Banh Mi

There is actually a pretty good place in Honesdale to get a banh mi Vietnamese sandwich.  A little pricey for what you get but it’s good and the taste is “correct”.  I believe they offer the sandwich with chicken or roasted pork.

I decided to make my own banh mi with char sui oven barbecued pork because I knew it would be extraordinary and I love to “S” hook.

I began by making a simple mayonnaise with lime and garlic chilli.  I’ve used this also with fried oysters.  Very nice!

Inspired by the New York Times food section, I made a quick and easy pickle with shredded carrots, daikon, thinly sliced cucumber and some scallions.  The pickle is ready in 30 minutes.

Drudgery over, it was then time to “S” hook!  I used a rolled pork butt with a reasonable amount of fat, about 2 1/2 lbs, cut into about 6 pieces and marinated overnight in char sui sauce.

One end of the hook goes into the meat and the other onto the oven rack, placed at it’s highest position.  I place a foil wrapped pan underneath to catch drippings, thereby avoiding the necessity of cleaning neither the pan nor the oven.

The pork should be basted half-way through and it’s kind of tricky.  I’ve burned my hands many times until I taught myself this method:  When it’s time to baste, take a long cooking fork, removing the hook from the rack with the tines and letting the meat fall into the pan.  Then you just remove the pan from the oven, baste freely, then return the pork to the oven, re-hooking to the rack (sometimes the hooks are cool, if not use a kitchen towel or something) and continue cooking.

When we first got married, my husband was very upset because I wanted to buy a basting brush from, maybe Macy’s.  He thought it was ridiculously expensive and averred that an inexpensive paint brush could do the same job.  No dog in that fight and not caring, I agreed and have been using paint brushes for over 41 years.  It makes him happy 😀

If you have not yet “S” hooked char sui pork in the oven, just do it.  It’s so worth it and can also be used in salads, Asian noodle soups, as a meat course or whatever you think of.  It can be stored in the refrigerator un-sliced and still maintain it’s moisture and texture.

When assembling the sandwich, add cilantro, basil, mint leaves, a squeeze of lime and sliced jalapenos or your favorite fresh chilli.

If you can, I couldn’t, find a real French baguette.  I used a gigantic hoagie type bread that disappointed me, although my husband didn’t mind.

Quick Pickle

3/4 cup carrot, shredded

3/4 cup daikon, shredded

1/2 winter cucumber, seeds removed and thinly sliced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 – 2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and allow to pickle at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Stir and use immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Chilli Lime Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce

Juice from 1 small lime

Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Char Sui Pork

2 1/2- 3lb pork butt, cut into about 6 pieces

1 jar Lee Kum Kee char sui sauce

Place the pork pieces in a ziplock, pour in the sauce, massage and refrigerate overnight.  Remove the pork from the bag, reserving the marinade and “S” hook each pork piece.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and “S” hook the pork pieces onto the top oven rack with a pan underneath on one of the lower racks.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Remove the hooks from the rack with kitchen fork tines and allow the pork to fall into the drippings pan.  Baste and rehook the pork to the oven rack, continuing to cook for 20 minutes.  Remove the pork to a cutting board.

Char Sui Banh Mi Sandwich

1 French baguette, sliced in half vertically

Chili Lime Mayonnaise

Quick pickle

Roasted char sui pork, sliced

Cilantro, basil, mint leaves

Jalapeno chilli, sliced

Lime wedges

Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.  Add the pickle to one side and layer with the pork, herb leaves and chilli.  Cover filling with the other bread half, press down, slice into halves and serve with the lime wedges.


Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Recipes, Sandwich, Vietnamese | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


For the past 2 weeks my life has seemed somewhat chaotic and off kilter, while at the same time,   pedestrian, bland and unsatisfying.  I still haven’t figured out why.  I think it started with the yeast.

This is my second fail at cinnamon roll cupcakes.  For this batch I went out and bought jarred refrigerated yeast, thinking that that was the problem, but it wasn’t really.  The refrigerated yeast rose better than the shelf packages, but chaotically.  That’s it!  I know I can successfully make these because I did many times overseas.  The difference was that I had Saf Levure yeast.  My husband is in Senegal now and I’ve asked him to bring a can of Saf Levure back with him.  We’ll see who’s bad now!

In fitting with my new ambiance, I decided to make heavy garlic and ginger, chaos cut, Chinese aubergine.

