Monday, December 31, 2012

Gringo Coquito

Coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog)

Coquito is a coconut flavored drink that originated in Puerto Rico. It’s similar to Egg Nog and is most often served during the Christmas holiday season. I offer many thanks to my long-time friend Jeff Harpell, a world traveler and fellow food lover now living in Spain, for sharing this holiday tradition. What a wonderful basis for a twenty-year friendship – food!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Beef Wellington with Cumberland Sauce

Beef Wellington with Cumberland Sauce

My introduction to Beef Wellington came from a friend in Chicago with whom I had the pleasure to cook and cater some wonderful dinners, all the while studying Psychology. While I did not become a Psychologist, I am still cooking.

Nancy had convinced her friend Chef Louis to give her his prized Beef Wellington recipe by trading some or her own creations and then allowing me to assist in its preparation. I never did see the actual recipe – at the Chef’s insistence! Talk about a closely guarded secret!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

 Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/
Wishing all a very 
Merry Christmas 
and a 
Healthy New Year 
filled with 
Good Fortune 
and Good Food!


Monday, December 24, 2012

No Holds Barred Mac ‘n’ Cheeses

Mac and Cheese

We all know that Macaroni and Cheese is traditionally made with Elbow shaped pasta, but when you order it at your favorite gastro-pub it’s probably made with some other more trendy shape. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but don’t you secretly wish for at least some nod to convention? They, and we here, have already presented you with a dish as far removed from the little blue box of neon yellow cheesiness as can be. But why eradicate the last semblance of comfort from this, the quintessential comfort food?

Let’s stand up and demand our Elbow Macaroni, but no tantrums please and do remember to keep your elbows off the table!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Carbonada Criolla

Carbonada Criolla

Translated literally, Carbonada Criolla is Creole Carbonada... not much help, eh?  Well, let’s see what we can figure out here, and if I’m way off base, I welcome your assistance. Since this dish hails from Argentina, this usage of “Creole” probably refers to people born in the colonies with predominately unmixed Spanish descent.  Carbonada is most likely in reference to cooking over a wood fire to char the meat, signaling to us that there’s a substantial flavor treat ahead. So the first generation Spanish Colonial residents of Argentina made a popular dish that centered around nicely browned meat. I think we should thank them!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chicken with Fresh Morel Mushrooms

Chicken with Fresh Morel Mushrooms
Chicken with Fresh Morel Mushrooms, Pine Nut Polenta and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Here in Michigan, foraging for Morel Mushrooms can be all consuming for fans of this wild prize. A warm March gets the blood lust going and by April and mid-to-late May, talk of the hunt for the curly headed little marvels can rival even deer hunting fever. The Morel, like its snooty, upper-crust cousin the Truffle, has an earthy taste that doesn’t suit every palette. But since the Morel presents itself to the world by standing tall where it grows and not requiring trained pigs to locate it, they do give more folks the opportunity to learn to love them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup

This recipe is based on the soup my sister-in-law Jean prepares for her family for Wigilia – the traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal. Wigilia is basically “the vigil” and is full of symbolism and family and good food. Mushroom Soup is a traditional dish served as part of the meat-less Wigilia meal so this version, made with both Chicken and Beef Stocks, doesn’t technically qualify for Vegans. For the rest of us, this is a rich, hearty and delicious soup to enjoy the year 'round!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fluffy, Lumpy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Remember your Grandmother’s mashed potatoes? Those stiff peaks of potato-ey goodness with a dollop of butter melting in the crater on top! Then came Mom’s whipped potatoes… just shy of the wallpaper paste that nestled in the tinfoil corner of a TV dinner. What happened between those two generations? Convenience food happened, electric mixers happened! Love ya Mom, but whipped potatoes? No thanks!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bourbonator Chicken

Bourbon Chicken

Cajun food makes me happy. Okay any food that I find delicious makes me happy but, when food triggers good feelings from past experiences, I get really happy.

