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You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (5/04/14) ~

Culinary Q & A #2Spring has finally sprung here in Happy Valley (Central), PA.  Every couple of days it is warm enough to open the doors, and, even sit outside on our deck.  Spring green is my new favorite color.  Like many of you, the Easter holiday left me with a good deal of leftover ham (+ other goodies like hard-cooked eggs, cured-meats, a selection of cheeses and great bread).  I turned that bountiful situation into an opportunity to share a few useful recipes for the leftovers with you:

~ Happy Easter to You All:  Enjoy Your Family Feast ~

~ Try My Rye:  It's Homemade in the Bread Machine ~

~ Melanie's Hot Russian Ham & Cheese Meltdowns ~

~ Open-Faced Ham, Swiss & Rye Egg Sandwiches ~

~ 1905:  It was a very good year for a Spanish Salad ~

(You can find all of these recipes by clicking into Category 2!)

Yesterday I received a comment/question from a reader in Toronto, Canada which made me smile for two reasons:  it was a really good, relevant question, and, it was, by coincidence, the second time in one week I heard the words "patty melt" -- the "cheeseburger" of my youth!

IMG_0622Q.  Marguerite says and asks:  I celebrate an Eastern European Easter too.  I found Kitchen Encounters while searching for a recipe for a good breakfast sandwich (to make use of the leftover ham my mother sent me home with).  I got a great recipe, plus, a good deal more.  My husband Josh said to say your open-faced egg sandwiches are wonderful, and, I want to say I really enjoyed reading your Easter Feast post.  While my family's meal differs IMG_0781in some ways, it is more similar than different.  Thank-you for both!

While looking at your recipe for the Hot Russian Meltdowns (fun name for a recipe), Josh asked me to check to see if you had a recipe for a "patty melt".  He explained that it involves a hamburger on rye bread. He was raised in Connecticut and said he ate a lot of them back in the '50's and '60's.  Would you explain this sandwich to me?

6a0120a8551282970b01a511b16c5a970c-800wiA.  Kitchen Encounters:  Wow. Thank-you for the lovely comments about my blog, and, although you probably won't believe this (but it is true), ever since last weeks episode of Mad Men, the patty melt sandwich has been on my mind!

A bit about the patty melt:  The patty melt sandwich was the precursor to the cheeseburger.  It was a popular sandwich that came off the flat-top grills in diners all across America prior to the onset of the drive-through "McD's" era.  It is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with a IMG_1444hamburger patty in the center.  The classic patty melt has a few rules that need to be obeyed:

The bread:  caraway-seeded rye

The cheese:  sliced Swiss

The patties:  cooked medium-rare

The onions:  well-caramelized 

The sandwich gets served with pickles and a side-order of French fries.  Ketchup is always placed on the table -- it is used as a dipper for both the sandwich and the fries!

Marguerite, thanks to you, I've decided to write an entire blog post, complete with my step-by-step photos, about this classic American sandwich.  I'll post it on Sunday, so, stay tuned!


Enjoy your weekend everyone, and once again: To leave a comment or ask a question, click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away... or e-mail me directly!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)


Hi Mel! My husband has a birthday next week. I have never asked him what kind of cake he would like. I just made what I wanted and knew he would like it. He does like chocolate. Last night I asked him what he would like. His response, "Carmel Cake." He said his mom made it all the time. Of course, I don't have her recipe and he could not tell me what was in it. I guess the key is the frosting. So, looking on several sites, the icing is the tricky part. It has to be the right temperature, to sort of pour it on and spread, but not too runny or too thick to spread. Have you ever heard of this cake? Might be a Midwest thing! I would really appreciate your thoughts on this one. It would be fun to recreate a nice memory for his birthday celebration. Marilyn

Marilyn -- that is a common misconception. Thai food is a blend of very specific herbs and spices. It can be spicy, but, more often than not, it isn't. My next recipe will be a perfect introduction for you!

Mel- I have always thought of Thai food as being extremely spicy, or hot. For some reason, I cannot tolerate it! My mouth burns and I cannot enjoy the taste, but I will definielty check out your post!!

Marilyn -- stay tuned for my next blog post. It will come out tomorrow. It's a fantastic way to 'ease into' the bold, fresh flavors of Thai. I took a series of intensive Thai cooking classes back in the 1990's -- we adore it!

Thanks Mel! I have never made Thai food.
Perhaps my next food adventure?!


Marilyn -- Good Morning! "Back in the day" I used to read labels in an attempt to avoid products containing coconut oil, because we were all spooked about saturated fats. Now, I keep a jar of organic coconut oil (I buy it at Wegman's) in my pantry. It, like any oil could be used in place of butter in baking. Italian bakers/bakeries are famous for their Olive Oil Cakes (which are made with rich, fruity-tasting EVOO). I generically recommended using "flavorless vegetable oil", because it is exactly that: flavorless. It won't affect the taste of any cake that any one is baking from any recipe. That said, the flavor of coconut is VERY pleasing in baked goods, so, by all means use it if you like it. I like to cook with coconut oil when I'm making Thai food!

Good morning Mel! Coconut oil seems to be all the rage now. It is supposed to help anything from aiding digestion to softening cuticles. I read that it can be used in place of shortening or butter, in baking. I am most interested in hearing your thoughts on this new fad! I put a tablespoon in my smoothie this morning. I love coconut, so it worked for me! Happy Monday! 💕

Marilyn: Check out my recipe for Super-Crunchy Sugar-Crusted Spiced Pecans in Categories 2, 11 & 18, or, click into my archives for July 1, 2011. Sooooo good!

It's me again Mel, with another Culinary Q & A! I'm looking for a good recipe for candied/sugared nuts, or spiced nuts. I am making an appetizer for a wine tasting tomorrow. Since it's so hot, I am just doing some Belgium endive with herb goat cheese. I thought candied nuts would be good sprinkled over them. For now, I think I will just roast some walnuts then drizzle some honey over them! This is probably a winter post question, but I thought you would give me some direction.
Thanks from your friend, Marilyn

AND, I forgot to ask the best way to store cheese once it has been opened? I refuse to buy pre-sliced, individually wrapped cheese! I appreciate your advice! M.

Hi Mel! I have question about cheese, specifically, how do you cut it!? I'm not referring to a frat boy's idea of passing gas! Forgive me?
It is a beautiful day in Wisconsin and my husband and I decided we would grill hamburgers. We have a wonderful grocer here that has any type of cheese you could imagine. Of course, it's Wisconsin! Frank wanted a simple cheddar for his burger. I selected a mild cheddar, along with several other kinds, in a block form.
I always struggle with how to slice them in the right size,to top a burger. I have several 'cheese knives' and or gadgets to cut them. I have a marble one with an arm that has a thin wire to slice through a block, but the arm is not long enough to slice it all the way through. I have a strange looking one that has a curve with a 'V' shape that looks like a birds beak! If I use a regular chef's knive, I can't make the cut without worrying that I will slice off a finger! I use dental floss for soft cheeses like goat, etc. Surely, you might have some thoughts on this! Thanks in advance for your help!
Your friend~ Marilyn

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