BBQ Season In Full Swing

Don’t let the dog days of summer get you down. The BBQ Season is in full swing and there is no better way to keep your kitchen cool than to use your outdoor grill. Be it a gas grill or a grill that uses briquettes, these recipes work well on either. The best part about grilling is the clean up: NO POTS and PANS to deal with. I love to BBQ for that reason alone.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for the BBQ. I’ve also included a couple of salads and a dessert. The dessert is the perfect way to end a meal cooked on the grill. It’s S’Mores Tart. It takes in all of the ingredients of the fun scout recipe and bumps it up a few notches. A more sophisticated take on Camp Fire S’Mores.

BBQ Pork Loin Ribs

Brining the ribs makes the meat more tender and flavorful. Cooking the ribs on the grill in the low-slow-indirect heat manner makes them truly delicious.

BBQ Ribs

 Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak

Nothing says summer more so than steak on the grill.  With the flavorful marinade in which the steak bathes and cooks, the aroma is quintessentially summer.  If you don’t have a grill you can do this on a cast-iron grill pan.  Just be sure to turn on the exhaust fan. The smoke will be intense.

Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak

Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak

Grilled Tenderloin of Beef

Rack of Pork on the Grill


 Beer Can Chicken


Grilled Whole Turkey


Maine Lobster on the Grill

Grilled Maine Lobster with Potatoes and Corn


Cedar Plank Grilled Seafood Fest


Grilled Shrimp


Moroccan Potato Salad

Roasted Moroccan Potato and Olive Salad

Asian Slaw


S’Mores Tart

There you have it. A lot of BBQ ideas for you to look over. I think I have given a wide range of recipes that will be appreciated by all.

Happy BBQ Season!!

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, BBQ Ribs, BBQ Sauce, Beef, Beer, Brine, Cedar Plank Grilling, Charcoal Grill, Chicken, Chocolate, Corn, Cranberries, Dessert, Dessert/Pastry, Desserts, Entree, Fennel, Fish, Food For Thought, Garlic, Graham Cracker Crust, Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate, Italian Meringue, Lemon, Lobster, Meat, Pork, Potato, Recipes To Share, Salad Dressing, Seafood, Shrimp, Sides, Sugar, Tarts, Turkey | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Peach Season Deliciousness

It’s the beginning of June and Peach season has started here in South Carolina. At Greenville’s Saturday Market I picked up the beginning of this season’s Peaches and set out to make some of my favorite Peach Desserts.

Peaches make the perfect summertime desserts. My Mom wasn’t big on dessert making but she never missed the opportunity to make something wonderful with fresh peaches. Maybe it wasn’t a cobbler but it sure was delicious. In fact the favorite way for us to have peaches in summertime when growing up was macerated in a glass of Dad’s homemade red wine. When I was a kid we were allowed to eat the peaches but not drink the wine.

You will notice that some of the recipes have blueberries. The reason for this is I believe peaches and blueberries are perfect partners for summertime desserts. Another important notable recipe reference concerns the preparation of the peaches. I do not peel them in any of the recipes. The peach skin dissolves in recipes with long cooking time (jam, pie, cobbler), plus leaving the skin on enhances the color of the filling. 

Here are a few of my Peach Recipes. I’ve included two non-dessert Peach Recipes: Ancho Chili Reserves and Peach Infused White Balsamic Vinaigrette. Click on any of the recipe titles or photos to go directly to that recipe.

Peach Jam

 Peach Cobbler

Peach Clafouti

Peach Shortcake

Summer Fruit Crostada

Summer Fruit Crostada

Summer Fruit Crostada

Summer Fruit Pie

 Ancho Chili Preserves

Peach Infused White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Hints and Tips: Peach Jam is a great accompaniment to Cheeses and Charcuterie. Ancho Chili Preserves are a delicious with Maryland Crab Cakes. The Peach Infused White Balsamic Vinaigrette is great when paired with a salad topped with blue or goat cheese.

Have a Very Peachy Summer!

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Ancho Chili Preserves, Crostada, Dessert, Dessert/Pastry, Desserts, Food For Thought, Jam, Peaches, Pie, Salad Dressing, Shortcake, Tarts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Squash Blossoms Stuffed

I found these beautiful blossoms at the market yesterday and I could not be any more excited about something this wondrous. In all of the years I lived in FLL I could not find Squash Blossoms at any market. I could order on line but they were no where in sight in any of the stores in town. Now that I live in a real farm to table community I have no trouble finding gems like these or other hard to find produce items.

Tonight I stuffed and battered the blossoms. I coated them with a light batter and quickly fried these gorgeous flowers from God. I did not want to stuff with any thing heavy or overpowering so I chose to stuff with a small thin slice of Cappicola and a little saffron rice I had left over from a previous night’s dinner. The results were spectacular and the only thing I would change is to make more since 2 per person was not enough.

Here is what I did:  Heat about two inches of grape seed oil or canola oil in a deep sided pan to 350ºF. Use a candy thermometer since you should be as accurate as possible when heating oil.

For the batter I stirred together 3/4 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt. I slowly added 8 ounces of Club Soda whisking the whole time to blend and smooth the batter. It will be thickish but not gloppy. A few lumps are ok.

Dip the flowers into the batter and gently shake off any excess batter. Place in the hot oil and fry until crispy and slightly golden, turning them in the oil to get all sides crisp and golden, about 3 minutes total. (Do not crowd the pan.)

Drain on a paper towel for a moment. Serve immediately. No sauce necessary as you do not want to hide the flavor of these glorious blossoms.

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Food For Thought, Fried, Squash, Squash Bloxxoms, Vegetables, Zucchini, Zucchini Flowers | Leave a comment

Strawberry Season’s Bounty

It’s Strawberry Season in South Caroline and I am taking advantage of the most beautiful Strawberries I have ever seen. We found a place called Strawberry Hill, USA, in Gaffney, South Carolina, where we thought we would be able to pick our own Strawberries. Thankfully they pick them for you. Whew, happy for that. I picked up 2 gallons of just picked Strawberries to make Strawberry Semi-Freddo and Strawberry Jam. It’s been a great week.

Here are the recipes for both. Enjoy!

Strawberry Semi-Freddo

Strawberry Semi-Freddo

Makes 2 Quarts

3          Cups Fresh Strawberries, Hulled and Sliced

¼         Cup Granulated Sugar

8          Large Egg Yolks

1          Cup Granulated Sugar

1          Cup of Reserved Strawberry Juice

½         Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt

4         Large Egg Whites, Room Temperature

¼        Cup Granulated Sugar

2         Cups Heavy Whipping Cream (36%)

¼        Cup Sugar

In a 2-quart saucepan cook the strawberries and ¼ cup sugar over medium heat, stirring often. Cook the strawberries until they soften and begin to break up, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, strain the strawberries in a fine mess strained set over a bowl. Reserve one cup of the strawberry juice.

In a large heatproof bowl beat the yolks with the sugar, until combined, with a wire whisk. In a slow and steady stream add the 1 cup reserved strawberry juice to the eggs and sugar whisking the whole time.

Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful to not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, and whisk the egg mixture continuously until very thick and hot. It will be thick enough when you lift the whisk and the mixture lies down slowly in a ribbon shape and takes a moment to sink back into itself. Be patient, as this will take about 20 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a few more minutes to help cool it down. Place the bowl in an ice water bath to cool completely, gently whisking every few minutes. Once cooled, fold the drained strawberries into the cooked egg mixture (This is called the custard). Set aside.

Place the 4 large egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and slowly beat the whites to break them up, about 30 seconds. Gradually increase the speed to high and continue to beat the whites until very soft peaks form. With the mixer running on high, gradually add the ¼ cup sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the sugar is completely dissolved. Fold thoroughly, but gently, into the cooled custard.

In a clean standing mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium high for a minute. Add the ¼ cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy and peaks form when the whisk is lifted out of the cream.

Fold the whipped cream into the custard thoroughly, but gently.   Put the Semi-Freddo into an air-tight container, covered and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight before serving. Semi-freddo will last in the freezer for up to one month.

Strawberry Jam

With this recipe you can do the whole sterilized jar thing if you are not going to refrigerate. I don’t bother because once the Jam is cooled and covered they will last for at least a month in the refrigerator. But, trust me when I tell you, they are so good they will be eaten before you know it. Adding blueberries gives the jam and richer, darker color.

Strawberry Jam


Makes 1 Quart

3 Cups Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup Water
8 Cups Fresh Strawberries, Rinsed, Hulled and Cut into Half Length-Wise (OR Sliced into Quarters if  Strawberries are Large)                                                                                                    1/2 Cup Fresh Blueberries, Rinsed and Picked Over

Place sugar and water in a large heavy pan such as a Dutch oven. On high heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved and slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add the strawberries and blueberries, toss the berries in the sugar syrup until they are completely coated with the syrup and bring back to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer the berries, stirring often, until they are cooked through and the syrup is thick and dark red, about 45 minutes. During the cooking, skim off as much of the foam as possible.

Transfer the preserves to a glass jar and cool completely before covering. Store in refrigerator. Preserves will last for at least a month refrigerated.

Tip: To dissolve the sugar crystals that form on the side of the pan, cover with a lid for about 5 minutes. This takes the place of brushing down the side of the pan with cold water. This is much easier and way more effective.

Skimming off the foam makes the preserves clear and not cloudy. The foam you are skimming off is a chemical re-action between the berries and the sugar and if not skimmed off the foam will crystallize and your preserves will become grainy and sugary.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment on the blog or e-mail me.

Strawberry Fields Forever 

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Food For Thought, Jam, Semi-Freddo, Strawberries | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Easter Brunch 2017

Easter Brunch 2017

Frittata with Ricotta, Italian Sausage and Ham

Tomato Bacon Asparagus Quiche

Cranberry Orange Bread

Bloody Marys and Mimosas

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with  Lamb Sauce

Honey Baked Ham with Cranberry-Citrus Compote

Potatoes Au Gratin

Asparagus Mimosa

Roasted Beets, Orange and Fennel Salad with Humbolt Fog Goat Cheese

French Rose’ Wine


Apple Tart Frangipane with Caramel Sauce and Cinnamon Gelato

Easter Sunday is just around the corner and here are a few suggestions for Easter Brunch.  In our home the Easter Brunch is pretty much the same menu each year with only a few variations. Frittata is always on the menu along with Leg of Lamb and Honey Baked Ham. Asparagus is at it’s most perfect at this time of year so you will always find it on the Easter Sunday Menu.



Happy Easter!!

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Apples, Asparagus, Beets, Blue Cheese, Caramel Sauce, Cheese, Cheese Sauce, Dessert, Dessert/Pastry, Desserts, Easter, Egg Dishes, Eggs, Entree, Fennel, Food For Thought, Frittata, Fruit Desserts, Goat Cheese, Italian Sausage, Lamb, Lamb Sauce, Luncheon Salads, Meat, Menus, Pate Sucre, Potato, Quiche, Quick Bread, Roasted Beet Salad, Sausage, Tarts, Vinaigrettes and Dressings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oven Braised Corned Beef with Irish Beer and Irish Whiskey

I know we all have heard the phrase “Erin go Bragh” when St. Patrick’s Day is approaching.  And I know that many us that are Irish on that one day only have no idea what it means.  Here is the definition and pronunciation of that famous phrase:

Erin go Bragh is the anglicisation of an Irish language phrase, Éirinn go Brách, and is used to express allegiance to Ireland.

So Erin go Bragh to all of my true Irish friends and all of us wannabes.

I will be cooking my traditional Oven Braised Corned Beef with Irish Beer and Irish Whiskey on St. Paddy’s Day along with the best Irish Soda Bread ever and if you click on the links you will go directly to the recipes.  This year I am going to cook my cabbage a few of different ways just to shake it up a bit and keep things interesting.  I am going to cook the cabbage traditionally with the corned beef and I will also be roasting and sautéing cabbage as well. 

Oven Braised Corned Beef with Irish Beer and Irish Whiskey

When buying the corned beef be sure to buy the flat end.  This is the largest part of the brisket, the most evenly marbled and the tenderest.  The tip end is stringy and not very flavorful.  I had to look really hard through the meat section to find a large piece like I use in this recipe.  There seemed to be only two to three pound pieces and that, to me, is hardly worth the effort.  Besides, the shrinkage factor is crazy.  You can buy your corned beef a week in advance as there will be a better selection in size and, as long as you keep it in the bag it comes in, it will fine.  This size corned beef will serve six but there will not be any left over.

You might think that with all of the beer and whiskey in the recipe it will have a strong alcohol flavor.  But it doesn’t.  In fact there is no beer or whiskey flavor at all.  The beer does wonders for the taste and texture of the corned beef and the whiskey mellows the taste even more giving it a subtle sweetness.  If you prefer not to use beer or whiskey you can substitute homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth.  My result was a delicious, melt in your mouth corned beef.

If there is a packet of seasoning in the bag the corned beef comes in, use it.  You can never add too much flavor.  Don’t use any salt as the corned beef has enough in the brine to flavor everything in the pan.

Corned Beef Nestled In The Pot
Serves 6

1        4 ½ to 5 Pound Corned Beef Brisket, Flat End

6        Garlic Cloves, Smashed

2        Large Onions, Thickly Sliced

2        Tablespoons Pickling Spice

2      Bay Leaves

2      12 Ounce Bottles of Beer (Not Light Beer) Such as Harps Lager

1/2  Cup Irish Whiskey

12    Medium Size Carrots, Peeled, Cut Crosswise on an Angle Into 1″ Pieces

6        Medium Size Yukon Gold Potatoes, Unpeeled and Cut Into Quarters

1       Pound Boiler Onions, Peeled and Left Whole with Root End Attached

1      Large Head Savoy Cabbage, Cut Into Six Wedges with Core Left Intact (Leaving the core intact keeps the cabbage leaves together making it easier to handle and it looks good as well.)

Preheat the oven to 325º F.

Rinse the corned beef with cold water to remove all of the brine the meat has been sitting in.  Place the corned beef into a large Dutch Oven. Add the garlic, onions, pickling spice, bay leaves, beer and whiskey. On the stove top bring the liquid to a boil.  (It is always good to put a hot pan into the oven when cooking something such as this.  It removes all of the time in the oven being wasted to get the pan and its contents hot.)  Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Braise 3 hours, turning the meat in the pan half way through the cooking time.

At the end of the 3 hours, remove the pan from the oven, turn the meat again, add the carrots and potatoes, scattering them around the meat. Replace the lid and place back in the oven for an additional hour. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm (if you have a warming oven or warming draw place the corned beef there on medium low). Keep the carrots and potatoes in the pan with all of the liquid and add the onions and the cabbage to the pan, being sure to nestle the cabbage in the liquid and spoon some of the liquid over each wedge.  Bring the liquid back to boil. Replace the lid, place back in the oven and braise for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked and tender. Remove the pan from the oven.

Trim off some of the fat from the corned beef.  Slice the meat against the grain and decoratively arrange meat and vegetables on a large platter.  Drizzle some of the pan juices over the meat and vegetables.

Serve with prepared horseradish and coarse whole-grain mustard.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

4          Cups All Purpose Flour

 1/3       Cup Granulated Sugar

 1          Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt

 2          Teaspoons Baking Powder

 1          Tablespoon Caraway Seeds, Optional

 4          Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Preferably Irish Butter), Cold and Cut into 8 Pieces

 2          Cups Golden or Dark Raisins,  Soaked in Whiskey  (Optional.  In a small bowl, pour 1/4 Cup Whiskey over the raisins and let them soak for a few minutes.  Drain well before using.)

1 ½     Cups Buttermilk

1          Large Egg

1          Teaspoon Baking Soda

1          Large Egg Yolk (For the Glaze)

1          Tablespoon Heavy Cream (For the Glaze)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and the optional caraway seeds.

Cut in the butter with your finger tips or a pastry cutter.  (Using your fingers is the most efficient way to cut in the butter.  Just be sure the butter is super cold.)  Add the raisins and stir until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork and add the buttermilk.  Add the baking soda and stir to combine.  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture all at once and combine with a fork until all of the liquid is absorbed and the mixture starts to hold together.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until the dough comes together.  Don’t over work it or it will be a tough bread.

Form the dough into a round, domed shape 7 to 8 inches in diameter.  Place on prepared sheet pan.

In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk and cream and brush the top of the bread all over with the egg wash.  Cut a cross into the top of the bread about half an inch deep.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the baking time.  Bake until the bread is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Cool completely before cutting.

Roasted Cabbage

Roasted Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

1          Medium Size Head Green Cabbage, Cut into  1”  Thick Slices

1          Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1          Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

½         Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

¼         Teaspoon Caraway Seeds

½         Teaspoon Garlic Powder

2          Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Preferably Irish Butter), Cut into Bits

1     Cup Corned Beef Cooking Liquid, Homemade Chicken Stock or Low Sodium Canned Chicken Broth

Preheat oven to 400°.

Line a sheet pan with heavy duty foil and spray with cooking spray such as Pam Original.

Place the slices of cabbage on the sheet pan and drizzle with the vegetable oil, evenly sprinkle the salt, pepper, caraway seeds and garlic powder over the slices.  Dot each piece with several bits of butter.  Pour the cooking liquid or chicken stock into the bottom of the pan.

Roasted until cabbage is softened and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and serve immediately. 

Sautéed Green Cabbage

Sautéed Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

1          Medium Head Green Cabbage, Coarsely Chopped

1          Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

3          Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Preferably Irish Butter)

1          Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

½         Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

½         Teaspoon Caraway Seeds

½         Teaspoon Garlic Powder

2          Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

¼         Cup Irish Whiskey 

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add the vegetable oil and the butter.  When the butter stops foaming and begins to turn golden add the chopped cabbage.  Do not disturb the cabbage for about two minutes.  After that time toss the cabbage in the pan and add the salt, pepper, caraway seeds, garlic powder and sugar.  Continue to sauté the cabbage, for 10 minutes, tossing the cabbage around in the pan every few minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the whiskey and continue to cook until the cabbage is soft and slightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All.

Erin go Bragh!

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Bread, Cabbage, Carrots, Corned Beef, Entree, Food For Thought, Irish Soda Bread, Onions, Potato | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Duck And Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Fat Tuesday is less than a week away and if you are going to celebrate this event here is a dish that will make all of your guests very happy.  If you are adventurous in the kitchen then my recipe for delicious Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo is perfect for you.

The recipe isn’t difficult to prepare but it does take time. One of the greatest things about this Gumbo recipe is that it can be made a day or two in advance of serving. Making the Gumbo in advance gives you time to enjoy being with your guests instead of spending hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up at the last minute. Besides, the advanced cooking gives the Gumbo time to develop the layers of flavor I am always talking about.

Duck And Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Serves 6

1          5-Pound Duck, Back Bone and Wings Removed and Cut Into Quarters (If you have a butcher you can count on, ask if they will cut the duck into quarters)

4          Teaspoons Emeril’s Essence, Divided

¼         Cup Vegetable Oil

1          Cup All-Purpose Flour

2          Cups Spanish or Vidalia Onions, Medium Dice

1          Cup Celery, Medium Dice

1          Cup Carrots, Medium Dice

1½      Cups Red Bell Pepper, Medium Dice

6          Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced

2          Cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, Skin Left On, Medium Dice

7-8      Cups Homemade Ham Stock or Rich Dark Homemade Chicken Stock, Heated (OR Canned Low Sodium Chicken Stock)

12       Ounces Smoked Andouille Sausage, Skin Removed, Sliced Into ¼” Discs (or Smoked Kielbasa)

12       Ounces Tasso Ham or Smoked Ham, Cut into ½” Cubes

2          Teaspoons Coarse Sea Salt

1          Teaspoon Dried Thyme

2          Bay Leaves

Rice Pilaf As An Accompaniment

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Season the duck pieces with 2 teaspoons of Emeril’s Essence. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until hot. Add the duck pieces skin side down and brown until crispy, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the pieces over and repeat the process. Remove the pieces to a shallow roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Cook the duck for approximately 1 hour or until the duck is cooked through. When cooked remove from oven and let cool until the pieces can be handled to remove the meat from the skin and bones. Discard the skin and bones and set the meat aside.

While the duck is cooking reduce the heat to medium and add ¼ cup vegetable oil to the pan with the drippings from the duck. Immediately add the flour. Stir the flour with a whisk at first to incorporate the flour into the oil. Change to a large spoon and continue stirring the flour to make a roux. Cook the roux, constantly stirring and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, for 15 minutes or until the flour turns a deep golden brown.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, red pepper, garlic, potatoes and sauté for about five minutes. Add the hot stock and stir to combine. Add the sausage, Tasso/ham, the two remaining teaspoons Emeril’s Essence, salt, thyme and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook the gumbo for 45 minutes covered, keeping the cover slightly off kilter, stirring often to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the duck meat to the gumbo and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve immediately with Rice Pilaf. ( OR You can cool completely and refrigerate for a couple of days. When ready to serve, heat over medium heat until hot.)

Place heaping ½ cups of Rice Pilaf in the middle of individual warm soup bowls and ladle a good portion of the gumbo around the rice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Bon Ton Roule

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Andouille Sausage, Chicken Stock, Duck, Food For Thought, Gumbo, Ham, Ham Stock, Kielbasa, Sausage, Tasso Ham | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the best Carrot Cake I have ever made. It’s moist and delicious; exactly what a Carrot Cake should be. It took 20 years to perfect the recipe as I started developing it when I was just getting started cooking professionally. I was working in a restaurant in Delray Beach, Florida, for a man who had no idea what was involved in owning and running a restaurant. Good for me because he trusted me enough to do whatever I wanted. My staff and I were responsible for making everything on the menu including the two different breads each day served for lunch and dinner (one yeast bread and one quick bread) and four or five different desserts daily. The whole menu changed  completely everyday, lunch and dinner.

A note of caution: Be sure to whisk the dry ingredients thoroughly. If the baking soda is not mixed in well or if it is added as an afterthought, the carrots will turn green during baking. Baking soda has that type of chemical reaction with carrots. I found this out when a friend made the cake and put the baking soda as an afterthought because it was forgotten in the whisking of the dry ingredients. It will not affect the flavor or texture of the cake but it will be a bright green. It might be ok for a St. Paddy’s Day Cake but really not a good idea.

Makes Two 9” Layers

2          Cups All Purpose Flour

2          Teaspoons Baking Powder

2          Teaspoons Baking Soda

1          Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt

1/2      Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/8      Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg

4          Large Eggs, Room Temperature

1          Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed

1¼      Cups Vegetable Oil

1½      Cups Crushed Pineapple, Drained (From a 20 Ounce Can)

2          Cups Grated Carrots

1          Cup Golden Raisins

1          Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

1          Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1          Recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray two 9” round baking pans with Pam for Baking. Line the bottom of each pan with a round piece of parchment paper and spray with Pam as well.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In the mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the eggs until very light and fluffy about 5 minutes (medium high on the mixer’s speed). Add the brown sugar and continue beating again to a light and fluffy consistency, about 2 minutes more. With the mixer still running add the oil in a slow and steady stream and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Change the speed of the mixer to low. With the mixer off, add the pineapple, carrots, raisins, nuts and vanilla. Beat slowly until well blended.

With the mixer turned off, add the flour mixture all at once and gently beat on low speed until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. The cake is done when a wooden pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven onto a cooling rack. Cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Invert cooled layers onto the cooling rack and cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes Enough to Frost a 9″  Two Layer Cake

8          Ounces Cream Cheese at Room Temperature

8          Ounces Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature

4          Cups Confectioners Sugar, Sifted

2          Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

It is very important that butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. If one is colder than the other, it will lump up.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar to cream cheese and butter. Be careful to not over mix. It will become runny if you do. Add vanilla. Beat until combined.

Posted in Ahh Haa Moments, Cake, Carrots, Confectioners Sugar, Cream Cheese, Desserts, Food For Thought, Fruit, Nuts, Recipes To Share | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Curried Pork Tenderloin with Vegetable Couscous

Last night’s dinner was a combination of Indian and Mediterranean foods. The Curry and the Couscous compliment each other perfectly. Both of these dishes are easy to prepare and take very little time to get on the dinner table.

Curried Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

1   Pork Tenderloin Weighing 1½ Pounds, Trimmed of Silver Skin

1   Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1   Teaspoon Ground Coriander

1   Tablespoon Curry Powder

1   Small Bunch Cilantro, Stems Removed

2   Fresh Serrano Chilies, Seeded (Use more if you are a HOT FOOD fan)

1   Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

1   Sweet Onion, Thinly Sliced Crosswise

6   Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped

1   Red Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced

1    Yellow Pepper, Thinly Sliced

4   Carrots, Peeled,  Thinly Sliced Crosswise on a Diagonal

3   Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1   Cup Homemade Chicken Stock or Canned Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1   Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1   Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1   Recipe Vegetable Couscous

Flour for Dredging Pork Tenderloin

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, make a paste with the cumin, coriander, curry, cilantro, chilies and lemon juice. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Sprinkle the Pork Tenderloin with a bit of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the Pork Tenderloin into the flour and sauté in oil until nicely browned on all sides.  Transfer the pan with the Pork Tenderloin to the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. (The pork will be rare and will finish cooking in the sauce.)

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the Pork Tenderloin to a plate. With the pan over medium heat, add onion, carrots, peppers and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the paste to the vegetables and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half. Add the coconut milk and reduce again until slightly thickened. Add the rest of the salt and pepper.

Slice the Pork Tenderloin into medallions about 1½” thick and add to sauce to finish cooking the pork, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with Vegetable Couscous.

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Couscous, Curry, Food For Thought, Pork, Pork Tenderloin | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearty Pasta Fagioli On A Cold Winter Day


Pasta Fagioli Topped with Parmesan Cheese

Here is the recipe for my most favorite soup of all time. It is a long process with many steps and a perfect project for a cold winter day when you just don’t want to be outside. My recipe is traditional and one I have been making for many years.

You will notice that I do not soak the beans. The reason for skipping this step is that I found by not soaking the beans the skin of the beans will split open creating a much creamier soup. This eliminates the necessity of pureeing a portion of the beans to get that creamy texture. I found that when I cook my bean soup slowly and stir often the beans become creamy on their own.

Never salt the beans when they are cooking.  If you salt them too early they cook up just a little too mealy and loose their creamy texture.

Do not add the cooked pasta to the soup until ready to serve.  If you add the pasta too early, or cook it in the soup too long, it will suck up all of the moisture and the soup will be too thick.  So, I suggest you cook only the amount of pasta you will need at the moment.  Add the cooked pasta to the soup when hot.

The finished product will be not thick and not soupy – somewhere in between.  The soup thickens up on its own even when it is sitting on the counter cooling.  If it is too thick for your liking,  just add a little stock when reheating.

I like to top off a bowl of Pasta Fagioli with parmesan cheese or, to make it really special, add a dollop of Pesto just before serving.  You can also drizzle a little XVOO on top of that wonderful bowl of Pasta Fagioli.

So there you have it.  A few tips and hints that I find really important and know for sure work.

Pasta Fagioli

Makes about 6 Quarts

For the Beans

2     14 Ounce Bags Dried Cannelini Beans (White Kidney Beans)

For the Ham Stock

1     Whole Ham Bone, Meat Removed, Diced and Reserved for Soup (Leave     the fat on the bone)

1     Large Onion, Skin Left On, Cut Into Quarters

4     Carrots, Skin Left On, Cut Into Half

6     Celery Stalks with Leaves, Cut Into Half

6     Garlic Cloves, Left Whole

2     Bay Leaves

1     Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

For the Pasta Fagioli

2    Cups Cooked Ham, Diced

1     Lb. Pancetta, Rind Removed and Diced

2     Cups Spanish Onion, Diced (About 1 Large Onion)

2     Cups Celery, Diced

2     Cups Carrots, Diced

6     Garlic Gloves, Finely Minced

4     Cups Russet Potato, Peeled, Diced

1     35 Ounce Can Plum Tomatoes, Drained, Chopped, Juice Reserved

2     Tablespoons XVOO

3     Teaspoons Course Sea Salt

2     Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper

½    Teaspoons Crush Red Pepper

6     Cups Ham Stock or Homemade Chicken Stock or Low Sodium Chicken Broth

4     Cups Bean Cooking Water

1     Cup Reserved Tomato Juice

1     Bouquet Garni

Cooked Ditalini Pasta

To Cook the Beans

Rinse the beans and pick them over to remove any stones or dirt that may be present.  Place the beans in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water by about three inches.  Bring the beans and water to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 to 1½ hours.  You will know when the beans are cooked when they a not crunchy or hard when bitten into.

Remove the beans from the heat and drain reserving the liquid.  Rinse the beans and set aside.

To Make the Ham Stock

While the beans are cooking make the stock.  Place all of the stock ingredients in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water.  Bring the stock to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to simmer and cook for at least 1 to 1½ hours.  Remove from the heat, drain the stock into a bowl and discard the vegetables.  Set aside.

For the Bouquet Garni

In a double layer of cheese cloth, place two bay leaves, several sprigs of fresh parsley, basil, thyme, oregano and sage.  Gather the edges of the cheesecloth to form a pouch like parcel and tie the pouch with kitchen twine.

To Make the Pasta Fagioli

In a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat the XVOO and add the Pancetta.  Cook the Pancetta until the fat is rendered and the Pancetta just starts to crisp.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and gently sauté the vegetables until the onion begins to become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the potatoes and sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes more.  Add the plum tomatoes, the tomato juice, the ham stock and the bean water.  Add the cooked beans, diced ham, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Bring to a boil and add the bouquet garni.  Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to cook for 1½ hours stirring often to be sure the mixture does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.  (I like to cook the soup with a lid half way on the pot.  This helps to keep the soup from reducing too much.)  Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

When ready to serve, heat the amount of soup needed and add as much of the cooked Ditalini as you like.

Although the recipe is long and at first read it may seem daunting, don’t let it get in the way of how easy it really is to make.

Posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Beans, Food For Thought, Ham, Ham Stock, Italian Food, Pancetta, Plum Tomatoes, Potato, Soup | Tagged , , | 1 Comment