.

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

191 posts categorized " 04) Accompaniments & Side-Servings"

06/13/2019

~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

A salad without lettuce? There's no law against it, and, in the case of this salad, lettuce is just in the way. The combination of tender blanched asparagus, a few halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and, small, creamy, fresh mozzarella balls drizzled with a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette is to-die-for. The only item I do add to it on occasion is: a handful of crunchy croutons. Nothing more, nothing less. No other embellishments need apply. The dressing, loaded with lemon flavor and laced with subtle herbs de Provence, is the star of this salad show, so, don't stray from this flavor profile....... View full recipe for "~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"

06/10/2019

~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~

Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears. As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender. I won't lie, my recipe for ~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~ is, generally speaking, my favorite way to serve...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~"

06/05/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~

When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a delicacy, meaning, my family only ate it in the Spring, mostly for holidays and special occasions, or, when we reserved a table at a fancy restaurant -- restaurants had more access to it than the average American family during that era. That said, even in the restaurants back in the 1960's and '70's, it was always of the pencil-thin type, and, it was served either lightly steamed or briefly blanched. Thinking back, I suppose it was because these methods enhanced its color, which made for a prettier presentation. Indeed it tasted...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~"

06/03/2019

~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~

In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June. It's one of my favorite green vegetables, but, interestingly, I prefer to purchase it rather than grow it. Why? Frankly, when we did grow our own, on days when I needed it, I couldn't rely on enough being ready for harvest and vice versa. Asparagus spears, which pup up out of the ground like little soldiers, grow on their own time, not mine. Early in the season, it can take a spear up to three days to mature....... View full recipe for "~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~"

05/25/2019

~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~

Wish-Bone Italian dressing. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. To name a few: drizzled on my garden salad or slathered on my turkey sandwich, as a dip for my vegetables, as a marinade for my chicken, and, as the dressing for the original Wish-Bone Italian pasta salad recipe. Growing up, right next to the bright- red Kraft Catalina Dressing and the creamy-white Hellmann's mayonnaise stood the Wish-Bone. All were condiment staples in my mom's 1960's and 70's refrigerator, and today, all remain staples in my own refrigerator -- although I now prefer Wish-Bone's Light-Italian version. Want...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~"

04/03/2019

~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~

April showers bring May flowers, tick-tock, and so starts the prime-time grilling season. Across the country, home cooks and grill-masters are already concocting their secret recipes for sweet and savory wet sauces and spice-is-nice dry rubs. Once the chicken and ribs start hitting the grill grids, neighborhoods everywhere will be filled with the ethereal smell of barbecue. Get out the paper plates and napkins, place the side-dishes on the table, pop a beer and pull up a chair. Speaking of side-dishes (notice how I snuck that in), while Northeastern Deutsch-Amish potato-salads, macaroni-salads and coleslaws reign undeniably supreme (as far as...... View full recipe for "~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~"

03/20/2019

~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~

Tick, tock. The Summer season is fast approaching and once we Americans fire up our outdoor grills, we'll be faced with more reasons than we can count to whip up a big bowl of the family's favorite tried-and-true mayonnaise-based potato and egg salad or creamy-crunchy coleslaw. That said, because one can never have too many variations on potato salad or coleslaw, consider dressing either of them with spicy Russian- or sweet Thousand Islands- dressing. Your preference is your choice -- swap 'em out as you please: For 5 cups Russian or Thousand-Islands-dressed potato salad or coleslaw: 5-6 medium-large Russet potatoes,...... View full recipe for "~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~"

02/15/2019

~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~"

02/09/2019

~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. A double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates are going on our dinner table tonight. Why? Because eating spaghetti and meatballs without a great big basket of garlic bread on the table is, gulp, culinarily criminal. We'll have a salad too, because it too goes great with this meal (not because it's healthy or to make me feel less guilty). Everybody knows spaghetti and meatballs require garlic bread, a salad and a bottle of red wine. Garlic bread isn't Italian. Neither is spaghetti & meatballs. While many regard spaghetti & meatballs as quintessential Italian, the...... View full recipe for "~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~"

02/04/2019

~Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes~

Smashed, mashed or whipped potatoes -- you love them, I know you do, everyone does. Cauliflower -- maybe you love it, maybe you don't, but if you do, you'll love the combination of buttery-rich mashed cauliflower and potatoes laced with bits of onion and garlic. It's the divine intervention of the creamy-comforting side-dish food world -- it happens when the mild- and slightly-nutty flavored sun-soaked "cabbage flower" meets the sun-starved, earthy and starchy potato. Make no mistake, when boiled and mashed, cauliflower is great, but it's: mashed cauliflower -- just because it's the same color, doesn't make it "just like"...... View full recipe for "~Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes~ "

01/28/2019

~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~

Mother Nature did not have OCD. If she did, there would be more symmetry in the world. It would be a pretty boring place, but, at least all our vegetables would be the same size, which brings me to this point: How much is in a head of cauliflower? The most frustrating thing about most cauliflower recipes is their lack of specificity regarding precisely how much cauliflower to purchase. Generic measurements for volume (2 cups-, 4 cups-florets) or a vague product description (1 large head, 2 medium heads), are meaningless to the average cooker-of-cauliflower, and, are the biggest causes of...... View full recipe for "~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~"

01/20/2019

~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~

Creamy cheese sauces have a place in my food world -- not a big place, but a place. My attitude toward them is to use them judiciously, in a manner that does not overpower the dish being served, and, in moderation, so as not to tip the scale. To my credit, I have developed my own versions of more than a few: Easy Boursin, Trendy Rasta Pasta, Classic Mornay, Silky Parmesan-Sherry, Dreamy Gorgonzola, Basic Asiago, and a Kid-Friendly Cheddar. It is my opinion that, for the most part, all store-bought cheese sauces are a compromise, so, don't debate it, just...... View full recipe for "~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~"

01/15/2019

~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~

Knowing how to make a super-quick cheese sauce is indispensable for any number of reasons. Friends can drop by without notice, a snowstorm requires some pantry cooking, or, the craving for something rich, creamy, cheesy and comforting must be quelled. This five-minutes to make sauce is as delicious as it is easy, which is what makes it more than worthy of a blog post. Both Joe and I love it tossed into pasta (sometimes with some chards of roasted chicken thrown in too), it's a fantastic sauce for seafood (if you're not a purist about cheese and seafood together), and,...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~"

01/07/2019

~ Buttery-Rich & Boursin-Cheesy Whipped Potatoes ~

Mashed, smashed or whipped potatoes, made from Russets, reds or golds, skins on or skins off, baked in the oven, boiled on the stovetop or cooked in the microwave -- a case can be made, and a recipe developed, for each and every scenario, and, as long as the end justifies the means, the basic machinations for potato perfection is, for the most part, personal. Truth told, while I like some versions better than others, and, with the exception of one experience (where the gal unforgivably served unpalatably "soupy potatoes" made with chicken stock in place of cream, to cut...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery-Rich & Boursin-Cheesy Whipped Potatoes ~"

01/04/2019

~ Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut ~

This is my father's family's recipe for sauerkraut, and as Eastern Europeans, sauerkraut wasn't reserved for ringing in the New Year -- we ate it all year long. The only thing that could improve upon the recipe would be my grandfather's home-fermented 'kraut -- which, as a young child, I remember being kept in a large, wooden, lidded barrel sitting in the corner of his dark, cool, earthen-floored basement, which I also remember being a somewhat scary place. In the family's vegetable garden, they grew their cabbage. In a small barn, next to the vegetable garden and also a scary...... View full recipe for "~ Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut ~"

12/28/2018

~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~

When one lives in a college town associated with a big-time football program, one has honed the skills necessary to transition from the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities to ringing in the New Year with a bowl-game tailgate. It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it, and, here in Happy Valley, PA, the home of Penn State's Nittany Lions, an entire community of fellow blue-and-white-clad cooks are capable of changing lanes with ease. This year, it's gonna be deli-sandwiches and potato salad on our cocktail table in front of our lunch-timed game-day TV. We'll serve our...... View full recipe for "~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~"

12/07/2018

~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~

My only experience with Rasta Pasta, references the original Colorado Springs restaurant. Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, paid them a visit, and, if you watch enough episodes of this show, you know when Guy is super-jazzed about an eatery. This was one such episode. On camera he tried their signature and namesake dish, the Rasta Pasta, a creamy, Jamaican-spiced penne pasta, studded with colorful vegetables topped with jerk chicken. It was, in fact, the Jamaican take on the Italian-American alfredo primavera topped with grilled chicken, which Guy declared to be "funky" in a...... View full recipe for "~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~"

11/23/2018

~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~

Stuffing baked in a bundt pan makes for a picture-perfect presentation that brings a smile to everyone. From a practical standpoint, it feeds a crowd (or a small gathering of stuffing lovers) and it's very user-friendly: it easy to portion, slice and serve at the table or on the buffet line, and, slices are especially convenient on closed or open-faced turkey sandwiches. Stuffing slices can be wrapped, stacked and frozen too -- for those times when one has to have a slice of stuffing. Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~"

11/20/2018

~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~

Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in two loaf pans because it was an efficient use of oven space. As a savvy cook, she figured out that two, high, narrow loaf pans took up less oven space than a low, shallow casserole while yielding about the same amount. Her stuffing loaves baked on either side of the roasting turkey with miscellaneous other casseroles strategically placed on the remaining upper rack. Some fun facts about making stuffing in a bundt pan: Making Thanksgiving stuffing in a 12-cup bundt pan does not take...... View full recipe for "~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~"

11/15/2018

~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~

As a gal who eats sweet potatoes all year long, I pay particular homage to them at Thanksgiving. Sometimes I present them as a cup of sweet potato soup as the starter to the meal, sometimes they arrive in the form of a side-dish sweet potato and caramelized apple casserole, other times they're the sweet potato, apple and sausage stuffing/dressing side-kick to my turkey, and, always but always, my traditional Turkey Day feast includes a sweet potato pie. Sweet potato soup is a savory starter. Season it accordingly. When it comes to sweet potato soup, think "savory soup" not "sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~"

09/08/2018

~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~

In my food world, one of the most common background noises is the chatter of friends or family talking about the great price they scored on a basket or flat of prime produce. It's big news. Last week I was the one bragging about the flat of perfect mangos I toddled into my kitchen with. At 2-for-$1, it was exciting news. On par with fresh pineapple, mangos are my favorite exotic fruit. Similar in taste and texture to peaches, my first taste of this juicy stone fruit came in Thailand, where a mango hedgehog* was served, compliments of the hotel,...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~"

09/03/2018

~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~

Coleslaw -- creamy and crunchy, sweet, savory and nicely-spiced, coleslaw is a make-my-day side-dish and my favorite sloppy-sandwich topper. There's more. By swapping out a few herbs and spices, coleslaw, "the chameleon of side-dishes", any coleslaw recipe can be prepared to complement any cuisine. How convenient is that. I came up with this version to serve with Jamaican-style jerk fare. This simple, lip-smacking recipe has got a bit of coat-your-throat heat. Herein lies the secret to my jerk-seasoned slaw: Leave it to the Jamaicans. I can't think of another exotic-to-me cuisine that does a better job of making my life...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~"

09/01/2018

~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~

In Jamaica, they make a dish called coconut rice and peas -- it's usually served as an accompaniment to Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. This is sort of not it. This is my twist on it. In Jamaica, beans are called peas, more specifically, pigeon peas -- they’re a staple in Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean cooking and are sold canned, dried or fresh. In the Caribbean islands, kidney beans are a common substitution, which is a good, because, up until recently, pigeon peas were not something I could find in my Central PA stores. While...... View full recipe for "~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~"

