Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Everybody Loves Bacon

The worst part about trying to eat just plants is not getting to eat bacon.  I get along just fine with beans, nuts, legumes, fruits, and greens until the first gorgeous warm juicy tomato gets picked in my garden.  All I can think about is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.  Everything starts to go down hill from here. I ditch my 100% whole wheat seed bread and buy crusty white French or sourdough bread, Duke’s Mayonnaise (a southern staple) and center cut Hormel Bacon.  Leaf lettuce can be found in the greenhouse.  There is no substitute for bacon in the vegetarian “meat” section of the grocery store.  It all tastes like crap.  This year, after watching “What The Health” (streaming on Netflix) I decided that I no longer wanted to eat any meat or dairy products. Until, cue the happy music,  that warm luscious tomato was picked. My resolve began to falter.

The good news is that I have found a fantastic substitute. For all of you who struggle with being a vegetarian/vegan but love a BLT, I believe I have found the answer.  I have adapted this recipe from The Buddhist Chefs website. 

Vegan BLT
Makes 5 to 6 sandwiches using three pieces

  • 1 package of organic Firm Tofu, pressed and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (leave out if oil is not your thing)
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Bread of choice
  • lettuce
  • Mayonnaise - I use dairy free Just Mayo 

Wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel and press. 

You can use any object that will balance on top of the tofu.  This will help remove the water.  It will only take about 30 minutes.

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Slice tofu into 16 to 20 pieces using a sharp knife starting on the short end.

Whisk the onion powder, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil and liquid smoke together in a small bowl.

Place tofu in a baking dish and pour the mixed ingredients and let marinate for a few minutes. With your hands, flip the tofu so that all sides get coated.

Spray two large cookie sheets with Pam.  Put 8 pieces on each pan.  You want to spread them out so that they can dry and crisp up.

Start checking the tofu in 15 minutes.  I find that it takes a good 25 minutes to get it to where it is dry and crispy around the edges. I use a convection oven. If you are using a conventional oven you may want to rotate the pans.

This is simple and easy.  Most of your time will be spent waiting for the tofu to drain and cook. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and eaten throughout the week.

Mike and I love this as much as we did when we used Hormel.  We still use white bread - some things are down right sacred.

Life is good - enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples

A year ago I did something that many home cooks do each month. I cooked the cover of Bon Appetit magazine - a Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples.  If you want to impress your family and friends with a Christmas Eve delight this is the recipe for you. It takes a bit of time, but is really pretty easy. I think the hardest part was butterflying the pork loin so that it is flat.  I let my engineering brained husband take on that task, but your butcher should be able to do it as well, or you can go to for step-by-step photographs to learn how to do it yourself. Just make sure your knife is sharp and your fingers are out of the way.  The cool part is the loin can be stuffed, rolled and wrapped a day ahead before cooking.

         Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin With Roasted Apples



  • 1 ounce (1 cup) dried whole porcini mushrooms
  • 2 ounces (3/4 cup) dried apples
  • 1 pound kale, bottom stems trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or Calvados
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground pork


  • 1 (trimmed) 2  1/2–3-lb. pork loin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 medium apples (such as Granny Smith or Fuji), quartered, or 8 small apples, halved
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry hard cider
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken stock

Ingredient info

Dried porcini are available at better supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets.



  • Place dried mushrooms and dried apples in separate small bowls. Add 1 cup boiling water to each bowl. Let mushrooms and apples soak until very soft, about 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms. Cover and chill soaking liquid (about 3/4 cup). Drain apples, discarding soaking liquid. Finely chop mushrooms and apples, combine in a small bowl, and set mushroom and apple mixture aside.

  • Meanwhile, blanch kale in boiling salted water just until wilted, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer kale to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until cool. Remove any large, tough ribs.

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cook for 1 minute. Add brandy and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool completely. Add ground pork and stir to combine well.


To butterfly, put pork loin on a work surface with short end facing you. Holding a long, thin sharp knife parallel to work surface and beginning along one long side, cut 1/2" above underside of roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet, until the entire loin is flat. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound to a even thickness. 
  • Uncover pork. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Place kale leaves on top of loin in an even layer, overlapping as needed and leaving a 1" border. Spread filling on top of kale. Roll pork into a tight cylinder. Wrap one layer of prosciutto around roast. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1" intervals. Tuck rosemary sprigs under twine, spacing apart. DO AHEAD: Pork roast can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before continuing.

