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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Salmon with Brown Sugar, Garlic, and Mustard Glaze

As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of fish. However, I am trying to eat better and salmon is very healthy. (I hope I didn’t negate that by glazing it in brown sugar.) Salmon is a great source of high quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.

Besides being healthy salmon is really delicious.  When buying salmon you can choose farm raised or wild caught.  If you are buying wild caught, get Alaskan salmon as it is ecologically friendlier. Wild caught is a little gamier and firmer.  I prefer farmed because it is milder.  Many people insist that wild caught is better. Make sure if you select farm raised that the farm is in America or Canada, as those countries have regulations about cleanliness.  

Remember that fish has less connective tissue than beef, pork, or, chicken.  If you allow it to marinate for more than 30 minutes, it will get mushy. Also, I’m going to tell you now, clean up isn’t fun. Sugar is sticky.  I sprinkled my cast iron skillet with baking soda and left it sitting out for an hour, then used a scraper to clean the sugar out. If you don’t use cast iron you will need to soak the pan you use.  It is totally worth the effort.

Servings: 4
Time:    Prep: 5-10 minutes; Marinate: 30 Cook: 15-20 Minutes
Hardware:  measuring spoons, paper towels, a cutting board and knives, a small skillet, a whisk, a rubber spatula, plastic wrap, a large glass dish, a large, heavy bottomed skillet that can be used on the stove top & in the oven (I prefer cast iron), a large spatula for removing the fish intact (or a fish spatula if you have one), a thermometer

  • 1 pound of 1 ¼ inch thick salmon
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Sea salt

  1. Cut the fish into serving sizes.  Rinse in clean water and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the fish generously with salt.
  2. Mince the garlic. Melt the butter over medium heat in the small skillet.  Brown the garlic stirring often (about 5 minutes.) Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the brown sugar, soy sauce, spicy mustard, and olive oil. 
  3. Place the fish skin side down into the glass dish.  Cover the fish filets in the glaze.  You can use the spatula to make sure the filets are completely covered.  Cover the dish in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Remove the salmon from the fridge about 10 minutes before you are ready to cook it.  This allows it to cook more evenly.
  4. Pre heat the oven to 425˚.
  5. Spray the skillet you are using liberally with cooking spray and place it over medium high heat.  When the skillet in very hot, use the wide (or fish) spatula to place the salmon, skin side down, into it.  Do not mess with the fish.  You want the skin to get crispy.  Cook the filets on top of the stove for 5 minutes, then place them in the oven until they flake easily.  How long this takes depends upon the thickness of the filets.  I cooked mine for 7 minutes. Start with 5 and check every minute after that.  You don’t want to overcook salmon-gross.  It is ready when the thermometer reads 140˚ degrees.  When in doubt, undercook. Food continues to cook until it cools down.
  6. Serve right away.  This would be lovely on top a bed of rice or orzo. I made lemony couscous and a side salad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with Gorgonzola Horseradish Mayo

Everybody loves a sandwich. They are so quick and easy. Just a couple slices of bread, some sort of filling and you have a bite to eat.  However, it is easy to allow them to become boring. Even so, many people are afraid to experiment with a safe thing.  Yeah your turkey, lettuce, and mayo on white bread is a little lackluster, but better to go with the devil you know…Right? Wrong. Change things up by tweaking your favorite sandwich.  Try a new mustard or a flavored mayo.  Substitute radicchio or even coleslaw for lettuce.  Instead of your go-to bread try making a bagel sandwich or using toasted ciabatta.  Throw on some sliced radishes or roasted red peppers.  Just a little change can make a big difference.

I dressed up a hot roast beef by adding a homemade, blue cheese, horseradish mayo.  Adding bitter arugula and sweet caramelized onion makes this ordinary sandwich something special.  You can make the mayo the day before to allow the flavors to meld. 

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes 
Hardware:  A cutting board and knifes, measuring spoons and cups, a container, a fork, two skillets, tongs, kitchen scissors (optional) a baking sheet

