Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Roman Roll

Roman Roll - Stuffed Meatloaf

This is a perfect casual main course to serve friends on a cold winter night. The aromas coming from your kitchen will have your guests anticipating great things and when you sit down to eat they will not be disappointed! Make sure your guests are all good friends – there’s a lot of garlic in this dish!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

These are normal, what you expect to get when you bake them yourself, adult-sized cookies. If a cookie recipe claims to yield 5 dozen cookies and the dough doesn’t fill half of your kitchen, you know they’re lying to you. Unless of course each cookie is paper thin and 1½ inches across! This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies that you’ll be proud to call homemade.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Roasted Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

The pork chops we ate when I was growing up were prepared one of two ways; either fried or baked. When fried they were served with pan gravy and when baked they were always accompanied by applesauce. This recipe is an updated version of the baked pork chops with applesauce I ate as a child. Sweet and tart fruits are the perfect complement to pork. You’ll find fruit stuffed inside and on top of chops, roasts and tenderloins in just about every cook’s repertoire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family and good food! Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Maple Glazed Roasted Yams

Maple Glazed Roasted Yams

Sweet potatoes or yams are really good for you. But letting them simmer for an hour or more in a bath of brown sugar syrup is a little contrary to any health benefits! Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and glazing with real maple syrup adds just the right amount of “candy” to the mix.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pan Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Pan Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Sometimes when trying out a new recipe for a main course dish, you devote all of your concentration on the new comer and let the sides, well... slide. That’s not fair to the new dish or your family and certainly doesn’t showcase your kitchen talents. So it’s nice to serve an accompaniment that doesn’t require constant attention, but still looks and tastes great. This is of one the easiest side dishes you can prepare.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Butter Toasted Orzo

Butter Toasted Orzo

The Italian word “Orzo” translates literally as “barley”. It is also the name of a small cut pasta roughly the size and shape of a large grain of rice. Orzo is most often used in soups, and I do occasionally substitute Orzo for barley in some soup recipes but here we’re preparing Orzo as a pasta side dish.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Polenta Stuffed Mushrooms

Polenta Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms at a restaurant always sound like they’re going to be great, and then you order them. What’s the big deal with breadcrumbs! (Sure there’s usually some garlic in there too, but all too often that’s it.) Now, Stuffed Mushrooms at home? That’s a completely different story! When you’re in complete control of what goes in and on your food, you can make some really exciting choices.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Caramelized Cauliflower

Caramelized Cauliflower

Too often, the only time Cauliflower is eaten by most people is as part of a crudité platter or smothered in cheese sauce. I have nothing against either of these preparations – I love them both, but there are other ways to serve this much maligned vegetable.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Sometimes you are asked to bring “something simple, like a salad” to a cookout or potluck. Please, please make it yourself! Unless you get that request while you’re driving to the party there is no reason to bring store-bought. Pasta salads can be as varied as your imagination allows, but all too often they end up tasting the same, so let’s put some punch in our pasta.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hearts and Sole

Baked Sole with artichoke bottoms

Just down 63rd street from Midway Airport in Chicago, the French Kitchen (now just a memory) served a dish called Sole en Sack. It doesn’t take a degree in the romantic languages to translate that, does it? There was nothing complex about the cooking method, seasoning or the presentation. When it was brought to your table, you tore open the paper lunch bag and ate the delicately steamed, lemon scented fish.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beef and Bean Enchurritos

Beef and Bean Enchurritos

Mexican influenced cuisine was never part of our family fare when I was growing up in suburban Chicago. The first time we experienced anything close was during a vacation trip to Los Angeles in the very early 1960’s when my older brother begged my parents to try something he had heard about called a Taco. The fact is that most of what is referred to, here in the U.S., as Mexican food is actually only a bunch of really distant cousins to the cuisine of our southern neighbors. (This is not all that different from our westernized versions of any other culture’s foods!)

Monday, October 7, 2013

365 BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

One of the best things about cooking barbeque is being outdoors. However, when the temperature outside is colder than the beer I don’t do a lot of prolonged grill work. But that doesn’t mean that I give up enjoying BBQ’d food.

Barbeque Sauce Starter Kit

Never discuss politics or religion or barbeque sauce with friends. Barbeque sauce preference is one of the most deeply held convictions a person can cherish. Everyone has their favorite BBQ sauce. Yours might be a particular store bought version and if you don’t cook a lot of barbeque that is entirely understandable. But if you’re serious about getting serious about BBQ, I suggest that you start with this sauce and take it from there. You’ll want to develop your own signature sauce that you’ve spent countless hours perfecting. And then you will never, ever share the exact recipe with anyone – not even your spouse. That’s just how BBQ Sauce works.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom Cream

Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom Cream

Fresh Ravioli are not at all difficult to prepare and your guests never need to know that! The combination of Spinach and Mushrooms and Buttery Cream is classic and can be served as an appetizer, a pasta course or as a main course dish. And the variations possible by adding some type of seafood, poultry or meat are almost endless. (I’ll make some suggestions in the Tips and Trending section at the end of the recipe.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Swiss Scalloped Sweet & Russet Potatoes

Swiss Scalloped Sweet & Russet Potatoes

Most scalloped potato dishes do not incorporate cheese; that ingredient is usually reserved for au gratin recipes. So maybe this should be called Sweet & Russet Potatoes Au Gratin. But then au gratin refers to the toasty breadcrumb crust and this dish doesn’t have that! What’s a cook to do?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Creamed Sweet Peas with Shallot Crisps

Creamed Sweet Peas with Shallot Crisps

If you can get fresh, and I mean farm fresh not super-market fresh, Sweet Peas - buy all you can carry! And then use them within one or two days. The window of opportunity to get really fresh Sweet Peas in season is very small and they do not last long once they leave the farm. This recipe will shine if you can use fresh instead of frozen, but don’t let a shortage of fresh peas stop you from preparing it.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes and onions are a naturally perfect combination; they just fit together in so many dishes. Scalloped potatoes without onions would just be sliced potatoes in a white sauce. American Fries or Hash Browns without onions is, well... un-American! But rarely if ever do you come across the sweet, crunchy, spiciness of onions in mashed potatoes. Until now that is.

Garlicky Pork Schnitzel

Garlicky Pork Schnitzel with Loaded Mashed Potatoes

This recipe was inspired by a meal my mom would make quite regularly when I was growing up. When mom said she was making pork chops for dinner, this is what she meant. She would fry the pork chops in shortening and butter until they were really, really, really browned. (No one ever cooked pork to anything less than overdone back then!) Then she would stick them in a hot, hot oven to hold while she made the gravy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Steakhouse Creamed Spinach

Steakhouse Creamed Spinach

This is a side dish loaded with tradition. Creamed Spinach is a steakhouse staple found virtually everywhere. This side dish is also loaded with a lot of butter fat, so it’s not a “vegetable” I would recommend as a part of your daily routine but, oh boy, is it good!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon Tomato Crème

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon Tomato Crème

This recipe is an indicator of my tenacity. It is the result of the recreation of a favorite pasta dish from a little Italian bistro we frequented nearly 30 years ago. That dish was a Rigatoni bathed in a sauce of creamy tomatoes and smoky salmon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Linguini alla Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

The original Pasta Carbonara is a simple dish traditionally made with just eggs, cheese, meat and black pepper. It’s not one of those dishes steeped in ritual and custom, handed down from generations past. In fact it’s more commonly thought that its roots in Italy are as recent as the 1940’s when the primary ingredients were made more plentiful by the presence of US troops.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pickled Golden Beets

Pickled Golden Beets

Growing up in the southwestern burbs of Chicago, pickled beets were everywhere. The canned variety was always included on every holiday relish tray. Every family-style restaurant had them on the menu, usually accompanied by cottage cheese and a wedge of iceberg lettuce. And most of the Bohemian restaurants served them hot as a side dish or along with sweet and sour kraut.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Petits Pois à La Française (Baby Green Peas)

Baby Green Peas

This is another “traditional” side dish that appears to have infinite variations on the absolutely correct way to prepare it; of course to me that’s just a challenge!  I have had this, “in the French way” or “à La Française”, made with Pearl Onions. And I’ve had it with Scallions, and with and without Carrots and with a variety of lettuce types not to mention with frozen and fresh peas. With the exception of the frozen peas, any of these alternatives could have been in the original dish.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dock of the Bay Scallop Gratiné

Bay Scallop Gratiné

Bay Scallops are the candy of the seafood world. These little bitty morsels cook to perfection in no time, demanding only minimal seasoning but in return render a creamy taste and velvety texture. As a gratin, we’re cooking our scallops while protecting them with a blanket of crumbs and butter and garlic and other good things. By the time the scallops are barely done cooking, that blanket will have melted and coated the little guys with all kinds of flavor essences designed to enhance their natural sweetness.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Braised Swiss Steak

Braised Swiss Steak

This one should definitely be filed under Comfort Food.

Remember mom’s Swiss Steak? I’m sure it was fabulous, and hopefully my flavor packed version will trigger some good memories and become a new favorite! For those of you who have only experienced Swiss Steak as the main course in a TV Dinner - trust me, this will be nothing like that.

Cut Green Beans without the Can

Cut Green Beans without the Can

Who doesn’t remember a dish of “cut green beans” fresh from the can and heated up in their own “juice.”  The color, while a pretty shade of green is more likely to be found in a box of crayons instead of in nature and I’m pretty certain that the metallic taste doesn’t come from being loaded with vitamins and minerals. Since fresh green beans are available at your grocer all the year ‘round, you should never need to buy them in a can, again.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Creamed Sweet Onion and Bacon with Sautéed Calves Liver

Sautéed Calves Liver

I figured you might actually read this post if I left the Liver off until the end of the recipe title. Did it work?  Is anybody there? The only reason I can imagine that so many people dislike Liver must be that they never had it properly cooked. Come on, something routinely served with bacon and sautéed onions can only be bad if it’s just not cooked right. After all people, it’s bacon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Deep Dish Chicken Enchiladas Montadas

Deep Dish Chicken Enchiladas Montadas

Enchiladas Montadas is a stacked variation of the popular rolled enchilada, served like a multi-layered, non-crispy tostada. My version just happens to be layered inside an individual serving size soufflé dish to keep all of the assembled ingredients bubbling together. A little bit like a pot pie.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic is definitely garlic, but its sweet nuttiness is also something much more. Use it to give a more subtle hint of garlic than a fresh clove could do or introduce garlic where no garlic has gone before.

Roasting garlic is super easy and can be done anytime you have an extra 45 minutes to spare.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stuffed Pork Loin Roll

Stuffed Pork Loin Roll

The southern influence on this dish cannot be denied; Cajun spices, Mustard Greens and thick brown gravy, bless MY heart! How can something that tastes this good not be bad for you? Okay so it’s not health food, but let’s be clear, this is not a diet recipe blog. However making good choices about the ingredients we use is important to eating well and taking care of ourselves.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lemon Tarragon Wild Rice

Lemon Tarragon Wild Rice

While white rice is the fully milled version of brown rice (the germ and bran is removed), Wild Rice, although a distant relative, is still rice nonetheless. Like its cousins, Wild Rice needs to be cooked correctly to avoid becoming starchy mush. The simple cooking method used here, in which you drain away any unabsorbed water, is key to producing a firm result.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Double Gloucester and Stilton Grillers

Grilled Gloucester and Stilton Sandwiches

I would guess that the first grilled cheese sandwich you ever ate was made with white bread and pasteurized, processed American cheese. This is not that sandwich!

First, we do away with the tissue paper white bread. There’s nothing wholesome about that! Next, the cheese needs some updating or should I say it needs a change of locale. Now we need to add a little adult taste, but still keep something for the kids.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Roasted Garlic Roasted Breast of Chicken

Roasted Chicken with Roasted Garlic

I like perfectly roasted food. Meats of all types taste like they should. Vegetables, especially root vegetables, become stars in their own right. And any excuse to cook with or otherwise consume Roasted Garlic is a noble and virtuous thing! The taste is amazing, and not nearly common enough, which I suppose is what keeps us from getting bored but who could get bored with that! So saying “roasted”, twice in the name of this recipe is not a typo.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Got the Chicken Cordon Bleu(s)

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I don’t usually use this space to describe a dish to this extent, but since Chicken Cordon Bleu is often considered pedestrian, I want to entice you to try this one. From this dish’s humble Swiss schnitzel beginnings, came a rise in popularity in the late 1950’s, advancing to stardom in the 60’s. A period when the term “blue ribbon” meant the tops! Typically a cutlet topped with a slice each of ham and Swiss cheese then folded, breaded and fried, we’ve seen many variations on this theme.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pollo Pepperazzi

Chicken and Peppers

Braising is magical! This cooking method, whether fast or slow always imparts terrific flavors. When roasting or grilling chicken parts and pieces I usually recommend leaving them as intact as possible and always end up with juicy results. But occasionally, and it’s always recipe dependent, I do like to separate the meat from the bone. Sometimes it’s purely esthetic, but in this case it is all about even cooking during our first few steps as we build up the layers of flavor that will contribute to the braising liquid.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Frittata pro rata


I say Frittata, you say... Frittata. Any way you say it, it’s a simple to make complete meal that makes sure that all of the yummy ingredients are proportionally distributed. (Pro rata as in the Latin adjective, meaning “in proportion”.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Baked French Onion Soup

Baked French Onion Soup

The only change that we’re making to this traditional dish is in its presentation. Oh, and the onions, we changed those. And the cheese at the end, that’s been updated too!

I believe that a big reason more people who love French Onion Soup won’t order it when they dine out is because they’re all dressed up. Come on, you’re wearing your best... whatever and here comes a crock completely sealed over with bubbly, melty gooey cheese. Not only is that stringy cheese going to be difficult to keep off the front of you, the really steaming hot soup underneath is super dark and full of long strands of sweetly caramelized onions that will refuse to remain captive in your spoon.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)

Refried Beans

Unfortunately, beans are not everyone’s favorite food. Then to add insult to injury, we have to name a perfectly good bean dish “Refried Beans”! The problem exists because there just isn’t a one or two word English translation of the concept behind “Frijoles Refritos.”

Little Burros Burritos


Burrito means little donkey or burro. One suggestion for the origin of the name involves the similarity in appearance of a burrito, sealed only at one end, and a burro’s ear. (I know, really appetizing, huh?) Another implies the comparable look between a completely sealed burrito and the pack the animal carries.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Antipasto Pinwheels

Antipasto Pinwheels

Antipasto is served primo del pasto; before the meal. We call them appetizers. While there are many, many ingredients that can be included in Antipasto, these are traditionally represented in various forms: meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oven Caramelized Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they Artichokes... discuss! (With a nod to Coffee Talk, Mike Myers as Linda Richman and SNL.) The Jerusalem Artichoke, aka Sunchoke, Sunroot or Earth Apple, most likely got the Jerusalem part of its name from Girasole [gi-ra-só-le], the Italian word for Sunflower. The Artichoke part of the name, however probably comes from its similar taste to the not yet bloomed thistle we know as a Globe Artichoke.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Fennel

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Fennel

You’ve invested a lot of time into making homemade Red Sauce, at least you should have! (See: Essential Red Sauce with Meat) Now it’s time to reap the rewards of your efforts with a pasta dish that takes only minutes to prepare.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Carnitas with Sweet & Peppery Slaw

Carnitas with Sweet & Peppery Slaw

When you make a dish to bring to a party or picnic, you have several basic options. You can make something that requires no more interaction by the people grazing off the buffet table than picking it up and popping it in the mouth. You can make a tasty dip and provide something crunchy to be dipped, (let’s face it, the veggies or crackers or whatever are merely transport mechanisms for the real star – the dip!) Or you can produce something that the grazers get to put together on their own – this is always the winner in my book. You make something good to eat (win raves for you), the party goers have fun assembling (win more raves), and they feel good about themselves (yet more raves!).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sort of Mom’s Sunday Pot Roast

Pot Roast

“Stringy Meat” - what a non-appetizing sounding dish! But that’s the name by which we knew Pot Roast at our house and it did mean delicious to us. But then we grew up eating things like “Trees” (Broccoli); “Pop Corn Soup” (Corn Chowder); and “Monkey” (Welsh Rarebit).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lasagne Imbottite


Confused with spelling and the overall recipe name? Well, Lasagne is the dish and lasagna are the noodles. Imbottite means “stuffed” or more literally “padded” and is the perfect description for my over the top version.

Having clarified that, I want to tell you a story...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Broasted Corned Beef Brisket

Broasted Corned Beef

Nice and easy. Low and slow. This is how I always suggest cooking less tender cuts of meat. We do this because time is the only ingredient that will break down the connective tissue and let the meat realize its delicious destiny.

Sautéed Savoy Cabbage

Sautéed Savoy Cabbage

Cabbage. We like to stuff it, make salads with it and add it to soups and all sorts of other foods. While it works perfectly well as an added ingredient, cabbage is seriously overlooked as a side dish by itself. When it does appear by itself, it is usually still in a supporting role consigned to be boiled along with the rest of the “starring role” vegetables.

Stovetop Roasted Root Vegetables

Stovetop Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting is a dry method that surrounds the food with heat for even cooking. The results of roasting are a beautifully caramelized surface with a tender interior. An oven is the ideal place for all this to occur, but sometimes my oven is otherwise occupied and I have to look elsewhere to provide similar outcomes.