Thursday, January 16, 2020

So folks, Ya'll that read my blog, the day has come to announce the release of my book. "Full Circle Memories and Magic from a Family Table." It is the culmination of writing this blog and looking into the question "What is it about food that makes it so powerful and a force for good in our lives. What does it mean to say I love you with food, and what can we do to make that force work in our lives".

You can find it at for sale or as an ebook on Amazon.

If you like cute homey heartfelt stories or anyone you know does like your mom or girlfriends. Pick this up for yourself and them. The stories are paired with over 100 recipes. They are home cooking at it's finest. Some are complicated and some are so easy they are like using an easy bake oven.

Come follow one family's experience of how food makes up the muscle memory of joy in the soul of every family, even yours.

I hope you enjoy it. Full Circle: Take a Bite!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Morrison's Cafeteria Mac and Cheese

She might not look like much but this is the stuff that I grew up with at my Aunt Lucille's house. It is old school Mac and Cheese. Custardy and rich and made with love. Her house keeper got the recipe from working at a cafeteria in Columbia, SC. It is very much the same sort of Mac n Cheese served at the S&S Cafeteria in Charleston today.

If you have never eaten at an old school southern style Cafeteria you are missing out. The variety of food alone if staggering. But the quality is also very good. Most things are made in house and fresh. It's also quite the dining experience. Moving your tray down the three pronged line and staring through the sneeze guard while you point at and choose the items you want to eat.

My favorite thing at Morrison's was the fried shrimp. But the Mac n Cheese was up there too. All the food came in little portions in monkey dishes. Little round bowls that held a portion nicely.

In my forthcoming book I have a whole story about going to Morrison's as a child. I hope you get one and read it when it comes out.

Until then I will leave with this published recipe from Morrison's for their Mac N Cheese. I of course have some interpretation in there but more the most part this is the real deal!

Morrison's-Style Macaroni and Cheese

 16 ounces of elbow macaroni uncooked
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/4 cups evaporated milk, warmed
11/2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
11/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese (Gruyere if you want more flavor)
1/2 cup grated hard cheese like aged Parmesan (my addition)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook macaroni per package directions and drain
Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in flour and cook 3 minutes
Use a whisk and add milk, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens Add spices and the salt and pepper.

Beat eggs slightly and add small amount of sauce to eggs so they don’t turn into scrambled eggs and then add egg mixture to sauce. Add Parmesan and stir. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning should be highly seasoned. If it is too thick add milk, should be a pourable sauce. 
Set aside 1 cup grated cheddar cheese for top.
Add 1/3 of the macaroni to a buttered 2-quart casserole top with 1/3 of the remaining cheese.
 Then continue alternating layers of macaroni and cheese. Pour sauce all over. Then top with the reserved cheese
Bake 25 to 30 minutes and serve.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Creamy Cambozola Shiitake and Baby Portobello Mushroom Risotto

Creamy Cambozola Shiitake and Baby Portobello Mushroom Risotto // Makes 5-6 Servings
2 tb butter
1 tb olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 pound baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
1/2 pound medium and large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tb kosher salt, plus more if needed to adjust seasoning
3/4 cup good dry white wine
1 1/2 cup carnaroli rice, may also substitute a short grain rice such as arborio
5-6 cups low sodium vegetable stock, simmering
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 tb cambozola cheese
1/4 bunch parsley, roughly chopped, optional
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated, optional
In a 2 quart saucepot, bring the stock to a boil, lower the heat, and cover. Melt the butter and add the olive oil in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan or sautoir over medium to low heat. Add the minced shallots and cook until tender and not browned, about 5minutes. Increase heat to medium and add the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and continue to cook until mushrooms have sweat through, about 5-10 minutes. Add rice, and stir for one minute. Make sure each grain of rice is equally coated with the mixture.
De-glaze the pan by adding the white wine and stir until all the liquid is completely absorbed. Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and keep stirring until all liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add a 1/2 cup of more liquid at a time, continuing until each addition of stock is absorbed and until mixture is creamy and rice tender, about 25 minutes.
Stir in cambozola, or mild blue cheese such as gorganzola, until creamy. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Transfer to serving dish or plates, add a splash of squeezed lemon juice over the top and garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Stuffed Pork Chops Deluxe!

These Pork chops are good anytime of the year. They can be served with a variety of starches and vegetables. Easy to make and you can have dinner ready to go in 45 mins or wait till your guests arrive and throw them into the oven once they have been seared.

So you make the stuffing then you cut a pocket in each chop, be careful not to cut yourself. Your butcher can do this for you just make sure he knows you want a deep pocket.

Sear each chop for about 3 mins a side. Just make sure you don't move it till you think it's nice and brown. Depending on your stove this could take 3 to 4 mins a side.

At this point you are ready to put them in a 400 degree oven for 20 mins. I usually find that is enough time to do get them perfect without overcooking. If you want your chops on the more rare side 15 mins max. You basically want to heat the staffing through.

Once done a simple pan sauce of drippings butter lemon juice and salt and pepper make the pan sauce.

Serve this with Mashed potatoes or like I did Parmesan Farro and Garlic Spinach. Enjoy!


4 boneless Pork loin chops
Each with a deep pocket cut in them.


5-6 pieces stale bread of choice ( I used left over garlic bread)
10 ounces Spinach wilted
8 sage leaves finely chopped
1 small to medium onion diced
1 package boursin Cheese (Garlic and Herb or Shallots and Garlic)
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 to 1/2 cups chicken stock warm

Saute onion in oil till soft then add spinach.
Mix this  with other ingredients together till well combined and stuff into the pockets as full as you can get it, some will stick out the side. See picture. Seasons the Chops with S&P.

Carefully sear each chop in a bit of butter 3 to 4 mins a side till really brown.

Place one sage leaf on each chop and slather each chop with butter using your fingers. ( Will be a bit clumpy it's fine) Bake at 400 for 20 mins.

Serve with sauce. Pan sauce is easy. Just add pan dripping when the chops come out to a saute pan. Add 2 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. stir and heat to combine. Pour over Chops.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Spinach and Chicken Waldorf Salad

Now many of you may not know of my love for the Hillstone Restaurant Group. I have loved them since the 1980's when I almost went to work for them in their Houston's Restauarant location in Atlanta. Sometimes I wonder what would have happen if I had taken that job offer. 

Nonetheless my brother and me have huge crush on all their brands. In fact when mt brother still was working he used to entertain clients at various locations around the country. If there was a Hillstone restaurant in a city he went to. He had tried it. Multiple times. Now since his stroke his goal is to eat at Hillstone with me when he is able to swallow again.

Two years ago Bon Appetit Magazine published 8 of their recipes veiled in secrecy up till that time. I have made several of them and they actually turn out exactly like the restaurant versions. 

This is my 5th time making this salad. I normally don't tell people where the recipe is from I just say I got it somewhere. People rave over it. It really hits every crunchy salty sweet tangy creamy note a salad should hit.  So I thought I would repost the recipe and tell you if you want to try and entree salad this isone to try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and my dining companions have. 

Spinach and Chicken Waldorf Salad



  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish mustard or 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish plus 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4½ teaspoons sugar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup walnut oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled bacon (from about 2 slices)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Salad and Assembly

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 4 cups chopped frisée
  • 4 cups sliced curly kale
  • 4 cups torn rotisserie chicken
  • ¼ cup crumbled bacon (from about 3 slices)
  • ¼ cup flame raisins
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 large red-skinned apple, shredded on a mandoline or box grater
  • 6 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1½ cups)
  • 8 cups mature spinach leaves (from about 1 large bunch)



  • Whisk vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add olive oil and then walnut oil; whisk until emulsified. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper.
  • Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Salad and Assembly

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast almonds, cashews, and walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then chop.
  • Toss frisée, kale, chicken, bacon, raisins, and nuts with dressing in a very large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs, apple, cheddar, and spinach; taste and season again with salt and pepper. Divide among plates, piling as high as possible.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Chili Cheese Dogs....The 4th of July and how living in Virginia taught me to love them,

