Spaghetti Squash with Pancetta

I’m fairly new to spaghetti squash.  I read about it when I was overseas but never had access to it until I spent a year in France.  Everyone in our family likes it and the texture and flavor is just right, especially with pancetta or lardons and a few aromatics.

I sliced this squash poorly; bad knife and not sliced thick enough but nothing was ruined ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To release the water, I sprinkled both sides of the slices with salt, allowed them to rest for about 20 minutes, wiped off the water and salt before roasting in the oven on parchment paper.  After cooling, the spaghetti-like strands are removed with a fork.  Fun 🙂

We planted these flowers on each side of the walk up to our front door.  The deer ate most of them.  Like thieves in the night, they graze our garden.  And really, sometimes they just walk by during the day and looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths, they stare at us.

Him:  Let’s get the gun.

Me:  You can’t fire shots in town.


I guess they don’t like yellow.

Spaghetti Squash with Pancetta

1 large spaghetti squash, sliced into 1 inch rings


1/2 cup pancetta, diced

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp chicken broth

Sprinkle the squash rings on both sides with the salt and allow to rest on paper towels for about 20 minutes.  Wipe the rings with a paper towel, then place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400F and roast for 45 minutes.  When cool, gently scrape the strands from the rings with a fork and place inside of a bowl.

Brown the pancetta in a skillet, then remove to rest and drain on paper towels. Add the olive oil to the skillet, then add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute until crisp tender.  Stir in the spaghetti squash and the broth.  Steam covered for about 3 minutes on low flame.

Stir in the reserved pancetta before serving.










Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Asian Style Oxtails with Udon Noodles

I know I’m always preparing oxtails, but we like them a lot and we don’t have access to dependable quality variety meats in our area and oxtails are delicious, however prepared.  We have two more batches in the freezer 🙂  The variety meats specialist, The Butcher Shoppe in Pocono Lake is closed until…..

Normally this recipe uses the rind of a mandarin but I didn’t find any and the orange worked fine.  Also my “bunch” of scallions were dying a hard death in the refrigerator crisper but they were okay.

My herb garden is a bit exaggerated but it looks wonderful and pleases me; 2 types of sage, oregano, basil, tarragon, garlic chives, plain chives, rosemary, parsley, thyme, tarragon, cilantro and who know what else.  All praise due to my totally bored husband 🙂

This recipe is fairly simple.  You don’t need to brown the oxtails before placing in the pressure cooker and cutting and chopping is minimal.  Once the ingredients are lined out, everything comes together quickly.

I love the way the ingredients look in the pot!  Once the bobble gets going the aroma is irresistible!  Pressure cooker necessary.

Fresh udon noodles are the perfect accompaniment for these oxtail because the meat falls  off the bone and the sauce created by the ingredients would be satisfying alone with just the noodles.

Asian Style Oxtails with Udon Noodles

5 lbs oxtails, evenly mixed with big and small

1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup Shao Shing Chinese cooking wine

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 onion, sliced into eighths

3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

8 thin slices of fresh ginger

2 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

1/2 of an orange peel, cut into 8 strips

Cooked fresh udon noodles

Garlic chives, sliced

Mix the soy sauce, Chinese wine, brown sugar and water together and set aside.  Place the oxtails in the bottom of a pressure cooker.

Sprinkle the scallions, onion, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and orange peel over the oxtails.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over all.

Put the top on the pressure cooker and seal well.  Put the little bobble thing over the vent in the middle of the pressure cooker top.  Turn the gas up to high and when the bobble starts to swing back and forth, decrease the heat until the bobble continues a gentle swing. Cook for 35-40 minutes, remove from flame and set aside until the pressure button, located at the top of the handle, sinks completely to the bottom.

Open the pressure cooker and place the oxtails in a platter.  Strain the solids from the sauce and then boil the liquid down (no top) until it is reduced by half, then pour over the oxtails.

Serve with the noodles sprinkled with garlic chives.





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Light Batter Fried Pork Belly

I collect salt and pepper shakers and, back in the day, I found these salt and pepper shakers in Ferndale, New York.  At first I just laughed out loud, I’m a black American and I’ve never seen any black person who looks like this nor like anyone on rice and pancake boxes.  Nobody has, whatever color.  Then, I got serious.  The shakers were porcelain, cheap and in excellent condition!  When I was growing up these aunty and uncle “colored” people shakers and syrup dispensers were ubiquitous but made of plastic.  Anyway, I know I didn’t pay more than 5-7 dollars for them and they always make me laugh.

Garden roses and orchids.

I had a 2.5 lb piece of pork belly in the freezer and thought I’d repeat a tried and true recipe, batter fried pork belly.  My husband, who was always in some other country when I made this, was delighted.

The pork belly, skin on, is sliced into strips, then marinated overnight in a light batter, before deep frying.  Serve with lime chilli mayonnaise and eat them while they’re hot!

Light Batter Fried Pork Belly

2 1/2 lb -3 lb piece of skin on pork belly, cut into strips

1 tbsp grated garlic

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp garlic chilli sauce

1/2 cup corn starch

2 eggs, slightly beaten


Peanut oil

Mix together the garlic, ginger, chilli sauce, cornstarch, eggs and salt, then stir in the pork strips and allow to marinate overnight.

Heat the peanut oil in a large cast iron skillet, then deep fry 1/3 of the pork at a time.  Drain on paper towels and enjoy immediately.

Lime Chilli Mayonnaise

1/4 cup of mayonnaise

1 tsp of Vietnamese garlic chilli sauce

Juice from 1/2 lime

Blend all ingredients and refrigerate.






Posted in Cooking | 6 Comments

Cherry Cobbler

I was inspired to make this cherry cobbler by my husband’s lovely roses from his garden and Jo cooks.  As you may know, I rarely make dessert but have made cobblers before because they’re easy and forgive the baker’s disinterest and impatience.  I decided to try Jo’s recipe because of the batter and the lavish amount of butter in the baking pan.

Everyone should have a cherry pitter.  The first time I needed one I didn’t have one and had to use a hairpin.  Be sure to look at my Foie Gras with Cherry Sauce blog.  Even better than a one-cherry-at-a-time pitter, the multiple pitter is high tech.  I have one in France that pits 8 cherries at a time and this one here in Pennsylvania pits 6 cherries at a time.  Both are great.

The pitters make a neat little hole in the bottom of the cherries while maintaining the shape.

Jo uses a 12 inch cast iron skillet for her cobbler but I didn’t have that size so used a 12 inch pie pan.  I was amazed and gratified by the amount of butter poured into the pan before the batter and cherries!  As M. Parret says, it was “correct”.  I did decrease the amount of sugar in the batter by half, it just wasn’t necessary.

Thanks to my husband for the rose garden.  I enjoyed making this for him as much as I enjoy the roses.

Cherry Cobbler

2 lbs ripe bing cherries, pitted and halved

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt


1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup hot melted butter

Cook the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a sauce pan on medium heat until the mixture just begins to boil, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together into a large bowl.  Beat the egg into the milk and then add to the flour, whisking until smooth.

Pour the hot butter into a 12 inch cast iron skillet or pie pan, pour in the batter, then top evenly with the cherries.  Bake in a 375 F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Spoon the cobbler from the pan into bowls and eat as is or serve with a scoop of ice cream.





Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cornmeal Fried Wild Catfish

I found some catfish labeled “wild caught” (from somewhere, it didn’t say) at Wegmans the other day,   The fillets were enormous.  I had to cut them in two before frying.

I grew up eating catfish caught by my Dad in the wilds of California.  These had a vague catfish flavor but I think they were farm raised, released, then caught in the wilds of somewhere.  They were okay but a little disappointing.

For some reason I had stone ground cornmeal and no normal cornmeal, so I added 1/3 cup of flour to the coating along with seasonings, then deep fried until golden.  Serve with tartar sauce or ketchup, your call.

Cornmeal Fried Wild Catfish

4-5 wild catfish fillets, cut in half if necessary

1 – 1 1/3 cup of regular cornmeal

2 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp Old Bay Seafood Seasoning

1 tbsp paprika

Peanut oil

Mix the seasoning together with the cornmeal.  Dredge the fillets in the cornmeal and deep fry in the peanut oil.



Posted in American, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wagyu Beef Burger

A longtime blogging friend,  award winning Conor Bofin posted a tantalizing grilled, wagyu beef burger on his blog the other day.  The beef from these Japanese cattle when raised in Japan and from the tajima strain are known as kobe.  Kobe beef is banned in the United States.  The Australians buy and raise this strain of wagyu cattle in Australia and can legally export the beef to the U.S. because they are not raised in Japan.  Whatever.  I’d never had it before and I wanted some.  Online, the closest you can get to kobe is from Steaks and Game , imported from Australia.

The beef patties are formed and sold in quantities of  4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz or 10 oz.  All you need to do is season the burgers to taste, gather your toppings, heat up the grill and choose a very fresh bun.

Our toppings were tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, Swiss cheese and a perfectly ripe avocado.





