Udon Soup with Seaweed


I had some vaguely hopeful news this morning and decided to celebrate with a quick udon noodle soup.  I had some frozen noodles blocks in the freezer, scallions, seaweed salad and an udon noodle Hon Tsuyu soup base.  Perfect.

Udon Soup with Seaweed

1/4 cup Hon Tsuyu noodle soup base

1 1/4 cup water

2 scallions, sliced

1 serving block of frozen udon noodles

1/3 cup Japanese seaweed salad

1 hard-boiled egg, halved

Chilli garlic sauce (optional)

Bring the soup base, water and scallions to a boil.  Add the noodles, bring back to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.

Place the noodles in a serving bowl, top with the seaweed and hard boiled egg.  Pour the soup over the top.  Serve with chilli sauce if desired.


Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Les Boites


I made a very easy kale and veal meatball soup today.  It was easy because I used “les boites” or cans, prepared veal meatballs and kale in a bag.  Sometimes I lack drive 🙂  The meatballs, while expensive, are of excellent quality and the kale was okay but perhaps not the variety I prefer.  Still, the soup was good and will be better tomorrow.


When we were overseas with our toddler son, he would request a “can” for lunch or dinner, meaning Spaghetti O’s, Chef Boyardee’s ravioli, Beefaroni, etc.  We had cases of these for the times when we had to go to early receptions or couldn’t be bothered on the weekends. Yeah, I felt sort of bad about it, but we still had a lot of cases 😉

Kale and Veal Meatball Soup

6 thick sliced bacon strips, sliced into batons

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, halved and sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 0z bag of kale, cleaned and tough stems removed

2 (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes

3 (14 oz) cans of chicken broth

2 cups of water

Salt and pepper

24  prepared and cooked veal meatballs

Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large skillet, brown and crisp the bacon, remove and set aside.  Pour out the bacon fat and melt the butter in the skillet.  Add the onion and garlic, sauteing until soft.  Add the kale in handfuls, continuing to saute until all the kale is wilted.  Transfer the skillet contents to a large stockpot.

Pour the tomatoes, chicken broth and water into the stockpot, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the meatballs, bring back to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Top with the bacon and cheese to serve.





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Real Canadian Bacon I


For over 30 years in countries, including France, I have brine cured pork to transform it into American style ham.  I like other hams; Bayonne, Serrano, Jambon d’Aoste, but my favorite ham remains that cured and smoked/unsmoked in the United States.  Sue me.

This week I was discussing boneless pork loin roast for the holidays with the butcher at the Super Duper market.  He went into the back room and returned with an enormous, over 12 lb boneless pork loin roast.  He explained the cut and mentioned that about 3 lbs of the leaner portion at the end was the portion used to make Canadian bacon and that the larger portion would still make a substantial roast.  Of course I had to do this 🙂  He showed me where I should cut it and away I went.

Interestingly, while researching recipes for Canadian bacon, I discovered that we don’t have it in the U.S.  The bacon that we call Canadian is smoked to appeal to American tastes.  Real Canadian bacon is brined, rolled in corn meal or ground yellow lentils and either sliced and fried or cooked as a roast.  So I’m doing that!

The brine recipes that I saw on the internet were un-Rosemary, in that the fresh garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves were missing.  I did add bay leaves, substituted the white sugar for brown sugar and used potassium nitrate instead of Prague powder.  The large white container in the top picture is potassium nitrate that has bumped around the world with me for decades, doesn’t go bad and always works.


I will keep the pork in brine for 2 weeks.  I like to put the meat in a zip lock bag, pour in the brine and, in case the brine leaks a bit, put the bag in a vegetable bin in the refrigerator.

We’ll see what happens in two weeks.  I’m a little excited about rolling the roast in yellow cornmeal.  Those Canadians!

Canadian Bacon Brine Cure

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup kosher salt

1 tsp potassium nitrate

1 tbsp powdered garlic

2-3 bay leaves

1 gallon pure, filtered water (can buy at store if your house water is questionable)

3 lb boneless pork loin

Mix the sugar, salt potassium, garlic powder, bay leaves and water together until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Put the pork loin in a 2 1/2 gallon zip lock bag, pour in the brine, expel the air from the bag and place into a refrigerator, vegetable bin.  Make sure the meat is completely submerged.  You can weight it down with a pint jar filled with water.  Refrigerate for 2 weeks.



Posted in Canadian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Green Tomato Curry


My neighbor Caroline asked me last night if I was interested in some green tomatoes from her father’s garden.  Of course I was!  Dreaming of fried green tomatoes.  She told me that she would drop them off this morning and say hi if I was up.  I wasn’t up at 6:45 but I usually am; I guess I needed that last 15 minutes 🙂


What she actually dropped off was a basket full of herbs, garlic, peppers and the green tomatoes.  A lot of green tomatoes, but unfortunately not large enough to fry 😦


I had not intended to cook anything fiddly today, but these tomatoes and peppers said Indian curry to me.  I’m always up for any kind of curry and have a ridiculous amount of spices in the pantry.


One doesn’t absolutely NEED cute little bowls to measure out spices or small amounts of ingredients, but one should WANT them 😀   Nice tomatoes.


This is a fiddly recipe.  The best thing to do with this is to prep everything first and then, when you start cooking, you can enjoy the experience 😉


Serve the curry hot with rice or chapatis.  As this curry is not very spicy, you can pass a bowl of chilli sauce for those who like to light up their lives.  Hey vegetarians, no meat!

This recipe was inspired by M in the World.

Green Tomato Curry

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp asafoetida

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 sweet Italian peppers, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

2 lbs green tomatoes, cut into bite size quarters/pieces

Salt to taste

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp brown sugar

Roast the coriander and 2 tsp cumin seeds in a hot dry skillet, then remove, grind and set aside. Add the peanut oil to the skillet and heat to high, then add the mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, asafoetida, roasting until fragrant.  Stir in the onion and pepper, then saute until the onion is translucent.  Stir in the tumeric and chili powder.

Stir in the tomatoes with the reserved roasted cumin/coriander powder and salt to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.  Stir in the peanuts and sugar, then continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.






Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Indian, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Spicy Aubergine with Chicken and Spinach


Hot diggity!  This was really the best spicy aubergine I’ve made!  The “hot diggity” is an expression I learned from my mother; country Texas backwoods  but not deplorable 😀 Anyway, I don’t know if it was the superior quality of the Japanese aubergine or the new twist with ground chicken instead of lamb or veal, but I loved this.  But then again, the recipe wasn’t exactly the same (it never is), because my foot was kind of on the accelerator with the garlic and ginger.  I also used Vietnamese chili garlic paste instead of sambal oelek because I felt like it.  I also felt like adding the spinach which goes with everything 😉


The aubergine looked as if they were painted a dark shade of lilac.  My husband says that “he’s hearing” that they are starting to paint less than appealing fresh vegetables in Bangladesh before displaying for sale.  Sounds bizarre but I know that when I was there, they used to paint the eye and gum areas of old fish to sell as fresh.  Bangladeshis are clever, the Nigerians of South Asia 🙂


At this point in the preparation, I just ate some directly from the skillet because it looked good.


And of course I took another taste after adding the spinach.  Irresistible!


Spicy Aubergine with Chicken and Spinach

2 tbsp Vietnamese chili garlic paste

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp Chinese Shao Shing cooking wine

1 tbsp sugar

7 tbsp peanut oil

2-3 narrow, Japanese aubergine, vertically quartered and cut into chaos chunks

1 lb ground chicken

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 big ( 1 inch – 2 inch) piece fresh ginger, minced

5 oz fresh baby spinach (about 2 large handfuls)

Slice scallions

Mix the chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, cooking wine and sugar together in a small bowl, then set aside.

Divide the peanut oil into 3 small bowls of 3 tbsp, 2 tbsp, 2tbsp.

Heat 3 tbsp of peanut oil in a wok or large skillet and add half the aubergine, cooking until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.  Add 2 tbsp of peanut oil to the skillet and the other half of the aubergine, cooking until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Add the last 2 tbsp of peanut oil to the skillet along with the chicken, garlic and ginger. Cook until all the pink has disappeared from the chicken.  Return the cooked aubergine to the skillet and stir in the chili mixture.  Cover and simmer for about 6 minutes.  Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted.

Serve sprinkled with sliced scallions.









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

Pan Roasted Cumin Butter Corn on the Cob


When I was growing up, corn on the cob was always a big hit in our family for both adults and children.  Roasted ears, slathered with butter was a treat that rivaled cake.  Maybe only for me 🙂


I’ve been looking at the corn since the season began and thinking about the good old days when all of the corn in the U.S. was not GMO; like none of it.  I couldn’t bring myself to buy any, knowing that the effects of genetically modified products on the human body are either unknown or disregarded for the sake of profit.  Anyway, I decided to buy some GMO corn on the cob because I wanted to roast some with cumin butter.  I used to grill corn over charcoal, brushed with cumin butter often back in the day, and nostalgia overcame my fear of fear itself.  Also I convinced myself that the fact that I was only eating it this one time, could not cause a build up of toxins or the creeping bejesus in my body.


Corn on the cob is so not a French thing.  In fact, in most of Europe corn was considered animal feed and was not the variety of sweet corn we eat in the U.S., but an unsweetened field corn.  I remember an Irish friend back in the 70s who was disgusted by our love of a food that he considered only good enough for pig slops or cattle fodder.  Talk about disgust, think of the look on M. Parret’s face if he saw this President butter on the counter. Maybe it’s not “la creme de la creme” but at least it smells and tastes like butter.

It’s funny because our son used to adore field corn.  In Niger/Mali vendors would go door to door with a coffee can filled with hot charcoal  and a basket of field corn, offering to roast as much as you wanted.  The ear was pushed down vertically into the charcoal and rotated until it was cooked and blackened.  Although he now denies this (we have the pictures), he was constantly on the look out for the “corn lady.”


Aren’t these little bowls precious!  I have a plain glass set of this size in France that I use to combine measured spices or to hold chopped aromatics.  I used the green one to hold the mixed cumin butter.


The cumin butter is brushed on all sides of the corn and then simply placed on the grill or in a dry skillet, turning frequently until properly grilled and lightly browned.  If using a skillet, after the browning, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the pan, cover and steam for 5 minutes.  If grilling, put the top down for 3-5 minutes after browning.


And for the carnivorous, let there be an abundance of steak and onions; enough for today and the morrow’s sandwiches!


Pan Roasted Cumin Butter Corn on the Cob

1/3 cup butter

3/4 tsp powdered cumin

5-6 ears of corn, shucked, washed and dried

2-3 tbsp water

Mix the butter and cumin together, then brush onto all sides of the ears.  Heat a dry skillet at medium high, add the corn and turn frequently until browned in an attractive manner.

Add the water to the pan, cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Serve with extra cumin butter on the side.




Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Devil’s Workshop


I just read that card playing “is used by Satan to seduce people into other activities.” Prostitution?  Drugs?  Grabbing intimate body parts?

I guess I’m on the road to Hell today because I’m going to play cards with a group of fun, if hell-bent, ladies.  Might as well enjoy the ride 😀


Posted in American, Appetizer, Cooking, Food and Wine, Hors d'oeuvres | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments