Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Truffle Vegetable Salad

This is a really elegant and delicious salad and it's so easy to make. Try this for a dinner party or just for something nice and different for your daily meal rotation. It's quick and very delicious.


1 bunch of asparagus chopped into small pieces. 
1 10oz of white mushrooms sliced
1 cup diced french green beans (blanched quickly)
2 cups shredded brussel sprouts
6 scallions green and white parts finely chopped
1/4 of a red onion diced
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup fried onions
3 oz of blue cheese crumbled
Extra fried onions and some Allepo Chili flakes for garnish

For dressing

1/4 cup champagne vinegar 
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Mayonaise
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 large shallot finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Truffle oil to taste


For the dressing place all ingredients in a small jar or food processor and mix till combined.

Mix all salad elements together and toss in a large bowl
Mix with just enough dressing just till lightly dressed
Serve by dividing the mixture in the 4 portions and mound in the middle of the plate. Spoon remaining dressing around the mounded salad. Sprinkle with more fried onion, red pepper flakes and a bit of flaky sea salt.  


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Baked Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

These party crackers were the rage all over the South in the 1950’s and early sixties and bridge and cocktail parties. They are like cracker bacon candy. 

Ingredients: Makes enough for a small gathering

1 sleeve Club crackers
1 package bacon
Brown Sugar


Cut bacon strips into thirds
Wrap crackers in bacon until all bacon is used
Place on a wire rack on top of a sheet tray seam side down
Spoon a small mound of brown sugar on each cracker
Bake at 270 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mustard and Herb Marinated Pork Chops with Cheesy Grits and Baby Zucchini

Pork Chops are probably one of those things you dread making at home because the main complaint you get is they are dry dry dry when cooked. Overcooking is the enemy of really yummy pork chops and I realize that these days there are still people afraid of under cooking pork but this really is a non problem because the disease trichinosis which was an issue with pork has been eradicated from the meat.

The secret to really great pork chops is simply this. Marinating and not overcooking. There are other ways to cook pork chops but I'll give you my method and hopefully it will help you cook perfect pork chops every time.

Step One Marinate:

1 cup oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Herb De Provence spice mix

Place 4 2 to 2/1/2 inch thick cut pork chops in a plastic bag and pour in marinade
Place in the fridge for 3 hours turning 3 times

Heat a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil over med high heat

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry and sprinkle both sides with a pinch of the Herb De Provence mix again.

Lay chops into pan no need to season as chops were brined.

Sear for 5 minutes then turn over and sear for 5 more minutes.

Reduce heat and turn once more cook for another 3 minutes.

Place chops out of the pan onto a cutting board and cover with foil let rest 6 to eight minutes while you prepare the plates with the grits and the zucchini and make pan sauce

On same pan with pork drippings pour 2 tablespoon cider vinegar. When warm add 2 tablespoons of butter. When melted add a heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

Place chops onto prepared plates and spoon sauce over chops, garnish with flaky sea salt and chopped parsley.

For Grits:

Bring 3 cups to boil with 1 dried bay leaf with 11/2 teaspoons salt.
Add 1 cup hominy stone ground grits in the water whisking in slowly to avoid clumping.
Reduce heat and cook stirring often until the grits are thickened about 5 minutes.
Add one cup cream (or milk) and cook till thick and creamy about 10 minutes
Stir in 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Serve quickly after cooking add water if it sits on the heat and stir to thin out.

Prepare any green vegetable you want and serve with the chops and grits.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Brunch Madame?

Croque Madame is the ultimate brunch food and one that is hard to pass up when deciding whether there to "benny" or not to benny". It usually wins out over Eggs Benedict although I love those too.

It's the french super sized grilled ham and cheese that is the stuff of dreams. I first had this sandwich in high school at a little French place that was a hang out at Tyson's Corner Mall in the 80's.

