Wednesday, November 30, 2016

i happen to love pumpkins

But not always as pie, so this is my take on a stuffed pumpkin for dessert

Pumpkins for dessert

·        1 medium sugar pumpkin
·        2 apples (or 1 apple and one pear), cored and diced
·        1/2 cup walnuts
·        1/2 cup raisins
·        1/2 cup cranberries
·        1/2 stick butter
·        1/4 cup brown sugar
·        1/4 cup apple juice
·        2 teaspoons cinnamon
·        1 teaspoon cloves, ground
·        1 teaspoon allspice, ground
·        1 teaspoon nutmeg
·        1/2 teaspoon ginger

hollow out the pumpkin, removing stringy interior
save seeds for roasting
hydrate the raisins in hot apple juice with butter
just pop the cranberries in the hot liquid
mix all the ingredients together and stuff the pumpkin
bake @ 325 F for  hour in a baking pan to catch any liquid
serve warn with vanilla ice cream

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

the analytical cook?

Whenever i try to do something,
i think about it,
research it
and try to remember my mom's or a restaraunts way...
when i eat out -
 i try to figure out
 some of the things that made a particular,
"something" so good...

here are some examples:
A bowl of chili at a restaurant, where the chopped meat was tender!
There were other difference, but i never had a bowl of chili where the meat tasted "medium rare" tender...
what did they do?
They cooked the chili "base separately, then added the beef uncooked into the hot bowl and let the chili cook it.

I was cooking dry beans and remembered some thing vaguely and tried to look it up...
No food site had anything i wanted, but several chemistry sites did...
i remembered my mom adding baking soda to the water she soaked the beans in and there was some mention in a food site of it being an old time method, but did not answer the question: Why?
The chemistry sites all pointed out that beans are neutral in pH (acidity) and that acid makes the outer shell tough!

Put these 2 thoughts together and when i make  vegetarian chili with beans and some other vegetables...
I have a method!

Beans are soaked in slightly basic (using baking soda) water.
they are then cooked in all the elements of my chili that is not acidic - this means any tomatoes,
onions, vinegar, beer sugar or chili peppers are cooked separately.
dry spice, water, salt, butter and other vegetables are cooked with the beans.

they are blended after the beans are cooked, usually just before serving...
the result is a vegetarian chili which was described by one meat only chili person eating it at a cook-off as surprisingly wonderful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


My mom's side of the family is from Greece - Cyprus and crete specifically and i love the flavors -
garlic, oregano, mint, cinnamon and others and Moussaka embodies many of those -
the Greek Cookbook that i adapted this from is one that my mom had more markers and notes than any other cookbook she owned - The complete Greek cookbook, but she added her own spin on some of do i. I just made it and so this recipe is "tweaked".


·       2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2" cubes
·       1/2 cup butter, melted
·       1 lb ground meat (traditionally lamb, but beef or pork my be used)
·       2 onions, diced
·       2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced fine
·       1 tablespoon Oregano, dry
·       1 teaspoon black pepper
·       1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
·       1/2 cut parsley, chopped
·       1/2 cup tomato sauce
·       1/2 cup red wine
·       1 cup grated cheese, Kefalotyri or Parmesan

White sauce - traditional (3000 years old) way
·       1/2 cup water
·       2 cups milk
·       2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in cold water
·       1 tablespoon butter
·       1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
·       1 egg, whipped
·       1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

          bring milk, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat
          thicken with corn starch and remove from heat
          slowly mix 3 tablespoons warm milk to the egg and blend it
          add egg and cinnamon to milk and mix well

wash and salt eggplant and leave for 10 min.
rinse and blot dry
brush with oil and butter mix and baked @ 350 F for 30 min
cook onion, garlic, meat, wine, tomato sauce and spices mixing in order
reduce to near dryness or strain
layer eggplant, meat, eggplant, add white sauce
top with cheese, parsley and cinnamon
bake @ 325 for 45 min.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Brisket done a bit differently

i have been using an electric smoker for some time to make a 24 hour brisket that was out of this world, but i can not find the controller and i had to improvise.

The oven does not allow for "wet" or steamed meat, you must braise and so i arranged a liquid to cook the brisket end, but it would not have any smoke and that was not acceptable.
A new method, that was called by my friends - "the best i had ever done, was born.

The following is that method:
Brisket, Best Method
Oven and Smoke

·       1 whole brisket
·       1/2 quart 100% black cherry juice
·       1 tablespoon salt
·       1 pint red wine (merlot)
·       1/2 tablespoon paprika
·       1/4 teaspoon dry chipolte peppers
·       1 tablespoon raw sugar
·       1 spring fresh Rosemary
·       1 tablespoon minced ginger
·       Brisket Rub 2

cut large cross hatches in the fat portion of the brisket
place in a cooking large pan
Dissolve all the ingredients except the brisket rub 2 and cover the brisket
allow to soak for 24 hours
cover with foil and cook at 220 F for 10 hours
remove all liquid, decant the fat and reduce the remainder for sauce
pat the brisket with the brisket rub 2
using a cherry-hickory-maple mixture of wood, smoke at ~ 220 F for 3 to 4 hours, uncovered

remove and serve thinly sliced with the dipping sauce

Friday, July 8, 2016

the lab is open - questions about chicken livers

Ever wonder why we were told that liver needed to be soaked in milk before cooking AND the milk had to be discarded after, wasting good milk?
I did and tried to look it up and had some answers that were not satisfactory...
so lets look at what liver is an organ where all the 'toxins" (and there are many natural toxins so do not think that "organic keeps you safe, it doesn't)
It is high in iron because blood filters through it and blood should have iron in it.
Iron as a metal is good for you, BUT it is a BITTER flavor...
so how to reduce it?
In normal physiology calcium does replace and protect the body from harmful heavy metals, like lead. but that is not what is going to happen here in a dead animal.
Vinegar will reduce all metals and so reduce the bitter taste, but how long to soak it and what is the "after flavor"?

Have i gotten too technical yet?

So i started with a 15 minute soak, but found that it was too long because it continued to leech the iron out of the livers for hours after washing multiple times AND made the livers mushy...
okay this would be great for a pate, but that was not what i was looking for.

5 minutes worked well and while the rinsing was still fairly intense (5 times, soaking each time)
and then patting dry, i could live with this.

There was still a slight vinegar taste to the liver (i used chicken livers) and in the end i added sour cream to remove that, thus a cold dish.

so the reason for a milk soak is to remove some of the iron and add a creaminess to the liver...that is the lesson here and with that i give you my recipe for grilled chicken livers!

·      1 lb chicken livers, cleaned and rinsed
·      1 cup sour cream
·      1/2 onion, sliced thick
·      apple cider vinegar to cover the livers
·      1/2 teaspoon salt plus extra to taste
·      1 teaspoon black pepper
·      1/2 jalapeno pepper
·      1 tablespoon garlic chives
·      olive oil to coat livers

Soak the chicken livers in vinegar for 5 minutes
soak in water and drain 5 times
drain for 1 hour, rinse and pat dry
and olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and onions
mix well
grill in a grill pan until done ~ 15 minutes, stirring regularly
place in a bowl, stir in sour cream, chives and pepper
salt to taste

serve cold

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

making my own

chipolte peppers

slow smoked on the grill
then slowly dried and powdered - use a mask or you WILL cough

now ready for any time use!

Strawberry salad

a friend saw this on the internet and asked me to do something a bit different, for all the recipes he saw used strawberry jello (note ALL of them have artificial flavor)...
what?  No strawberries and only a fake flavor (and loads of sugar, this is a salad for goodness sake)!
I took the challenge and it took a few tries, but i managed it!

Strawberry Salad
a somewhat healthier alternative to what you find on the internet
·       2 cups crushed pretzels
          (start with 4 cups of twisted pretzels)
·       3/4 cup butter, melted
·       3 tablespoons raw sugar
·       1 quart fresh strawberries
·       1 teaspoon white sugar
·       1 cup celery, finely cut
·       2 packets of gelatin
·       1 cup boiling water
·       4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 block) at room temperature
·       1 cup whipping cream, fresh
·       1 tablespoon white sugar
use a food processor to crush pretzels and blend butter and sugar
press into a 9 x 9 glass pan and bake for 15 minutes at 375 F
let cool
whip cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar till firm
(optional: add 1 teaspoon vanilla)
spread onto the cooled crust
wash and clean the strawberries, but do not dry them
add 1 teaspoon sugar and let sit refrigerated over night
slice 5 strawberries and place on top of the whipped cream filling
use a food processor to grind the remainder and strain
reserve the juice
dissolve the gelatin in boiling water
add juice, celery and 1 tablespoon processed strawberries
refrigerate for several hours until it begins to gel
pour very gently and let sit

top with fresh basil, slice chiffonade style

Friday, June 3, 2016

a special side

i particularly dislike commercial cole slaw preparations, especially the dressings in a bottle...they have a off taste that does not seem to leave me after the meal.  This is my "cleaner" preparation and it gets great reviews from my "foodie" friends

Cole Slaw

·       ~18 oz of a blend of cabbage and carrots, shredded or diced
§       1 part green cabbage
§       1 part red cabbage
§       1 part Napa cabbage
§       1 part Savoy cabbage
§       1 part carrots
·       1 jalapeno pepper, sliced with NO seeds
·       1 tablespoon raw sugar
·       2 teaspoons salt
·       2 teaspoons black pepper
·       1/4 cup 1% milk
·       2 tablespoon lemon
·       2 tablespoons rice vinegar
·       1 cup low fat yogurt
·       1/2 cup sour cream

whisk sugar, salt, pepper, milk, vinegar, yogurt and sour cream together
prepare the cabbages and carrot according to the use
- shredded for a topping for a sandwich and diced for a stand alone side
mix every thing and refrigerate for 1 hour

drain and serve or refrigerate for latter use

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

grilling Chicken burgers

Chicken burgers

1 lb ground chicken (makes 3 patties)
cheese (best is either Monterrey jack slices or a Caso Blanco, crumbled)

Outer seasoning ratio (teaspoons for 1 lb of meat)
§       1 salt
§       1/4 smoked salt
§       1 sugar (i use raw sugar)
§       1 commercial chili lime seasoning
§       1/ Cumin
§       1/8 chipolte pepper (dried and ground fine)

§       1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
§       1/2 teaspoon salt
§       1 teaspoon lime juice
§       1/4 jalapeno pepper (use more for more heat)

form patties and pat dry with a paper cloth (there is a lot of moisture)
coat each patty with the outer seasoning (you might call it a rub)
Set up the grill with heat on one side
I grill and smoke this using a mesquite wood 
The internal temperature of the patty should be ~ 160 F
remove patties to the cool side of the grill
add a teaspoon of the sauce to each patty and cover with cheese
close the grill to melt the cheese
the internal temperature of the patties must be 170 F
remove and serve alone or on a bun
(i would use a cilantro mayonnaise on the bun)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

another from mothers day - what was for dessert

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

§       4 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
§       1 tablespoon clarified butter
§       1/4 cup sugar
§       1/2 cup heavy cream
§        2 ounces dark chocolate, 75% or more cacao coarsely chopped
§        1/4 teaspoon flake sea salt, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°.
lightly butter a shallow glass pie pan
Brush each piece of phyllo with butter and place in the pan
fold under the sides of the phyllo to fit the pan
Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.
Bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes)
remove and allow to cool 
 This can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container

Melt sugar in a heavy dry saucepan over medium-high heat (2-3 mins.) Continue, stirring occasionally, until sugar is a deep golden caramel
Remove from heat
carefully pour in cream (mixture will steam and bubble).
Once bubbles begin to subside, return pan to moderate heat and cook, stirring constantly, until caramel is dissolved
remove from heat and add chocolate and salt
stir until chocolate is melted
Cool slightly before pouring mixture onto crust
sprinkle with extra sea salt flakes
Chill until filling sets (up to 30 minutes).
Slice into wedges and serve.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mother's day Quiche/pie

Mother's day is a long time past, so this should tell you that i am still cooking - a lot and even writing things down, but not posting...why?  I have no clue, but this was  one part of a mother's day brunch that i helped put together.  Hopefully, more will follow.

This was a not so meat heavy take on a classic Italian Easter pie!


§       1 pie crusts and shells (8 inch)
§       1/4 lb Italian sausage, sweet or hot. but crumbled and cooked
§       1 lb ricotta cheese
§       3 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut in strips
§       3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
§       2 eggs, beaten
§       6 ounces fresh spinach, cut in strips
§       1 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
§       1/2 tablespoon plus enough to top the pie of Italian parsley, minced
§       1/8 cup each grated Romano and parmesan cheese
§       1/8 teaspoon salt
§       1/8 teaspoon black pepper


combine ricotta, the Romano and parmesan cheeses, salt, pepper, parsley, shredded mozzarella and beaten eggs
Fill the pie crusts as follows:
cover the bottom with a layer of the ricotta mixture
layer half of the spinach
cover with ricotta mixture
egg slices
top with sausage
Bake the pie for 15 minutes in preheated (400°) oven
then lower oven temperature to 325°F
continue to bake for 30 minutes
remove from the oven and quickly add the strips of mozzarella in a star formation with a circle in the center
continue baking for 15-20 minutes
remove aand top with minced parsley
Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


i grew up catching and eating trout - nothing beats fresh caught trout when camping in the mountains by a pure stream (do they exist any more?).
Pan roasting was my favorite, but i am no long near the mountains and the trout i was used to are far away (rainbow and cutthroat, especially the cut throat).
Found some beautiful fillets at the store and it brought back all those memories,
yes i am big on memories and you would also if you had lost some like i did.
I looked a dozen recipes (every notice how many there are for something that should be simple?)
and created my own after finding each lacking

Trout plated with a smokey paprika rice


§       4 trout fillets
§       4 tablespoons all purpose flour
§       1 teaspoon smoked paprika
§       2 teaspoons salt
§       2 teaspoons black pepper
§       2 tablespoons lemon juice
§       1 teaspoon orange zest
§       1 tablespoon parsley, minced
§       8 lemon wedges
§       3 tablespoons butter, melted
§       3 ounces almond slivers

Mix flour, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper
pour a portion of lemon juice over the flesh side of the fish
sprinkle the smoked paprika on the same
Season the fish on both sides with the remainder of salt and pepper
place fish in a well greased, shallow baking pan, skin side up
pre heat the oven to 250
when the temperature is reached, turn off oven and turn on broiler
broil fish about 4 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes or until the skin is just browning
In small skillet, sauté almonds in the remainder of until golden brown
Plate fish skin side down
pour a small portion of lemon juice on the flesh side
spoon the buttered almonds on top

garnish with parsley, orange zest and lemon wedges