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Photos, Recipes & CookTales For Those Who Enjoy Cooking

Monthly Archives: December 2011


NO RECIPE Sliders, Fries, Tomato Jam

Serves 2

A CookTale

Not much to say about this “chophouse dinner”, except it’s what Cathie requested. Once in a while a meal like that fills the bill. Certainly not what anyone would refer to as ” haut cuisine”, but can’t go reach for the brass ring every time.


Serves 2

A CookTale

In her continued quest for comfort food, Cathie asked for her favorite German Veal Sausage, Weisswurst, from our favorite charcuterie, The Smokehouse of The Catskills.
At this outstanding market, Weisswurst are handmade, lightly smoked and offered ready to eat. Simply warming them is all that’s required, though not necessary. Serving at room temperature works just fine.
She also requested Butternut Squash, coated with Butter, Maple Syrup and baked in a hot oven until melt-in-the- mouth tender. An unconventional combination of tastes, but it worked out fine.


4 Weisswurst Veal Sausages
1 medium Butternut Squash (peeled & diced to bite size pieces)
1/4 cup of Maple Syrup (the real stuff)
3 TB of Butter
Kosher Salt & White Pepper
Mint Leaves (for garnish)

METHOD for the Butter Maple Syrup Glazed Butternut Squash

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small bowl combine the Butter & the Maple Syrup to form a smooth emulsion.

3. To a large bowl add the diced Butternut Squash. Pour on the Butter & Maple Syrup emulsion. Gently mix together. Season with Salt & Pepper.

4. Add to an oven-proof casserole dish, cover with foil & bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil & if necessary continue in the oven until very tender when pierced with the point of a knife.

5. Allow the dish to cool for a few minutes, plate & garnish with Mint leaves

Serves 2A CookTale

Sauce alla Norma is an Eggplant and Tomato-based sauce with a glorious history, originated in the city of Catania in Sicily. The most popular version of the story is that it was named after Italian composer Vincent Bellini’s much-loved 1832 opera Norma. Others believe that Bellini’s opera was such an outstanding work, the name Norma simply became associated with what’s wonderful — hence the Norma sauce.

INGREDIENTS for Sauce alla Norma

1 large firm Eggplant
2 TB of EVOO (more as required)
2 TB of dried Oregano (more as required)
1 tsp of Red Pepper flakes
4 Garlic cloves (peeled & finely sliced)
Basil leaves from 8 stems (sliced to a chiffonade)
1 tsp of White Wine Vinegar
2 14-ounce cans of diced Tomatoes
Sea Salt & fresh Black Pepper
4 oz of grated Salad Ricotta or Romano Pecorino (when plating)


1. Peel the Eggplant & cut it into bite size pieces.

2. Heat a large nonstick saute pan & add 1 TB of EVOO. Fry the Eggplant pieces in two batches, adding extra EVOO as needed. (Eggplants soak up a great amount of EVOO). Toss the Eggplant with the EVOO to coat, then sprinkle with 1 TB of the dried Oregano. Using two spatulas, turn the Eggplant until golden on all sides. Remove to a plate & repeat with the remaining Eggplant.

3. When the second Eggplant pieces have cooked, return the first batch to the pan & add the Red pepper Flakes. Reduce the heat to medium, add more EVOO, the Garlic & half of the chiffonade of Basil, stir together. Add the White Wine Vinegar & the diced Tomatoes. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to bring the flavors together. Add the Salt & Pepper & the remaining half of Basil leaves & gently toss the sauce together.

RECIPE For Swordfish Steak
2 Swordfish steaks (8 oz each, 1″ thick)
2 TB of EVOO
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
Lemon Juice (optional)
1. Heat a cast iron grill pan to smoking hot. Add the prepared Steaks & grill, weighed down with a meat griddle for 2 minutes a side, no more or the result will be a dry juiceless fish.



Serves At least six

A CookTale

Last evening I wanted to make Cathie a homecoming dinner. It called for comfort food, and that it was. This Meat Loaf recipe, was posted way back on July 11th. Here it is again, its inspiration from a 1999 Cook’s Illustrated classic “The Best Recipes”. Within its pages was this well tested recipe for Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf. It has been my benchmark recipe ever since. And it’s never failed me. It felt good to be in front of the stove once again.


2 tsp of EVOO
1 large Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves minced
2 large Eggs
1 tsp of dried Thyme
1 tsp of Salt 1/2 tsp of Black Pepper
1 TB of Dijon Mustard
1 TB of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp of hot Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup whole Milk or plain Yogurt
1 pound of ground Beef Chuck
1/2 pound of ground Pork
1/2 pound of ground Veal
2/3 cup Saltine Crackers, crushed (about 16)
1/3 cup of fresh Parsley Leaves (chopped)
Bacon, thin sliced (8 to 12 slices or as needed)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the EVOO in a medium skillet. Add Onion & Garlic; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients.

2. Mix the Eggs with Thyme, Salt, Pepper, Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Pepper Sauce, & Milk or Yogurt. Add the Egg mixture to the meat in a large bowl along with the crushed Crackers, Parsley, & cooked Onion & Garlic. Mix until evenly blended & it does not stick to the bowl. (If mixture does stick, add additional Milk or Yogurt).

3. Turn the mixture onto work surface. With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9-by-5-inch loaf shape. Place on foil-lined (for easy cleanup) shallow baking pan. Arrange Bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly & tucking Bacon tip ends down the side of the loaf.

4. Bake until the Bacon is crisp & the Loaf’s internal temperature registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Cool for at least 20 minutes to allow the mixture to resettle.

Note: A marvelous sauce and stock company in Ohio, “More Than Gourmet”, offers a Red Wine Reduction in a six pack, 8 oz each. Check them out on the web. A first class product line and a major timesaver.


Serves 2

A CookTale

Though Italy has sent us hundreds of sauces that perk up our pasta, in my opinion, there are six that will always stand out as eternal classics – Marinara, Carbonara, Aglio e Olio, Pesto, Norma and Amatriciana. Five of the six rely on one main ingredient, Tomatoes, Cream, Olive Oil, Basil or Eggplant. Amatriciana, my number one favorite, although primarily Tomato, also includes Onions, and a wonderful salt cured pork, Guanciale. When the urge for pasta strikes, may I suggest you wrap your fork around any one of the six?


2 oz of Bucatini
4 oz of diced Guanciale (or Pancetta)
1 14 oz can of diced Tomatoes (drained)
Half an Onion (thinly sliced)
2 Garlic cloves (sliced)
A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
1/3 cup of EVOO
Pecorino Romano (freshly grated)


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the Pasta.

2. Heat the EVOO in a deep sided skillet, add the Garlic & the Onion. Saute until they’re tender. Add the Guanciale or Pancetta, stirring the pieces until they’ve given off their fat & have begun to brown & be tenderized.

3. Add the drained Tomatoes, together with the Red Pepper Flakes. Saute, occasionally stirring, for 15 minutes until the sauce has concentrated & homogenized.

4. Drain the pasta, turn it into the skillet, & cook a minute more , stirring the Pasta to coat the strands. Season with Salt & Pepper, add the grated Pecorino & serve.

Serves 1

A CookTale

With apologies to all “cooking for one” cooks. To me, cooking for one is like performing in an empty theater. This unattractive opinion is based on the fact that I’m spoiled. In 1977 when I started seriously hanging around our New York kitchen those mostly futile attempts were supported, guided and tolerated by Cathie who was and is an excellent Julia Child devoted cook. Those days and many thereafter produced dreadful results, but like all things new, it took trial and error, mostly error to get up and crawling.

INGREDIENTS Thyme Infused Baked Rice

1 cup of long grain Rice
1 oz of Veal Demi Glace (dissolved in a cup of water)
2 TB of dried Thyme
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
2 TB of Butter (1TB to spread on the casserole dish + 1TB to dot on the rice)


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Prepare the Rice according to the package directions.
When its cooked, allow it to slightly cool before you transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the dried Thyme, Salt & Pepper & the dissolved Demi Glace stock. Gently mix it all together.

4. Butter an oven proof deep sided casserole dish. Add the Rice mixture & a pinch of Thyme on top, and dot with the TB of Butter.

5. Place the casserole on the upper level of the oven & bake until the surface begins to color. About 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler & broil for a few minutes. The Rice should take on a lightly broiled appearance.

INGREDIENTS Lamb Breast Riblet with Ground Lamb

1 Lamb Breast Riblet with Ground Lamb (prepared by the butcher)
1 TB of EVOO
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
1 cup of Chicken Broth


1. Heat the oven to 425degrees.

2. Heat a cast iron grill pan to high.

3. Season both sides of the Lamb with Salt, Pepper & EVOO. Place in the grill pan & sear for 2 minutes a side. Add the cup of Chicken Broth & move the pan & its contents to the oven & bake for no more than 12 minutes. The Riblet & the ground Lamb should not be overcooked or it will dry out.