Things Fall Apart


I actually made this black eyed pea/potato/meatball stew the day before yesterday but was so disgusted with the whole thing that I couldn’t be bothered to post it.  I decided to post today because I was bored and the pictures were on the camera.


I was really excited when I saw the containers of fresh black eyed peas in the Weiss supermarket, even though the expiration date was that day.  Expiration dates are guidelines; they don’t mean that the product will immediately go into a meltdown or turn toxic the very next day.  Although I did have a friend who believed that and when we were in Niger, where certain products were scarce,  I would hang around her house waiting for something to expire so that she would give it to me instead of throwing it away :D

The package instructions for cooking the fresh peas said 20 minutes but I’ve cooked fresh beans a lot and I thought it would be more like 40 minutes.  Still, at 20 minutes I checked, at 40 minutes I checked, at 70 minutes I checked and again at 100 minutes I checked, finally giving up and regretting the the good vegetables, spices and meatballs that I had included with the still crunchy black eyed peas.

So that’s why.  No recipe.  No glory.

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Australian Lamb


During the holidays, Wegmans had an incredible sale on lamb; refrigerated floor bins filled with legs and racks.  Good prices too.  Of course the sign just said “lamb.”


A tedious search of the packaging finally turned up, in some of the tiniest print I’ve ever seen, “product of Australia.”  Wouldn’t you know it!  They imported lamb but they imported the wrong one!   Apologies to foodisthebestshitever but everybody knows that if you’re importing lamb from way over in that direction, it should be from New Zealand! Boy howdy!  What’s wrong with our education system?!  Of course I bought a couple of packages to freeze.  Australia can’t be that far from New Zealand (I never was strong in geography) and after reading The Thorn Birds, I figured they would know more about raising and eating sheep than we do.  I was right :)


Quite a while ago I made a fabulous pork roast using a Jamie Oliver rub of garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds.  I thought this would be interesting for lamb also.  Jamie did say something about bashing this mixture around in a mortar to create a fine paste.  My suggestion is that if you don’t have a coffee grinder that is dedicated to the grinding of whole spices and herbs, buy one.  This will take the fuss and aggravation out of preparing Indian cuisine and Jamie Oliver’s innovative recipes.  Sometimes Jamie goes too far :)


Australian lamb is so good!  But of course you Australians know that  ;)


I roasted some cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms and shallots with olive oil and herbs. Couldn’t go wrong there, I’ve done it so many times :D  Perfect with the lamb.


I thought I would try to make an attractive sandwich photo but I just wanted to eat it and couldn’t be bothered :D


Fennel and Rosemary Roasted Lamb Leg

1 semi-boneless leg of lamb roast

Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary

3 heaping tbsps fennel seeds

3-4 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 whole rosemary sprigs

Aggressively stab the roast all over with a large knife.  Grind the rosemary leaves, fennel seeds, garlic cloves, salt and pepper together and rub into the lamb.  Allow the lamb to rest for about 30 minutes.

Place the whole rosemary sprigs on the grill of a roasting pan and lay the roast on top. Preheat the oven to 425 F, then roast the lamb for 30 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to roast for an hour.







Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Panko Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa


Today I wanted to try a new crab cake recipe and found one I thought I would like; a crispy crab cake, not overloaded with filler and including panko bread crumbs.  Sounded good.


I had a can of hand-picked crab from China in the refrigerator that I found at the Super Duper.  Wegman’s also has canned crab but I haven’t been too impressed with them lately. Wegman’s can be great in the cities but I think that in smaller towns they must stock differently.


I like this canned crab because it looks white, clean and well picked.  Not a lot of claw meat, though.


So what’s my beef with this recipe?  The crab cakes fell apart.  I knew they would fall apart because when I read the recipe I didn’t think there was enough binder.  Of course I could have done something about this by at least adding another egg but I didn’t, lazily thinking that maybe I didn’t know everything ;)  Good, savory ingredient mix but they fell apart and I really hate that.  Still, you could try them anyway.  Recipe is at the link above.


The site served these cakes with a mango pineapple salsa but, no fan of pineapple, I went with one of my usual, normal mango salsas :D


This recipe is good with fish, seafood or anything else you’d like to use it for.  I’m thinking wrapped in a tortilla with pork char sui slices :)


Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 very small purple onion, chopped

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Juice of one lime

Mix everything together and refrigerate until ready to use.




Posted in American, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

A Bowl of Noodles


I ordered what I thought would be fresh udon noodles through, I think,  The noodles I received were neither fresh nor udon, but they were a good quality noodle.  I can’t tell you exactly what they were because everything on the package was in Japanese, including the instructions.


I assumed, it seems correctly, that the number “5” on the package meant that I should boil the noodles for 5 minutes.  Included with the noodles was a small packet of liquid seasoning.  From the taste, I am assuming a type of tsuyu.  The instructional drawings were, if not quantitative, somewhat informative;  you needed a pot with water in it and a bowl into which you poured the liquid seasoning before you poured the cooking water and noodles on top.  Simple.  Good.

A Bowl of Noodles with Fried Egg

1 1/2 -2 cups of water

1 individual package of Japanese noodles with liquid flavor packet

1 tsp butter

1 egg

1 scallion sliced

Bring the water to a boil and add the noodles.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Place the contents of the flavor packet into a bowl and pour the noodles and water on top.

Fry the egg in the butter, then place on top of the noodles.  Sprinkle on the scallion.




Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Red Wine Braised Flanken Ribs


I’m in freezer trouble again and it’s a lot more serious than when I’m in Sens.  In Sens I have an extra refrigerator with freezer in the garage for spillover.  Here I have a fairly large, but apparently not large enough, French door refrigerator with freezer.  It’s not enough.  I’m going to have to cook the freezer for weeks!  I hate that.  On the other hand, there are duck breasts in there somewhere and Australian lamb ribs.  Ha, ha, ha  :D


I bought several packages of Angus beef flanken ribs from the German butcher quite a while ago.  I don’t know what I was thinking, because just one package is adequate for our family plus guests.  The two remaining are starting to look weary and vaguely freezer burned.  I thawed one of the packages and seasoned it with smoked paprika to cheer the ribs up, then browned them in olive oil to give that “age is just a number” look.


I kept it simple with onions, garlic, beef broth, red wine and fresh oregano, that being the only fresh herb remaining except for parsley.


Fluffy, butter mashed, “Irish” potatoes were all these fall-off-the-bone, tender ribs needed :)



Red Wine Braised Flanken Ribs

4 slabs beef flanken ribs, cut into individual ribs

Salt and pepper

Smoked paprika


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, halved and sliced

6 garlic cloves, slivered

5 sprigs of fresh oregano

1 can beef broth

1 cup red wine

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and paprika, dredge the ribs in the flour then, in an oven proof pan (Emile Henry Flame Top tajine is good), brown in the olive oil.  Remove and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the onion is just soft, then add the ribs with the oregano and stir.  Stir the wine into the pan and boil for about 2-3 minutes,  then stir in the broth, bring to a boil, cover and roast in a 375 F oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes, no milk.  Or milk if you want :)






Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Snow Day


Bitter, cold weather has prompted my family to nag and drop hints about soup.  Potato soup was mentioned, as was the Haitian soup giraumon.  I thought we should have a sort of fish stew like cullen skink but couldn’t bring myself to buy the dried out, freezer burned fish on offer in the grocery stores.  Pistou was a passing thought but what really happened was that I looked in the fridge/freezer and pantry and, using what was on hand, made a Mexican-like soup.


If you start by sauteing onions, garlic, celery, leeks and carrots, after that you could add chopped up red squirrel, possum, dog and/or cat; they’ll still eat it.  I learned this from my mother :D


Lucky for them, the freezer is overflowing with normal meat ;)

Mexican-Like Soup

1 Spanish chorizo sausage, sliced

3 tbsp butter

1 each, small yellow onion and small purple onion, halved then sliced

3 large garlic cloves, slivered

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 large leek, halved vertically, then sliced

4 thin, whippy carrots, halved vertically, then sliced

1 tbsp Mexican chili powdeer

1 tbsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp coriander

1 lb cooked ham, cubed

4 cans chicken broth

4 cups water

1 can pinto beans

2 cans white hominy

Cheddar cheese

Scallions, sliced

Brown the chorizo slices in a large skillet to remove some of the fat.  Place on paper towels to drain, then wipe the skillet out with more paper towels.

Melt the butter in the skillet, then add the onions, garlic, leek and carrots, then saute until the onions are soft; about 5 minutes.  Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander and continue to saute for about 2 minutes.

Place the vegetable mixture into a stock pot, then add the reserved chorizo, ham, chicken broth and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the pinto beans and hominy to the stock pot and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with the cheese and scallions.






Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Coals to Newcastle


Our family was invited by neighbors to share some New Year’s Eve appetizers and a glass or two of sparkling wine in celebration of the coming year.  Of course I wanted to bring something to share.


Caroline Romano and her husband Skip are long time residents of Honesdale and both friendly and interesting.  Skip works for the local newspaper, The Wayne Independent, and Caroline is a school librarian and first generation Italian American.  She has wonderful stories of her father’s journey from Italy to the U.S.


So why did I decide to make an Italian meatball appetizer?!  I don’t know.  I was embarrassed about it all evening because, of course, I didn’t go for authenticity but just did whatever I felt like.  I’m hoping that they didn’t realize they were supposed to be Italian :D


Well yes, they ate them and seemed to enjoy them because, authentic or not, I made a fabulous sauce using roasted peppers and Steve DeVeau’s garden tomato marinara sauce. Okay, I did buy seasoned and pre-rolled meatballs but sue me, I couldn’t be bothered :)


I used to think that blue was my favorite color but I think red is edging it out.  Purple is good too.


Sharp cheddar is one of the things I miss when in France.  You really can’t make “correct” Mexican food without it.  I have found a white cheddar in Sens at Leclerc but it’s not the same.


From time to time,  I crave a childhood favorite, pimento cheese spread.  This appetizer is the epitome of southern cuisine and easy to make.  I was a little conservative with the jalapeno pepper, afraid of alarming our hosts, but jalapeno peppers are for babies and I could have used a whole instead of a half.


Happy 2015 to everyone 🎊

Italian Meatball Appetizer

24 pre-seasoned and formed meatballs or homemade

2 roasted red bell peppers

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Italian vinaigrette

1 1/2 -2 cups marinara sauce

Bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet in a 375F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

In a food processor, puree the bell peppers, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the meatballs and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve in small plates with garlic bread.


Pimento Cheese Spread

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp piment d’espelette

1/2  jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup pimento, diced

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, using the plastic dough blade.  Serve with assorted crackers.


Posted in American, Appetizer, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments