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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Port and Cheddar Burgers

Port and Cheddar are an amazing combo

My husband and I visited St. Petersburg, FL recently to see a concert. We decided to stay for a few extra days and visit the town. St. Pete has many art galleries and artist collectives. We visited the Dali Museum and the Dale Chihuly Glass Collection. We also saw a glass blowing exhibition at the Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop.

Happily, all this creativity wasn’t confined to visual arts.  Downtown was full of funky, little bistros, gastropubs and diners. Every meal we ate that week consisted of an everyday food elevated in some inventive and delicious way. One evening, after visiting my friend Roger’s club Enigma, we ate at a place around the corner called Engine 9. Their Wino Burger inspired me to start thinking about wine as a condiment.

I cooked a good port down until it was basically a syrup. The best cheddar that I could afford balanced that sweetness with a sharp, pleasant bite.  French fried onions complimented both flavors and added a needed crunch. It isn’t necessary to use any other toppings. In fact, I can’t think of anything that would enhance this dish without detracting from it. My husband, who is not an adventurous eater, loved these.

Servings:  6 burgers
Hardware:  Measuring cups, a sauce pot, a silicone spatula, a spatula, a heavy bottom skillet with a lid
Time:  Active time 15 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes, Dinner in about 20 minutes


  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • Enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet 
  •  Salt and pepper 
  •  ¾ cup of the best port that you can find
  • 12 ounces of the best cheddar you can afford 
  •  4 ounces French fried onions
  • 6 toasted buns
  1.  Cut the cheddar into 12-1 ounce slices.
  2. Place the port in the sauce pot and allow it to boil until it is a thick syrup. This took about 10 minutes, but the time could vary. You want the port to be the consistency of honey. You can cook the burgers while the port is reducing.
  3. In the skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Divide the ground beef into 6 equal ¾ inch patties. Make a small dimple in the center of each burger. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the patties just before placing them on the heat.
  4. Place the burgers into the skillet. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip. Cook for 3-4 more minutes, keeping the lid on the skillet. Check the thickest burger for desired temperature. Place 2 cheese slices onto each burger during the last minute or so of cooking. Cover the skillet so that the cheese will melt.
  5. To serve, place the warm burgers onto the split buns, cheese side up. Top each burger with the a generous helping of the port sauce and then pile on the onions. So simple, so good.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Enchilada Beans and Rice Casserole

Enchilada Beans and Rice Casserole
Casseroles get a bad rap. I understand that some of them can be mushy and flavorless. However, many casseroles combine interesting tastes and textures. The longer cooking time deepens the flavor. And they are easy and convenient and often inexpensive. So, let’s find another name. How about Enchilada Bean Bake? Or One Dish Enchilada Beans and Rice? Tex-Mex Hotpot? Oh, just call it a casserole. It is sooo good.

If you want this to be vegetarian, make your own enchilada sauce and substitute veggie broth for beef broth. This makes a big dish. I froze the leftovers right in the glass baking dish covered in plastic. The next day I sliced the frozen casserole into serving size pieces and sealed it with my food saver. Freezing it first will ensure that the food saving system doesn’t mash it.

Servings: 8-10
Time:  Active time 10 minutes; Cook: 45 Minutes, Dinner in about an hour
Hardware:  A measuring spoons and cups, cutting board and knife, a skillet, a large mixing bowl, tongs, a wooden spoon, a can opener, and a 2x11x8 glass baking dish

Use orange peppers for a splash of color
  • 1 large bell pepper (8 ounces)
  • 1 large onion (8 ounces)
  • Oil to cover the bottom of the skillet
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1-16 ounce can red kidney beans in chili sauce
  • 1-4 ounce can diced, green chiles
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce (buy a large can or make your own)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt
  • Sour cream, pickled jalapeños and hot sauce for garnish

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚.
  2. Dice the onion and green peppers. Heat the oiled skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the veggies and cook to desired tenderness. Some people like them very soft, but I prefer them to have some crunch.
  3. Slice the green onions. Set aside.
  4. Mix the cooked veggies, rice, beans, chiles, enchilada sauce and one cup of the cheese together. Taste and adjust the salt.
  5. Spray the glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon in the rice mixture.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbling. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese and green onions. Return to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese melts.
  7. Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes. Offer your guests sour cream, pickled jalapeños and hot sauce.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How to Make the Perfect French toast

How to Make the Perfect French Toast
French toast is a brunch staple. The basic recipe consists of bread soaked in a mixture of beaten eggs and milk, which is then fried. Sounds simple and really it is. When prepared properly French toast is a thick, slightly sweetened slice of joy that is crunchy (even crispy) on the outside with a velvety custard-like center. When done poorly it is soggy and under cooked on the inside with little burned pieces of char on the outside, surrounded by rubbery scrambled eggs with a sickeningly sweet start and an eggy, sulfuric finish. I’m here to help.

The first step to making Perfect French Toast begins with picking the right kind of bread. I prefer to use challah bread, but brioche is also good. These breads are sturdy and don’t tend to fall apart when soaked in the egg mixture. Always buy a whole loaf and then slice it at home. Use a serrated knife to slice the bread into 1 to 1 ¼ inch portions. You can leave the slices out for a while because dry bread will soak up more of the egg mixture.

The egg mixture is the second step. The trick? Only use yolks. I know that separating eggs is a pain. I also know that this requires more eggs, more work and more time. The finished product will be worth the trouble. Egg whites are responsible for the aftertaste of sulfur. Just save the whites and make an egg white omelet for tomorrow’s brunch. Whisk the yolks with whole milk. Let’s face it, this is not diet food. It is more like dessert for breakfast, so use full fat milk. The fat helps make the custard fluffy. Trust me. How many eggs? How much milk? I usually use 3 yolks and ¼ cup milk for 2 slices of toast. Remember the toast is thick.  Make sure to whisk like crazy. You want the custard to be custard and not scrambled eggs.

This next step is really a matter of personal taste. What else should you add to the custard? If you plan to serve the toast with syrup or fruit you can just add a pinch of salt and go for it. However, I know this is supposed to be decadent. And I know everyone adds sugar. So, do that. Add sugar. But use powdered sugar. Granulated sugar can burn and give you a charred taste or cause the outside of the toast to cook before the inside is finished. To give your toast a little flair, add in a splash of vanilla extract or a good rum, bourbon or liqueur. Not too much or that will be all you can taste. Soak the bread in the custard mixture. I put each piece into the bowl and sort of press it down into the custard for 30 seconds and then flip it over and do the same thing on the other side. Take the bread out of the custard and allow the excess to drip back into the dish. You don’t want the bread to be dripping nor do you want any part of it to be dry. Now we toast.

Before I start cooking the bread, I place a wire rack over a cookie sheet and put that into a 250˚ oven. To fry the bread, you should use both butter and light vegetable oil. The butter is for the taste and the vegetable oil is to stop the butter from burning. Heat the fats in a cast iron or other non-stick skillet over medium heat. If the skillet is too hot, the outside will burn before the center is cooked. If the skillet is too cool, the egg mixture will spread out and make an egg ‘foot’ around the toast. The foot is the rubbery scrambled egg that surrounds not great French toast. When the butter has completely melted lay the toast, sides not touching, into the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until the outside is golden and edges are just starting to crisp. Flip and toast the other side. Place each finished piece of toast onto the rack in the oven. The oven will keep the toast warm and the rack ensures that both sides are crispy. Don’t leave the toast in the oven for too long, however, or it will dry out. Wipe the pan out between slices of toast. If you don’t the little bits of egg from the previous toast will burn and make your Perfect French Toast into mediocre French toast that is covered in little, burned bits of egg.

Now you have something special, the Perfect French Toast. This toast is so rich, that usually I can only eat one slice. I’m lying to you. I eat 2 slices and rest and come back for more. Before serving, I put powdered sugar (and sometimes cinnamon) into a small strainer and tap it gently over the toast. The sugar falls like sweet, powdery snow. Then I top the toast with fruit and a little honey or whipped cream. Or I just pick up a piece and walk around the kitchen eating it like a cookie. You do you. But try this. You'll never be willing to eat mediocre French toast again.

The Perfect French Toast