Food memories, for me, are not always connected with a specific dish. Often just a combination of spices or flavors will remind me simply of a place or a time that has nothing to do with the dish I’m eating. When I eat any food that makes me think of New Orleans, I immediately think of my very first “fine dining” experience, at the Commander’s Palace. I was twelve years old and I realized then, as I ate Turtle Soup and shared Floating Island with my parents, that I was gonna like good food.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spicy Bolivian Chicken

Spicy Bolivian Chicken

Slightly sweet with a little bit of fire, just like a Gaucho. Well not really just like a Gaucho because cowboys don’t taste like peanut butter. You probably have most if not all of the fixin’s for this quick, simple dish at home now. It will probably become a go to favorite for last minute family dinners.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mussels with Chunky Marinara

Mussels Marinara

Mussels, like most shellfish, require virtually no additions other than some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Garlic to make them a tasty treat. So why do we add other ingredients? To allow them to be flavored by the mussels!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you like chocolate, then you will be in chocolate heaven with these unbelievably delicious cookies. The only change I would make is the amount of dough used for each cookie. A rounded Teaspoon makes the cookie about 2 1/4" in diameter giving you about 5 dozen. If you want larger cookies for a bigger chocolate rush, double the amount of dough for each cookie. You should get about 2 1/2 dozen out of a batch. This recipe is from our friends at Hershey's Kitchens. Happy Chocolate!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

This is a really simple recipe that goes exceptionally well with any dish, especially beef, pork and of course roast turkey that will add a special sweet/tart note to your meal. You can add grated orange rind and juice and chopped walnuts to make a cranberry relish that is really delicious.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Polenta with Toasted Pine Nuts

Polenta with Pine Nuts

Polenta is becoming the new mashed potato in many kitchens today. Many people are shunning potatoes because of the carbohydrates and fats, and for those who cannot eat wheat and have eliminated pasta, Polenta may be the perfect substitute starch.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Garlic Confit

Garlic Confit

Garlic Confit is used in so many preparations that many consider it to be a pantry staple. It's a wonderful flavoring addition for many dishes from mashed potatoes to seafood, or stirred into soup or spread on a crusty piece of bread. Don’t forget to use the oil and not just the garlic cloves.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sautéed Kale

Sautéed Kale

Kale or borecole is in the cabbage family with green or purple leaves and is one of the healthiest vegetables on Earth! Kale’s health benefits are directly attributed to the high concentration of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K as well as sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Besides being incredibly healthy for you, it is also a delicious side dish vegetable that you are sure to like after trying this recipe!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Braised Chicken Finocchio (Fennel)

Chicken with Fennel
Chicken Finoccio with Fluffy, Lumpy Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Kale

Finocchio (Florentine Fennel) is a seriously overlooked vegetable in most American homes, that’s probably just because most Americans only relate the Anise flavor it has to desserts, candy, and certain potent libations. But this aromatic Fennel bulb is available in every supermarket produce department across the country. Cooking mellows the flavor, but it’s still readily identifiable, so start using Fennel with this recipe and you’re sure to begin searching out other ways to incorporate the subtle essence.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beef Stew with Roasted Root Vegetables

Beef Stew

Beef Stew is one of the most loved comfort foods, especially during the cold winter months ahead of us. Nothing satisfies a hearty appetite like a steaming bowl of savory beef stew accompanied by slices of crusty buttered bread.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies

What’s a Tassie?  Basically all around the world it’s a cup of some sort. This derivation probably comes from Scotland, but in old French, it’s a tasse. A tassah, in Arabic, is a basin and similarly in Persian it’s tast. But here in the good ol’ US of A it’s a transport method for sweet, buttery pecan goodness and just plain delicious. You can find recipes for Pecan Tassies in just about every Church Basement Social, Ladies Auxiliary, or Cookie Exchange cookbook. Mom just called them little Pecan Pies and, you know, for something this basic that’s just perfect.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Nothing says Monday in New Orleans like Red Beans & Rice. This traditional staple started as a dish to use up Sunday’s leftover ham bone that didn’t take watching and could cook unattended for the better part of a day while the washing was done. Well, Monday may not necessarily be “wash day” anymore, but it does mean the weekend is behind us and it’s time to get down working again. So what better way to start the week than a smoky, spicy, plate of goodness from The Big Easy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore
This wonderful chicken dish is a big favorite at our dinner table the year 'round! The tender chicken bathes in an intensely flavored tomato base filled with firm mushrooms and tender red bell pepper that is absolutely delicious! Side this dish with a green salad, and pasta or polenta for a satisfying meal everyone will love.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Awesome Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts have had a nasty reputation for all long as I can remember. Kids (and many adults), will turn up their noses just hearing the words. The Pancetta and Chicken Stock are the special ingredients that make this vegetable side exceptional and will have them asking for seconds!


I created this blog to share my individual interpretations of traditional recipes that I hope you will agree are uniquely different. I start by taking a traditional recipe that many of you are familiar with then tweak it by introducing ingredient variations, additions and a whole lot of love for the art of cooking. 

I have enjoyed cooking for most of my adult life and find it irresistible to take a good recipe and change it into something exceptional. I look forward to your comments, constructive criticisms and accolades. 
Happy Eating!