  • 4 hoagie rolls  
  • 1 pound deli, rare roast beef sliced thin (I use Boar’s Head London Broil)
  • 1 large onion (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups arugula
  • salt
  • Cooking spray
  • ⅓ cup mayo mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces gorgonzola (or other blue cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Mix the mayo, gorgonzola, horseradish, honey, and vinegar together.  I like to do this with a fork so I can break up the cheese.  Place this in an airtight container in the fridge until you need it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚.
  3. Slice the onion into rings.  Put the onions and enough water to cover the onions half way into one of the skillets on medium high.  Stir often.  Cook until the water has evaporated.  As soon as the water has evaporated, salt the onions, and turn the heat down to medium.  Monitor carefully.  The onions will caramelize quickly.  Don’t allow them to get crispy. The whole process should take about 20 minutes.
  4. While the onions are cooking, roughly chop the beef.  I find this easiest to do with kitchen scissors, but you can use a knife.  Wash and dry the arugula. Set aside.
  5. Make slits in the rolls and scoop out about ½ the bread.  You can discard this or save it for another use. 
  6. Remove the onions from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Place the rolls in the oven. 
  7. While the onions are cooling and the bread is toasting, spray the other pan with cooking spray.  Place the skillet over medium high heat and toss in the beef until it is just warmed through.  You aren’t cooking it, just warming it a little. Toss it for about 5 minutes and remove from the heat.  When the meat is warmed through, the bread shells should be toasted.  Remove them from the oven.  Be careful when opening the bread, as it will be full of steam.
  8. To assemble the sandwiches mix the warm beef and onions together.  Smear the toasted rolls with the mayo.  Add a bed of arugula and then stuff the bread shells with the meat and onion mixture.  Add more mayo.  Serve warm.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Gyros are popular, fast food sandwiches that are difficult to make at home.  The meat used for most gyros is made from a loaf of compressed meat (tastes better than it sounds) with a distinct taste and texture.  I have tried many times to recreate them with varying degrees of success.

This incarnation is the best. Very good, in fact. Cooking the meat the second time makes the texture very close to the gyros we get from our favorite, local, Middle Eastern restaurant, Falafel King.  You can make the loaf a day or two ahead and just brown the slices when you are ready to use them. When making this recipe you can change the ratio of lamb to beef, if you want.  You can also skip the mint.  However, I have made and remade this and you should try it my way first.

I remember the first gyro I ever ate.  When I was in high school, I was in all advanced classes and made VERY good grades, but school was boring and if I didn’t feel the need to be there I would, upon occasion, take my education into my own hands.  I would ride the school bus into town, ditch class, and then catch the city bus for my own adventure.  I visited museums or went to the movies.  Sometimes, I went to the local record store and had music appreciation day. I think these excursions were as educational as the stuff I learned in school.  Often on these outings, I ate at a little, family-owned, Greek restaurant that was close to the record store.  It was there that I had my first gyro, spanakopita (spinach pie), and baklava. The couple that owned the place were friendly and often talked to me about their children or the food I was eating or what it was like in Cyprus, the island they were from.  A Taco Bell now stands where Little Athens used to be. I’m glad I have an adventurous soul. I feel sorry for the kids who ditch class and go to Taco Bell.

Servings: 6 gyros
Hardware:  Cutting board and knives, food processor, measuring spoons, baking sheet, foil, a skillet, a spatula
Time:  Prep:  10 minutes    Cooking: 1 hour

  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion (½ cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Fresh parsley (about 2 tablespoons chopped)
  • ½ tablespoon ground marjoram
  • ½ tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 flat breads (I like naan) or pitas 
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Cucumbers
  • 1 cup Tzatziki sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚.
  2. Peel and quarter the onion.  Peel the garlic. Place them in the food processor.  Pulverize until they are almost a liquid.  Drain the liquid from the hopper.
  3. Roughly chop the parsley and mint. Add the herbs and salt to the food processor and pulse a few times just to mix.
  4. Add the meat to the food processor and grind until it is very fine, almost a paste.
  5. Line the baking sheet with foil. Shape the meat into a loaf about 3 inches by 8 inches.  Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. While the meat is baking, slice and seed the tomatoes, peel and slice the cucumbers and onions.  Set aside.
  7. Remove the meat from the oven and allow to rest until it is cool enough to handle.
  8. Heat the olive oil on high heat in the skillet.  Slice the meatloaf into thin pieces.  Make the slices as thin as you can without the meat falling apart.  Brown the slices on both sides. Remember the meat is already cooked, you are just crisping the outside.
  9. To build the gyro, warm the bread, add a little Tzatziki sauce, add the meat, then the veggies, and then more sauce.
Homemade Gyros

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce: creamy cucumber dip
Tzatziki sauce is perfect for Gyros or other grilled meat.  It also makes a nice dip for warm slices of pita.  You can change the sauce up by using mint or parsley in addition to or instead of the dill.  Always serve this cold.

Servings:  1 ½ cups
Time:  prep: 15 minutes, rest: 30 minutes + 2 hours
Hardware:  Cutting board and knives, veggie peeler, spoon, strainer, a bowl,  measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, a container

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh dill (or 1 dried)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

  1. Peel the cucumber.  Using the spoon remove the seeds.  Slice it and place it in the strainer over the bowl.  Heavily salt the cucumber and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. This will make the cucumber release much of its liquid.
  2. Squeeze as much water as you can from the cucumber.  Discard all the liquid.  Dice the squeezed cucumber and the garlic.  The smaller the better. 
  3. Whisk the remaining ingredients together.  Taste and adjust the salt.
  4. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Grind a little black pepper into the sauce right before serving.  This will keep in the fridge for 4 days.