It's good and I now I make it home for a crowd for brunch parties. If you have Veggie friends just leave off the Ham. It's still cheesy yummy good.

Give these a try and Madame will treat you right!

Gastropub Style Croque Madame with Mornay and Raclette

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 ounces of shredded Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper
nutmeg to taste
12 pieces of thick 3/4 inch white toasting bread, Pullman loaf if you want.
12-16 slices of baked ham super thin slices
8 slices of raclette cheese
6 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 eggs
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


For Sauce:

Heat butter in a pot till frothy then add in the flour
Whisk mixture till smooth
Cook for about one minute
Whisk Milk in slowly till all incorporated
Reduce heat and simmer till thickened and slightly reduced
Slowly add in the cheese till melted and smooth
Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg


Toast all slices of bread
Place 6 slices of the toasted bread on a baking sheet
Spread the Dijon on the bread
Top with Ham and then with Raclette cheese
Broil the sandwiches till the cheese is melted and bubbling
Top sandwiches with the remaining bread
Slather with cheese sauce until covered even let it roll down the sides
Replace baking sheet under the broiler
Broil till bubbling and a little brown
Turn off broiler and heat oven to 300 leave sandwiches to stay warm till eggs are cooked

Slowly fry the eggs in the oil till sunny side and still runny
Top Sandwiches being held in the oven each with one egg each till all are eggs are fried and all sandwiches are ready to serve.
Garnish with chives and parsley on top to serve.

Serve with a mixed greens salad with a spicy vinaigrette

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Beef Bourguignon

The first time I ever had Beef Bourguignon was when I was 19 and living in Switzerland. One family I knew invited us over for dinner and the wife who was french made Beef Bourguignon. There in that dining room in the sparkling candle light I knew why it was an amazing dish. Succulent and rich it was the embodiment of winter comfort food. Incredible.

So when I about 10 years ago decided to make Beef Bourguignon I thought about using Julia  Child's famous and recipe. The problem was two fold. I was visiting a friend's mountain house there was there a braising pot but no cookbook from Julia Child. Just a book with a recipe for burgundy beef from the 1970's. I decided to give it a try. So inspired with this recipe and cooking tool I went to the market got the ingredients and made the dish. It was really good, no really. So I was satisfied that I had made the recipe to a respectable level and made it this way for years. Then it all changed.

My friend's Ken and Rick invited me over to a dinner party one evening and Rick announced that he had made Julia's Beef Bourguignon recipe and we would be having it for dinner. Well it was revelatory. Amazing, incredible. And I felt compelled to try it. So armed with the recipe I too made Julia's recipe and again the results were amazing. But oh my God it was a process.

So I took a few ideas from Julia and kept my own version. It's pretty darn good though. So if you give it a try leave me a comment.

Forrest's Beef Bourguignon Recipe
Serves 6 to 8 really well

3 pounds of chuck stew meat cubed
oil for cooking
Flour for coating the beef heavily seasoned
1 white onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely diced
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 bay leaves dried
1 small can tomato paste
4 strips of bacon chopped
1 bottle rich red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 bag mini carrots cut in thirds and boiled until just softened
2 8 oz packs of white mushrooms quartered
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 325
In a large bowl toss the beef with enough seasoned flour to coat very well
In a heavy enameled baking casserole brown beef in batches till browned
Add oil each time so each batch browns.
Don't overcrowd or the beef will steam and you want some browning and caramelising
Hold browned beef to the side on a plate
Cook the bacon till just done remove from pan leave the drippings
Cook the onions, celery and carrots in the drippings till almost soft add 4 cloves of minced garlic
Add the tomato paste and combine with vegetables
Using some wine deglaze the bits from the bottom of the pan
Add the beef, the bacon, the spices the salt and pepper and stir gently
Then pour in the rest of the wine and then add enough beef broth till just covered
Bring to a boil and then turn off heat
Place in the oven for about 2 hours. At this point add the mushrooms and the pearl onions and brandy
Turn oven to 350 and cook for another 30 minutes
Add in the cooked carrots right before serving
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Place on the stove over low heat until ready to eat.
Serve with well buttered mashed potatoes

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tomato Bruschetta Dinner Al Fresco Italiano

Summer is the best time to eat tomatoes. I love them. I think that during the warm Summer months when things are a little freer and time slides by a little slower it's only fair to say the the produce makes the season. And I think that tomatoes in particular are an amazingly special gift with their sun kissed skins nearly bursting with juicy deliciousness.

So these little beauties are the star of my summer evening table. I love making bruschetta in general. But when faced with the choice of ingredients I go for the gold with these.

The other obvious part of bruschetta is of course the bread. So the choice for a base is important. I am choosing focaccia because I love it's flaky soft juicy texture and when crisped it is tremendously delicious.

So here's a quick recipe for your backyard this summer. Enjoy!


Fresh Grape or Cherry Tomatoes halved
Ricotta Cheese full fat about 8 oz
basil pesto ( you can make or buy this at your grocer)
Fresh basil about a bunch
Good quality olive oil ( a great olive oil really makes the difference, spend the money)
Sea Salt Flakes and Pepper
1 small loaf of Rosemary or plain focaccia bread


Cut bread into rectangular segments about 4 inches by 12 inches then slice bread into square slices about 1/2 in thick.
Heat oven to 375
Place bread on a baking sheet and then drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes
Bake until the bread is a little brown and toasty
Remove from the oven and let cool
Mix the ricotta cheese till smooth and creamy and season with salt and pepper to taste
Cut the basil leaves into chiffonade
Mix the tomatoes with just enough olive oil to coat nicely
Top the bread with a good smear of the pesto then a dallop of the ricotta
Top the bread slices with the tomatoes and then the fresh basil mixture
Sprinkle with a drizzle of the oilve oil and a little sea salt and pepper and serve

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Beet Salad with Buttermilk Whipped Ricotta, Pistachios, Sherry Vinaigrette and Horseradish

This salad is a cheat. What I mean by that is I hate hate hate cooking beets. Yes I hate the mess and the time involved. So I found a great product and I used it to make this salad and I'm not sorry. Not fuss, no mess, no trying to get red stains out of my kitchen. I'm not sorry.

So how do you make this salad?  And I'm telling you you should make this salad if you like beets because it's so simple and so delicious.

First you take ricotta and you put it in a bowl. You add salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Then you take a whisk and you whip it till combined. Then cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for about three hours.

When you are ready to make the salad this is what you do. You take a jar...yes a jar of Trader Joes beets in vinaigrette. This product is amazing. It's not your normal pickled beets (which you could use) but you don't even have to cut up the beets cause they have done it already. You just drain them really well. As you can tell from the picture I did not do that too well on this batch but oh well it was yummy.

Take your serving plate. This will serve 2 to 4 people depending on what else you are serving as a first course or salad. Take you ricotta and mound it in the middle of the plate. Then using a large tablespoon push the ricotta out of the center forming a barrier or wall of cheese in a circle. Then in the empty space carefully pour or spoon in your beets. Pour a little Sherry vinegar and really really good olive oil over the beets and season the top with sea salt flakes and pepper. Top with a few dallops of prepared horseradish and sprinkle with the nuts. If you want to get fancy zest some lemon over the top. Garnish with whatever green herb you have on hand. I used chives.

That's it. It's so easy and such a cheat and so so so good. I love it and you will too!

Ingredients: for a portion serving 2 to 4

1 jar Trader Joe's Beets in Vinaigrette - drained
1 8 Oz container Ricotta, (You'll use about 2/3's of this for the salad but mix the whole container with with the butter milk and use the rest later)
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Prepared Horseradish
Salt and pepper
Sherry Vinegar
Olive oil

Please feel free to comment I'd love to hear from you.