So last fall I wrote about how Williamsburg, Virginia is one place that forever will represent Christmas time. But Virginia in general will forever be for me the state where I first lived in four seasons and learned to love them. Before that my family had always lived in warmer climes. Being about 10 when we moved to a wintery place for the first time it was quite a revelation. I attended high school in the suburbs of Washington DC. and when I went away to college it was to James Madison University. A school of about 4000 students at the time, JMU sits in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley in a small hamlet called Harrisonburg. No longer small, the school and the town have grown up quite a bit. But when I was there it was still very rural and very redneck. In fact I was surprised by how conservative the school and the student body was upon arrival there. It was certainly not what I had expected a university to be like. I had thought it would be very Brideshead Revisited but JMU was more like Frat City than Oxford. Frats, Beer, "fraternizing", and of course Football were all high on the agenda. Well that and tailgating, which was sort of one and the same. And tailgating meant tailgating food!

Fall of course also meant the beginning of the school year and so during the first semester I enjoyed the fall leaves changing around me and in the Mountains above us. Signaling natures shift into the colder part of the year. And of course at JMU, that same climate change meant Football Season!! Now tailgating  and eating was big and great for the pre-game, but for those who wanted something after the game there were only a few options.

Back then Harrisonburg was a small town and as such the local eateries were mostly well...local. That was good because that meant that the big chains had not yet moved in yet. But after the game you want something that you can eat that says grilled goodness and comfort ya'll! And I mean what says football season and fall more than a chili cheese dog! Well that and it's also good for soaking up all that beer you had during the game. I had come to college knowing a thing or two about chili cheese dogs from places in Virginia near my home. But my college experience gave me the third establishment in the trinity that shaped my hotdog chili cheese making recipe. Let me tell you about those places.

The one college place that really to this day will not be rivaled for fall football loving, beer soaking up, after frat party Friday night food is Jess' Quick Lunch, a chili dog place. For atmosphere alone it was amazing, formica floors and countertops, bright florescent lights, stainless steel fixtures and the chili dogs which were grilled came unadorned except for the ketchup and onions. They were good and quick and greasy in the best way. But they were the second chili dog I had had in Virginia. The first of my adventures in Chili dogging came from the very famous Vienna Inn in the northern Virginian town of Vienna, Virginia.

                                             Jess's QuicK Lunch

Now the Vienna Inn makes the most amazing chili cheese dogs on the planet, no....really. And it was my brother Chris who turned me onto them. he worked down the street at a very famous camera shop called what else, Vienna Camera. Well the employees would get lunch at the Inn regularly. He called them "Death Dogs", and we called them good!

As it states on the Inn's website:

Opened in 1960, the Vienna Inn is a staple in the heart of Vienna, Virginia. Youthful placemat art on the walls and teeming trophy shelves demonstrate the family-friendly nature of the establishment.
The menu also has something for everyone. Seafood lovers will enjoy the spiced shrimp or the blackened tuna sandwich and those looking for something lighter can find nourishment in the grilled chicken salad.
It is chilli macs and chilli dogs that the Inn is most famous for - and rightly so. Selling over 10,000 chilli dogs every month you would be remiss to pass up a loaded dog, complete with chili, cheese, spicy mustard and diced onion.
The Vienna Inn's unrefined charm has made it a steadfast landmark that may grow older, but has not aged a day.

Yes the Vienna Inn has amazing Chili Dogs. But there is one more American hotdog dining icon that I encountered in Virginia and remains to be discussed and has formulated my way of making hotdogs and that icon is LUMS.
Now LUMS was a chain which grew out of south Florida and expanded all over the country. They were most famous for the Ollie Burger, which many proclaim to this day as one of the best burgers ever made. And they were known for their Hotdogs which were slow cooked and held warm in beer, a nod to the midwestern manner for preparing brats. They were also famous because they were one of the first "family restuarants" to serve alcohol. I can remember getting a "Schooner" of beer at LUMS across the way from the Magic Pan when I was 18 years old. 

So that brings us to making tailgating dogs today the Ole Virginny way! The way I learned to make them based on the techniques of the three establishments that I encountered in the great state of Virginia as a young man. I have merged the preparations to come up with Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog. So clearly the chili is what makes a great chili dog and have I got a great recipe for that. Check this one out. Enjoy, Ya'll!

Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog (based on three Virginia Hotdog Icons)

Forrest's Hot dog Chili: ( this is no joke ya'll ) 

3 tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Butter
1 large onion finely minced ( food processor minced)
2 gloved minced garlic ( I use the jar )
1 1/2 pounds ground beef ( Chuck )
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 4 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

In a bowl combine all the spices
In a pot add the butter and onions and cook over medium heat till translucent add garlic and let bloom
The to this pot add the spices and let cook with the onions and garlic to bring out the flavors but don't burn. Then to this pot add all your wet ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 mins.
Reduce heat down to a simmer and add the beef with your hands breaking it up into bits
Stir and let cook down for an hour with a lid on. Stir occasionally and then check for seasoning. Then remove the lid and simmer down till most of the liquid is gone but the chili is till nice and moist. 

For the hot dogs

You will need
1 package all beef hotdogs
1 package Hotdog Buns ( nice quality maybe potato rolls )
2 cans of lager beer
2 cups water
1 large white onion
8 oz finely shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
Spicy brown mustard

Take a stock pot and pour water and the 2 cans of lager beer into it. The cheaper the better. Add 1/2 of an onion that has been cut in half, chop the other half for topping the hotdogs. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer. Place 1 package of good quality all beef hotdogs in the pot and let simmer for about an hour while the chili is cooking. When ready to serve  you can grill the dogs in a pan or on the grill again to crisp or serve right out of the beer broth. Your choice.

Serve the dogs as such:

Take a Bun open it up on the bottom give it a squirt of spicy brown mustard and a squirt of Mayo
Add the Hotdog
Top with the chili
Top with chopped onions ( white )
Top with the cheese
Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Chicken Divan From Scratch!! Amazing!

Summer, as a young boy, always means going to the beach for me. I grew up the first 12 years of my life on or around the water. Being in the navy my father moved us to some great locations. California, Florida, Hawaii, and or course back and forth to South Carolina.

Summer also meant a week at the beach at church camp. No matter where we lived our church always seemed to have a connection to a Camp right on or near the beach, When we were stationed in Virginia that camp was the Beach Church Camp at Bethany Beach, Delaware. About 4 hours from home it was our chance to go to the beach as well as have fun and fellowship hanging out in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Now church camp had a rhythm and part of that was communal dining. When you woke in the morning the entire building would smell of the rich brewed aroma of black coffee. Being that it was church camp there was always coffee to be had. But for kids the drink which I will forever associate with church camp was something called Russian Tea. Now this concoction was nothing short of brilliant. It was really a great way to get something hot when there was a chill in the air without resorting to the coffee cup!  Instant iced tea mix was mixed with orange drink mix ( aka. Tang) in equal parts with sugar and spices and BAM! you had a hot cup of loving something that was delish and easy. Of course it always gave he kids crazy sugar rushes but was vacation.

The other thing that I will forever associate with church camp is Chicken and Broccoli Divan. I mean nothing about church camp food was never really bad. Chili, Sloppy Joe's, Meatloaf, Potato and Sausage Soup, Jello and Big Bowls of iceberg lettuce with Italian Dressing were always around.  As were various casseroles which were made from all kinds of things. Now there are dishes in the archive of American casseroles that I think of and wonder "who ever came up with this stuff", and then there are dishes like Chicken Divan, which is probably my favorite traditional casserole of all time. It's become a household staple and growing up anywhere in the U.S. where a "hot-dish" was a common food, this dish was probably there.

Today people look down their noses at a dish like this but it had it's origin's in the gourmet restaurant's of New York city.