From the moment I began to cut the aubergine, I felt better.  Balanced.  In sync.  I love aubergine 😀

The large bits of garlic and browned ginger promised a culinary escape from some of my woes.  I cheered up a bit more.

Cured!  Search the blog, if interested, for Spicy Asian Aubergine.



Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Winter Lamb with Asparagus

This lamb rack has been moldering in the freezer for a while now, maybe since Spring.  Why?  Because I forgot that I had found a rack of New Zealand lamb and, seeing it in the freezer,  thought it was some whatever lamb from wherever that I found in some supermarket and bitterly bought.  Sometimes I wear myself out 😀

Anyway, without bothering to look at the packaging, I ripped it open and seasoned it with dried herbs, garlic and olive oil, knowing that everything tastes good like that 😉  It wasn’t until after lunch, thinking the lamb miraculously tasty, that I pawed around in the waste bin for the package and discovered it was imported from New Zealand!  See, God loves me.

Although it’s not the season, I found some local asparagus?!  Can these be grown in  greenhouses?  Or maybe they just ship them in bulk from someplace else, repackage and fake out the rubes like me.  I roasted them simply with salt, pepper and olive oil, sprinkling them with Parmesan cheese before serving.

If you look at the top picture, you’ll see that my garden thyme laughs in the face of Pennsylvania winter.

Rack of Lamb with Herbs

1 1/2 lb frenched rack of lamb

2 garlic cloves, slivered

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried sage

2 tbsp olive oil

Score the fat on the lamb rack.  Mix the garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and olive oil together, then spread all over the lamb.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and roast for 30-35 minutes.





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Veuve Clicquot For Six

Just before Christmas, my husband completed a short term assignment in Senegal.  When he went through the duty free shop, a magnum of Veuve Cliquot Champagne leapt into his basket with just a small assist from him 😉

Scrooge-like, we were set on splitting the magnum between the two of us for either Christmas or New Year’s.  As M. Parret says, one bottle is never quite enough between two and a magnum is perfect. He swears that a magnum even tastes better than a regular bottle, this having nothing to do with quantity 😀

Christmas passed without us broaching the bottle and guilt set in.  It would be unconscionable of us not to share with our friends who have always shared with us, and to be honest,  we knew it would be a lot more fun with them.   Feeling almost evangelical, but in a good way, we invited our friends to a small cocktail party to share wine and food, everyone bringing a dish and/or bottle(s).

As it seems to happen, more often than not, at some point during the festivities I forget to blog and just eat and drink.  In this case, it was such a shame because although I did get a picture of Trix Render’s delicious lamb kofta (before cooking), I didn’t get them when they were cooked and served with a marvelous yogurt sauce.  Worse yet, Anne Lynch’s best ever stuffed mushrooms didn’t make it on the camera roll at all.  Lord have mercy!

We had such a good time with these folks!  Much better than we would have had alone, no matter how big the bottle 🙂

So the next time selfishness attempts to distort our usual generous natures, I’m going to ask  “What would Jesus do?”    😀


Posted in American, Appetizer, Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Indian, Japanese | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Dal Makhani and Murgh Masala

I love Indian dal with it’s varied lentils and spices, but my favorite is dal makhani which mixes urad dal (black lentil) with kidney beans.  The texture and spiciness makes me think of meatless chili.

Overnight soaking prepares the beans for a 30 minute stint in the pressure cooker.  I love the color of the urad after soaking, bluish green 🙂

A fairly new lesson I have learned is that, like rice, dried beans can get old and stubborn, resisting the magic of the pressure cooker and requiring long hours of cooking that never really gets them cooked to a creamy texture.  I discard old rice and beans in my pantry and always try to buy them at a store that has a high turn over, otherwise known as      These were just right.

For multi-ingredient dishes like this, I like to line out everything.  It’s at this point that I can add, subtract or diminish amounts or ingredients that I think would improve my last rendition of the recipe.  My favorite dal makhani is made at an Indian restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh and so far my homemade efforts have been good but not the same.  This time, I came close 🙂

On a roll, I prepared another Indian favorite, butter chicken masala, chicken marinated in a rich, spicy, yogurt sauce.

The chicken stays in the refrigerator overnight and then is cooked in the marinade.

The masala can be served with rice or Indian flat breads.

Dal Makani

3/4 cup dried urad dal

1/3 cup dried kidney beans

6 cups water

10 black cardamom seeds

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp ghee

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 long red chilli, seeded and diced

1/2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp Indian red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp coriander powder

1 can unsweetened diced tomatoes

2 tbsp cream and extra for swirling

Wash the beans and lentils, then soak overnight in 6 cups of water.  We move the beans and lentils, reserving the soaking liquid, an rinse.

Place the beans, lentils, cardamom seeds, bay leaf and reserved water in a pressure cooker.  Bring to a boil and adjust the heat to a simmer so that the pressure cooker hat maintains a gentle back and forth swing.  Pressure cook for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to depressurize before removing the top.  Set aside.

Heat the ghee in a large skillet, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli.  Saute until the onion is a golden brown.  Add the tumeric, cumin, asafoetida, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powdeer, cooking for about 2 minutes.  Finally, add the diced tomatoes beans, lentils with their water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Add a little more water if necessary.

Stir in the 2 tablespoons of cream, place the dal in a serving bowl and swirl with cream.

Murgh Masala (Chicken Butter Masala) – Inspired by NYT Cooking

1 whole chicken, cut up

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp tumeric

2 tbsp garam masala

2 tbsp cumin

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, grated

1 red chilli, seeded and diced

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1 can unsweetened diced tomatoes

2/3 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 cup cream

1 1/2 tsp tomato paste

Cilantro leaves

Whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, tumeric, garam masala and cumin together in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and stir to coat well.  Pour the mixture in a large zip lock bag, squish around and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the butter and oil together in a large skillet and fry the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli  until the onions are golden brown.  Stir in the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and tomatoes.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in the cream and tomato paste and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with rice or Indian flat breads.







Posted in Cooking, Indian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Monkey 47 – Gin and Sin

Monkey 47 gin comes from the Black Forest in Germany.  This gin was created by a retired British commander who settled in Germany’s Northern Black Forest.  Missing his favorite alcohol, he experimented and distilled a gin made from 47 different plants and herbs.

We’ve had this unopened bottle since we left Germany, about 3  1/2 years ago. Finally working up our courage, we made this exotic cocktail for a snowy afternoon.

Gin and Sin

1 1/2 ounce Monkey 47

2 ounces orange juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

Splash of grenadine

Ice ( 3 small cubes)

Place all ingredients in a shaker, shaking until chilled.  Pour into a cocktail glass and sit down somewhere.

Posted in English, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Spaghetti Squash and Ribs

Oddly I bought this American set of fork, knife and spoon at the Leclerc supermarket in France.  I don’t know why they were there, other than someone thought I might need them 🙂

Spaghetti squash is a very good tasting vegetable and I’m a little resentful that many times it’s only worth is seen as a low calorie substitute for pasta.  I object!

Slices of the squash treated with a sprinkle of salt for about 15-20 minutes before baking creates a luscious, stand alone vegetable that shreds in spaghetti like strands that can be eaten deliciously right out of the rind with no additives.

But of course this old Southern/French influenced girl had to add pancetta, scallions, garlic, some cherry tomatoes and butter because I couldn’t help myself 😀  But no sauce specifically meant for pasta.  No.  Although you could use the same combination on pasta with good olive oil.

This is the first time my husband has liked spaghetti squash.  My fault, I was inexperienced.

Of course he ate a few of the teriyaki flavored ribs that he likes but still raved about the spaghetti squash.  He’s mellowing 😀

Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash


1/3 -1/2 cup pancetta or lardons if you have it

2 tbsp butter

4-5 scallions, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Salt and pepper

Cut off the ends of the squash, then slice into rings of  1 1/2- 2 inches.  Clean out the seeds and strings with a spoon.  Generously salt the rings on both sides, then set aside for 20 minutes or so.  With a paper towel, wipe away the salt and water that has been released.  Place the rings on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, then place in a preheated 400F oven for 40 minutes.  5-10 minutes more if you want the strands softer.

With a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash, into spaghetti like strands towards the center of each ring, placing  the strands into a mixing bowl.

Brown the pancetta in a skillet, add the butter, scallions and garlic, sauteing until the garlic begins to brown. remove from the flame, add salt, pepper and the tomatoes, until warmed through.  Toss the pancetta mixture with the spaghetti squash and serve.










Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments