A Little Hanger Steak with a Big Thwack of Horseradish


Hangar Steak with Horseradish Cream and Onion Marmalade

Mmmm, Hanger Steak. Mmmm, Hanger Steak with Horseradish Cream and Onion Marmalade. Sometimes I just want to throw meat in the pan and cook it. I think eating meat is good for the soul. I think it’s what God intended for us. However, I also think God never intended us to live so long or populate the planet so thoroughly. So it’s possible that the rules have changed since Adam was banging his fists on the table demanding his hunger be satisfied. Today man has to weigh many complicated issues before he bangs his fists on the table demanding steak. Our health. The impact raising beef has on our environment. It all weighs on my mind. Such is modern life.

So the truth is – despite my beefy bluster – I don’t throw meat in the pan and cook it as often I did when I was, say Adam’s age.

First The Hanger Steak

However, every now and again, I see a gorgeous Hanger Steak in the butcher’s case and the urge to throw it in the pan and cook it overwhelms me. Hanger steak may be available in every bistro in Paris, but where I live it’s not a common cut. So I always take notice when it shows up.

Hangar Steak

Some consider Hanger Steak (also known as Butcher’s Steak and Onglet) to be too chewy to enjoy. But for me “chewy” is not the same thing as “tough”. I think people too easily confuse the two terms sometimes.

Besides, what Hanger Steak lacks in tenderness it more than makes up in taste. Ounce-for-ounce it’s hard to get more beefy flavor from any other part of the cow. It’s also a rather small cut. There is only one Hangar Steak per animal. Which makes it a perfect choice for my “self-regulated” on-again, off-again love affair with beef.

One reason Hanger Steak may not be as popular in North America as it is in Europe is that it needs to be cooked carefully to be most enjoyed. And by “carefully” I mean barely. It’s intended to be a red meat eater’s reddest meat. That delightful chewy quality I mentioned can quickly become plain old shoe leather if allowed to cook much past rare. Which makes it a good candidate for cooking hot and fast on the stove top. However, if you prefer steak closer to medium-rare you can follow the instructions in this recipe below then simply pop the skillet in a very hot oven for a few more minutes.

Whole Cooked Hangar Steak Stack of sweet onion slicesHangar Steak with Horseradish Cream

Don’t Forget The Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Dense with a meaty character, Hanger Steak can stand up to bold flavors. This version is topped with sweet onion marmalade and a pungent, eye-searing, nose-clearing, horseradish sauce. If you are horseradish-shy this sauce may not be the recipe for you. But if it’s cold where you live and you’re craving a hot thwack of flavor I urge you to have a go at making your own. Horseradish loses its pungency quickly. The stuff that comes in a jar, though it will do in a pinch, doesn’t have quite enough punch to stand up to full flavor of Hanger Steak. GREG

Hangar Steak with Horseradish Cream and Onion Marmalade

Hanger Steak with Horseradish Cream and Onion Marmalade

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 3-4Source Inspired by Jeremy LeePublished

Hanger Steak is sometimes found in butcher shops cut into single serving portions. However, it more often comes in one piece weighing between 1 ½ and 2 pounds and will take a bit of trimming from the home cook to remove the inedible sinew that runs through the center.

Hangar Steak with Horseradish Cream and Onion Marmalade


  • 1 ½ to 2 pound hanger steak (at room temperature)
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • flaky sea salt (as needed)
  • horseradish cream (as needed for serving, see recipe)
  • sweet onion marmalde (as needed for serving, see recipe)
  • watercress (for garnish, optional)


If you’re working with a whole hanger steak it will require some preparation before cooking. Start by trimming any obvious sinew from the outside of the hanger steak. Then examine the steak on both sides and locate the thick sinew that runs lengthwise through the meat. Cut the steak in half running your knife along this sinew. Set the first piece aside then cut the sinew from the other half out and discard it. You will notice that you are left with two pieces of meat of different sizes that will cook at different rates.

Salt and pepper both sides of the meat generously just before cooking.

For this recipe, I’m leaving the pieces as they are and portioning at the table, but you may cut the steaks into three or four similarly sized individual servings if you prefer. You may also choose to butterfly the meat. This will ensure a uniform thickness and a relatively shorter cook time than I’ve indicated below. I like hangar steak thick and rare, use your own best judgment.

Once the meat is prepared heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in a scant film of oil, swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Once the pan gets very hot (almost smoking) lay the meat gently into the skillet. Let the meat cook undisturbed until it forms a good crust, about 4 to 6 minutes (less if the meat has been butterflied). Flip the meat and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute more for rare. Move the meat to a cutting board to rest for 10 to 12 minutes.

Slice the steak into chunky pieces. Serve with a generous spoonful of horseradish cream and a big dollop of onion marmalade. Drizzle any of the juices left on the cutting board across the meat. Garnish with watercress (if using).

Horseradish Cream

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1 ½ cupsPublished
Hangar Steak with Horseradish Cream


  • 3/4 cup peeled and grated fresh horseradish root
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche


Stir horseradish, sugar, and vinegar together in a medium bowl. Set aside about 10 minutes then stir in crème fraîche and cover until ready to stir.

