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
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”
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”
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 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
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…”
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”
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
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
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”
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
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
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
I don’t know why I haven’t made this lately. I developed this recipe for a fish and seafood class I used to teach at the local culinary school. It might seem bell-less and whistle-less but don’t let it fool you. It is a workhorse soup that is deeply satisfying in a working class bar sorta … Continue reading Manhattan Clam Chowder
I know a lot of people hunt for trophy deer, the bucks with the big racks. I don’t. I am always looking for a yearling. A small deer that is tender and mild in flavor. For me it is the difference between lamb and mutton. I have eaten mutton but would always choose lamb over … Continue reading Venison Liver with Pickled Green Onions, Bacon and Peas and Carrots
One of the things I like best about the French dish Hachis Pamentier is the looseness of the recipe. Unlike Shepard’s Pie which connotates lamb as the central ingredient Hachis Parmentier quite often simply lists chopped meat and then leaves it to your discretion. So anything on hand, usually cooked, usually leftovers which is generally … Continue reading Hachis Parmentier
Dear Mr. Pépin, 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 … Continue reading Dear Mr. Pépin
This is a tart with an agenda. Its roots are old fashioned and small town but don’t let that fool you. It is as luscious and silky as Scarlett Johansson sauntering the red carpet. It is as lascivious as True Blood and as beaten-up as Mickey Rourke on a bad day. There are tarts and … Continue reading Madeira Tart
The one thing that stays the same around my kitchen, has been a continuous thread, is collard greens. Collard recipes have been prepared in many incarnations but eventually I rendered them all down the most basic of recipes. I like collards in every fashion imaginable, and while I can spoon potlikker right out of the … Continue reading Pot Roasted Collards and Purple Hull Pea Fritters with Spicy Buttermilk Gravy
I really like chowders and really like French onion soup. 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. It is really does make a difference by … Continue reading Three Onion Chowder
In looking for a new rib recipe for the grill, Pork in Adobo kept coming across the radar. Knowing that Filipino food is considered, by some, to be the soul food of the Pacific it became interesting. Looking at the ingredients it was apparent, or seemed so, that this was a dish influenced by an … Continue reading Pork Ribs in Adobo
When I was younger, looking for a cure to the darker moods of the seasonal doldrums, I used to lie with my back on the floor, my butt up against the lounge, and my legs in an L-shape up on the cushion. Using the chair in reverse, basically, I could lay there a long time, … Continue reading A Hint of Allspice
I am a flatlander. You see in Indiana the northern two thirds of the state is flat, while the southern third becomes the foothills to the Appalachians. It all happened when the glaciers rolled through, which was sort of like pushing a sofa on a Persian rug. The rug in front of the sofa bunches … Continue reading The Whimsical Mistress
More often then not, actually to many times to count, I have seen fried green tomatoes served one way, sliced, Cajun spiced and dredged almost always in cornmeal. Then last year Amy and I went to The Publican restaurant in Chicago. It is an everything pig restaurant. Crispy pigs ears, everything fried in lard, boudin … Continue reading Fried Green Tomatoes
The sausages used in this dish come from the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn and is a book I highly recommend if you want to make sausage and any charcuterie in general. Pictured at left are trays of home made ricotta cavatelli. The essay The Great One that generated this recipe can be … Continue reading Chicken, Basil, and Tomato Sausage with Cavatelli
While this technically is vegetarian I don’t think I would call it that. Vegetarian leads me to think there are some vegetables involved. I will call it meatless though. This lasagna takes me straight back to my childhood. It reminds me of everything I loved about baked pasta growing up and guess what, it is … Continue reading Cheese Lasagne
The most beautiful San Marzano tomatoes have been coming out, by the bushel, of the garden. I have been canning sauce, making paste and oven dried tomatoes like it is my civic duty to waste not one tomato. I am loving it. I can’t wait to open a jar of sauce in the middle of … Continue reading Baked Rigatoni with Currants and Pine Nuts
A French onion soup recipe isn’t exactly uncommon. I am not even going to say this one is the best as in best ever French onion soup because that would be like saying my religion is the best, or the only, which is just not true. So why publish or blog this recipe? Well because … Continue reading French Onion Soup
I have been making lemon bars for many years now from a recipe by John Taylor also known as Hoppin’ John. A while back I thought it would make a great tart, and guess what, it does. If you like Low Country cooking you should search out his cookbook Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah: Dining at … Continue reading Meyer Lemon Tart
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