Friday, July 31, 2009

Green Chile Cheeseburger

This is my homemade version of this New Mexico favorite, and I thank my sister for the idea of using soy sauce. If you want to skip all the cooking and do a bit of driving instead (see Driving 580 Miles for a Burger on Beez's blog), you could just go to the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico for one of the world's best Green Chile Cheeseburgers. Be sure to follow the recommendation in the restaurant review (click on the Owl Cafe link given here) and go up the road afterwards for some homemade fudge for dessert. My family heartily recommends the Chocolate Coconut Fudge.


Savory Hamburger Buns (made with or without the oregano, marjoram, or basil)--you may substitute store-bought hamburger buns if you must

The best ground round you can get

Soy sauce
Fresh ground black pepper

Fresh green New Mexico chile, peeled, seeded, and chopped (if you are silly enough to live somewhere else than New Mexico, you can order fresh chile from Hatch Chile Express in August of any year, and prepare it like this).

Slices of Monterey Jack cheese


Mix the soy sauce and black pepper with the meat. Shape the meat into patties about 1/3 lb. each. Grill over an open fire. When almost done, top with a generous amount of green chile and a slice of cheese. Grill further until the cheese melts.

Lightly toast the split hamburger buns. Assemble the burgers with chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, and a slice of sweet onion, if you wish. Eat them outside on a summer day on a covered patio.

Thai Iced Tea

The taste of Thai iced tea is very distinct, strong, sweet and delicious. And it's orange. It's traditionally made from a regional Thai red-leafed tea that has been spiced with cardamom and star anise. There are many versions and recipes online. This one looks right to me (except I might want to try this with condensed milk instead of evaporated milk + sugar). It's from, and I borrowed much of the language:

--2/3 cup Thai Tea Leaves (Go to your local Asian food store and look for “Thai Seasoning Mix” or “Thai Tea Dust”. It usually comes in a clear plastic brick-like bag, and looks like dark brown shredded tea leaves. The kind I have right now is called “Police Dog Brand Thai Tea Dust.”)
--1 2/3 cup Water, filtered
--1/2 cup Sugar
--1 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (12oz can)

Bring water to a boil in a pot with some head space. You'll need room for the tea leaves, you'll be using a lot. When the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the heat to stop the boiling, and then add the tea leaves to the pot, stirring to moisten them. Don't try to use a tea bag, or tea ball, or anything, we are using a LOT of tea, and we need it to steep fully. Don't boil the tea! It will be bitter! Just let it sit in the hot water. Steep for 4 minutes, then carefully strain the tea into your heat resistant pitcher through a sieve or tea sock. When the tea is in the pitcher, add your sweetener, and stir to dissolve. You have to add the sweetener when the tea is hot, otherwise you'll never get it to dissolve fully. Put the tea in the fridge for a few hours to cool it down. To serve the tea, fill a tall glass with ice, and pour the tea over the ice, leaving about 1/4 of the glass empty at the top. Open a can of evaporated whole milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk), and top the glass off with it. Pour slowly, so that the layers stay distinct. Serve with a straw or long spoon for mixing!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pad Thai

During my 2001 visit with Auntie Bucksnort, she introduced me to Thai take-out. We ate Chicken and Vegetable Pad Thai and drank Thai Iced Teas. It's hard to imagine the world when this was all so new to me! Today, Thai fast-food is nearly as popular as Chinese fast-food (in New York, anyhow). Unfortunately, as the popularity increased, the quality became extremely unreliable and inconsistent, just like it did with Chinese food in the 80s. Light springy veggie-heavy noodles have arrived at my apartment door a decade later as fatty brownish slop. Here's a recipe from, with my modifications.

--8 oz Pad Thai Rice Noodles (thin, flat linguine-like noodles)
--3/4 tbsp Tamarind Paste
--1/4 cup Hot Water
--3 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce (or 3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce)
--1/2 to 2 tsp Thai Chili Sauce
--3 tbsp Brown Sugar
--1 and 1/2 cup Protein (such as Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu), marinaded in 3 tablespoons Soy Sauce and 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
--Peanut Oil for frying
--4 cloves Garlic, minced
--1 Shallot, finely chopped
--3-4 heads of Baby Bok Choy, or other Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
--3-4 tbsp Chicken Stock
--2 Eggs
--2 cups Bean Sprouts
--2 Green Onions, sliced
--1/3 cup fresh Cilantro
--1/4 cup ground (or well-chopped) Peanuts
--Lime Wedges

Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Soak noodles in the hot water for 6-10 minutes. Noodles are ready to drain when they are soft enough to eat, but still firm and a little bit "crunchy". Drain and rinse with cold water. Dissolve the tamarind paste in the 1/4 cup hot water. Add the fish sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar and mix well until sugar has dissolved. Set aside. Place your wok (or large frying pan) over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons oil plus the garlic and shallot. Stir-fry 1 minute. Add the marinated protein and stir fry until cooked (7-8 mins for chicken. 3-4 mins for shrimp). Add the bok choy plus the chicken stock. Stir-fry 2 minutes, or until bok choy is bright green and slightly softened. Push ingredients to the side of the pan and add 1/2 tablespoon more oil to the middle. Add the eggs and stir-fry briefly to scramble them. Push them to the side and add a little more oil to the middle. Add the drained noodles and 1/3 of the tamarind sauce. Stir-fry everything together for 1 minute using 2 utensils and a tossing motion (like tossing a salad). Add a little more sauce and continue stir-frying in the same way for 1-2 more minutes, or until the noodles begin to soften and become sticky. Add the bean sprouts plus the remaining sauce. Stir-fry for 1-3 more minutes. Serve on a platter with the green onion, cilantro, and ground nuts sprinkled on top. Lime wedges on the side.

Green Chile--How to Process It

Waiting in line at the chile roaster

In New Mexico, you can go to the farmers' markets and buy a big sack of fresh green chiles, which they will roast for you. When you get home with your bag of chiles, still hot from the roaster, you can dump a couple of pounds at a time into ice water to cool them down, then drain them and pack them into quart freezer bags and pop them into the freezer. Some people like to peel them before freezing, but we just peel them when we are ready to use them. The skins slip off nicely when the chiles are partially thawed.

When we lived in New Hampshire we used to have a couple of boxes of chiles shipped out from Hatch, NM every fall. It was a lovely September tradition to work out on the deck on a sunny afternoon, under the big umbrella, roasting the chiles on the gas grill. Then, we continued as above with the ice water bath, etc.

It is a wonderful feeling to face winter with a freezer-full of green chiles, just waiting to go into all those wonderful New Mexican recipes. In New Mexico, many people say they have an extra freezer just for the chiles because they put up so many pounds, but that just might be what they tell the newcomers. Who knows?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Long before I ever came to New Mexico, I read about a breakfast dish called Migas, which is a way of cooking eggs and leftover bits of corn tortillas together. I did my best to come up with a version back in New Hampshire and we all grew quite fond of it.

Now that I live in New Mexico, I have eaten several versions in restaurants. This rendition, from Texas Cooking, seems to come closest to my idea of the perfect Miga breakfast.

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon salsa (your favorite, but it should be chunky)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green chiles
  • 1 medium tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped avocado, sprinkled with a little lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup grated mild cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese, or combination of both
  • crema or sour cream
In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, water and salsa, and set aside.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the tortilla pieces and sauté until softened. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it is transparent. Stir in the chopped green chiles.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and "scramble" until eggs are done. Remove the skillet from heat, and sprinkle the chopped tomato, avocado, cilantro and cheese into the eggs, again stirring well.

Serve at once with warm flour tortillas. Garnish with additional salsa and crema or sour cream.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicken, Corn and Hearts-of-Palm Pizza

In January 2001, I stood in a parking lot in Carbondale, Illinois and flipped a coin. It landed on heads. I would travel west... The following adventure included an ice storm, a car accident, a train ride through the Rocky Mountains, a visit with my step-brother's family, and a miserable short-lived attempt to move to Los Angeles. It ended with me hanging out in Berkeley, California with Auntie Bucksnort, who was house-bound with a back injury. Over the next few weeks, we bonded, watched movies, ordered take-out and laughed a lot. A local pizza joint often delivered us a delicious pizza, which I have approximated here (using the dough from mom's recent pizza recipe). This is a recipe in progress! UNTESTED!! Auntie? Any amendments? (Makes 2 Pizzas)

--1 pound Chicken Breast, cut into small pieces
--Juice of 2 Limes
--2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
--2-3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped fine
--Kosher Salt
--Fresh-Ground Black Pepper
--1 small can of Sweet Corn, drained
--1 small can of Hearts of Palm, drained
--Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

--1 tbsp Dry Yeast
--Tiny, tiny pinch of Sugar
--1/4 cup Warm Water

--1 cup Warm Water
--2 tbsp Olive Oil
--1 tbsp Sugar
--1 tsp Salt
--3 cups Flour

Place the chicken strips, 4 tablespoons olive oil, lime juice and garlic in a bowl to marinate. Add salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Dissolve the yeast and the tiny pinch of sugar in the 1/4 cup of water. Set aside.

Mix the cup of warm water with the 2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and about half the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture. Beat well for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the remaining flour with the mixer on slow speed, using the dough hook. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide in half, roll out, and stretch each piece to fit a round pizza pan. Brush each with a little oil. Preheat oven to 450˚ Fahrenheit with the racks in the center or a little above center.

Saute the marinated chicken until all pink is gone (perhaps with a chopped sweet onion?). Don't overcook the chicken as it will have some time in a hot oven to finish cooking. Spread cooked chicken over both pizza dough rounds. Divide corn and hearts-of-palm over each as well. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.

Bake at 450˚ for 18-20 minutes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dark and Stormy

Not all of NYC college life consisted of bar-hopping just to get bombed. Some of it was quite educational, feeding the palate and the mind. My good buddy Colin and I used to frequent a Houston Street bar named Botanica, a mellow and unpretentious room filled with mismatched sofas that would best be described as a "dive-lounge". The weekend scene was annoying college craziness, but we'd go on Wednesday nights when the be-fezzed DJ Small Change was spinning soul and R&B, opening up my musical mind. Small Change introduced me to Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For the City" and Botanica Bar introduced me to my first absolutely delicious mixed cocktail, the Dark and Stormy.

Online, the recipes for the Dark and Stormy all tell you to pour 2 ounces Goslings Dark Rum and 5 ounces of Ginger Beer over ice, shake, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Botanica makes it that way now, but back in the day they mixed 1 ounce Dark Rum, 1 ounce Light Rum, 1 tiny slop of Bacardi 151 Rum, 2 ounces of Ginger Juice (I guess they juiced their own), 4 ounces of Ginger Ale, and a squeeze of Lime Juice. Shake, serve over Ice and garnish with a Lime Wedge.

Corn on the Cob

I learned this method of cooking corn on the cob from my brother-in-law, Warren, who is a great cook and who also loves to make jams and pickles.

We had this corn last night, along with Auntie Bucksnort's carrot salad and Beez's wonderful barbecued shrimp. It was one of the finest meals anywhere, any time.


Shuck as much corn as you wish to serve

Boil an inch or so of water in the bottom of a large kettle--the corn will mainly steam, so it doesn't have to be immersed in water.

Add a teaspoon of sugar to the water.

Place the corn in the kettle, cover immediately, and begin timing.

When the corn has cooked for 7 minutes, turn off the heat, take the corn out of the pan, drizzle with butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs with Mango Salsa

Last night, Marc and Becky invited me over for our usual Friday grilling. I had some bacon that I needed to use, so I came up with this. I worry that I might be going to hell for making this. It's just THAT good. So good, in fact, that it's actually illegal for Los Angeles street vendors to sell them!

--8 Hot Dogs (I prefer Nathan's Hot Dogs)
--8 rashers of GOOD Bacon (A nice thick-cut smoked variety with not too much fat)
--1 Mango, small cubes
--Juice from 1 Lime
--Half a Red Onion, chopped fine
--1 Serrano Pepper, seeded and chopped super-fine
--1 tbsp Olive Oil
--Salt and Black Pepper
--Fresh Rolls

In a small bowl, mix the mango, chopped onion and serrano pepper. Squeeze lime juice over it all, add olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix and refrigerate while you cook the dogs. Wrap one rasher of bacon around each hot dog, securing with a toothpick on both ends. Cook on a grill. Be aware that the bacon fat will cause the fire to flare up (so don't burn your meats!). When bacon is cooked, remove from the grill and take out the toothpicks. Serve in a fresh roll (I smeared on a light mayonnaise) topped with the mango salsa.

Chicken Fajita Pizza

We're all about Southwestern style these days...

Long ago in New Hampshire, we drove through a small town one evening during lilac time. Both sides of the little main street were lined with huge lilac bushes and the scent at dusk was almost unbelievably delicious. We stopped to wander around a bit and found a little pizza place where I had my first chicken fajita pizza. I have been trying to reproduce the experience ever since.

Although we now live far away from New Hampshire, I've got my lilac planted out by the deck, waiting for it to bloom some spring. But the pizza part has been getting closer to the original over the years, although it has acquired a bit of southwest flavor along the way. We had this slightly New Mexican-style version for supper last night and I think it might have been the best pizza I have ever made.

1 whole uncooked skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
4 tbl. lime juice
4 tbl. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1 tsp. chile powder

1 sweet onion (Vidalia-type), thinly sliced
2 bell peppers--green, red, yellow, orange, or a combination; thinly sliced
Salsa (your choice of style and heat)
Grated cheese (Monterey Jack is really good on this pizza)

1 tbl. dry yeast
Tiny, tiny pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm water
2 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

Place the chicken strips, 4 tbl. olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and chile powder in a bowl to marinate. Stir well and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Dissolve the yeast and the tiny pinch of sugar in the 1/4 cup of water.

Mix the cup of warm water with the 2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tbl. sugar, salt, and about half the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture (this is in bold print because I have been known to forget this step). Beat well for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the remaining flour with the mixer on slow speed, using the dough hook.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide in half, roll out, and stretch each piece to fit a round pizza pan. Brush each with a little oil.

Saute the onions and peppers just until the onion is transparent and the peppers are glossy. Remove them from the pan and stir-fry the chicken mixture until all pink is gone. Don't overcook the chicken as it will have some time in a hot oven to finish cooking.

This would be a good point to turn on the oven. Preheat to 450˚ with the racks in the center or a little above center.

Spread each circle of dough with as much salsa as you like. I use about 4 tbl. per pizza. Divide the vegetables and spread those evenly on each pizza. Do the same with the chicken. Sprinkle all with your preferred amount of cheese.

Bake at 450˚ for 18 minutes.

1) You can, of course, just buy prepared pizza dough and make a pretty good pizza out of it, but I won't have as much fun thinking of you making it that way.
2) I divide the dough in half, freeze one part of it, and make just one pizza at a time. As an empty-nester, it took me an awfully long time to learn to cut recipes this way.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Another of my favorite dishes from Otafuku is yakisoba (see yesterday's post Otofuku story). Yaki=Fried. Soba=Noodle. Unlike okonomiyaki and takoyaki, yakisoba is easy to find in New York. I have many restaurant options for ordering Japanese noodles, but I eat at Otafuku because there are no seats. I know, I'm weird, but... you see... yakisoba is Japanese street-cart junk food. Eating it is the Eastern equivalent of chowing on a hot dog and pretzel from a NYC vendor. It's a hot snack to be purchased impulsively and eaten on the go. This is probably smart because yakisoba is not the healthiest food on the planet and one should start immediately burning off the calories upon consumption. Below is a recipe from Japanese Food.

--2 packages Steamed Chuka Noodles (150g/package)
--1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
--1/4 lb Boneless Pork Rib, thinly sliced (OR other meat/seafood. I recommend Shrimp and Squid)
--Salt and Pepper
--1/4 cup Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
--1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
--1/4 medium Onion, thinly sliced (or Green Onion)
--Other Vegetables to stir-fry
--2 Green Head Cabbage Leaves, chopped
--4-6 tbsp Yakisoba Sauce (or 2 packages of yakisoba seasoning in yakisoba kits, or 4-6 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce)
--Tempura Flakes (optional)

Lightly loosen the pre-steamed chuka noodles and set aside. Heat vegetable oil in medium skillet on medium heat. Stir-fry the pork (or other meat/seafood) until almost cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Add carrots, onion, green bell pepper, and any other vegetables in the skillet and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add cabbage in the skillet and stir-fry for a minute. Add noodles in skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of water over the noodles and cover the skillet. Turn down the heat to low and steam for a few minutes. Remove the lid and add yakisoba seasoning powder or sauce. Add tempura flakes if you'd like (they add a nice crunch). Stir the noodles quickly. Divide yakisoba among two plates. To garnish, sprinkle with aonori (dried green seaweed) and beni-shoga (pickled red ginger).

Tamale Pie

Back in the 1950s when this recipe was popular, we knew very little about Mexican cooking. We put catsup and tabasco sauce on our tacos, for Pete's sake, and the tacos were something new my mom made from a recipe in Sunset Magazine!

The only tamales we ever saw were in a can from Hormel, so this tamale pie was considered a big improvement. Even though we now love the tamales made in homes here in New Mexico by groups of friends or family working assembly-line fashion and making dozens for holiday eating or freezing, this recipe still counts as comfort food in my family.

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 lb. ground beef
2 8-oz. cans seasoned tomato sauce (2 cups)
1 12-oz. can corn, drained (you may use frozen corn, of course--it was pretty newfangled when this recipe was first written)
1 cup chopped ripe olives
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tsp. chile powder
Dash of pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Cornmeal Topper:
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups of cold water
1 tbl. butter

Cook onion and green pepper in a little olive oil until tender.

Add meat; brown lightly.

Add the next 7 ingredients. Simmer 20-25 minutes until thick.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Pour into greased oblong 10" x 6" baking dish.

Make the cornmeal topper: Stir cornmeal and salt into cold water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick. Add the butter and mix well. Spoon over the hot meat mixture in 3 lengthwise strips.

Bake casserole at 375˚ about 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I went on a date with someone I met on the internet once (and ONLY once). I wasn't looking for a date, but the girl seemed cool, so I decided to give my internet date a try. It was awkward and uncomfortable and we never hung out again, but I will always remember her as "The Girl Who Introduced Me To My Favorite Restaurant In New York City." The "restaurant," Otafuku, little more than a hole in the wall, is only large enough to accommodate two standing people ordering at a counter. The only seating is a bench outside the door, next to the long line. It's usually occupied. But it's the only place that I've ever found that serves Japanese comfort food. You can order any combination of Yakisoba (noodles), Okonomiyaki (a savory eggy pancake thing, a "Japanese Pizza" of sorts), Edamame (soy beans), or Takoyaki (little round doughy balls filled with octopus or cheese. If it didn't require a special grilling device, I'd make these every day). It's indescribably delicious food. Here's the recipe (from Japanese Food)for 6 Osaka-style okonomiyaki:

--2 cups All-Purpose Flour
--1 1/4 cup Dashi Soup Stock (or water)
--6 Eggs
--1 head of Cabbage (1 and 1/4 lb), chopped finely
--6 tbsp Green Onion, chopped
--2/3 cup Tenkasu (Tempura Flakes)
--Peanut Oil
--Topping (12-18 strips of thinly sliced Pork or Beef, or perhaps some Shrimp or good Bacon. Otafuku has a Corn and Scallion option)

--Ao-nori (Dried Green Seaweed Flakes)
--Okonomiyaki Sauce (My approximation: mix 1/4 cup Ketchup, 1 1/2 tbsp Worstershire Sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard, 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon Honey, 1-2 tablespoons Brown Sugar, perhaps some Sake or Mirin or Ground Ginger. Simmered in saucepan, then cooled)
--Mayonnaise (I wish I knew what made this mayonnaise different. It just is somewhat more flavorful than Hellman's)
--Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes)
--Beni-shoga (Pickled Red Ginger)

In a bowl, mix the flour with the soup stock. Refrigerate the batter for an hour. For one pancake: In a small bowl, mix about 1/2 cup of the batter, 1/4 pound of the chopped cabbage, 1 tablespoon of the chopped green onion and 2 tablespoons of the tempura flakes. Make a hole in the middle of the batter and add an egg. Mix the batter (at Otafuku, they use chopsticks to mix). Heat a skillet on high and add some peanut oil. Pour the batter into a pancake shape and cook 5-7 minutes. To the side of the pancake, cook your meat (or other choice of toppings). Place the topping on top of the pancake and flip the whole thing. Cook for 5-7 more minutes on the other side. Serve with Okonomiyaki sauce and a little mayonnaise (these sauces really round out the dish). If desired, sprinkle green seaweed flakes and bonito flakes over the top and place a little red ginger on the side.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Edamame Succotash

I usually enter Central Park though the southwest entrance so I can stop into Whole Foods first. I can tolerate the claustrophobic aisles, high prices and the pissy faux-rich people whenever I'm grabbing picnic food. It's a great store for quick take-out. For some reason, with hundreds of varieties of prepared food to choose from, I've always been drawn to the edamame succotash. It's really a visually stunning salad. And it's delicious too! Fortunately, the recipe was posted on the Whole Foods website. It contains some specialty ingredients, but it's totally worth tracking them down to make this salad.

--2 4-oz packages "Gourmet Mushroom Blend" (The Whole Foods blend has shiitake, crimini, baby bella and oyster mushrooms), coarsely chopped
--2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
--Sea Salt, to taste
--Ground Pepper, to taste
--1 16-oz package Edamame Soy Beans (not the kind in the shell!), thawed
--2 cups fresh or frozen Corn Kernels, thawed
--1 cup Dried Cranberries
--1/2 cup Roasted Red Peppers, diced
--2 tbsp Thai Sweet Red Chili Sauce
--1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste
--2 tbsp Mirin
--1 1/2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Over medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in olive oil with salt and pepper until mushrooms give up their liquid (7-8 mins). Place edamame and corn in a large serving bowl. Add hot cooked mushrooms, cranberries and peppers. Make dressing by whisking together Thai sweet red chili sauce, Thai red curry paste, mirin, and toasted sesame oil. Gently toss in with the vegetables and adjust seasoning to taste. This salad is great when served chilled.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Polish Chicken

Agatha is one of my best friends from college. We're nearly siblings at this point. During my junior and senior years at NYU, she'd invite my roommate Joe and I over for dinner, presenting us with mind-blowing fabulous Polish meals. We'd drink wine and talk for hours and hours, living the good life. It's impossible to describe correctly, but Agatha has the uncanny ability to cook "like mom." I don't mean MY mom or YOUR mom. Rather, Agatha's food tastes like love. That may sound cheesy, but it's a secret ingredient that every food-lover knows well. It's the taste of home. Here's one of her recipes, passed down from her mother. I can try making this a dozen times, but it will never ever taste as delicious as when Agatha makes it.

--1 whole Chicken, washed and patted dry
--4-5 cloves of Garlic, cut in 2-3 long pieces
--Any Fresh or Dried Herbs on hand (thyme, rosemary, etc)
--1 large Onion, sliced (any variety works)
--New Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes, boiled till they are half cooked and slightly soft
--Lots of Prunes, dried and pitted
--2 Apples, quartered (Macintosh are awesome, just avoid green or red delicious)
--Olive Oil
--White Wine

Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit. Cut small but deep slices into the chicken legs and breasts, 1 or 2 slices per section. Take pieces of garlic and stuff them into the holes you just made. Rub the inside of the chicken with herbs and stuff with sprigs of herbs, onion, potatoes, apples and prunes. Place chicken into a roasting pan and surround it with the rest of the fruits and vegetables. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with more herbs. Salt and pepper generously. Add a small amount of white wine (or water) to the roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil or a lid. Place in oven for 30-45 min until things start sizzling and cooking, basting the chicken with the juices. Once the chicken is about half cooked and the veggies are mushy, uncover the bird and let it roast until done.

Hungry Rancher-Woman Chicken

Quick, go to the Tasty to see this recipe. It's from a real, live rancher-woman, Linda, who writes the wonderful blog called The 7MSN Ranch (Livin' and Lovin' Life 7 Miles South of Nowhere, New Mexico). You can see her post about the recipe here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Potato Fudge or Needhams

This recipe must have come from hard times, but my mother still liked to make it when I was a child. This updated microwave version comes from Living on a Dime. These are also called Needhams.

3 Tbsp. shortening
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa
1/3 cup mashed potatoes
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. (16 oz.) powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt shortening and butter in the microwave. Stir in cocoa until smooth. Add potatoes, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Blend in powdered sugar, mix and add nuts. Dough will be very lumpy. Knead until smooth. Press into a buttered 8x8 inch pan. Cool in the refrigerator before cutting. Makes 64 pieces.

Waldorf Salad

My step-mother Marj had a recipe for a Waldorf salad that I wanted, but I can never get her to email recipes, so I began looking up several recipes. Most are very similar, but here's one called "It's a Wonderful Waldorf" from The Food Network's Alton Brown. It's a fascinating take on the recipe.

--2 Ginger Gold Apples (Fuji will substitute)
--1 Red Delicious Apple
--3 tbsp Cider Vinegar (Not in the recipe, but I would also add 2 tablespoons of Honey)
--1 cup Mayonnaise (I would recommend less, perhaps 2/3 cup. Marj would probably use Miracle Whip)
--1 pinch Kosher Salt
--Cracked Black Pepper
--3/4 cup Toasted Walnuts, crushed
--1 cup Golden Raisins
--2 tsp Curry Powder (many of the reviews cited the curry powder as being too much, so perhaps using half as much would suffice)
--2 stalks Celery, thin bias cut
--1/3 cup Fresh Mint, chiffonade
--1/2 Red Onion, julienned
--1 head Romaine Lettuce, heart only

Cut apples in half and remove the core with a melon baller. Chop apples into medium-sized pieces, leaving skin on. In a bowl, toss apples with the cider vinegar (and Honey if you're ME). Fold in mayonnaise thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in walnuts, raisins, curry powder, celery, mint, and red onion. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to incorporate. To serve, arrange 2 leaves of romaine lettuce per plate and spoon salad on top.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Easy Chocolate Fudge

My mother loved to make this no-fail easy fudge for holidays. This version comes from Diana's Kitchen.

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, vanilla, and nuts. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour into an 8-inch square buttered pan and cool. Cut fudge into squares.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Penuche Fudge

1 lb. brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 tbl. flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbl. marshmallow fluff
1 - 2 tbl. butter

Mix the sugars with flour, salt, and milk. Stir well and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cook for exactly five minutes after the boil begins. Remove from heat, add marshmallow fluff and butter. Beat until thick and creamy. Pour into a buttered
8" x 8" pan. Cool and cut into squares.

This version comes from

Friday, July 17, 2009

German Potato Salad

Here is the last of the potato salads that I'd like to post from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, by David Rosengarten with Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca. I haven't made it yet, but I have it slated for next weekend. I'm in the swing of BBQ season now, firing up the grill at least once a week now!

--4 lbs Red Potatoes, skins on
--1/2 lb good Bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
--2 medium Onions, finely minced
--1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar plus any more to taste
--1 1/2 tsp Sugar
--2 tsp Cornstarch, mixed with a few teaspoons of Water to make a smooth paste
--3/4 cup Water
--Salt and Pepper to taste
--1 Egg, beaten
--Fresh Chives, chopped

Fill a large pot 2/3 full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just past crunchy (7-8 minutes OR longer if you want softer spuds). Drain and set aside. In a heavy skillet, cook the onion and bacon until the onions are soft but not brown (about 6 minutes). Add the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cornstarch paste and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the water and return to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has a velvety texture. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Place them in a mixing bowl and salt and pepper them to taste. Pour the hot bacon and onion mixture over the top and add the beaten egg. Gently mix all the ingredients, taking care to not break the potato slices). Add more vinegar to taste, garnish with the chives and serve warm.

Bourbon Balls

My mother used to make these candies a month or so ahead of time for Christmas parties. They would be stored in the fridge in covered tins to ripen. As a child I thought these were chocolate, and snitched one. What a surprise when I encountered the very adult flavors!

I found this version at Southern Food.


  • 1 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup


Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, and 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar. In a measuring cup, blend the Bourbon and corn syrup; stir into the dry mixture. When thoroughly blended, cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. Sift about 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar onto a large piece of waxed paper. Shape small amounts of the dough into balls then roll in powdered sugar. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. These can be frozen. Makes about 3 dozen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chicken Soup

This isn't really a recipe, just an outline.

Make a pot of chicken stock.

Add any/all of the following:

Peeled and cubed potatoes or barley or rice

As many vegetables as you would like--I usually use carrots, celery, onions, peas, green beans--but you may have some other favorites. Turnips and rutabagas come to mind...

Cook until the vegetables, barley, rice, or whatever is tender.

Add some chopped fresh parsley, chives, and whatever else is growing in your herb garden.

Add the cooked, cut up chicken from making the stock

Season to taste.

Have another look around the fridge and dump in any likely leftovers you find. A little casserole! Salsa! Enchiladas! Who knows what's lurking in your fridge.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

If you have been reading this blog for a day or two, you will see a certain resemblance between this recipe and the one for Chicken and Dumplings. They are exactly alike, except that one is cooked in a pot and served with dumplings, and the other (this one) is baked with a biscuit topping.

Chicken stock

Potatoes, cubed
Celery, chopped
Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tbl. cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Frozen peas
Optional: Small onions, peeled

Cooked chicken, cut up


Simmer the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions in the stock until done. Thicken the stock with 1 tbl. cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup water. Cook for three additional minutes, then remove from heat.

Timing is everything here. While you are simmering the vegetables, prepare the biscuit dough below.

Add the peas and chicken to the stock/vegetable mixture and bring all to simmer.

Place the very hot chicken/vegetable mixture in an oblong Pyrex dish, 9" x 13". Top immediately with the cut out biscuits and bake in a preheated oven at 450˚ for 10 to 12 minutes.

If the chicken mixture isn't hot when you add the biscuits, they will be soggy.

Biscuit Topping for Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups sifted flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. sugar
½ cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once, stir only until dough follows fork around the bowl. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead gently ½ minute. Pat or roll ½ inch thick, cut with biscuit cutter. Follow directions above.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken stock

Potatoes, cubed
Celery, chopped
Carrots, peeled and sliced
Frozen peas
Optional: Small onions, peeled

Cooked chicken, cut up

Simmer the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions in the stock until done. Add the peas and chicken. Bring it all to a boil, then drop dumplings (see below) from a tablespoon on top of the bubbling mixture. Cover tightly, bring to a boil. Don't lift the cover! Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until done.


1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tbl. salad oil

Sift the dry ingredients. Combine the milk and the oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Follow directions above.

Warm Potato Salad With Swiss Cheese and Garlic Sausage

There are a couple other potato salads in The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, by David Rosengarten with Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca. I never made this, but I plan to.

--4 Potatoes (about 6-oz each), peeled
--1 cup Chicken Stock
--1/3 cup White Wine
--2 tsp Dijon Mustard
--1 tbsp White-Wine Vinegar
--1/3 cup Olive Oil
--Coarse Salt to Taste
--Fresh-Ground Black Pepper to taste
--1/4 lb Garlic Sausage (Cured sausage, not uncooked kind, preferably Saucisson a l'ail, a French garlic sausage)
--1 tbsp Fresh Tarragon Leaves
--2 tsp Fresh Chives, finely chopped
--2 tsp Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
--1/4 cup Swiss Cheese, chopped to the size of sesame seeds

Steam the potatoes in salted water until just tender (still slightly crunchy in the center - about 30 minutes). While the potatoes are cooking, boil the chicken stock and white wine in a heavy saucepan until reduced to a half cup. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and vinegar, then slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking. Blend until smooth. Set aside. When the potatoes are cooked, reserve the water and set aside. Cut the potatoes into 1/8-inch slices and place them in a roasting pan. Drizzle the reduced stock/wine over the potatoes. Season all with salt and pepper. Let the potatoes absorb the liquid for 5 minutes, then pour off the excess stock. Simmer the sausage in the reserved water until just warm, then slice it into thin rounds (or smaller pieces, if desired). Add to the potatoes along with the tarragon, chives, parsley and Swiss cheese. Toss. Whisk the mustard vinaigrette for a moment (to make sure it's mixed well), then toss with the potatoes to coat evenly. Serve over leaves of lettuce if you wanna be fancy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken Stock: A Good Beginning

These directions will give you a start on any number of chicken recipes, which I will post on the days to follow. Strain this and you will have chicken stock.

1 stewing chicken (or a fryer), whole
1 cup celery, cut up
1 medium onion, cut up
Several carrots, peeled and chunked

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (just like the song)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Put everything into a good sized stock pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender. It will begin to fall off the bones at that point.

Remove from heat, let cool slightly. Strain, discarding vegetables and bones and keeping the chicken.

Now you have some chicken stock, a base for many recipes.

Garlic-Roasted New Potato Salad

In those early days of college cooking, I used my kitchenette frequently. Most often, I used it as a place to stack cereal bowls and chill beer, but occasionally I'd throw a small dinner party. I was playing around with my fancy new cookbook, The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, by David Rosengarten with Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca, cooking from it often. Here's an example of an early dinner effort. Look at this recipe (in all it's garlicky glory). Can you taste how much I missed food with flavor? How much I needed to burn the cafeteria blandness from my mouth? How much I missed my mom's home cooking? Actually... If I recall correctly, I overdid it a little, counting out the "flavor cloves" a tad too liberally, and knocking my roommates on their asses. Since, I have modified this recipe a little:

--1 1/2 lbs Small New Potatoes, quartered
--2 tbsp Olive Oil
--1 tsp Dried Rosemary (Ben sez: Get Fresh Rosemary!)
--6 cloves Garlic, plus 2 cloves Garlic (separated), all minced fine
--1-2 tsp Kosher Salt
--1 tsp Fresh-Ground Black Pepper
--1/2 cup Mayonnaise
--3 tbsp Fresh Parsley, minced fine
--1 Lemon, halved

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large roasting pan, toss the potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, the 6 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with the skin sides down. Roast for 45 minutes, shaking pan at minute-25 and minute-40 to make sure they aren't sticking. While the potatoes are baking, mix the mayonnaise with the remaining 2 minced cloves of garlic and parsley. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mix and stir until smooth. Let the dressing sit in the refrigerator while the potatoes finish (to let the flavors mellow). After potatoes are done roasting, let them cool for 15 minutes. Remove them from the roasting pan with a metal spatula, taking care to not break the pieces and place them in a large bowl. Mix with the mayonnaise dressing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Auntie's Spinach Salad

My sister brought this salad to a barbecue and it was a big hit. Very delicious, and very good for you, too.

Combine for a dressing:

Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
A couple of tbl. orange juice concentrate
Lemon juice and just a tiny bit of finely grated rind
Dijon mustard
Sesame oil (just a drop)
Tobasco (just a drop)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Sugar to taste (if too sour)

For the salad:

Shelled edamame (fresh soybeans--find them in the freezer section), cooked just slightly
Sugared walnuts (or maybe roasted salted sunflower or pumpkin seeds... hmmm.... sugared pumpkin seeds sound good)*
Dried cranberries
Optional: Crumbled gorgonzola or feta cheese

*Sugared walnuts: Just follow the directions for Sugared Almonds substituting walnuts

Shrimp, Avocado, and Mango Salad

I just saw this on Desert Candy and I want to eat it.

--1 Mango
--1/4 of medium-sized Red Onion, finely diced
--2 tbsp finely diced Red Bell Pepper (or Hot Chili Pepper)
--A few Cilantro leaves, finely chopped
--3 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
--1 Avocado, chopped
--1/2 lb Shrimp, peeled
--Salt and Cayenne Pepper to taste

Peel and slice the mango, working over a bowl. Squeeze the juice from round the pit of mango into the bowl. Add the onion, pepper, cilantro, lime juice and toss to combine.

Boil a pot of water with a little salt, then turn heat down to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until just opaque and curled in 3/4 circles. Don't overcook! Immediately transfer shrimp to a colander and run cool water over them to stop cooking. Dice the shrimp. Add the shrimp and avocado to the mango mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Barbecued Shrimp

When I first met Beez, he ate only pizza, hamburgers, and steak. He was not interested in anything else, especially vegetables. After almost 30 years now, he has turned into a wonderful cook. He will try cooking and eating almost anything (and sometimes even vegetables), indoors and out.

Last night, we prepared a superb meal together--barbecued shrimp, carrot salad, and focaccia. It was just one of those memorable meals that comes together with the perfect company, the best conversation, and the tastiest food.

The shrimp recipe is actually called "A Fine Mess of Barbecued Shrimp," and it comes from Bill and Cheryl Jamison's wonderful cookbook, Born to Grill. There is an online version of the recipe on The Global Gourmet.

Creole Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
Juice of 1 medium lemon
5 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Super Wooster Sauce or other Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled but with tails left on and, if you wish, deveined

Super Wooster Sauce or other Worcestershire sauce, or Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce, or both.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir to heat through. Place the shrimp in a plastic bag or shallow dish, pour the sauce over them, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Fire up the grill, bring the temperature to high (1 to 2 seconds with the hand test).

Remove the shrimp for the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to a well-oiled grate or, preferably in this case, to a well-oiled small-mesh grill rack. Grill the shrimp uncovered over high heat for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until just opaque with lightly browned edges. If grilling covered, cook the shrimp for the same amount of time, turning once midway.

Serve the shrimp hot, with Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce on the side for customizing the flavor.

Mu Shu Pork

The second major major star of my Chinese dinner was Mu Shu Pork. I'd like to try this with chicken next. I had some trouble finding the recipe from Chinese Cookery, by Rose Cheng and Michele Morris, but this version from Recipezaar looks like it might be right.

--2 tbsp Soy Sauce, then 2 tbsp
--1 tbsp Dry Sherry, then 1 tbsp
--1 tsp Hoisin Sauce, then more to serve
--1/2 lb boneless lean Pork, shaved into very thin bite sized pieces
--4 Dried Black Mushrooms (or 8 Button Mushrooms)
--2 cups finely-shredded Napa Cabbage
--1 Carrot, julienned
--3 Scallions, white and light green parts, slivered
--1 cup Bean Sprouts
--3 tbsp Peanut Oil
--2 Eggs, lightly beaten with 1/2 tsp Salt
--3 Garlic cloves, minced
--3 tsp Freshly-grated Ginger
--3 tbsp Chicken Stock
--2 tsp Sesame Oil
--1 tsp Sugar
--Mandarin Pancakes

Combine 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sherry and 1 tsp hoisin sauce in a bowl. Add the pork, toss to coat evenly, cover, refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for 20 minutes (no soaking if using button mushrooms). Drain and thinly slice. Set aside on a plate, along with the cabbage, carrot and scallions.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and swirl to coat. Pour in the eggs, swirling and tilting the wok to form a thin film. Cook just until the eggs are set and feel dry on top, about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter, let cool slightly and cut into 1 inch strips. Return the wok to high heat, and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry to release the aromas, about 1 minute. Add the pork and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved mushrooms, cabbage, carrot, bean sprouts, and scallions, along with the chicken stock, and stir-fry another 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sherry, sesame oil, and sugar, and cook, stirring until sauce boils, about 1 minute. Add egg strips and mix well.

To serve, spread a small amount of hoisin sauce on a warm Mandarin Pancake. Spoon about 1/2 cup mu shu mixture in center of pancake and wrap like a burrito, folding the ends to close.

Friday, July 10, 2009


When we first traveled to New Mexico, we were served these fluffy fried breads in restaurants all over the state. However, in the south, they were served as dessert with honey on the side, separate from the meal. In the north, they were a part of the meal and we were instructed to eat them with honey whenever our mouths got too hot from the chile we were eating.

This recipe uses yeast, and comes from You can find a version that uses baking powder on the same web page.

Sopaipillas De Levadura (Yeast Puffed Bread)

Yield: 4 dozen medium sopaipillas

Total Frying Time: 15-20 minutes

Temperature: Medium-High

Freeze Well

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water


1 1/4 cups scalded milk, cooled

4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tbl. sugar

1 tbl. shortening

Additional shortening for frying

1. Dissolve yeast in water and add to milk.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cut in shortening.

3. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add liquid to dry ingredients and work into a dough.

4. Knead dough for 10 minutes, or until smooth; cover, and set aside.

5. Heat 2 inches of shortening in a heavy pan at medium-high heat.

6. Roll dough to a 1/8 ingh thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut dough into 4-inch squares and fry until golden on both sides, turning once. (If the shortening is sufficiently hot, the sopaipillas will puff and become hollow shortly after being placed in the shortening).

7. Drain sopaipillas on absorbent towels.

Serve with honey, either with the meal or after.

You can also dust these with sugar and cinnamon for dessert.