Sweet Onion Marmalade

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1 ½ cupsPublished

Can be served warm or at room temperature

Sweet Onion Marmalade


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet onions (about 2 lbs, peeled and thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • ⅓ cup water (plus more as needed)
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, about one hour. You may need to add a splash or two of water if the skillet gets dry.

Once you’re happy with the color and texture add vinegar, thyme, and ¼ cup water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until juices thicken, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Say “Yes” to with Swiss Chard Lasagne with Bechamel


Swiss Chard Lasagne with Bechemel and Hazelnuts

Yes, it’s the first month in a new year and yes you’re looking at a gooey, cheesy, packed with carbs plate of Swiss Chard Lasagne. Yes, I’ve noticed my fellow bloggers and their admirable resolutions concerning food. No grains. No dairy. No this. No that. Yes, I’m supposed to be embracing the latest foodie fads by guzzling green smoothies or chomping the new kale salad (whatever it may be). But frankly, there’s nothing like a good plate of lasagne to ring in a new year. It might just be the perfect comfort food. But screw it up, and we’re talking mushy noodles, soupy sauce, and congealed cheese.

Swiss Chard Lasagne

The thing about lasagne is it’s an open concept so mistakes can be made when cooks try to take shortcuts. However, as long as you keep it good and cheesy and above all honor the noodles you really can’t go too far wrong.

So I say skip the ricotta cheese (it becomes dry and crumbly unless beaten with egg) and nix the no-boil noodles (nobody could accuse no-boil noodles of being texturally interesting). And don’t forget to honor the noodles, if there are less than three layers of them, it’s probably not really lasagne.

Which isn’t to say that there’s no room for a re-interpretation of a cheesy, packed with carbs plate of lasagne. A good cook can take the techniques learned making the classic version and transform even a vegetarian lasagne like this Chard Lasagne into something appropriately decadent. So long as you’re familiar with Bechamel.

BechamelTomato Sauce


Bechamel is made by combining hot milk with a pale roux made from butter and flour. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, it’s a versatile sauce that can serve as the base for – well, this, that, and everything. I bet I could turn a green smoothie into a decent lasagne with a healthy dose of Bechamel.

Bechamel is considered one of the mother sauces of classic French cooking. Add cheese to it (as in this recipe for Chard Lasagne with Hazelnuts) and it technically becomes a Mornay sauce. I was raised on classic French cooking by a Julia Child obsessed mother. As a kid, I knew what Bechamel (and Mornay) sauce was even before I learned the devastating news that baseballs were for boys and Easy-Bake Ovens were for girls.

Yes, because of the Bechamel turned Mornay sauce my Chard Lasagne with Hazelnuts is very rich. It probably won’t work for most people’s New Year’s resolutions list. However, a healthy heaping of Swiss chard and a big scoop of baby spinach makes this lasagne practically the same thing as a green smoothie, right? GREG

PS Lasagne? Or Lasagna? I’ve decided to go with the British spelling because this recipe was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Bechemel and Hazelnuts Swiss Chard Lasagna with Bechemel and Hazelnuts

Lasagne with Chard, Spinach and Hazelnuts

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Adapted from Yotam OttolenghiPublished
Lasagne with Chard, Spinach and Hazelnuts


  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Swiss chard (leaves and stems separated, leaves roughly chopped, stems finely sliced)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • ½ pound baby spinach
  • water (as needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper (as needed)
  • 2 ounce fresh Italian parsley (leaves and stalks roughly chopped)
  • 2 ounce fresh dill (leaves and stalks roughly chopped)
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cup whole milk (gently warmed) plus a splash more if needed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • cooking spray (as needed)
  • 1 ½ cup good quality tomato sauce (divided)
  • 12 sheets dried lasagne noodles (cooked until al dente and set aside in a single layer on a greased baking sheet)
  • 2 ½ ounce chopped hazelnuts


Prepare the greens: Heat olive oil in a large pot with a lid set over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems, caraway seeds, and ¼-teaspoon salt. Cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add half the chard leaves, cook for one to two minutes, stirring, until they wilt, then add the rest of the leaves and stir until wilted. Add the spinach and another ¼-teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until well wilted, about 8 minutes. Add a splash or two of water and a couple big grinds of black pepper and turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped herbs and season generously with salt. The mix should be a little wet but not at all soupy. Drain off some moisture if needed. Set aside.

Make the Mornay sauce: Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle flour over and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until sauce is thickened and no longer feels grainy when rubbed between your fingers, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups grated Parmesan, whisking until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Prepare the lasagne: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl toss the remaining 2 cups grated Parmesan with the grated gruyere. Set aside.

Use cooking spray to lightly coat a 11×13 shallow baking dish. Drizzle ½ cup tomato sauce onto the bottom, swirl the dish to get the bottom well covered. Cover the base, crosswise, with four sheets of al dente lasagne. Drizzle ½ cup of tomato sauce on top, then spread half the greens over the sauce.

