Friday, April 12, 2013

Comfortable Wheat Free Bomb

So Kim is trying to stay gluten-free, which makes those empanadas very hard to have her enjoy, but oh well, Ami & I can snarf them up.

But I do have to make some things she can eat that is still simple comfort food.  Pasta being out is a killer and just using Quinoa Pasta isn't quite the same.  I love Quinoa and I love making pasta itself, but it's still different than good ole gluten driven pasta.

So here's a classic comfort dish which is gluten free.  The one thing in the recipe that you have to be careful of is the ketchup.  Very often ketchup will have wheat in it, but even Heinz does make a ketchup that is indeed gluten-free.  So if you want this recipe to really be gluten-free, make sure the ketchup is, too.

Gluten-Free Meatloaf


Dry Seasoning

  • 1 Tb sweet paprika
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tb bouquet garni
  • 1.5 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tb chili powder

Moppy Glaze

  • 1/4 c. gluten-free ketcup
  • 1.5 Tb pomegranate molasses
  • 1 Tb Magi sauce or Worscestershire sauce (something a little sour)


  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, small dice
  • 2 ribs of celery, small dice
  • 1/2 c. carrots, small dice or julienne
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 c. (or more) parsley, finely chopped (or if you want to be cool, use dill instead)
  • 1/2 c. tomato juice
  • 1.5# ground beef


  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with a thin layer of neutral oil.
  • Combine ingredients of dry seasoning in one bowl.   Reserve.
  • Combine Moppy Glaze ingredients in a second bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Reserve.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-heat.  Add oil.  When about to smoke, add onion, pepper, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the sun-dried tomatoes, 2 Tb of the dry seasoning and parsley (or dill) to the pan; mix well and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl to cool.  I've actually used a water bath to even quicken the cooling of the veggies once in the bowl to hasten the process, but if you have the time, just let it sit a bit till cool enough to handle.
  • Mix the tomato juice and ground beef with the cooled veggies.  Mix well.  Then take the mixture and build a little loaf on the prepared jelly roll pan about 3-4" high.
  • Brush the Moppy Glaze over the top.  You don't have to use it all if it looks too gloppy.
  • Pop the sheet in the oven and cook 30 minutes.  Rotate pan and cook another 15 minutes.
  • Let sit a couple minutes and enjoy some gluten-free comfort food.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Late Night Empanadas for My Girl

Well, I have to serve something, don't I?
And it should taste good both tonight and tomorrow when my daughter's basketball team comes over to celebrate the end of their first season.
They'll probably just eat pizza and the chocolates covered in orange and black, made out to look like little basketballs.

But I still need to make something.
So why not a good finger food.  I can test it tonight anyhow.
And that's certainly a good thing.

I'm using Argentinian wrappers tonight.  The Uruguayan ones are pretty good, but these are Argentinian wrappers made for baking, not frying.  And they seem to have come out pretty well.

Empanadas Saltenas


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 large leek, white part sliced
  • 1 Tb ground cumin
  • 1 Tb sweet paprika
  • 1 # sirloin, cut in small dice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium potato, cut in small dice
  • 1/3 c. plus 1/4 c. beef stock, separate containers
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 16 green olives, sliced
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 packages empanada wrappers, this time Argentinian baked variety
  • 1 whole egg, beaten and mixed with a little water


Prepare the Filling

  • Heat oil; add leeks and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.
  • Add cumin and paprika; stir fry 1 minute.
  • Add meat and continue to stir fry for 5 minutes.

  • Add potatoes and 1/3 c. of stock.  Continue to cook potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.  During the period, slowly add the other 1/4 c. of  stock.
  • Add the raisins, red pepper, oregano and allspice.  Mix and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.

Assemble the Empanadas

  • Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • In a good work area, get the wrappers, filling, sliced eggs, sliced olives, egg wash all ready.
  • Put a good sized tablespoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper.  Top with a couple slices of olives and a slice of egg.
  • Fold the wrapper over.  Starting at one end start folding the braid or repulque to further close the empanada.  Once braided, place the empanada on the parchment paper.  Brush the empanada with the egg wash.
  • When you have prepared 16 of the empanadas, place them in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Continue assembling the rest of the empanadas on a 2nd sheet.  When ready cook them for 20 minutes as well.

