"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baby Back Ribs with Smoky Sweet Barbecue Sauce

This Friday is Halloween and I'm serving these ribs as a shout out to the "Walking Dead" and the crew at Terminus. Combining them with cole slaw and collard greens is perfect.  Nothing beats fall off the bone, tender, juicy ribs- unless of course if they're yours. Wahahahaaaaaaaa!   Enjoy!!

2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 pounds)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

BBQ Sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic salt together in a small bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of rub in a small bowl for serving.

Remove the silver skin from the underside of the ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane and pulling it off. Repeat with the second rack. Rub the ribs with the seasoning on both sides. Place in a single layer in a large roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. Place the roasting pan into the oven and bake until the ribs are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Grill the ribs on each side for 15 minutes, watching and flipping when necessary, for 30 minutes total. Baste with BBQ Sauce the last 10 minutes. Because the sauce is sugar based and you don't want to burn your ribs, it goes on last.

Let the racks rest 5 minutes before slicing into individual ribs. Sprinkle the cut ribs with the reserved dry rub and serve along with extra sauce.

BBQ Sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir until softened. Add the vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, and some salt and black pepper to the saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 35 minutes. Yield: About 4 cups.

Oven Roasted Cod with Crabmeat

 makes 6 servings

 3 tablespoons olive oil
 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
 3 green onions, finely chopped
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 1 (6 ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained
 3 slices dry white bread, crusts removed and cubed
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1 egg, beaten
 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
 2 tablespoons lemon juice
 1 tomato, seeded and diced
 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
 5 tablespoons butter, melted
 2# cod fillet

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add celery, green onion and garlic, and cook and stir for a few minutes until soft. Remove from heat, and stir in the crabmeat, bread cubes, egg, Romano cheese, lemon juice, and tomato. Season with salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and mix until well blended.
Lay the cod fillets in the prepared baking dish. Brush each one with melted butter. Mound a heaping tablespoon of the crab mixture onto each fillet and gently spread out to cover the entire top of the fish. Sprinkle on any remaining stuffing, and drizzle with any leftover melted butter. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. (The dish may be also made ahead of time and refrigerated at this point.)
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the top has browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve and Enjoy!

The Menu Oct. 26th - Oct. 31st

Spicy Red Curry Thai Chicken with Vegetables
Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

Cider-Brined Roast Chicken
Sautéed Kale
Romaine Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Broccoli Soup
Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

Bison Meatloaf, Brown gravy
Root Vegetable Gratin

Braised Chicken Thighs with Wild Mushrooms
Chopped Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

Baby Back Ribs with Smoky Sweet Barbecue Sauce
Cole slaw
Collard Greens with Smoked Ham

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Braised Leeks with Olive Oil and Thyme

I love leeks!  They are terrific when just made simply, letting their delicate flavor deepen as they cook.  They become sweet, robust, and complex. Leeks can be gritty, so wash them well before cooking.

2 # leeks (about 5 medium), white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise
12 small sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. dry white wine (like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Arrange the leek halves cut side down in a snug single layer in a shallow 8-inch square baking dish. Nestle the thyme sprigs among the leeks. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, wine, and 1 Tbs. water and drizzle over the leeks. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Braise the leeks in the oven until completely tender and easy to pierce with a fork, about 45 minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to braise until the leeks are caramelized, about 15 minutes more. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve the leeks warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Roast Pork Loin with Shiitake and Leek Compote

2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only)
a 3# center-cut boneless pork loin
2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup beef broth
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cut leeks crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and in a bowl soak in water to cover, agitating occasionally to dislodge any sand, 5 minutes. Lift leek out of water and drain in a colander.

Trim any fat from pork. Season pork with salt and pepper and pat with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. In a 10-inch oven-proof non-stick or cast-iron skillet heat butter or oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork loin, turning it. Transfer pork to a plate.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In fat remaining in skillet cook mushrooms and leek with salt over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Put pork on vegetables in skillet and roast in middle of oven, about 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160°F.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If vegetable compote is too liquid, cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated. Stir remaining teaspoon chopped parsley into compote.

Slice pork thin and serve, garnished with parsley and with compote. Enjoy!

The Menu: Oct 11th - Oct. 17th

Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Baby Greens Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Chicken with Mushrooms and Leeks
Broccoli with Red Onions
Carrots with Ginger and Honey

Vegetable Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
Caesar Salad

Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter
Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper
Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

Roasted Pork Loin with Shiitake and Leek Compote
Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Walnuts

Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
Roasted Root Vegetables

Roast Beef with a Dijon-Horseradish Crust, Cabernet Demi
Chophouse Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing
Green Beans with Almonds

Monday, October 6, 2014

Brined Roast Pork Loin with Spiced-Apple Chutney

The days are turning colder, the leaves are falling and this pork is a perfect answer for dinner.  Whether you've got friends coming over or just want to wow the family, it's terrific.  By brining the loin overnight it insures the pork will be extra moist and tender, while boosting up the flavor.  Enjoy!

6 cups water
1 container apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
10 black peppercorns
10 mustard seeds
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 (5-6pound) center cut pork loin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spiced Apple Chutney, recipe follows

Bring the water, apple juice concentrate, salt, sugar, onion, peppercorns, mustard seeds, thyme and bay leaves to a simmer in a large stock pot and cook until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool completely. Submerge the loin in the brine by placing a plate on top, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven until cooked to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, Prepare the Spiced Apple Chutney.

Spiced Apple Chutney:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, then add the orange juice, brown sugar, and honey and bring to a simmer. Stir in the apples, allspice, and salt and pepper, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the apples are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Serve with the pork.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What's a "Flavor Profile?"- cooking basics

I was talking to a good friend the other day and she asked how I learned what spices, herbs, and flavors go with what foods.  She continued to say that she was at a loss in the kitchen and only relied on a very limited number of spices.  She asked if at culinary school we spent hours studying from books on the matter.

Actually, not really, my sense of flavor combinations came from years of working in the kitchen with different cuisines and different chefs who brought their experiences from around the world.  It was from that experience that I  learned "flavor profiles." Foods have these profiles, which are classifications of how they taste. People develop different tastes depending on their cultural or even economic background and the habits of their parents or whoever fed them as children.

What makes something taste Italian or Greek or Moroccan? Whether crafting vinaigrette, seasoning chicken, or developing a soup, understanding the flavors of ingredients that help to define various cuisines can be very useful.

Every cuisine has its regional variations; the cuisine of Normandy is vastly different from the classic dishes from Provence, but they’re both French. So consider this a shorthand reference to a few culinary stereotypes. Don’t overdo it. Try incorporating two to four ingredients from a cuisine group to tilt a flavor profile in that general direction. Below are several different examples of regional profiles. They are not meant to be an all inclusive, definitive work up of each, but merely a guide, to give direction.  Experiment and have fun with it and in no time you will develop your own sense of flavor.  Enjoy!


Herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley.
Tomato sauces with above herbs and aromatics like onion and garlic.
Fats such as olive oil, butter or lard.
Acids such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.
celery, pesto, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, fennel, flat-leaf parsley, red pepper flakes, white beans,
Simple bean, meat, or vegetable dishes combining the above flavor elements.


Herbs such as cilantro or Mexican oregano.
Spices such as cumin, spicy cayenne or jalapeño peppers, or ground chilies or chili powder.
Onions and garlic as flavor base sautéed or mixed into a fresh salsa or sour cream.
Fats such as lard or vegetable oil.
Acids such as lime, lemon, or orange.
hot sauce, green peppers, celery, tomatoes, scallions, black beans, Cheddar cheese, avocado,
Tomatillo, Corn Masa, and Mexican Chorizo
Simple meat dishes often with tortillas of corn, and usually with beans and a fresh vegetable dish combining the above flavor elements.


Heavy on herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon, chervil, chives, herbs de provence, lavender, parsley.
Acids such as lemon, wine vinegars, or wine.
Fats such as butter, olive oil, animal fats, cream – and plenty of them.
Mirepoix to begin any dish: onion, celery, carrot. Shallots, truffle, soft cheeses, Dijon mustard, and mushrooms
Meat and lots of vegetable dishes combining the above flavor profiles, as well as artisan breads.

European (meaning mostly Eastern European)

Herbs such as dill, chives, and parsley.
Acids such as wine, grain, or apple cider vinegars.
Fats such as lard and sour cream.
Cold-loving vegetables such as onions, roots, and garlic.
Think Borscht, potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, sausages, sauerkraut, hearty stews, etc.

Middle Eastern

Herbs such as parsley, mint, or thyme.
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, Zaatar (Herb mix of sumac,thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, and salt.)
Acids like lemon and other citrus.
Fats like ghee and olive oil.
Meat, rice, wheat grain or bread, pulses such as lentils and chickpeas, and vegetable dishes with the above flavors. Think tabbouleh, hummus, Indian curry, and fresh herbaceous salads.


Herbs such as oregano, bay leaves, thyme, mint, dill, Basil, Rosemary
Spices such as garlic, onions,fennel seed, allspice, anise, and cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin
Acids like lemon, wine
Fats like olive oil, olives, yogurt
tuna, lamb, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, fish, shellfish

Latin & Caribbean

Herbs such as thyme, marjoram, basil, cilantro (know as chadon beni), green onions, Sofrito (green and red bell peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro), Jerk Spice (allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, clove, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg,thyme, garlic, salt)
Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger
Fats like vegetable oil, pork fat but in small quantities
Rice, black beans, plantains, papaya, avocados, mangos, pineapple, garlic, onions, tomatoes, corn, lots of fish and shellfish, goat meat, pork, lime


Herbs such as cilantro and mint.
Aromatics such as spring onion, garlic, and ginger.
Hot peppers of all sorts, soy sauce and tofu.
Lime and coconut as in Thai food.
Japanese- miso, sesame seed oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sake, wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce
Brothy soups made from beef, pork, or fish; rice and vegetable-heavy dishes using the above aromatics; and plenty of seafood and pork as the main meats in the region.

Central/South Asian
ginger, garlic, scallions, shallots, lemongrass, Thai basil, cilantro, fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, coconut milk, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice or sweet wine vinegar, cilantro, lime, oyster sauce, galangal, hot chili peppers


Herbs such as cilantro, fennel, garlic, saffron, fenugreek, dried chilies,
Spices such as garam masala, curry, tamarind, cardamom, cumin, coriander, paprika, tandoori spices
Fats such as ghee, mustard oil
yogurt, coconut milk, basmati rice, coconut, chicken, peanuts, vegetables, lentils, chickpeas

Chophouse Salad

Go to any great steak house and they've got a dynamite chopped salad.  It's a perfect compliment to the big hunks of beautifully cooked prime beef (please, medium-rare at most). The blending of crisp lettuces, hint of garlic, creamy blue cheese, and crunch of a crouton makes this a star side.  I've even had some that have actually stolen the show.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce (or can substitute romaine lettuce)
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chopped radicchio
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green olives
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced, washed and drained
4 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1 (14-oz.) can chilled hearts of palm, rinsed, well-drained and sliced
1/2 lb applewood-smoked bacon, chopped, fried until crisp, drained
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup crouton
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Garnish- Crispy fried onions

Lemon Basil Dressing:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To taste salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Salad:  In a very large bowl, combine lettuce,spinach,radicchio,red onions,green olives,mushrooms,eggs,hearts of palm and bacon; toss well. Add crumbled blue cheese, croutons and Lemon Basil Dressing; toss until well mixed. Divide salad among 4 dinner plates, garnish with cherry tomato halves and top salads with crispy fried onions

Lemon Basil Dressing: Combine all ingredients,add seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Mix well; refrigerate until serving. Dressing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

The Menu: Oct. 4th - Oct. 10th

Grilled NY Steaks with Roasted Wood Mushrooms and Leeks
Chophouse Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing
Parmesan and Herb Zucchini

Brined and Oven Roasted Pork Loin
Spiced Apple Chutney
Caramelized Butternut Squash with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Italian Vegetable Rice Pasta with Olive Oil, Parmesan, and Cracked Black Pepper

Broccoli Purée
Perfect Roast Chicken with Pan Jus
Root Vegetable Gratin

Schezuan Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Fisherman's Stew

Purée of Carrot
Grilled Bison Porterhouse with Cabernet Butter
Braised Wild Mushroom and Shallots with Thyme
Baby Field Green Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette
Steamed Broccoli with Citrus Olive Oil Drizzle