Posted in Australian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Char Sui Pork and Asian Slaw Hero

Char sui pork is something I love to make in the oven because of the S hooks my husband recommended.  Years ago, I saw char sui being prepared somewhere in Asia over an outdoor pit, hanging from an indescribable metal contraption and felt disappointed that I would not be able to duplicate the recipe.  I guess I whined a lot to my husband until, annoyed,  he thought about it and suggested S hooks from his tool box.

What’s an S hook?  How will that help, I whined.  Layering a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, he showed me how to hook one end of the hook on each piece of marinated pork and the other on an oven rack over the aluminum foil.  After burning myself a lot trying to marinate the pork every 15 minutes, he showed me how to use a large cooking fork to unhook the meat, dropping it to the aluminum foil to brush with marinade, then re-hooking it to the oven rack.  I was really glad I married him 😀

The pork is lovely!  A bit charred on the outside and juicy and tender inside.  Besides using it for sandwiches, it’s also wonderful with Asian soups and noodles.


Sliced thin, char sui is also delicious with cocktails on thin slices of fresh baguette with a dab of Dijon mustard.

The Asian coleslaw with a hint of peanut from peanut butter is also good with the char sui and fish.

Char Sui

2 1/2 -3 lb pork loin roast

1 jar of Lee Kum Kee char sui sauce

Slice the roast into about 5 pieces, then marinate in the sauce for 2 days.  S hook the marinated pieces, attach to a top oven rack with an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet underneath to catch the spills at 400 F.  Brush with leftover marinade every 15 minutes for about 45 minutes.




Posted in Asian, Chinese, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spicy “Shanghai” Bok Choy

Wegman’s Scranton had the tiniest baby bok choy I’ve ever seen.  They were labeled Shanghai bok choy.  I steamed them until tender and added my favorite spicy sauce for bok choy.  I should have bought more!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve prepared salmon.  In vain, I searched for wild caught, skin on, but had to settle for farm raised, Canadian on a board for grilling, not realizing until I brought the fish home that the skin had been removed 😦

Oh well, this was good but I so miss L’Ambiance des Halles.

Spicy Oyster Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp peanut oil

2 tbsp water

Stir the oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, sugar, peanut oil and water together well. Mix with hot, steamed bok choy.



Posted in Asian, Cooking, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Duck Legs with Roasted Fennel, Carrots, Onions and Potatoes

My husband asked me to bring his camera out to our stream the other day.  When I got there, there was a handsome drake and a hen with her ducklings!  And just like that, it reminded me that we had duck legs in the freezer 😀

Gratuitous photo of one of our orchids, supported by a meat skewer from Burkina Faso.

I looked over my old blog posts and discovered that I had made numerous recipes with duck legs.  It was hard to choose, so I lazily chose the easiest; herbed vegetables, topped with browned duck legs and simply roasted.

The duck roasts up very tender and the vegetables are perfectly cooked.


Duck Legs with Roasted Fennel, Carrots, Onions and Potatoes

4 large potatoes, cut into 8ths each

3 carrots, sliced

2 small fennel bulbs, slice

1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces

Salt and pepper

Smoked paprika

Fresh thyme, chopped

3-4 duck legs, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder

1 heaping tbsp goose fat

Place the potatoes, carrots, fennel and onion in a large bowl, season with salt, pepper, paprika and thyme.  Set aside.

Brown and sear the duck legs in a hot skillet.  Remove the legs and set aside.  Add the goose fat to the hot skillet, stirring and scraping up the brown bits.  Stir the contents of the skillet into the prepared vegetables.

Put the vegetables in a roasting pan, top with the legs, cover and roast at 350 F for 1 1/2 hour. Uncover, increase the oven temperature to 400 F and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.

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Help Tsegaye! We Need Gurage Kitfo!

Having lived most of my working life in West Africa, my arrival in Ethiopia was a pleasant, educational and interesting surprise.  Of course I’d heard of Hailie Selassie and his successful heroic efforts, before the U.N. and the League of nations to save Ethiopia from Italian colonization.  Otherwise my knowledge vaguely extended to Selassie and his surprising relationship to Rastafarians, who accepted him as their emperor and Messiah.  Somewhat dismissive, but still open minded, I discovered that Ethiopia is an ancient culturally rich country with sophisticated language, art, music, dance and cuisine.  Especially the cuisine!

After 2 years of tasting Ethiopian cuisine in a of myriad cafes, restaurants and Ethiopian homes, of course I wanted to try my hand at duplicating the rich, savory and spicy flavors.  Unfortunately, the cookbooks which were only available at tourist shops and those written by non-Ethiopian wanna bes or, Ethiopians who wanted to make some money, regardless of the fact that they couldn’t cook.  One day, bemoaning this disappointment to our friends and daughter’s godparents, Konjit and Tsegaye Bekele, Tsegaye who is Gurage,  and served as an Ethiopian Foreign Service officer and ex-Ambassador to Senegal, thought he recalled an authentic Ethiopian cookbook, sponsored by the Ethiopian Nutrition Institute and originally printed for sale to both Ethiopians and tourist in 1980.  Unfortunately, this cookbook project, after hundreds of books went to the presses, was abandoned and the books were relegated to a forgotten government warehouse.  Tsegaye thought he could get me one.  After months of  research, one of his colleagues was able to dig up the location of the books.  So, 18 years after it was printed, I got one 😀  The historic value of this book will be found in the Ethiopian ingredients,  the measuring utensils and cookware.  Unless you live in Ethiopia or have access to about 5 restaurants in Washington, D.C.  you will probably not have authentic Ethiopian food.  Washington is worth the trip!

The mesob or Ethioian table is used to serve food or the freshly roasted and ground coffee at the end of each meal with diners gathered closely around the mesob.

Wine, the local mead(tej) or home brewed beer (tella) is served with the meal.  The bottles above are for individual servings of tej.  These particular bottles above are antiques and the oldest is the one made of green glass.  I believe we have more of these with a raised lion embossed on the front.  Probably in France, or the attic or in a box in the garage.

Woman Shrugging: Medium-Dark Skin Tone on Apple iOS 10.2

Ethiopians are cultural carnivores and meat is eaten everyday except the fasting days of Wednesdays and Fridays.  Otherwise its grilled meat (tibs), beef stews, chicken stews and lamb stews, lentils and many other dishes,  served on a round tray, lined with injera (Ethiopian bread).  The cuisine is as varied as Italian or French and as delicious.  On fasting days,  delicious vegetable wats(stews) are served accompanied with injera.  The best vegetable wats are served during the 55 day lent fast with fried fish.  My favorite season for restaurants!  Raw meat(tere sega) sliced directly onto your plate from a hanging beef carcass is a must for large celebrations like weddings or births.  Kitfo is minced beef, mixed with spices, herbs and spiced butter, topped with spiced cheese and Ethiopian kale (gomen)   served raw or lebleb (barely heated).  The royalty of kitfo  is Gurage, prepared in a specialty restaurant where only kitfo is served. My husband eats his raw but I like mine rare but hot.  He also eats tere sega …..  So anyway, I thought I’d give kitfo a try even if I had to substitute a bit.  I knew it wouldn’t be gurage but it would be kitfo.

In order to make the gomen, I substituted collard greens for unavailable Ethiopian kale.  I chopped the greens fine in a food processor, then cooked them in Niter Kibbeh(spiced butter) with aromatics and spices.

I didn’t make the cheese (ayib) but intended to use a small curd cottage cheese as a substitute.  Try to find whole milk cottage cheese in Honesdale!  Boy howdy, what a disappointment.  I guess everyone is using 4% or 2% with the additives to make it seem like real milk.  SMH  Anyway, I used whole milk ricotta which is nothing like homemade Ethiopian cheese but it was okay.

I flavored the cheese with berbere(Ethiopian chilli and spice blend).  The cheese can be served plain or mixed with berbere or mixed with gomen, as you like.

Et la voila!  The next time when making the kitfo, I will use a round steak grind.  This time I used a chuck steak but the texture wasn’t the same.  However, this was good and we went through 2 lbs of kitfo faster than we could believe 🙂  The kitfo bowl is served with injera and eaten with a long spoon.

Gomen (Ethiopian kale)

2 lbs collard greens, washed, thick stems removed and finely chopped

6 tbsp Niter Kebbeh (spiced Ethiopian butter)

2 large onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tsps fresh ginger, grated

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp spiced butter

Melt the spiced butter in a large skillet on medium high.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and salt, cooking for 3 minutes.  Add the greens with an additional 2 tablespoons of spiced butter and cook for about 7-8 minutes.

Qeyy Ayib (Ethiopian red spiced cheese)

2 cups small curd cottage cheese

1 – 2 tablespoons berbere (Ethiopian chilli and spice blend)

Mix the cottage cheese and spice blend together.  Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.

Kitfo(Ethiopian ground beef)

2 lbs round steak, coarsely ground

2 tbsp Mitmita (hot Ethiopian chilli powder)

1 tbsp cardamom

2 tsp salt

1/2 cup Niter Kebbeh (spiced Ethiopian butter), melted

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve immediately or heat to preference.



Posted in African, African, Cooking, Ethiopian, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments