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301 posts categorized " 02) Soups, Salads, Sandwiches & Snacks"

06/07/2016

~ Holy Trinity & Remoulade: Creole Macaroni Salad ~

Crunchy, creamy and cold, macaroni salad is a classic Summer staple on American tables everywhere. It's easy to make, tastes great, and, by changing out a few add-in ingredients here and there (and the fresh herbs and dry spices in your mayonnaise concoction too), you can personalize it to suit yourself, or, customize it to fit the flavor profile of the meal you're serving. In case you've just landed from another planet, the "holy trinity" (diced celery, green bell pepper and onion) is to the French-heritaged Cajun and Creole cooks of Louisiana what "mirepoix" (diced carrot, celery and onion) is...... View full recipe for "~ Holy Trinity & Remoulade: Creole Macaroni Salad ~"

06/05/2016

~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~

"I will never be blue, my dreams come true, on Blue Bayou." Hold that beautiful thought because Roy Orbison singing Blue Bayou is as close as I'll get to the Louisiana bayou -- or any bayou. Plenty full of pretty pelicans, herons and spoonbills, it's the alligators, snakes, and leeches that will keep me out. That said, many Cajuns, and a few Creoles too, feel right at home in these mysterious reaches of Southern Louisiana -- bayou life has its own pace and culture. A bayou is a body of water found in flat, low-lying areas. It can refer to...... View full recipe for "~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~"

05/31/2016

~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~

Store-bought seasoning blends and bottled sauces. Every home cook has their favorite brands and there is no shame in that. I am no exception. When pressed for time, some days I reach for a container of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic and other days a bottle K.C. Masterpiece will do just fine. When correctly paired together, a high-quality store-bought spice blend and bottled sauce can be a busy cook's best time saver. That said, all serious cooks make the time to prepare their favorite homemade concoctions too. I am no exception, and, at any given time, if you peek into...... View full recipe for "~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~"

05/20/2016

~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~

Get out the turmeric and attire yourself in something you don't mind discarding because we're making satay today. If your manicure is French, put on a pair of latex gloves too. Why? Because, in case you don't know, turmeric (TER-muh-rihk), that earthy-colored, pleasantly-fragrant powdered-spice (that rarely gets used in American cooking) will permanently paint your world a vivid yellow-orange. Made from grinding the rhizome root of the curcumin plant and a close relative of ginger, it's a prime ingredient in curry and mustard powders, and, it's used to give many of the rice dishes, soups and sauces of Indonesia, Malaysia,...... View full recipe for "~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~"

05/17/2016

~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~

Planes, trains and automobiles. I get my inspiration for recipes in the darndest places. In the Summer of 1986, there was a day trip from San Diego to Tijuana in a rental car on our agenda. I ordered a Baja Fish Taco at a taco stand as a snack to eat en route -- I wish I'd ordered six. In the Winter of 1990, there was a train ride from England to Wales. I ordered the Cottage Beef Pie for dinner -- I licked the casserole clean. In the Spring of 1993, on a flight from Taipei to Tokyo, a...... View full recipe for "~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~"

05/12/2016

~ Rich & Creamy Celery Soup (Isn't Ho-Hum at All) ~

Celery. It's the swizzle stick in my Bloody Mary, a must have in my egg, tuna and potato salad, and, send back those Buffalo wings if they don't come with a crudité of celery and some blue cheese dip. That said, in my food world, celery is not considered an exciting vegetable. No one ever gleefully remarks, "my Bloody Mary had the best stalk of celery in it", "the celery in her tuna salad was divine", or, "the celery that came with his chicken wings was outstanding". Celery, however, is one of the world's most used vegetables, coming from the...... View full recipe for "~ Rich & Creamy Celery Soup (Isn't Ho-Hum at All) ~"

05/09/2016

~ Tamagoyaki: A Fried & Rolled Japanese Omelette~

Leave it to the Japanese to turn a plain omelette into a work of neatly-rolled edible art that's as good tasting as it is pretty to look at. "Tomago" means "egg" in Japanese and "yaki" means "to grill or grilled". Tomagoyaki is essentially: the scrambled egg of Japan. They eat them for breakfast, pack them into bento boxes for lunch, and, serve them alongside other foods, like sushi. Back in 1986, on my first morning in Tokyo, my first tamagoyaki was served with a small salad of pickled fish and pickled ginger. It was in our hotel's dining room (The...... View full recipe for "~ Tamagoyaki: A Fried & Rolled Japanese Omelette~"

04/10/2016

~ My Ultimate Chicken-Fried Steak-Fillet Sandwich ~

The French have a pretty-sounding phrase, "comme-ci comma-ça" (kohm-see kohm-sah), which I use a lot. It's a to-the-point way of saying something is "so-so", "neither good or bad" -- it's tolerable. That pretty much sums up my general feelings about chicken fried steak: its taste and texture are passable. To use another one of my favorite expressions, "it is what it is": a thin, tough, budget-friendly, pounded or cubed or forked, beefsteak. I don't sit down at the table with high expectations for CFS nor do I leave the table disappointed. Comme-ci comma-ça. A bit about chicken-fried steak: The tenderized...... View full recipe for "~ My Ultimate Chicken-Fried Steak-Fillet Sandwich ~"

04/02/2016

~The Only Way You Will Get Me to Eat a Tuna Melt~

I adore tuna salad -- ice cold, creamy, crunchy and chunky classic tuna salad. I love tuna salad subs too -- ice cold tuna salad on an Italian hoagie roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion and Swiss cheese. I made tuna salad and tuna subs for the hubs and I for dinner last night. After thirty-five years of marriage, he, out-of-nowhere, asks me why I've never made him a tuna melt. "The only way you will get me to make you a tuna melt... ... is if you agree upfront to eat it the way I make it. Over the...... View full recipe for "~The Only Way You Will Get Me to Eat a Tuna Melt~"

03/30/2016

~ Another Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe~

There's always room for one more, and today, the food world can make room for mine. Why? When asked, I always answer. While I've shared my recipes for ~ Braised & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~, and, ~ My Brown-Sugar Crusted Crockpot Corned Beef ~, the two are essentially the same recipe, cooked via two different methods, and, they are both geared toward making corned beef sandwiches -- a year round favorite of my husband and I. Corned beef and cabbage, served as a knife and fork dinner or a main-course soup, isn't something either of us grew up...... View full recipe for "~ Another Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe~"

03/18/2016

~ Classic Coquilles St. Jacques (Gratin of Scallops) ~

Once upon a time in Happy Valley we had a fancy-schmancy resort restaurant called LePapillon. As the name implies, it specialized in French cuisine. If you were into a swanky, suit-and-tie, heels-and-hose, Saturday-night-date-place to enjoy a wonderful meal while listening to the best grand piano player in the area, and, take in a breathtaking sunset, this is where you went. For a period of about ten years, Joe and I frequented the place often, and, I arranged for many family celebrations and business gatherings to be held there. Times change, people change, and, back in the late 1990's, when they...... View full recipe for "~ Classic Coquilles St. Jacques (Gratin of Scallops) ~"

03/16/2016

~ Meatless Mushroom Duxelles & Gruyere Crostini ~

For lack of better words, I'm going to refer to this mouthwatering crostini recipe as an "all-purpose, all-occasion" hors d'oeuvre. They complement a host of foods, and, can be served (for brunch, lunch, or dinner), at casual or upscale gatherings. They pair well with all sorts of cocktails, as well as red or white wine. They can be passed prior to an entrée of fish, seafood, poultry, porcine or meat. They can be served with a cup of soup and/or a salad. They are meatless too. That makes them perfect for meatless meals, certain religious holidays, and, entertaining vegetarian friends....... View full recipe for "~ Meatless Mushroom Duxelles & Gruyere Crostini ~"

03/14/2016

~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~

Mushroom duxelles. To a mushroom lover like me, this is the crème de la crème of mushroom preparations -- the earthy caviar of my fungi food world. Each time I prepare it, I pay homage to the French for their meticulous attention to culinary detail. Without duxelles, my Veal Orloff, Beef Wellington and Coquilles St. Jacques would be ordinary veal, beef and seafood dishes. With duxelles on-hand in my refrigerator, I can change an unpretentious piece of toasted bread or a scrambled egg into a fine-dining experience. It enhances many of my sauces and gravies, and, soups and stews too....... View full recipe for "~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~"

03/11/2016

~ Get Out Your Whisk & Make this Tomato Bisque ~

You need recipes like this, I need recipes like this, all of us cooks need recipes like this. This creamy, rich tomato bisque is what I call a "go to" recipe -- one I rely upon for a variety of kitchen encounters. From unpretentious eat-in-the-kitchen meals to upscale dinner-in-the-dining-room soirees, it's a perfect starter course to plug into a host of menus, and, it pairs great with many salads and sandwiches too. Plus, there is little risk serving tomato soup because almost all folks like it a lot. I've handed out this recipe countless times, which is just how I...... View full recipe for "~ Get Out Your Whisk & Make this Tomato Bisque ~"

03/03/2016

~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~

Salisbury steak. I was first introduced to it as a child, in our home, via the Swanson TV Dinner -- my generation's fast food. Once a week, when mom or dad went grocery shopping, my brother and I were allowed to pick one TV Dinner, which we would eat on Thursday. To this day, I associate Thursdays with TV Dinners. TV Dinner Thursday: sitting on the carpeted floor, in front of our TV, legs crossed, in my PJ's, in front of a short-legged folding table, watching The Flintstones and Bewitched with my brother -- me eating Salisbury Steak, he Fried...... View full recipe for "~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~"

02/21/2016

~ Green Bean, Tomato and Fingerling Potato Salad ~

Green beans, tomatoes and potatoes all tossed together with a vinaigrette and some basil. There are lots of minor variations to this classic, rustic Italian-heritaged salad, but, those four components remain constant. I serve it as a side-dish to grilled tuna or chicken, but, many add high-quality oil-packed tuna or chopped roasted chicken and serve it as a main-dish. Some folks add bits of fried pancetta, others throw in a few capers, but, for me, I don't like anything messing with the subtle flavor of the vegetables, and that includes: refrigeration. Read on. It's all about me: My green beans...... View full recipe for "~ Green Bean, Tomato and Fingerling Potato Salad ~"

02/14/2016

~ A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad ~

Chicken salad -- I'm persnickity about it. If the chicken is the least bit dry, or kinda gray looking because it's made with leg and thigh meat, I won't touch it. It's gotta be moist, fork tender, nicely seasoned and snowy white. Poaching chicken breasts or tenders in a mild court bouillon accomplishes all of that (and feel free to do it), but, for me, there is nothing tastier than the juicy white meat pulled away from the breast bone of a perfectly-roasted whole chicken. "You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken."...... View full recipe for "~ A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad ~"

02/09/2016

~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~

Who was Maurice? Most people will tell you he was the chef or a chef at J.L. Hudson's (a famous Detroit department store that later became Marshall Field's), because it is, more-likely-than-not: true. Sadly however, there's no written record of a chef named Maurice or which in-store restaurant his salad debuted in. As a culinary history buff, I hate it when details like that fade into obscurity -- I'm still lamenting taking a pair of scissors to their classy-looking credit card when Macy's took over and issued me a new card with their logo. Great memorabilia lost. Sigh. That said,...... View full recipe for "~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~"

01/27/2016

~ The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog ~

Hot dogs -- one of my favorite subjects. I relish eating them, never tire of discussing them, and, whenever we travel, if our destination is known for a style of hot dog, it's one of the things I make a point of eating while I'm there. The New York-style hot dog is one I've not chatted with you about yet. That said, had I not had advance, concise, clarification of what "dirty-water-dog" means (the affectionate but unappealing nickname New Yorkers have given their dogs), cuing up in line at the closest pushcart would not have happened and I wouldn't be...... View full recipe for "~ The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog ~"

01/22/2016

~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~

I've never lived outside of the great state of Pennsylvania. I was born and raised in Eastern, PA, the Lehigh Valley region, which has a large Pennsylvania Dutch community. For the past forty years, I've lived here in Central Pennsylvania, which has a large Amish population. In both farm cultures, pot pie isn't just a meal -- it's a relaxed, comforting, "pull-up-a-chair and join us for dinner" way of life. Lucky am I to have learned how to make both styles of pot-pie. Recipes do vary from cook to cook, and, yes there are cross-overs of both versions as people...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~"

01/19/2016

~ Chinese: Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup ~

I take soup seriously. Next to a well-constructed sandwich or a well-composed salad, a well-executed soup is a perfect storm of a meal -- especially during a snow storm. Soup-, salad- and sandwich-making all have one thing in common: all components must play well together. Like a perfectly-tuned symphony, no one ingredient should take center stage for a solo unless the composer carefully orchestrates it. No matter how simple or complicated, if one ingredient is out-of-sync, the performance, while possibly palatable, will not garner a standing ovation. When one 4 1/2-pound pack of chicken tenders = 3 distinctly different delicious...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese: Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup ~"

01/16/2016

~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~

I am an all-American girl who loves Indian food, especially curry. I don't claim to be an expert on Indian cuisine, but, I dabble in it enough to know how to put "a pinch of this and a dash of that" in a pot or a pan and come up with an Indian-style dish that would make anyone who enjoys the flavors of India happy. What I'm attempting to say is, this is by no means an authentic Indian soup recipe -- a least not that I know of. The recipe didn't come to me from a person or a...... View full recipe for "~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~"

01/14/2016

~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~

When I use my crockpot, it's not because I have no time to cook, it's because what I'm letting it cook for me, without compromise, is really good. It's no secret, I've never been a crockpot kinda gal, but, over the past few years I've mellowed. I've made peace with mine, and, at present, I have more than a few uncompromisingly yummy slow cooker recipes. I won't lie, that took work -- on my part. Crockpots per se, and, the cryptic way almost all crockpot recipes are written are: not all that they are crocked up to be. Without exception,...... View full recipe for "~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~"

01/11/2016

~ How to: Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~

My husband tells everyone he married me for my taco shells -- it's a truthful joke. There was a period in my life when I made homemade taco shells like some people make homemade pizza -- once a week perhaps. The first time I invited Joe and his two little sons to my apartment for dinner in 1979, I made tacos for the kids. There I was, me and my tortilla press, putting on a show for my future step-sons while my own toddler rode his Hot Wheel in a circle around the coffee table while watching The Price is...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~"

01/04/2016

~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~

Slider sandwiches and deviled eggs sort of have a lot in common: They're all-occasion, crowd-pleasing feel-good, portable food. Depending on what combination of ingredients you use to make them, and your presentation, you can serve them on a paper plate with a beer at tailgate or on a linen napkin with a cocktail at a back-tie event. Put a slider on a plate next to a stuffed egg and you've turned two unrelated snacks into a small, well-balanced meal. Stuffed eggs have been around since the days of the Roman Empire. The American word slider, which has no known originator,...... View full recipe for "~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~"

12/15/2015

~ Ooh-La-La: Beefy French Onion Soup Dumplings ~

When it comes to Soupe a l'Oignon a la Francaise (French Onion Soup), I take no shortcuts -- the time it takes to achieve perfection is irrelevant. I'm not interested in amateurish thirty-minute-or-less dumbed-down versions -- using flour to thicken the homemade beef stock and/or sugar to sweeten the caramelized onions is sacrilege. There's more: you'll be verbally abused for suggesting vegan stock, beaten with a baguette for any utterance about gluten-free bread, and, ejected from my kitchen if you say soy cheese can be substituted for nutty Gruyere. When it comes to French Onion Soup, I'm a by-the-book purist....... View full recipe for "~ Ooh-La-La: Beefy French Onion Soup Dumplings ~"

11/15/2015

~ Anchor-Deep Deep-Fried Shrimp w/Tartar Sauce ~

Circa 1960's and 1970's Anchor Deep Seafood was the name of a take-out seafood joint in my town, Tamaqua, PA. It was a block from my Great Aunt Mary's house, which was three-four blocks from the high school, where I had band or majorette practice after school three-four days a week, and, way back then, there was no "activities or sports bus" to shuttle us kids who lived in the burbs home -- our parents had to "deal with it". For years, I walked to Aunt Mary's after practice, then, around 5:15PM, my mom would pick me up after she...... View full recipe for "~ Anchor-Deep Deep-Fried Shrimp w/Tartar Sauce ~"

11/04/2015

~ Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves) ~

I'm no J. Edgar Hoover, but, in my office, there is a well-organized file drawer in my credenza containing nothing but recipes that I've collected from foodies I've encountered over the years -- if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Because I know or knew each foodie personally, I know these recipes are kitchen-tested and tasty. One such file, marked "Gizella" is a 1"-thick compendium of her recipes, many of which are from her country of birth: Hungary. Lucky for me, for a few short years, on occasion, I got to eat Gizella's food, and, it...... View full recipe for "~ Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves) ~"

11/02/2015

~ Mrs. Varga's Evolving Hungarian Paprikas Recipe ~

Although limited, my encounters with Hungarian cuisine have all been good ones, and, to the best of my knowledge, authentic too. While my family is not Hungarian, we are Eastern European (of the Slovakian type), which means the food of other Eastern European countries, generally speaking, appeals to our appetites. Thanks to a recipe my mom got from a Hungarian co-worker, she made really good Hungarian "goulyas". As for paprikas, that's a recipe I got from my current neighbor Gabriella's mother (both of whom immigrated from Hungary to the USA in the 1950's). A copy of Gizella Varga's paprikas was...... View full recipe for "~ Mrs. Varga's Evolving Hungarian Paprikas Recipe ~"

10/31/2015

~ My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough ~

A great pizza starts with a great crust, but, finding a pizza dough recipe to suit your requirements is not as easy as the ingredients list indicates: flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes sugar and/or olive oil. Cooks who take pizza making seriously have more than one pizza dough recipe in their repertoire because certain pizzas require a certain type of crust -- there's no getting around it. Beyond that, within each type, everyone who takes pizza making seriously, professionally or at home, makes their dough a bit differently. Pizza dough and pizza is personal -- there's no getting around...... View full recipe for "~ My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough ~"

10/28/2015

~ For the Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~

Garlic knots always remind me of the movie Saturday Night Fever (even though not a single knot got eaten in the movie). That said, in the opening scene, when Tony Manero grabbed "a couple of slices" and did his famous disco-stroll down 86th street, every lover-of-disco who had occasion to travel to Brooklyn wanted to make a pilgrimage to Lenny's Pizza -- including me. I almost made it too. An October ice storm caused us to cancel our plans, and, soon afterward, the couple we were traveling with moved to Connecticut. Eileen and I had worked together in a Happy...... View full recipe for "~ For the Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~"

10/18/2015

~Beer & Brown-Sugar Braised Kielbasa Sandwiches~

I don't crave kielbasa. I just don't. That said, if it's put in front of me, I won't turn my nose up at it. It was a bigger part of my life as a kid. If you are born into an Eastern European family, standing around watching your dad or one of your uncles make kielbasa is a form of entertainment. Each has their own special blend but all turn out a really tasty end product -- some are coarse-textured and on the dryer side, others are fine-textured and moister, but none are like the mass-manufactured, vacuum-packed bologna-textured products found...... View full recipe for "~Beer & Brown-Sugar Braised Kielbasa Sandwiches~"

10/15/2015

~ The Bifana: A Perfect Portuguese Pork Sandwich ~

The Portuguese people eat these pork sandwiches like we Americans eat burgers -- anytime and anywhere. The Bifana is so popular, McDonald's even launched the McBifana in Portugal. Never heard of the Bifana? There's no shame in that. Two weeks ago, I'd never heard of it either -- now I'm hooked on them. Even in its basic form, there is nothing basic about this relatively easy-to-make, unpretentious sandwich. It is a perfect storm of flavors and textures coming together to sweep you up and take your taste buds to unforgettable-land and back for more. The perfect storm of succulent marinated...... View full recipe for "~ The Bifana: A Perfect Portuguese Pork Sandwich ~"

09/29/2015

~Cheesy Baja-Spiced Grill-Pan Chicken Quesadillas~

My mother made me grilled cheese -- I would eat one anytime she made me one. I made my kids quesadillas -- they would eat them anytime I made them. There was a span of time, 6-7 years, when my refrigerator was never without flour tortillas, Monterey Jack and salsa. Comparatively speaking, there's little difference between a classic grilled cheese sandwich and a cheese quesadilla -- except you use butter to grill the bread and oil to grill the tortilla. In terms of a quick-to-make & satisfying lunch or snack... ... my quesadillas are kid tested & mother approved! Quesadilla...... View full recipe for "~Cheesy Baja-Spiced Grill-Pan Chicken Quesadillas~"

09/24/2015

~ Beer-Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Cod-Fish Tacos ~

Excuse me, I'm just going to go ahead and eat this fish taco while you all argue over what constitutes a perfect fish taco and its toppings -- deep-fried vs. pan-fried (sometimes grilled), corn tortilla vs. flour tortilla, green slaw vs. red slaw, pico de gallo vs. salsa, and, crema vs. sour cream. My favorite fish taco, as long as it is well-balanced in both flavor and texture, is the one that is in front of me, and, the first one I ever ate was so good I've declined to debate this issue with anyone -- if you bring it...... View full recipe for "~ Beer-Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Cod-Fish Tacos ~"

09/17/2015

~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~

I think I was a hot dog in a past life -- that's how much I love hot dogs. If that is true, I was a Jerzey Girl in a past life, because, New Jersey is hot dog heaven. If a hot dog can make it there, it can make it anywhere. There are more hot dog stands, carts and trucks there than anywhere on this planet -- and I mean anywhere. I've heard NJ referred to as "the cradle of hot dog civilization", which pretty much sums up the hot dog universe as I know it. That said, I...... View full recipe for "~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~"

09/15/2015

~ Mel's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~

This rolled sandwich, containing a savory combination of antipasto staples, is in the top five of my family's any-time-of-day snacks -- it's a perfect lunch too. My kids always called it pizza bread, because before it's sliced it looks like a loaf of bread. Once sliced, it reveals a cross between everything they love about a pizza and everything they love about a baked sub (hoagie) -- sans the shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. I'd been making it for years before I heard Mary Ann Esposito refer to it as "Rotolo di Pizza" on her Ciao Italia TV show. From...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~"

09/11/2015

~ Roast Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Potato Salad ~

Horseradish. It's powerful stuff and most folks aren't on the fence about this ingredient. They either love it or they hate it. If you are a lover of the stuff, you know you've got to carefully pick and choose what you pair it with and how you do it too. For my taste, freshly-grated horseradish, prepared horseradish and horseradish cream, mustard or mayonnaise go best with beef and ham. Some folks like it with lamb, but, for me, that's pushing the envelope a tad to far. My favorite way to enjoy horseradish is served with or on a good roast...... View full recipe for "~ Roast Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Potato Salad ~"

09/10/2015

~ Buffalo-Style Beef-on-a-Weck (Kummelweck Roll) ~

What the heck is "beef on a weck"? It's Buffalo's "other" famous food. When it comes to this German-rooted sandwich, the slow-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth, thin-sliced top sirloin, combined with the coarse-salt and caraway-seed crusted roll is a match made in heaven. Served with a bowl of jus for dipping, grated horseradish for topping, usually a side of German-style potato salad and always a pickle, the weck is one heck of a fine roast beef sandwich. Thanks to two founding members of our PSU tailgate group who hail from Buffalo, NY, I heard tales of "beef on a weck" for over thirty...... View full recipe for "~ Buffalo-Style Beef-on-a-Weck (Kummelweck Roll) ~"

09/08/2015

~ Caraway-Seeded Salt-Crusted Kummelweck Rolls~

Nothing is more important to a well-constructed sandwich than the bread or roll it gets served on -- the shape, texture and taste all play a role in the production, and, all affect the end result. While it's not against the law to make substitutions, name one kid that wants their PB&J served in a pita pocket. The thought alone brings tears to my eyes. When it comes to run-of-the-mill family-friendly sandwiches like the patty melt, club, sub or sloppy Joe, we all know exactly what bread product to buy, and, we have zero trouble finding it at our local...... View full recipe for "~ Caraway-Seeded Salt-Crusted Kummelweck Rolls~"

09/02/2015

~ Mel's Philly-Style Slider-Sized Soft-Pretzel Knots ~

I love biting into a steaming-hot, crispy and salty on the the outside, chewy and tender on the inside, soft pretzel. More than eating it as is, I adore pulling bite-sized pieces from it and dipping each one into some Gulden's brown mustard. I save the knot for last -- it's the brass ring of the soft-pretzel world. Yes indeed-y, for me, the soft pretzel is on my short list, with a hot dog or a slice of pizza, in terms of "walk around the county fair or carnival" and eat yourself happy foods. You can find soft pretzels nationwide...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Philly-Style Slider-Sized Soft-Pretzel Knots ~"

08/31/2015

~Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak Pizza a la Melanie~

I haven't decided if this post is going to be a rant or not. I'll just keep writing and see where I end up. As a well-seasoned woman who spent quite a bit of her young-adult life in Philadelphia, from my perspective, the iconic Philly cheesesteak neither needs nor deserves a "new twist" on it. That said, conceptually, I clearly see how it could be morphed into a pizza IF one plays by some long-standing, well-defined Philly cheesesteak rules (which apparently, many misguided pizza lovers are too lazy to research). Ok, I suppose I'm headed in the direction of a...... View full recipe for "~Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak Pizza a la Melanie~"

08/25/2015

~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~

"I could have had a V-8." If you've ever leisurely sipped on a chilled glass of traditional gazpacho you wouldn't say that, even in jest. It is the ultimate vegetable smoothie. Here in my Happy Valley kitchen, me making gazpacho is a sure sign that Fall is around the corner. Our vegetable garden is producing almost more stuff than I can use efficiently. Gazpacho is a bright, refreshing, cool way for me to put a bounty of produce to a delicious use. Gazpacho is quite easy to make, but if you're under the impression it's as simple as throwing some...... View full recipe for "~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~"

07/24/2015

~ Succulent Crockpot Apple 'n Onion Pulled-Pork ~

As much as I adore all the fruits and veggies Joe grows, from mid-July until end of September, the quantities of produce I have to process can get overwhelming. This is a "that's the facts Jack" statement of truth, not a complaint. At present, my culinary focus is on eating what we can of the daily harvest and preserving as much of the rest as humanly possible for our cold-weather enjoyment. It's no secret, I've never been a crockpot kinda gal, but, over the past few years I've mellowed. I've made peace with mine. I've learned: a crockpot can be...... View full recipe for "~ Succulent Crockpot Apple 'n Onion Pulled-Pork ~"

