Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Create a Good Cheese Plate

The holidays are upon us and for the next two months if you are like me you will be invited to party after party and expected to throw more than a few of your own. The way I handle the near constant need for ready to go appetizers is cheese.

Everyone likes cheese, it keeps for a long time and is very easy to dress up.  When creating a cheese plate I usually only use 3 or 4 different types of cheese.  I put out a few sweet accompaniments, a few savory, and 3 or four different types of crackers or breads. The crackers should be plain as you want the taste of the cheese to come through. Always include a variety of olives and grapes. Make sure to slice hard cheeses before serving them.  Soft or crumbly cheeses can be scoped out with a melon baller to make individual servings.  Line the cheese up from mildest to strongest. Make sure to include a few softs and a few hards.  Never serve citrus fruit or spicy sides.  They kill the palate and ruin your cheese experience.   Cheese  needs to be taken out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Here are my favorite combinations:

Blues:  Roquefort, Gorgonzola
Apples wrapped in prosciutto
Praline pecans mixed with honey
Quince paste (ask at the deli)

Soft Goat Cheese: Humboldt Fog, Chèvre
Figs and dry salami
Cherry jam and toasted fennel seeds

Cheddars: Vermont Cheddar, Irish Cheddar
Tart apples
Peppered salami

Parmesan: The good stuff, go to a cheese monger
Good olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (the good stuff)
Olives packed in oil

Monday, November 17, 2014

Milky Way Cheesecake

We have a ton of leftover Halloween candy. I took a bag of it with me to give to my students.  I have also been trying to cook with it. I made chocolate chip cookies and Twix ice cream. I sprinkled chopped up Snickers onto pancakes.

I was doing all this while trying to get together Thanksgiving recipes for this blog.  So I am killing 2 birds as they say.  I love cheesecake.  Love it.  I have a million fun size Milky Ways laying around. (Okay that is an exaggeration, but not a big one.)  So I did this.  It turned out really well.

You could change this up by using other candy bars.  You could also use hazelnut spread rather than chocolate.  People will give you all kinds of advice for keeping your cheesecake from cracking. (Don’t over mix the batter, allow it to cool in the oven, etc.) I have none.  Mostly, because I don’t care.  Just cover your cheesecake in sauce or whipped cream.  Or let it go.  It’s just dessert.

Milky Way Cheesecake

Servings:  8
Time:  Prep: 30 minutes, bake time 1 ½ hours, refrigerating overnight
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a knife and a cutting board, a food processor, a mixer, a rubber spatula, a 9 inch springform pan, foil, space in the fridge

  • 26 chocolate cream cookies (I used Oreos)
  • ¼ cup frosted flakes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5-8oz packages cream cheese
  •    cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 fun size Milky Way candy bars
  • ½ cup chocolate spread (I used Heresy’s)
  • Butter flavored cooking spray
  • Milky Ways and caramel sauce for garnish

  1.  Preheat oven the oven to 325°. Place the cream cheese on the counter to allow it to soften.  Melt the butter. Roughly chop the candy bars and set them aside.  Spray the pan with cooking spray.
  2. Put the cookies, cereal, and sugar in the food processor.  Pulse until the cookies are crumbs.  With the processor on, drizzle in the melted butter.  Press the cookie mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Lower the temperature to 300˚.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla on medium speed just until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed until blended. Don’t over mix.
  4. Fold in the sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped candy bars in the bottom of the pan and top with ½ the batter.
  6. Mix the chocolate spread into the remaining batter. Spread the chocolate evenly over the vanilla batter.
  7. Bake 1-1½ hours or until the center is soft set. Open the oven door and allow the cake to cool in the oven for 2 hours.  Allow the cake to sit out on the counter, still in the pan, until cool.  Cover the cake in foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least for 3 hours. 
  8. Carefully remove the cake from the pan.  Place a slice of cheesecake on a plate and top with caramel sauce and half a Fun size or a whole bite-size Milky Way bar. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dijon Roasted Whole Cauliflower Head

I tried roasting a whole cauliflower head last week using someone else’s recipe.  It involved Greek yogurt, which I love.  It was not good.  Decidedly not good.  So I asked myself, “What tastes go well together?” “Mustard and fennel,” myself answered.  I added lemon juice and olive oil so that the cauliflower would actually roast.

This was wonderful.  It also looks really cool, so it is fun to serve.  Also important, maybe the most important thing, is this is so easy to make. 

Dijon Roasted Cauliflower
Servings: 6-8
Time: prep: 10 minutes, rest time: 10 minutes, roast: 50-60 minutes
Hardware: Cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, a pastry brush, foil, a baking sheet, a wooden skewer, and a small microwave safe bowl

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° degrees F. Line the sheet with foil,
  2. Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower.  Cut the stem so that the cauliflower can sit flat.
  3. Chop the garlic.
  4. Mix the garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, and ½ teaspoon fennel seeds.
  5. Place the cauliflower onto the prepared baking sheet.  Pour the mustard mixture over the cauliflower.  Use the pastry brush to make sure it is covered. Allow the cauliflower to sit for 10 minutes to allow the marinade to soak in.
  6. Salt the cauliflower and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a long wooden skewer passes through with ease.
  7. Melt the butter with the remaining fennel in the microwave.  Pour over the cauliflower before serving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes, sometimes called accordion potatoes, were first introduced in the 1940s at the Hasselbacken restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden. This dish is beautiful to look at, simple to make, and delicious.  When cooked this way the potatoes are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Like a French fry and a baked potato had a baby.

You can alter these to suit any taste. You could peel the potato if you like.  Instead of butter and bacon fat, you can use olive oil, duck fat, margarine, or any fat you have on hand.  You could also add a variety of chopped herbs with or instead of the garlic. Instead of inserting bacon at the end, you could insert cheese.  And you could change the flavor up by using different potatoes.  You could even do this to sweet potatoes.

Hasselback Potatoes

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 15 minutes;  Cooking:  60-75 minutes
Hardware:  Cutting board and knife, wooden spoons or wooden chopsticks, a skillet, 2 bowls,  8 x 11.5 glass baking dish

  • 6 medium potatoes, I used Yukon gold per guest  
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 cloves pf garlic
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Coarse ground sea salt for finishing

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 ˚
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp.  Crumble it into a bowl.  Set aside.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  3. Dice the garlic as small as possible.
  4. Scrub the potatoes.   Slice the potatoes crosswise (like you would slice a hard-boiled egg) into ¼ inch (or smaller) slices. Don’t cut all the way through, leave about ½ inch of the potato intact.  You can use wooden chopsticks or a wooden spoon laid beside the potato to help you not cut through.
  5. GENTLY separate the slices.  You don’t want to break the potatoes. Place them in the baking dish and insert garlic between the slices. Drizzle the bacon fat and 2 tablespoons of the butter over the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Bake until the potatoes are soft inside, 45 minutes to 1 hour. About 10 minutes before the potatoes are finished, insert the bacon between the potato slices and drizzle with more butter.
  7. Finish the potatoes with coarse salt. Serve hot.

I am serving this with Pork Loin Wrapped in Pancetta and Dijon Roasted Cauliflower for Thanksgiving.

Crispy like a French fry
Creamy like a potato

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Herbed Pork Loin Wrapped in Pancetta

At the center of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a huge roasted turkey.  I do not like turkey and never have.  When I was a child, I just skipped the turkey and piled on the sweet potato soufflé.  When I first moved out and became responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I continued to make a turkey because it was expected.  Now that I am older, I don’t feel the need to please everyone and have quit cooking a turkey. I don’t like them.  I do like roasted pork loin and you can find the recipe for stuffing one here.  I have also made Cornish game hens and ham.  You can make any of these to go with the turkey.  You can also forego the turkey, altogether. 

This year I am making another pork loin.  However, instead of stuffing it, I am wrapping it in pancetta and herbs.  You can use bacon, but the pancetta makes a better presentation, in my opinion.  This looks complicated, but is VERY easy. 

Serves 4-6
Time:  Prep: 20, cook time: 20-30 minutes per pound
Hardware: Cutting board and knives, a food processor, a rubber spatula, parchment paper, butcher’s twine, kitchen scissors, tongs, a broiler pan

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1½ pound pork loin roast
  • ½ pound thick sliced pancetta

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º.
  2. Place the herbs, garlic, and olive oil into the food processor and pulse a few times.  Scrape the sides of the hopper down and pulse a few more times. Set aside.
  3. Cut off about 5 six inch pieces of twine.
  4. Roll out a large (1’x1’) piece of parchment paper.  On top of the paper evenly space out the kitchen twine, about an inch apart, the length of the pork loin.  Lay out the slices of pancetta on top of the twine.  Overlap the slices so that they cover a square area the length and width of the pork loin.
  5. Rub the herbs all over the pork loin.  You can place any leftover herbs in a line down the pancetta.
  6. Lay the pork loin perpendicular to the twine.  Use the wax paper to help wrap the pancetta around the pork.  Tie the twine snuggly around the pork.
  7. Place the loin onto the broiler pan and roast the pork loin for 20-30 minutes per pound.  Making sure not to disturb the pancetta, flip the roast over about half way through.  Remove the roast from the oven when the thermometer reads 145˚ when inserted in the middle of the roast.
  8. Allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.  Carefully cut the twine and remove it without removing the pancetta.  Because the pancetta, or bacon if you are using that, is salty I have found more salt unnecessary.
I save the pan drippings and mix them with a cup of chicken stock and a few more herbs.  I boil this while the meat is resting, strain it, and serve it on the side.


Overlap the pancetta
(Step 4)

Rub the roast with herbs
(Step 5)
Tie the twine snuggly
around the roast
(Step 6)