Tasty.  These are spicier than standard Empanadas Saltenas, but that's the way I roll :)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poached Skate with Celery

I remember when I was a kid that we used to throw skates back when we went fishing off the coast of Cape Cod or Rhode Island. They were barbed and weird and God knows, who in the hell would eat that? 

Well, I would.
Skate is a great fish. 
Normally, I just do skate in brown butter with capers, but my wife's been on a non-dairy diet, so this time we're sticking with oil.  I did throw some animal fat in there to keep the olive oil from full-on burning, but I did keep to the non-dairy beyond that.


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 2 Tb duck fat (or clarified butter)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced; reserve celery leaves
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 skate wings
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 c. picpoul de pinet or other white wine with good acidity
  • 6 large capers
  • 12 olives (green or black)
  • 3/4 c. spinach leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 c. parsley, halved


  • In a large saute pan, heat the oils over moderate heat until just aromatic.
  • Add the garlic, red pepper, celery seed and amchoor powder and saute 1 minute.

  • Add the celery stalk and leek and continue to saute for 3 minutes until the leeks and celery are on their way to softness.

  • Add the skate on top of the leeks and celery, sprinkle the celery seed, and saute for 1 minute - just so it starts to cook and change its texture.
  • Add the cup of wine, capers, olives, and bring to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 2 minutes.  If you dare, you may flip the fairly fragile skate at this point.

  • Add the spinach and cherry tomatoes, and lightly stir until the greens are wilted and the skate is poached nicely - perhaps another minute or two.
  • Add the parsley and reserved celery leaves and stir into poaching liquid.  Crack some pepper and sprinkle some salt over the mixture.  Turn off the heat and serve.
Lat time, I served this with some home made hash browns, sauted in olive oil, and sprinkled with herbes de Provence.  Works and it's quick.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shellfish Stew - Good any time of year

It's good anytime of year, as long as the shellfish are in season. 
Honestly, this is barely a stew, rather it's just a nice way of eating a bunch of shellfish and having some broth left over to dunk your crusty bread.  I end up making this a bunch in the summer, but it's very refreshing in the winter as well - let alone the shellfish are more in season.


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 4 oz bacon, chopped into 1/4" dice
  • 1/2 # of cooked linquica, andouille or another smoked sausage, cut into 1/4" rounds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb fennel seed
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored, sliced thin
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thin, reserve any celery leaves
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 red pepper, flattened, sliced thin
  • 1 c. white wine, picpoul de pinet or something similar
  • 1 c. fish stock
  • 24 manila clams
  • 10 large shrimp, heads-on preferred
  • 2 # mussels
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4" Italian parsley, chopped


  • Get a big pot and put over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and when aromatic, put in the bacon.  Saute the bacon, periodically stirring, until the bacon is crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.
  • Saute the linquica in the bacon fat and olive oil for a couple minutes until slightly browned on the edges,  Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.

  • Add the garlic, red pepper and fennel seed to the fat in the pot and briefly saute for a minute or two, making sure the garlic and fennel seed do not brown too much.

  • Add the onions, fennel,  and red pepper and saute for 4 minutes, until the fennel is starting to soften.
  • Add the white wine and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until it's boiled down a bit.
  • Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer. 
  • Return the linquica to the pot and mix well.
  • Add the clams and shrimp and cover the pot.  Steam for 4 minutes.

  • Add the mussels and cover the pot.  Steam for 4 minutes more.

  • Add the cherry tomatoes, parsely, celery leaves, bacon and stir for a 30 seconds.
  • Turn off heat and ladle the mixture into bowls.  Serve with tasty crusty bread.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lazy Man's Moo Shoo Pork

I like the whole wrapped food dish concept whether it's Chinese or Mexican or whatever.  It may be hard at times to find a good tortilla that's not overly thick and flavorless, but it can be done.  However, it's tough to find in a supermarket a good Chinese pancake, therfore imposing the duty of making it on yourself.  I have made them and they turn out fine, but like many dough oriented processes, it takes a bit of extra time to get the dough right before usage.  That being said, I need to be lazy at times.  I already cooked a bunch this week so I needed some version that was quick - meaning Good Bye Pancakes.


  • 1# pork butt, trimmed and sliced thinly, and cut to bite sized pieces
  • Pork Marinating Sauce
    • 4 Tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 Tb light sodium soy sauce
    • 2 Tb cornstarch
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 c. of rice and appropriate water for that type of rice
  • More Mushroomy Taste
    • 1/2 oz. dried wild mushrooms
    • 1/2 c. water
  • Simmering Sauce
    • 2 Tb kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
    • 2 Tb Hoisin sauce
    • 1 Tb light sodium soy sauce
    • 2 Tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Egg Component
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Main Saute Components
    • 1/4 c. peanut oil
    • 2 Tb ginger paste
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 scallions, trimmed, sliced into 1/4" sections, both green and white sections
    • 8 oz. green or Napa cabbage, cut into 1" chunks/slices/etc.
    • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • Marinate the Pork:  Mix the cornstarch with the liquid ingredients in the Pork Marinating Sauce prior to adding to the pork.   Make sure there are no cornstarch clumps.  Put the pork in a smallish baking dish and cover with the well-mixed marinating sauce.  Let marinate while you cut up the cabbage and mushrooms and take care of some of the other stuff.
  • Laziness:This is about the point when I start the rice.  I pretty much use Basmati for all stir fry dishes regardless of ethnic background.  Why?  Because I like it.  Anyhow.  1 c. of basmati and 2.5 c. of water in a sauce pan.  Cover and heat on high.  When you see steam escaping from the pot, turn heat to low.  When steam just about stops coming out of the pan, turn the heat off.  Keep covered until it's eatin' time.
  • More Shroomy: Heat the 1/2c. of water in a microwave for 1.5 minutes or so. Put the dried mushrooms in a non-reactive bowl and pour the water over the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms reconstitute for 10 minutes and drain.
  • Prepare the Simmering Sauce:  Combine the ingredients for the Simmering Sauce in a non-reactive bowl.  Make sure the kecap manis and hoisin are mixed and as integrated as possible.

  • Eggy Weggs:  Heat a small saute pan over moderate heat.  Add the sesame oil and when aromatic, add the lightly beaten eggs.  Scramble the eggs for about 1 minute and remove to a bowl.
  • Cooking Time!: Heat the peanut oil in a wok or chef's pan over medium-high heat.  When aromatic, put in the garlic and ginger and stir for 30 sec. to combine.

  • Add the pork, marinade, and 1/2 of the scallions.  Stir fry for 5 minutes until cooked through.
  • Add the drained reconstituted dried mushrooms, normal mushrooms, cabbage and cucumbers to the wok and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until cabbage is not quite wilting.
  • Add simmering sauce to wok and bring to a simmer. 
  • Add the previously cooked scrambled eggs.  Cook for 1 more minute.
  • Pour the lightly beaten egg into the mixture and stir for 1 minute and take off the heat.
  • Add the other 1/2 of the cut scallions and serve!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gai Kaprow-vence

So I got home a bit late and it was determined we had nothing set up to eat.  I wasn't planning on cooking, but what the hell.  I like to cook, I might as well.
Kim suggested chicken with basil (meaning Gai Bai Kaprow) - classic Thai basil, chili pepper and chicken.  That sounded good, but I wasn't sure how the basil in the fridge looked.  In fact, it looked a bit tired.  Peering around the fridge, however, I did see some surpluses.
Dill, leeks, fennel, bacon.
I can do something with those, I'm sure of that.
Anyhow, I decided to combine some of both of the ideas.

Now, in the summer, when we have basil growing all mad-cap around the yard, I have a pretty standard master recipe for Gai Bai Kaprow that I cook about once per week.  You start by marinating the small dice chicken thighs in a mixture of rice wine vinegar and fish sauce - maybe toss some shallots in.  Then you take a pot and heat the fat, flavor the fat with garlic.  Then add the onions and whatever veggie to get them started, then the chicken to cook through.  Then you add additional flavoring, bring to a boil and add the finishing ingredients, meaning basil.

Well, tonight's recipe follows a similar yet different cadence.   I had fennel, which I knew would go fine with fish sauce.  But I wasn't going to use soy sauce or kecap manis for other elements of the sauce.  Instead, I went all Provencal on the dish.  And instead of having the dish accompanied by rice, I decided to dice some hash browns to provide a nice starchy accompaniment.

Anyhow, it came out quite nice and rich and didn't take long at all.


  • 1# chicken things, cut into 3/4" chunks
  • 1 shot of fish sauce
  • 1 shot of Noilly Prat (vermouth)
  • 1 shot of white wine (picpoul de pinet or un-oaked chardonnay)
  • 1 shot of champagne vinegar
  • 1 shot of Pernod
  • 1.5 oz of small dice bacon
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2" dice
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 leeks, white parts sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, large julienned
  • 1/4 c. minced dill


  • First off, start marinating the chicken.  Put the chicken in a bowl and add 1/2 shot of the fish sauce, 1 shot of Noilly Prat, 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar.  Mix well and let sit at room temperature.
  • Next heat a pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter.  When the butter is melted, add the bacon.  Continue to cook the bacon, stirring periodically until browned.  Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, and reserve to be added later, when the dish is done.

  • Next add the diced potatoes.  Cook and stir the potatoes until browned and tasty.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve the potatoes in a bowl. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes.  They, too, will be added at the end.

  • Next, add the fennel and leeks.  Saute and stir until the leeks are soft.  The fennel will still be fairly firm, but that's fine.  They can stay in the pot.

  • Next, add the chicken.  It's important that the chicken has been cut small because we're not going to cook it that long.  The other point about the small cut chicken is that it will have more surface area which means more of the chicken will come in contact with the sauce in which it is cooking.  Nom nom.  Anyhow, just add the chicken and its marinade and continue to cook.  Stir and cook until the chicken is cooked on each side.  We are not cooking this until it is browned and the marinade is gone.  We are cooking the chicken until it is just about done.

  •  Next, it's time for the rest of the sauce.  Pour in the other 1/2 shot of Fish Sauce, 1 shot of white wine, and the 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar [NOTE: not the Pernod yet].  Bring this liquid to a simmer and then add the julienned carrots.  The carrots shouldn't cook much.  They're just adding some color and a bit of crunchy texture to the mix.  Cook the carrots for a 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the dill and Pernod and cook for no more than 1 minute.  Then turn off the heat.
  • Finally (off-heat), add the reserved potatoes and bacon.  Mix well and serve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Warming Veggie Curry for the New Year

After a massive eating fest during the holidays, I felt as though I should really stop eating.  Or at least stop eating what I had been.  The two grand daubes were lovely, but heavy.  The multiple potato gratins were delicious sides, but sleep inducing.  The cookies...oh the many cookies. Something has to be done.  Must eat a bit better.  Must stay away from the beastly food.
Yet, it's still winter so I need something rich and warm as well.

A nice Madras style vegetarian curry fits that bill quite nicely.

This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe on Epicurious (read: draws heavily from), but it has been altered due to my need to increase certain flavor profiles in the dish.  I needed a bit more heat, a bit more acidity, a bit more bite, a bit more garlic and so on.  The original Epicurious recipe is decent but I thought a few modifications were useful.


The ingredients are divided into different sections based on when they are added to the pot
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 Tb ground ginger, or 2 Tb ginger paste, or 2" segment of ginger root
  • 4 Tb peanut or sunflower oil
  • 1 Tb garam masala
  • 1 Tb ground cumin
  • 1 Tb Amchoor powder (dried mango powder)
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded, chopped
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 2 makrut/kaffir lime leaves
  • 6 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 # sweet potatoes / yams, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 # potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped


Build the Curry

  •  Combine the first 8 ingredients into a food processor and blend to a paste.  Stop periodically and use a spatula to push down escapees into the bottom of the processor to make sure everything is nice and smooth.
  • Heat a large enameled pot over medium heat.  Add the curry paste.  Spread the paste across the bottom of the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until fairly aromatic, stirring fairly frequently to make sure the paste does not burn. 
  • Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly.  Continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes until the curry paste is fairly brown.
  • Add the next 4 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any of the bits of curry paste which had stuck to the bottom.

Cook the Veggies

  • Add sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to mixture in pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve some lovely basmati rice.

 Couple Notes

  • One of the things that I added to the Epicurious recipe is Amchoor Powder.  It has a nice little citrousy bite from the dried mango that I felt the curry paste was lacking on previous attempts.  
  • One thing I have added but didn't was curry leaves.  You can definitely add them during the stewing period (like the makrut lime leaves), but I didn't in this case.  Experiment away if you'd like.
  • Speaking of which...Makrut lime leaves.  When you find fresh ones and you use them and you have some left over, freeze them.  They hold up to freezing quite well.  Much better than if you leave them in your fridge and forget about them.  They will be pretty dried and nasty if you just refrigerate instead of freeze.