07/02/2015

~ Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Hideg Meggyleves) ~

In my opinion, sour cherries are one of the most regal, refined fruits you will ever eat. My grandmother simply referred to these ruby-red jewels as "pie cherries", but, if you are on a quest to purchase them, they are sometimes marketed as "tart cherries". Joe and I live at a high elevation here in Central Pennsylvania, which I have come to learn is ideal for them, which is why our tree thrives, and thrives, and thrives. That said, even in this ideal environment, the sour cherry season is quite brief, with the cherries being ready to pick at the...... View full recipe for "~ Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Hideg Meggyleves) ~"

06/09/2015

~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~

I raised three boys. When I was making cheeseburgers, chili, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, no one had to be called to the table twice. On those nights, our dinner conversation was downright pleasant too. It was smooth sailing for lasagna, stuffed peppers, meatloaf and sloppy Joe's too. You could say, ground beef brings out the table manners in boys growing up in America. From my perspective, ground beef made me happy for a lot of years too -- it was budget friendly, and, meals made from it were relatively quick and easy to prepare as well. About...... View full recipe for "~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~"

05/14/2015

~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~

A graham cracker dunked into a glass of milk. Said with certainty, once I was removed from my high-chair and placed at the table, this is the first store-bought snack I was allowed to sink my baby teeth into. Then, when I got to kindergarten (back in 1960 there was no such thing as daycare or preschool and kindergarten was limited to a five-hour half-day), one big graham cracker, which each one of us kids carefully cracked into four parts, was the snack the teacher handed out every morning at 10:30AM with our half-pint of milk. After snacks, we got...... View full recipe for "~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~"

05/11/2015

~ Chicken, Shrimp or Steak Chop-Chop Taco Salad ~

Chop-chop salad, or chopped salad, can contain anything your heart desires, as long as the ingredients play well together. Whether it is well-planned in advance, or a casual melange of leftovers, all of the ingredients get chopped, sliced or diced into similar-sized, fork-and-mouth-friendly morsels, then judiciously drizzled, not drenched, with with some sort of cuisine-appropriate dressing or vinaigrette, tossed together, placed on a plate or in a bowl, and, served immediately. Try not to confuse "chop-chop" with composed salads of chopped ingredients that are meticulously lined up side-by-side (like the famous Cobb salad), or, carefully layered. The "chop-chop" is a...... View full recipe for "~ Chicken, Shrimp or Steak Chop-Chop Taco Salad ~"

05/08/2015

~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~

When I first tasted these easy-to-make sweet snacks, my heart skipped a beat. It was back in the 1970's and leftover, made-from-scratch flour tortillas were cut into strips and deep-fried. When they emerged from the hot oil, all curled up and crunchy and resemblant of Fritos, they were immediately tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My girlfriend Toni, a Mexican-American, served them with cinnamon ice-cream. "Totopos de azucar con canela" ("sugar and cinnamon chips") are, what I suppose to be the Mexican-American version of what us American grandmothers do with leftover scraps of pie pastry -- we make...... View full recipe for "~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~"

05/05/2015

~ Deep-Fried & Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~

Oddly, I learned to cook Tex-Mex food in authentic fashion right here in Central, Pennsylvania. The year was 1974 and I was a new bride. The day after our wedding, my husband and I moved into a brand new, garden-apartment complex in State College. It was so new that we were the first residents, except for the manager and his wife, who lived directly above us: Tom and Toni. We four became immediate friends -- not because were the only inhabitants, because we four really enjoyed each other. Tom was an all-around, hat-and-boot-wearing Texas cowboy. Toni was a beautiful Mexican-American...... View full recipe for "~ Deep-Fried & Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~"