Chicken Divan is a naturally a chicken casserole dish. It was first created at the Divan Parisien restaurant in New York City. It is classically a casserole of sliced chicken breast, spears of broccoli, which was covered with sauce Mornay and baked until the top was golden brown.

The Divan Parisien served Chicken Divan as their signature dish in the 1950's. The chef or chefs who originally created it are unknown. In France the word divan refers to a meeting place or great hall. This name was chosen to attract the attention of the Divan Parisien owners by implying a kind of continental elegance.

Now a  Mornay sauce is a classic French sauce. It is a Bechamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese added. Usually, it is half Gruyere and half Parmesan, though variations use different combinations of Gruyere, Emmental cheese, or white cheddar.

So here's my take on this classic dish. It is a little more work than the open a can variety but it is worth the extra effort. I think it is true to the original but just for some extra flavor I add a few things of my own. And to be fancy without a lot of fuss, you could make this in individual dishes and serve it up at a dinner party just like the picture. 

Forrest's Divine Chicken Divan ( Put this in your church camp and smoke it!)


2 pounds  chicken breast chopped into bite size pieces
1 tsp each of salt, pepper, paprika
1 16-20 oz. bag broccoli florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
2 tablespoon olive oil divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth divided
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cup sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated yellow cheddar cheese
1 cups grated gruyere cheese 
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish or individual baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray.
Toss the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Let marinate while you cook broccoli.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat until very hot. Add the broccoli, season and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, cover pan, and lower heat to medium.
Steam broccoli until tender but not limp, about 2 minutes.
Transfer broccoli to baking dish in one layer.
In same skillet, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Increase heat to medium high and add chicken in a single layer and sear for one minute then continue to cook and stir chicken until cooked through. Layer the chicken on top of broccoli in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the almonds.
In the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
Whisk in flour then cook stirring for 1 minute. Turn the heat to low then slowly whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup of the milk..
Combine cornstarch with remaining 1 cup milk stir into the sauce and then add the  Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon and all spices.
Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking often until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted.
Whisk in sour cream  and sherry until blended.
Taste and season well with salt. 
 Pour the sauce over chicken and broccoli and spread into an even layer. Top with the remaining cup of cheddar cheese.

To top:

Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over cheese. Cover Chicken Divan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.
Serve the Chicken Divan over mashed potatoes, buttered noodles or wild rice.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Stilton, Leek and Walnut Risotto

This..... This risotto is so good. It's slap your Britsh Mama good.

Ok my friend Chef Lauren came over and we made this, It's extraordinary the way these flavors come together. She made Veggie broth from the French Laundry. You don't have to do that but if you do the wow factor goes way up, but it's pretty amazing with store bought as well.

Here's what you do

Take 3 leeks white and green lower part only slice thinly and saute in 3 tablespoons of butter.

Add 1 clove garlic very finely diced, salt and pepper and then the 2 cups rice. Then saute for about 5 mins till rice is blooming a bit. Stir constantly. Over medium heat at this point add 1 cup dry white wine. Stir till incorporated into rice.

Using 8 cups of high quality veggie stock slowly add 1 ladle full at a time and cook rice for about between 40 to 60 mins till al dente. Stirring constantly. Al Dente, that means still a little chewy, you may not use all the stock.

Add 2 more tablespoons of butter and 4 ounces of crumbled Stilton cheese and 1/4 cup finely crushed toasted walnuts.

When ready to serve plate and garnish with another 3 ounces of stilton and 1/2 cup crushed toasted walnuts

Garnish with some chopped chives if desired.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Buffalo Shrimp and Blue Cheese Grits

This just seemed like the perfect thing to serve for Marti Gras! I am telling you these are no joke amazing!

Spicy Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Grits
(Makes 6 portions)


30 large shrimp peeled and deveined, tail on
1/2 tablespoon garlic flavored oil
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoons of Ketchup
4 tablespoons Franks Hot sauce
6 scallions chopped (quarter cup reserved for garnish)
1 stalk of celery (green part only) chopped into fine dice for garnish
1 1/2 cup Quaker 5 minute grits
6 cups water
3 to 4 ounces Roquefort French blue cheese
3 tablespoons of butter
2 cups half and half


For the Shrimp:

In a glass bowl, place the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of the Franks Hot Sauce and combine till well coated. Place in fridge covered for at least 30 mins.
When ready to cook, place a small amount of garlic oil in pan and half the scallions till just done then add the shrimp add the butter and Ketchup and remaining hot sauce and when shrimp is cooked spoon over the grits garnish with the bacon and the remaining scallions and chopped celery serve immediately.

For the Blue-Cheese Grits:

Bring the water to a boil add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Stir in grits with a whisk, making sure there is no clumping.
Cook for 7mins stirring occasionally to make sure grits are not clumping then add 2 cups Half and Half, butter and blue cheese and let simmer for 1 hour. 
Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning
Can be held for up to 2 hours if too thick add water and stir again till creamy.


Place grits in the bottom of 4 wide bowls and divide shrimp among the four. Spoon butter and hot sauce mixture over the shrimp. Garnish with the celery and the scallions.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Noodles Romanoff, Side Dish of Hollywood Legend.

Michael Romanoff created himself as much as he created one of old Hollywoods's most popular hotspots. Years before Facebook Twitter and television, Newspaper photographers gathered at hotspots to take pictures of the glamorous life that the movie stars lived. Romanoff's was certainly one of those places.  Sophia Loren, Jane Mansfield, Cary Grant, Bogie, Clark Gable all were photographed here eating drinking dancing and living the glam life that American's have always craved to see.

Romanoff was a cad and con man who created a name for himself and developed an dining environment which became a sought after reservation in Hollywood from 1936 to 1962. Along with the menu of classics like shrimp cocktail and steaks and chops he came up with 2 iconic dishes which were the "Bloomin Onion" of that time. One was Strawberries Romanoff, a simple Brandy infused mix of berries and whipping cream. The other Noodles Romanoff was a side dish served along most anything or ordered on it's own. It was rich and creamy sauce laden egg noodle dish which had simple flavorings, a bit of cheese, and sour cream at it's base. It was a riff on a dish that his mother and grandmother had made in eastern Europe.  And like Romanoff my Austro- Hungarian grandmother also made.

In the 1960's and 1970's Betty Crocker sold a boxed version of this side dish of Hollywood lore that many might remember. It was discontinued but is remembered with fondness my many who grew up on it.

This version is my take on the recipe. It could not be simpler but does involve buying cheese powder which is hard to find anywhere but the internet. Not to worry though I will give you a substitute. This is based on a dish I grew up with, sour cream noodles. But it comes pretty close to the original recipe!

Noodles Romanoff

8 oz of the widest eggs noodles you can find ( Country Style Dumpling Noodles are good)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoon white cheddar cheese powder (or sub 3 tablespoons canned Romano cheese, not parm)
1 tablespoon dried parsley plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons finely snipped chives (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (Lawry's or TJ's onion salt)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons butter
Extra milk, cream or half and half on hand


Boil Noodles per package directions

Meanwhile blend all other ingredients together except butter

Drain noodles return to pot and add butter to coat the noodles stirring gently

Add the sour cream mixture  gently mix and if needed because too dry add more cream milk or butter and serve immediately or hold warm and add more milk if dries out.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spicy Dijon and Tarragon Shrimp with Goat Cheese Grits

This is a recipe from my upcoming book on personal food heritage. The book will feature a variety of recipes not only from my own life experience but those who others have shared with me part of their personal and family histories. It is a book about what it really means to tell the story of your life and your family's life through food. I hope it will inspire others and that through my story they will find and celebrate that which makes their time here on this planet meaningful and the cherish those relationships and memories which happen around the table and over a good meal.

This recipe is a culmination of my experience with this dish that goes way back to when as a child my mama would make this for breakfast as a special treat. The recipe was from an old Charleston cookbook "Charleston Receipts" and to this day my mama uses that book to prepare this as well as other dishes.

Over time I have done what many chefs have done and played with this recipe. If I am honest it is a riff off a favorite pasta dish my mama also prepared when I was growing up.  One of the few pasta dishes she made, besides spaghetti and lasagna, Creamy Dijon shrimp Alfredo over linguini.

So here is my version of Shrimp and Grits. Hope you enjoy them. Maybe it will inspire you to look for my book when if comes out later this year. More on that later!

Spicy Tarragon and Dijon Shrimp with Bacon-Goat Cheese Grits
(Makes 4 portions with extra grits)


1 lbs large shrimp peeled and deveined, tail on
1/2 tablespoon garlic flavored oil
2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons of Ketchup
2 teaspoons Hot sauce I like Crystal Hot Sauce or Shiracha
4 to 6 scallions chopped
4 pieces of bacon cooked and crumbled
1/2 of a red or green pepper chopped into fine dice
1 1/2 cup stone ground grits
5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
6 ounces soft goat cheese or Mascarpone if you are not a fan of goat cheese
2-3 heaping tablespoons bacon grease
1 cup half and half
3 tablespoons chopped chives for garnish


For the Shrimp:

In a glass bowl, place the shrimp with the Dijon and the tarragon and combine till well coated. Place in fridge covered for at least 2 hours.
When ready to cook, place a small amount of garlic oil in pan and cook pepper and half the scallions till just done then add the shrimp add the butter and Ketchup and hot sauce and when shrimp is cooked spoon over the grits garnish with the bacon and the remaining scallions and serve immediately.

For the Bacon-Cheese Grits:

Bring the water and half and half to just a boil add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Stir in grits with a whisk, making sure there is no clumping. Add in the bay leaf.
Cook for an hour stirring occasionally to make sure grits are not clumping and adding water if they get too thick. Remove bay leaf.
Before serving, stir in cheese and bacon grease
Taste and adjust seasoning
Can be held for up to 2 hours if too thick add water and stir again till creamy.


Place grits in the bottom of 4 wide bowls and divide shrimp among the four. Spoon butter and hot sauce mixture over the shrimp. Garnish with the bacon and the chives.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Chilaquiles for Holiday Morning Breakfasts

It has been a minute since I posted here. I've been busy on Instagram and "Real life" work including finishing my first ever book. It will be published next year and I hope you all grab it up and enjoy it. More on that to come. In the meantime here's my suggestion for making your holiday breakfast something special.

Chilaquiles are part of the American breakfast scene that many people are discovering. Chilaquiles are a cross between scrambled eggs and nachos and are just plain delicious. I mean who doesn't love both those things. And if put together how much more delicious must they be.

The reason I love this dish is it's a representation of what American is all about. If you live in California you probably have known about this Mex mash up for a long time. However , the rest of the nation is now catching on to this yummy breakfast alternative. Proving once again that the old ole USA is still a melting pot. And I don't just mean the cheese.

The other thing about this dish is it's a great party leftover vehicle. If you had chips and dip or queso or even tacos or chili the night before you can use up your left overs in this dish.

What you need to make Chilaquiles for 4 is at least the following:

1 bag of tortilla chips ( or fry fresh )
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (Monterey Jack is best or Cheddar)
1 jar of any kind of salsa ( I like TJ's red or green restaurant style So Cal style)
chopped scallions and jalepeno slices (optional)
sour cream

Optional items include:

Taco beef or Chorizo
Left over chili
Queso dip reheated
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped white onion
queso fresco


Pour about a cup of salsa in a large frying pan
Heat till just bubbles
Mix eggs and about 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 cups shredded cheese
Add to salsa
Cook till smooth and combined
Add and extra items like beef or chorizo
Add in about 6 cups of chips (3/4 of a bag of chips give or take)
Gently Stir till coated

Divide between 4 plates or bowls and garnish with remaining cheese and toppings


Happy Holidays Everyone and here's to a great 2019!!

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.