato Gravy
We all know gravy or pan sauce in large quantities might be good for our soul but it isn’t so good for our heart health. After all we are doing nothing more then adding flour or cornstarch to the fat in the bottom of a roasting or sauté pan to thicken it and adding back … Continue reading The Unctuous Possibilities of Pan Juices
What thrills me the most about potato cakes like this is the crispy top and creamy interior. If you use good potatoes the flavor is unbeatable and if you are creative you can even layer the interior with things like roasted garlic, wilted onions, green onions or even chopped frozen broccoli that has been thawed … Continue reading Potato Cake
This time of year potatoes are a shot glass full of sunshine, they are the break-up song I can’t stop listening to, they are my noodle, my rice, and my comfort. They are soothing in the way a pacifier is to a child and they get me through the edgy emotions of late winter. They … Continue reading Everyday Potatoes
These burgers are great bun or no. The key here, at least for me, is not to use breast only ground turkey which really dries out but a combination of ground thigh and breast. Read the labels on the packages carefully. Lemon parsley butter is a natural for these. While you make more butter then … Continue reading Turkey Burgers with Lemon Parsley Butter
The only way buttermilk will go to waste is if you if you have a lack of ideas for using it and because of this don’t. It can hang out longer then regular milk because of the live culture but it will eventually go bad. This dressing alone can be used as a base, … Continue reading Pickled Green Onion Ranch
Serves 4 Smothered chicken makes for a comforting Sunday dinner. It’s the kind of dinner that will bring the kids back on Sundays after they have left home to be on their own. The combination of peppers, onions and celery (known as the trinity in cooking) is very warming and homey. It is a great … Continue reading Smothered Chicken
Back when I thought I could eat gluten I was a biscuit hound. It was nothing for me to scarf down two or three. I have been known to forgo the rest of dinner for a good biscuit. I always considered myself a connoisseur, from angel biscuits to crescents or buttermilk to sweet potato I … Continue reading Saving Grace Biscuits
I watched a movie about hunger a few days ago and I saw a report on kids, families really, going hungry in America. It caused me concern, “this is America after all,” I thought. I got online and started to look around. I found this wonderful pamphlet to help anyone who wants to reduce their … Continue reading Good Food on a Tight Budget
I like this bread because it uses leftovers. What do I mean by leftovers? My girls don’t like heels and crusts. Sure I could force them to eat them, could throw them out or I could trim them off and save them for other uses. I could make bread crumbs or, for instance, I could … Continue reading Daily Bread
I spent the better part my early years learning to capture moments on film and to see as a photojournalist. Now I can’t escape seeing this way and I don’t want to either. The reality is I enjoy it. I can see things in a way most people can’t. I have a different view, my own view, of the world. One that comes in fractions of a second.
It may seem odd but I set my cameras down and walked away from photojournalism almost twenty years ago, nevertheless throughout those camera-less years I continue to see and continue to record. Now I do it with words.
On a daily basis decisive moments are captured and processed with my eyes. As a photographer, I continued to capture the moments. As a writer, however, I let the moments dissipate and simmer and roll around in my head.
Over the years, decisive moments switched from concrete images or snippets to ethereal feelings that turn and juxtapose the lives and scenes in front of me into lead sentences and paragraphs. I found myself using words to capture what is suggested, but often unseen, in decisive moments
Words allow me to capture the things photographs can’t. Actually it is more like the words complete the photographs I always want to take. I am pretty sure this is the reason I gave up defining myself only as a photographer. No matter how hard I tried I could never complete the story as I saw it because the pictures I was seeing didn’t exist and couldn’t exist without words.
When these two parts finally came together the images I was seeing could finally be captured. I could get at the whole story and tell it in a way that felt complete. continue reading Continue reading “Soul Mates”
It is shortly after all the present opening hullabaloo, when I look up from cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half, that I see the look on Vivian’s face. I catch a glimpse of disappointment in her eyes and it is very clearly the look of self pity caused by not getting everything she wants for Christmas.
I know exactly how she feels. I remember the first time I felt the same way. I also remember the shame I felt for being selfish and while I know which feeling is right at her young age, I am still not sure which feeling is worse.
Oddly, I guess with age I have come to have similar emotions about New Year’s.
For instance, each year when I take stock of myself in the time between Christmas and January 1st, I am always looking back in disappointment at the things I wanted to happen but didn’t, the things that went wrong, or the things that I will have to deny myself to make the coming year presumably better. It seems silly.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out to me that I am a very blessed person, and really, I want for nothing. Well, I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, and proudly I have lost a lot this year, but a few more wouldn’t hurt. Even so, I don’t really need to deny myself. I just need to eat differently. Continue reading “Karilean Borscht with Resolution”
I really enjoy making and eating the foods of Southeast Asia. I make trips to the Asian grocery and buy up all kinds of different produce that aren’t found in my garden or at the local grocer. I don’t really drive but an extra five minutes to get there, the groceries cost less which makes … Continue reading Laotian Beef Salad (Larb)
This is to pig what XO is to cognac.
There is something special about trout that goes beyond just eating. They are one of only fish that have a whole culture built around them. They are a freshwater game fish, they are skittish and will jump at their own shadow. They only thrive in cold water and need lots of oxygen provided by a … Continue reading Pan Fried Trout with Prosciutto, Crispy Sage and Pine Nuts
I made a recipe of yours last night. It wasn’t the first time I have made this recipe, in fact, I have made it several times but it has been far to long since it has graced our table, rest assured, this will not happen again. Just in case I haven’t been clear it was beyond delicious as always.
I remember the night I watched you make the gratin on TV. It must have been about three in the morning or somewhere around there. I was still working in the restaurant business and it had been a long night on the line. Now I was home, my wife fast asleep in bed, and I out in the living room and on the couch with a beer in my hand winding down. I was flipping through a food magazine and doing the same with the channels on TV.
At the time I had not seen but a couple shows in any of your many series because our local PBS station didn’t carry them or they were on at times when I wasn’t around. But here you were in the wee hours of the morning in front of the camera, your heavy French accent, broad smile, all as unmistakeable as the sparkle in your eyes. You caught my attention right away.
I watched as you peeled shrimp and even went so far as to show me how to pinch the tails between my thumb and forefinger, then wiggle, and finally you gently pulled and I watched as all the tail meat slipped out of its casing without any waste. Then you sliced a handful of the freshest white mushrooms with such speed and accuracy it could have been a magic trick. You wasted no time doing the same with a couple of green onions. Continue reading “Dear Mr. Pepin,”
Paella to me is the ultimate one pot meal. It also is the time of year where I am not ready for a stew but want something more substantial than the usual summer fare. Paella is a great answer. Although paella is considered Spanish I think this one is more Mediterranean. I use Italian sausages … Continue reading Chicken, Sausage and Red Pepper Paella
Reviewing a website isn’t something I would normally do. In this case it isn’t the website but a feature on the site itself. You all know I call Food52 home(that is a full disclosure). I would give the site itself a triple A rating but my aim here is to call attention to a … Continue reading The Genius of Genius
Sort of a cross between mush and sausage scrapple has been called many things, including “everything but the squeal.” In other words it gets a bad rap. If you look at the ingredients list below you will find, first and foremost, it is nitrite free, sugar free, and gluten free. It is true when it … Continue reading Scrapple
Obviously we are proud of our accomplishment. We want to share it with you but we also want to give you a little inside peek at what is between the covers. What is FOODQUARTRERLY? Honestly, if I were to put words to it, and this shows my age, it is what in old school rock-n-roll … Continue reading A Peek Inside Foodquarterly
The difference between Edna Lewis’ book The Taste of Country Cooking and countless other cookbooks is she truly celebrates food. Not only is it a celebration but it is the gospel of farm to table eating, a hymn of fresh, great tasting, whole food that should be sung loudly as the new testament of eating … Continue reading Edna Lewis: The Taste of Country Cooking
For some it might have been potato or green bean, but for me my gratin affinity began at an early age with macaroni and cheese. You know, the good old-fashioned kind with real cheddar and whole milk thickened with roux or egg yolks. The one that is baked until the correct ratio of crispy, crunchy … Continue reading Celery Root and Potato Gratin
There is never a good time for bad news, but there it is, right in front of me, plain as a shadow on a sunny day.
She breaks the news the minute she is in the car. I’m trying to get her in her car seat and the buckle hasn’t even clicked when she blurts it out:
“Dad, I think I want to leave home.”
I move back, still leaning over her. I try to get her freckled little face, her blue eyes, in focus. I don’t have my glasses on. The back of the front seat keeps me from moving back far enough, so I have to squint to see just how serious this statement, this bomb, is.
No hint of a smile; if she isn’t serious, she should win an Oscar.
“Ohhh-kay,” I say.
I walk around the car and wave to Mrs. Davis, Vivian’s kindergarten teacher. I drop my chin, looking down at the pavement and smile. She cast the hook and I’m going to run with it. It’s a good opportunity to connect. Lynnie is at preschool for a couple more hours, I’ve made Vivian’s favorite, chicken noodle, for lunch, and this plan to leave home will make for good conversation over soup and crackers.
It started out as an ordinary day. We all woke up at the usual time; no crying, no wrong-side-of-the-bed. They ate their pancakes, had their juice, and were dressed and ready to go to the bus stop without any of my deep-voiced “matching socks, girls” or you need your gym shoes today”–not even the requisite “if we miss the bus…” threat. I don’t need any of those stern words, meant to teach them that a sense of urgency is sometimes necessary, because for once they got ready before they started playing. Actually, I guess it started as an extraordinary day.
Now, on the way home from school, Vivian and I ride in silence. I’m trying to figure out where this “leaving home” thing is coming from, and she, I am sure, is using the silence as a negotiating tool, to bring her opponent to the table first. It is a short drive home, and I decide not to bring it up again. It’s up to Vivian.
As I open the screen door to the house, I get a good whiff of the chicken stock on the stove. I mention that I made chicken-noodle soup for lunch and ask if she would like a bowl.
“Oh, not now, Daddy–I need to pack,” she says.
“It’s hot and yummy, and you’re going to need your strength,” I reply. Besides, you have plenty of time.”
She consents to lunch. Continue reading “The Chess Game”
I am not perfect and don’t plan to be anytime soon. I buy to much when I should do with less and I always seem to waste more then I think I should. I try to do better. I compost because I have a garden, I use glass cups instead of plastic, I don’t do … Continue reading The iPad Stand
This dish has a history that is connected to two other dishes. The two dishes were last summer favorites and they were a pesto recipe from Saveur magazine, Trofie al Pesto, that called for green beans and potatoes. It is, and still is, by far my favorite Italian pesto dish. The second dish comes from Momofuku, a favorite cookbook, and it is a recipe called Scallion Noodles.
What both dishes do is chop or process the pesto ingredients fine enough that when tossed with hot noodles they cook. One of the things I don’t like about most pesto dishes is the raw garlic taste that you carry with you the rest of the meal and maybe even the rest of the day. These two recipes have solved that problem.
The pesto created here carries on with the finely chopped tradition but is also packed with a little more unami by its use of the traditional Thai flavors of fish sauce and lime.
If you want to round out this meal a steamer tray full of potstickers and a Thai style salad would definitely do the trick. Continue reading “Thai Pesto with Brown Rice Noodles”
At 2am I got out of bed and went to the kitchen to write down a recipe idea for a lamb, blood orange, feta and mint tapas, after all I had been in the mood for North African influenced food. Yes, 2am, if I have an idea and I don’t write it down it is apt to disappear. I will stop anything I am doing to write down a recipe. I went back to sleep and on Sunday I started working on my new idea. Made it, loved it and its many layers of flavor. I photographed it and went about my day. The recipe makes 16 meatballs so there were leftovers and now it was dinner time. This was a spur of the moment creation that happened at the stove and it, at least to us who ate it, is amazing. Continue reading “Lamb Meatballs with a Broken Yogurt Saffron Sauce”
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For some it might have been potato or green bean, but for me my gratin affinity began at an early age with macaroni and cheese. You know, the good old-fashioned kind with real cheddar and whole milk thickened with roux or egg yolks. The one that is baked until the correct ratio of crispy, crunchy … Continue reading Celery Root and Potato Gratin
Don’t think because the package says it was washed three times that you don’t have too. I make one assumption when it comes to vegetables. I assume a herd of cows walked through the veggie patch right before someone picked my food. Keep in mind cows are not discrete. Their bathroom is the great wide … Continue reading Scrub Those Veggies
If planted midsummer red cabbage will mature just about the time of the first frost. As long as it is harvested before the first hard freeze it will last in storage until about the beginning of the year. Depending of the variety and the conditions under which it is stored it might last a little longer.
Whether you grow it or buy it red cabbage is a great winter vegetable that is under utilized by the home cook. It can easily be whipped into a tasty Asian slaw, turned into a comforting bowl of borscht or a wonderful braised red cabbage. This dish is perfect with pork chops or pork roasts and is also a fine accompaniment to ham or cured and smoked pork chops. Continue reading “Braised Red Cabbage”
Sure, I know, every chef says you should just wet a kitchen towel and put it under your cutting board, or bowl or whatever you don’t want to slide around. Well that is easy to say when you have an industrial laundry service and who wants a wet towel sitting under their cutting board anyway. … Continue reading Non-Slip Drawer Liners
There are so many different kinds of bread. You could make sourdough where you feed a starter flour to grow it and keep it alive, you can retard loaves in the refrigerator overnight, there are paté fermentes, bigas and all kinds of other preferments and sure it is great to have knowledge of all these breads but at the same time it is nice to have a tried and true everyday bread. A bread with some shelf life, a bread that little kids like and one that is good with which to make a variety of sandwiches.
For me this is that loaf. It debunked the idea that my two girls would only eat white bread. They love it. It fits into my notion that I won’t make bread that isn’t at least 75 percent whole wheat. It makes two loaves that will be around just long enough that you won’t need to throw it out because it is old.
Be sure to buy a fine grind whole wheat flour and make sure to buy it at a store with high turnover of its whole wheat. Countless times I have brought a bag home only to open it and it is rancid. Whole wheat flour should smell like a wheat field not rancid oil or some other off smell.
I like to braid this loaf for two reasons. One it looks pretty and two, when I make this loaf on a Sunday it is nice to bake it about two hour before dinner, remove it from the oven to cool a little, then serve it warm and let people tear off a hunk. It will tear at the braids like dinner rolls would. Continue reading “Farmhouse Whole Wheat”
These are home made corn tortillas. A skill every cook should learn and teach their family. These little disks of goodness have fed countless billions over the centuries. If you have ever seen someone make these by patting them out into perfect rounds using their hands you will be fascinated and then appalled that these kinds of skills and cultural heritage are being lost to kitchens daily. Continue reading “Yellow Corn Tortillas”
Chili is great, and a favorite, but sometimes it is nice to find an alternative. This is a nice change for sure. The sourness of the tomatillos cuts the richness of the pork while still letting the pork taste rich. The other thing about the tomatillos is the juice from them thickens the broth. The … Continue reading Pork Pazolé
White beans and tuna have always been combined in salads and pasta and have long been purveyor’s of pantry dinners in Italy. I have taken up the habit of pantry pasta myself and while I don’t keep many canned goods I do keep tomato sauce, tuna in olive oil, dried beans and pasta on hand. … Continue reading Tuna with White Beans and Spaghetti
Plastic dough scrapers make one of the best dirty dish cleaning tools around. For my pans they are non-scratch, get into the crooks and crannies removing all the stuck on stuff in a jiff. I always have two on hand just for dirty jobs like getting the ring of crud around the top of a … Continue reading Plastic Dough Scrapers
Hippy food has long been a bastion of vegetarian eats for many reasons. Some political, some personal but in all honesty mostly because it is cheap and often utilizes every last morsel sharing some of the same philosophy as head to tail eating, ironic?, well, yes. Never mind the reasons though because that doesn’t mean … Continue reading Stems and Seeds
If you have ever had fresh raw fava beans then you know the wonderful tender pop, the tender chew and the juicy flavor. It goes wonderfully here with the green beans and the dressing. Wheat berries are another wonderful addition to your repertoire. They add a subtle chew and give the dish a pasta flavor … Continue reading White Wheat Berry Salad with Fresh Beans
The term farro can be very confusing. If you look it up you will see no one really wants to pin the tail on the donkey, and as such, all the authors of the articles seem to want to avoid naming a specific grain as farro. People really want spelt to be farro but I … Continue reading Farro and Roasted Garlic Pilaf
I never feel like people like to cook rice unless of course they are from a country or region where it is a staple. I will say it took me a while to get the hang of it. Even after culinary school, because I didn’t cook rice often, it was a struggle. It seemed like … Continue reading Peas and Rice with Crispy Shallots
This is so good for you you won’t even know it taste really delicious. Seriously good eats and a great side dish for roast birds of any kind and I’ll even throw salmon onto that list. Yes, I know it uses two sauce pans but, please, neither grain leaves behind a sticky mess. You could … Continue reading Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf
I can tell you, with great certainty, how good a restaurant is going to be by the temperature of their plates. If I get a stone cold plate with hot food chances are the dinner will be average. If I get a cold salad on a warm plate just out of the dish machine, again, … Continue reading Sautéed Chicken with Pepperoni and Olives