08/27/2018

~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~

The closest a plantain gets to a ripe banana is the black-streaked yellow plantain. Eaten raw, it still doesn't taste quite like, or have the mouthfeel of, a yellow banana, but, when sautéed, because of its high-starch and fully-developed sugar content, it can do something the banana can't: caramelize without losing its textural integrity. Sweet and caramelized, and slightly-sticky-without-sticking-together, this quick-to-make side-dish is the perfect sweet complement to the fiery-hot flavors of Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. Let's talk plantains: Ripe or unripe, plantains are eaten cooked. The best way for me to culinarily describe the...... View full recipe for "~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~"

08/24/2018

~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~

Bananas and plantains. Plantains and bananas. They resemble each other, and they're even related. I peel and eat a banana almost every morning, but, I can't say the same for the plantain. By accident or out of curiosity, if you've ever peeled a plantain and taken a taste, you knew immediately you were not eating a banana. The best way for me to culinarily describe the difference: If bananas are the sweet dessert, plantains are the savory potatoes. In fact, throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America, plantains are generically referred to as "cooking bananas", and bananas are...... View full recipe for "~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~"

07/15/2018

~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~

Would you like fries with that? If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you. Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips. When I was growing up, we adored my dad's...... View full recipe for "~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~"

06/30/2018

~Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons~

Not too big, not to small, not too hard, not to soft, buttery-rich and bold-flavored from plenty of black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning, I make all sorts of croutons from scratch, and, while I often use firm-textured and rustic store-bought bread, I also make them using homemade bread, which I use my bread machine to bake. Being the Caesar salad snob that I am, without exception, I always bake my own bread for my croutons. Why? Because, just like store-bought dressings, I take Ceasar salad-making seriously, and, that means: no short cuts. Baking bread in the bread machine...... View full recipe for "~Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons~"

05/15/2018

~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~

Sweet potatoes -- of the kind that don't come out of a can and end up with marshmallows on top. I've had a love affair with this root vegetable since my first trist with a sweet potato that didn't come out of a can and have marshmallows on top. While I have a high-enough I.Q. to discern why once-upon-a-time in-the-history-of-canned-vegetetables, cooked sweet potatoes were put in those cans, in my lifetime, I will never be smart enough to figure out why those marshmallows got purposefully or experimentally plopped on top. Some answers are best left to the imagination. A sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~"

05/09/2018

~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~

I love a starry night. Sitting outside in the warm Summer air, watching the sun set and listening to my next-door neighbors, the dairy cows, lowing in the pasture -- it's peaceful. That said, on some Summer nights, Thursdays during June, July and August, a band plays "up on the mountain" (the ski slope to the other side of the cow pasture). Weather permitting, on those toe-tapping evenings, if you stop by, you'll find a snack or three on the table next to the cooler of Corona. My neighbors, music on the mountain, &, bean dip. This easy bean dip...... View full recipe for "~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~"

05/06/2018

~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~

Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's. Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, remarkably, our three kids would eat the side-dishes: the muli-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole. Without complaint or prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto and into tacos, fajitas, carnitas (or whatever else they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour. Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." I started stocking my pantry with whatever Texican-type ingredients I could find in our Central, PA grocery...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~"

04/05/2018

~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~

The Italians came up with the cure for the late-night movie-watching snack-attack centuries ago: Pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese). It's a no-nonsense, feed-me-now-snack, a quick-to-make side dish, and, it's a delicious foil for flavorful pasta sauces too. Choose any shape of pasta (short, fork-friendly shapes work best), and, if you have a link or a patty of breakfast sausage on-hand, not only do the flavors melt into the mixture like they were born to be there, without almost any extra effort, it transforms the dish into a hearty meal for one or two. A simple,...... View full recipe for "~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~"

11/20/2017

~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~

For the family cook, entertaining for Thanksgiving is a labor of love, but, if he or she is a college football fan too, that can mean entertaining for a tailgate party as well, which can be overwhelming. That said, if you've got a game plan in place in advance, transitioning your formal Turkey Day feast into a relaxing tailgate on your coffee table, can be almost effortless. One of my gameday-after-the-holiday tailgate menus is: stuffing stuffed mushrooms with turkey-club sliders. Any leftover stuffing* recipe can be used to stuff mushrooms. I Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole. It's lightly and...... View full recipe for "~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~"

11/03/2017

~Aromatically-Spiced Yellow Caribbean Coconut Rice~

Rice is nice. I like rice -- a lot. Next to the earthy potato, it's one of nature's greatest gifts to my side-dish world, not-to-mention a staple food for a large part of the world's population. Extra-long-grain white-, basmati-, jasmine-, wild-, arborio-, and, Thai-sweet-sticky- rices are staples in my pantry. You'll also find a stash of Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice, Rice-a-Roni, and, Goya Spanish-Style Yellow Rice (all boxed-mixes complete with seasoning packets) in there too. Rice has always been a part of my life, but, growing up, my mom and grandmother didn't get too creative with it...... View full recipe for "~Aromatically-Spiced Yellow Caribbean Coconut Rice~"

10/31/2017

~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~

A quick-to-make sautéed mushroom and onion sauce, tossed into some buttered egg noodles was a childhood favorite of mine. Oddly, I was a child who liked mushrooms -- a lot. "Noodles & 'shrooms", that's what we called it. If there's an official name for it, I don't know it. Sometimes it showed up on our dinner table tossed together in a bowl, as a simple side-dish to a roasted chicken. Other times it was layered on a platter, as an elegant bed for "skinny" pan-fried pork chops. Sometimes my mom sautéed the sauce in bacon fat, other times she used...... View full recipe for "~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~"

10/26/2017

~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~

Walk into any Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch grocery store or a market that caters to a region with a large Amish population, then, walk up to the refrigerated deli-case. There you'll find several traditional, high-quality side-dishes: eggy-rich macaroni- and potato- salads, creamy cole slaw, sweet 'n sour slaw and pepper-cabbage. Next, take a stroll down the condiment isle and gaze at the array of honey-mustard- and sweet and sour- salad dressings, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, vinegar-marinated vegetables or mustardy chow-chows (a crunchy vegetable medley in mustard sauce). Lastly, check out the sweet treats: streusel-topped Dutch-apple, rhubarb-streusel and shoo-fly...... View full recipe for "~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~"

10/17/2017

~ Side-Dish: Cuban-Style Mojo Black Beans & Rice ~

Roast requires a side-dish. Beef, goat, lamb, poultry or pork -- it's kind of mandatory that a side or sides be served with it. Think about it, even if you're just making sandwiches out of the roasted meat, you still want some sort of side-dish (a soup, a salad, a starch and/or a vegetable, or, something as simple as a some potato chips and a pickle). If the roast is a dish you've been making for years, the accompaniments require little thought -- you know the options, your family's preferences, and, you choose from recipes you know. That said, if...... View full recipe for "~ Side-Dish: Cuban-Style Mojo Black Beans & Rice ~"

10/09/2017

~ Quick & Easy Bread & Butter Refrigerator Pickles ~

When I was a kid, during the late Summer and Fall, my grandmother, my great aunt, and my mother used to can -- a lot. There were days when one of their respective kitchens was filled with boxes of fresh fruits or vegetables and huge pots, and, the dining room table was lined with neat rows of freshly-sterilized mason jars -- dozens and dozens of them. They'd start at sunrise and wouldn't stop until each one of those jars was filled. I enjoyed those nights, snuggled in my bed, forcing myself to stay awake to hear "the pop" of each...... View full recipe for "~ Quick & Easy Bread & Butter Refrigerator Pickles ~"

10/05/2017

~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~

I'm crazy for caprese, and, while these caprese bite appetizers are a bit fussy to make, they're fussy in a fun way. That said, when armed with a serrated knife and a grapefruit knife and spoon, I can hollow out the centers from about two dozen, 1" cherry tomatoes in about ten minutes (it's not rocket science). They're fun to eat too. Just pop the entire thing into your mouth -- all things caprese are compacted into one bite, and, there's no toothpick to throw away afterward. That said, we all have our quirks. I'm no exception. Today's example: I...... View full recipe for "~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~"

07/11/2017

~ Sweet, Savory & Spicy: Rhubarb-Ginger Chutney ~

Besides a store-bought jar of the beloved Major Grey's mango chutney, which I have on hand in my refrigerator at all times, in the Fall and Winter you will find a container of my homemade apple chutney, and, in the Spring and Summer, you will find a jar of my rhubarb-ginger chutney. I make each one, once a year, every year, and freeze it in small containers so I'm never without this very-versatile sweet, savory and slightly-spicy flavor-boosting condiment -- it is a staple in my kitchen. When I first encountered chutney, I was a young adult and it was...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet, Savory & Spicy: Rhubarb-Ginger Chutney ~"

05/23/2017

~Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries~

Sweet potatoes can be cooked via all the same methods all-purpose spuds can. Baked, boiled, pan-fried, grilled, oven-roasted, microwaved, and, last but not least, deep-fried. When it comes to sweet potatoes, I am a bone fide lover of this healthy super-food, and, when it comes to cooking and eating them, I love them in any form, any time of year. I am an equal-opportunity sweet potato eater. Oven-roasted sweet potato fries, which pair great with so many things (especially poultry and pork) are easy to make, but I'm not going to lie, if they're not prepared correctly, "just so", they...... View full recipe for "~Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries~"

04/20/2017

~ Sour Cream and Dill Dressing for Cucumber Salad ~

Fresh, feathery and fragile dill "leaves" or "weed". It's a bit early for it to be available to me in my Central PA garden, but: big, beautiful bunches of it are showing up in my grocery stores. In Eastern European kitchens everywhere, dill, along with chives, mint and/or parsley, are commonly used to flavor all sorts of heritage dishes: fish (like salmon or sturgeon), various soups (notably red or white borscht), many vegetables (especially carrots or potatoes), and, classic dill pickles (or anything that can be pickled). The sweet, subtle flavor of dill is delightful in many of our ethnic...... View full recipe for "~ Sour Cream and Dill Dressing for Cucumber Salad ~"

03/24/2017

~ Spring Forward: Pea, Carrot & Potato Salad Olivier ~

Known in Eastern European circles as "Salad Olivier" or "Salad Olivye", and, "Russian Salad", there are as many variations of this refreshing side-dish or main-dish salad as there are cooks who are willing to take the time to do a precise job of uniformly cubing, dicing and properly cooking the components. What this salad looks like is as important as how it tastes. For young Eastern European girls, who were almost always required to assist their mother and grandmother in the family kitchen, it was how they honed their knife skills for later in life in their own kitchens (while...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Forward: Pea, Carrot & Potato Salad Olivier ~"

03/18/2017

~ Simply: My Butter-Braised Cabbage & Egg Noodles ~

Throughout Eastern Europe, cooks make a side-dish that basically consists of green cabbage and egg noodles. It's quick-and-easy, totally-delicious, unpretentious, old-world comfort food. I simply refer to it as "cabbage and noodles" or "cabbage noodles", because every country has their own ethnic name and spelling for it and every cook is adamant that "their people" invented it -- the Eastern Europeans are no different than the French or the Italians in that respect. Sigh. Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to halusky, haluski, halushki, haluska etc. They define them as "thick, soft, dumplings or noodles", and, "the name can refer...... View full recipe for "~ Simply: My Butter-Braised Cabbage & Egg Noodles ~"

03/08/2017

~ Happy at Last: Crispy Deep-Fried Hashed Browns ~

Has anyone ever met a plate of hashed browns they didn't like? Quite frankly, I've never met anyone, when faced with a plate of these crisply-fried, golden-brown potato morsels, who is ambivalent about them. In fact, my encounters with hash browns in homes and eateries reveal: One can never make enough. Folks eat them first and they eat them all. Therein lies the problem for home cooks. How to make a decent-sized quantity of these potatoes, per person, in a timely manner without compromising their signature restaurant-quality crispy texture. "Hash" is derived from the French "hacher" meaning "to chop". Hashed...... View full recipe for "~ Happy at Last: Crispy Deep-Fried Hashed Browns ~"

01/15/2017

~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~

Classic and fantastic, I made clams casino over the weekend -- a retro Italian-American favorite appetizer that pleases everyone who loves clams. Steamed clams, on the halfshell, slathered with an herby bacon-and-garlic compound butter, topped with a mound of crunchy bacon-and-breadcrumb mixture, baked until golden brown. What's not to love. There were just three of us, two guys and moi -- we ate two dozen and would have eaten more (and I stopped at four). Earlier in the afternoon, as I was preparing the compound butter and breadcrumb topping, it occurred to me how yummy the butter would be if...... View full recipe for "~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~"

12/05/2016

~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~

Pirogi -- a subject I know a thing or three about. I grew up eating these pillowy handmade-with-love potato-stuffed-dumplings in the kitchens of my Baba and Tettie (my Eastern European grandmother and her sister). I was about age seven when they added me as a semi-skilled laborer to the assembly line of their twice-yearly day-long pirogi-making marathon. Once filled and formed, they were frozen flat on trays, packaged into bags and divided amongst their two families -- to be cooked and served as a meatless main course or a side-dish to my mom's holiday baked ham or a roasted pork...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~"

11/22/2016

~ How to: Oven-Roast Butternut Squash (Halves) ~

I love butternut squash and every Fall Joe's garden gifts us with a few beauties. Some are big and some are small, some are short and some are tall -- I love them all. Butternut squash, how do I love thee, let me count the ways: 1) Sliced raw and baked into main or side-dish casseroles. 2) Peeled, cubed, seasoned and roasted, or, sliced into halves, roasted and mashed as tasty side-dishes. 3) Steamed to make purée for appetizers, soups and desserts. A bit about butternut squash: Butternut squash is one of our healthy super-foods. That’s great but I'd eat...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Oven-Roast Butternut Squash (Halves) ~"

11/18/2016

~ Simon and Garfunkle's Roasted Butternut Squash ~

"Eat your squash". Three words I never heard as a child. At the tables I sat down at to eat, no one made squash -- not my mother, not my grandmother and no one in their immediate or distant families. Meat, potatoes, gravy, a green or yellow vegetable and "drink your milk". That was that. No squash. I never had to worry about squash. The first time I cooked and ate squash I was twenty. It was butternut squash at the apartment of a co-worker and close friend: Eileen. Eileen was born and raised in Brooklyn, and, like my husband...... View full recipe for "~ Simon and Garfunkle's Roasted Butternut Squash ~"

11/08/2016

~ Easy Amish Dutch-Style Sweet & Sour Coleslaw ~

Walk into an Amish market and you'll likely find a side-dish in the refrigerated deli-section simply labeled "Dutch slaw". It'll be right next to the ever-popular finely-minced "pepper cabbage" (also known as "overnight coleslaw") and the classic creamy-crunchy mayonnaise-dressed coleslaw. It's a monochromatic mixture of shredded cabbage, celery, onion and green bell pepper dressed with a pretty yellow-colored, celery seed and onion-laced oil-based sweet and sour dressing. Interestingly, the Amish label it "Dutch slaw" because it is the Pennsylvania Deutsch version of the Amish's own version of sweet and sour slaw (known as "Amish slaw" and dressed with a mayonnaise-based...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Amish Dutch-Style Sweet & Sour Coleslaw ~"

10/22/2016

~ Buffalo-Style Blue-Cheese & Celery "Slider Slaw" ~

Slider slaw. That's the nickname affectionately given to this tangy little concoction by the football-watching men in my life -- the ones who like my bacon 'n blue cheese hamburger sliders on college game day Saturdays, and, my Buffalo-style shredded chicken sliders on professional game day Sundays. While I first intended this to be a side-dish, nowadays, if you were sitting around my house watching football, you'd encounter my guys heaping it atop their sliders. Slider slaw. This is not a rocket science recipe. In fact, it took me twice as long to make it today because I had to...... View full recipe for "~ Buffalo-Style Blue-Cheese & Celery "Slider Slaw" ~"