Loin with kale leave 1" border

Filling for loin
Stuffed, rolled, wrapped and ready to go
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Place apples in a roasting pan. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with oil in a large skillet. Brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes total, then set on top of apples in pan. Add cider and 1/2 cup water to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Pour mixture into roasting pan. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loin registers 140° (it will be cooked medium but still slightly pink), about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let roast rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  • Put roast on a platter. Reserve apples from roasting pan; spoon off fat from juices in pan. Place pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Add chicken stock. Pour in reserved mushroom liquid, leaving any sediment behind, and cook, scraping bottom of pan to release any browned bits, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce; slice pork. Serve sauce and apples alongside sliced pork.

    I had a problem with the apples becoming mushy because of the long cooking time. When I cook this again I will pull the roast out after 20 minutes and then add the apples.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Life is good - enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pan-Seared Hake with Kale and Chorizo

My favorite section in Bon Appetit magazine is called "r.s.v.p" which stands for Readers' Favorite Restaurant Recipes. I have never made one that was not delicious. The Pan-Seared Hake with Kale and Chorizo was requested by Sandy from Boston. She had eaten it at Cook & Brown Public House in Providence, Rhode Island. I have to tell you if you think you don't like kale then you must try making this absolutely wonderful and simple recipe. Mike and I have eaten it twice and each time one of us says to the other "can we have this again tomorrow night"?

Hake is a fish that is a member of the cod family. Although hake is available year round on the eastern seaboard, it is not readily available in land locked Indiana.  So, should you try this you can substitute any other mild, delicately textured fish such as flounder, haddock, pollock or halibut. I used talapia and it was just fine. The other hard to find ingredient is cured Spanish chorizo. The Spanish chorizo is a sausage of smoked pork that is flavored with garlic and spices that's milder than Mexican chorizo. Once again, I substituted the Mexican chorizo and the dish did not suffer for it. In fact, we loved the spiciness.

Pan-Seared Hake with Kale and Chorizo

Don't let this ugly presentation fool you. This is Yummy!!!


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces cured Spanish chorizo, casing removed, if needed; sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine, divided
  • 4 5–6-ounce portions hake or other flaky white fish
  • Mashed potatoes.


  • Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook until lightly rendered (but not crisp) and oil turns bright red, about 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in kale; season with salt and pepper. Cook until kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup wine and 1/4 cup water. Cover partially and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently until kale is tender, 15–20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Turn fish, remove skillet from heat, and pour in remaining 1/2 cup wine. Return to heat and bring wine to a simmer; cook until fish is just opaque in center, about 4 minutes longer.
  • Divide kale mixture equally among plates. Top kale mixture on each plate with 1 piece of pan-seared fish. Serve with mashed potatoes alongside.

    I have served this once with mashed potatoes and once with polenta cooked in a vegetable broth with a bit of Parmesan. We preferred the polenta.

    Life is good - enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

North African Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Date Pearled Couscous

I received a complete surprise on my birthday this year. My daughter Katie purchased me a Tagine. Tagine, is the name of both the dish and the pot it is cooked in.
Birthday Surprise!

 It is traditionally done on the stovetop so the moisture condenses on the cool top and drops back to baste the dish. This particular pot came from Clay Coyote Pottery. Their particular tagine is flameware based so that you can do high temperature pre-cooking like sauteeing onions, garlic, browning meat, then lower the heat to cook the traditionally simmered tagine. You can cook on gas, electric and even glass top stoves and cleanup is a breeze. Tagines are used in many Moroccan dishes, but can be used for any style dish you like.

The following recipe came about because the folks at Clay Coyote Pottery held a contest. The recipe I selected comes from a blog called Elsa Cooks. She only received second place, but after tasting it I think she deserved first.

North African Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Date Pearled Couscous
Serving Size = 2 - 3

  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Cinnamon, just a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1, 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce (could also use tomato paste, about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  1. Place a large, deep saute pan or tagine over medium heat. Add a touch of oil (EVOO).
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the meatballs, except the beef. Once blended, add the beef and mix with hands as little as possible, just until combined. Roll into golf-ball size meatballs. Once done, add to pan and brown on all sides, turning as little as possible. Remove from pan, drain off excess oil and add a bit of EVOO.
  3. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to soften, then add the spices, zest, and mix. Cook about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze a bit, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and cover, cook until the meatballs cook through (about 20 minutes), turning once. I also reduce the heat a bit to keep the sauce at a simmer.
  4. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, start the couscous.
Orange and Date Couscous
Serving Size = 2 - 3
  • 1 cup pearled couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the OJ, water, salt, and dates to a boil. Add the couscous, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 8 - 10 minutes.
  2. Serve the meatballs and sauce over or next to the couscous.
I used pineapple and pineapple juice instead of the orange. It was great. Thanks again Katie.

Life is good - enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Salmon Tartare

My fascination with all things small began several years ago when I purchased Hors d'Oeuvre at Home With The Culinary Institute of America. A beautiful book of essential techniques and recipes for creating great small bites. This is my go to book when I feed my friends.  I have also found some beautiful recipes for appetizers in "Bon Appetit Magazine". In May of this year they had a simple recipe for salmon tartare.  I have eaten tuna tartare but not salmon. What really caught my eye for this dish is that they suggest you serve it with thick-cut potato chips.

Salmon Tartare
Prep: 40 minutes  Total: 40 minutes
4 servings
Use the freshest wild or farmed salmon for this dish. Chilling it in the freezer for 20 minutes makes it easier to dice.


  • 1 - 8oz. boneless salmon fillet, skinless
  • 1/4 cup finely diced, seeded cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced, seeded jalapeno
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 3/4 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. (scant) lime zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Thick-cut potato or tortilla chips
  1. Place salmon on a plate; freeze until well chilled, about 20 minutes
  2. Thinly slice salmon lengthwise into 1/8" wide sheets. Cut each sheet into 1/8"-long strips. Cut strips crosswise into 1/8" cubes. Place salmon in a medium bowl. Add cucumber and the next 9 ingredients and toss to combine. Season tartare to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer tartare to a bowl and serve with chips.
This tartare is really addictive and the chips are ridiculously good. This is chips and dip all grown up. The next time I make this I'm not sharing.

Life if good - enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pan-Cooked Summer Squash With Tomatoes and Basil

Although summer is almost over the tomatoes the squashes and the basil  have yet to be told. They may be a bit smaller perhaps a bit uglier but they are still available and oh so tasty.  On August 16, 2011 Martha Rose Shulman published a recipe for The New York Times. Martha is known as a writer of cookbooks about eating well and she does not miss the mark with this lovely and healthy summer dish.

Pan-Cooked Summer Squash With Tomatoes and Basil
Serves: 4 to 6

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or small zucchini or other summer squash, thinly sliced or diced (depending on what shape squash you use)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, grated on the large holes of a box grater, or peeled, seeded and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered fresh basil (to taste)
  1.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy skillet. Add the zucchini. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until the zucchini is lightly seared and beginning to soften, three to five minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then the garlic. Cook stirring, just until fragrant - less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have begun to cook down, about five minutes. Return the zucchini to the pan, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender and translucent and the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce. Stir in the basil, and taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat and serve hot, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
We ate this as a side dish with chicken. Ms. Shulman suggests it would go well with fish or cooked grains. 

Life is good - enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Naked Tomato Sauce

Today's post will be different from any that I have done in the past. It won't have a recipe, it won't have a picture and it won't scream "look at what I just cooked"!  Today is a link to one of the most lovely cooking blogs that I have had the honor to follow.   This blog is called smitten kitchen.  It is written by New Yorker Deb Perelman.  Not only is she a delightful writer, who doesn't take her self to seriously, but a fantastic food photographer, wife and fine cook. She describes "[t]he smitten kitchen in its latest physical incarnation as a 80 42 square foot (whimper) circa-1935 sort of half-galley kitchen with a 24 foot footprint, a single counter, tiny stove, checkered floor and a skylight on top a noisy window at the end to the avenue below. When you check out her food you have to be amazed and awed that she can produce what she does in 42 square feet while most of us have monstrous kitchens and can't cook a thing.

Several days ago I received my weekly email from smitten kitchen announcing Deb's latest creation. The blog for the day was for naked tomato sauce.  In her continuous effort to make the best "gravy" for spaghetti she adapts a recipe from a New York City restaurant called Scarpetta. In this post she describes Scarpetta as a restaurant "...that boasts duck and foie gras ravioli, olive oil braised octopus and innumerable four star reviews, it should say something that the spaghetti with tomato and basil is the most famed dish on the menu."

Having never been to Scarpetta I can't say if Deb really nailed their spaghetti with tomato and basil. What I can say is that she has given all of us one of the most delightful, sexy, creamy, and sweet ways to eat spaghetti that I have ever had in my life.

Make this, make this, make this....  It requires no special equipment and a small list of ingredients. When she says the butter is optional I believe she lies.  Here is the link:  You can thank me later.

Life is good - enjoy!