Gently reheat the mornay sauce, using a splash or two of milk if necessary to get it moving in the pan. Dollop half the mornay sauce evenly across the greens, then scatter with ⅓ of the grated cheese mixture. Repeat this process with 4 more sheets of pasta, the remaining ½-cup tomato sauce, the remaining greens, the remaining mornay sauce, and half of the remaining grated cheese mixture. Finish by topping the lasagne with the final 4 lasagna sheets and the last of the grated cheese mixture. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts, cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and finish cooking 15 to 20 more minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

Italian Sausages Cooked in the Oven


Italian Sausages Cooked in the Oven and Served in a Stew with Kale and BarleyItalian Sausages Cooked in the Oven and Served in a Stew with Kale and Barley

I like to cook but I don’t always have time to dither in the kitchen. Which means some nights, when it comes to dinner, I need to multi-task. If I can have something in the oven AND something bubbling on the stove then perhaps it’s possible to carve out a little time for more meaningful tasks like crying through The Rachel Maddow Show. The solution? Head to your nearest butcher shop and ask for good fennel-flecked Italian sausages. I like the coarse-cut varieties displayed in plump clusters. Of course, sausages from the grocery store will often fit the bill. Especially if you’ve got no time to dither – just as long as they’re generously filled and look like their skins are about to burst.

There are many good ways to cook sausage. That’s why they’re so versatile.

Some people prefer to cook them in a frying pan, turning them every few minutes, allowing them to slowly brown in a nice slick of fat. Which is a very good way to go, but it can take up to 40 minutes and all of your attention. The British seem to like their bangers cooked under the broiler, and I think German brats make a durable, no-nonsense griller. You say stir-fried Chinese lap cheung? I say yes, please.

But when I’ve got my mind on other things I often opt for sweet Italian sausages cooked in the oven. They take very little attention and get nice and uniformly brown.

I admit it’s a little strange to arrange my dinner menu around cable news schedules. But I’m not the only one. The President of the United States reportedly fills his days with “plenty of television,” and from his tweets, it’s often possible to discern what he’s watching. I can relate to that because with all the crazy things going on in this world I can’t help but keep an ear on Anderson Cooper and an eye on dinner. So, with all the attention I can muster, I’ve got a meaty cool-weather stew laden with sweet Italian sausage, kale, barley, and rosemary. And like politics today, it’s deeply flavored and surprisingly complex. Yet it’s quite easy to make with sausages cooked in the oven. GREG

Italian Sausages Cooked in the Oven and Served in a Stew with Kale and Barley

Roasted Sweet Italian Sausage with Kale and Barley Stew

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from The GuardianPublished
Roasted Sweet Italian Sausage with Kale and Barley Stew


  • 18 ounce sweet Italian sausage links
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks white and light green parts thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2-3 carrots peeled and diced (about 2 cup)
  • 1-2 rutabagas peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • 1 cup pearl barley (rinsed with cold water)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves only, finely chopped)
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • 1 bunch fresh kale (leaves stripped from the stalks and roughly chopped)
  • cider or malt vinegar (optional)


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the sausages in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning halfway through cooking until well browned, about 25 minutes. Don’t worry if they are not cooked all the way through, they will finish cooking in the stew. You may alternatively cook the sausages on the stove in a little fat until well-browned.

While the sausages roast: Heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Add the leeks, carrot, and rutabaga. Season lightly with salt, then cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add the barley, stir 2 to 3 minutes until well-coated with oil and beginning to toast. Add the rosemary and stock, then season with salt and black pepper. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. The sausages should be well-browned by now if so remove them from the oven and add them the pot. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary to keep the consistency loose but not soupy.

Add the chopped kale leaves (save stems for another use) and simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes until the greens are wilted but still vibrant. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve the stew in individual bowls with a sprinkling of vinegar (if using).


Chicken Breast Cutlets Worthy Once Again


Citrus-Cumin Chicken Breast Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Chicken Breast Cutlets. Somehow this simple classic, like German schnitzel, Japanese katsu, or their Milanese cousin manages to be both elegant, and utterly satisfying. Which I find to be a semi-astonishing statement as these days I usually choose chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Thighs are easier to cook and quite honestly they just taste better. However, I know for a fact that there are lots of folks who will disagree with me on this point and I’m determined to figure out how anyone could disavow such an easily provable statement.

I think the explanation lies buried in our eating habits of the 1990’s. Low-fat was our mantra and we’d gorge ourselves with anything that tooted its blandness loudly and proudly on vacuum-packed plastic. Chicken breasts were the meat of choice – no veins, no sinews, no bones. They were reassuringly ungruesome and for most of that decade, no dinner party was complete without an individual breast sitting in the center of the plate at our fanciest functions. It could be stuffed with prosciutto, strewn with sun-dried tomatoes, or seared on the grill. As long as it was skinned and immaculate and as big as a football we’d pour the Chardonnay and toast the good life.

Chicken Breast Cutlets

The problem with these huge blobs of low-fat protein is that it’s nearly impossible, short of sous-vide, to cook them properly. Chicken breasts have a very narrow window of culinary acceptability. They must be cooked within one-or-two degrees hovering on either side of 158 degrees F.

Which means it’s very easy to get the outside cooked properly but leave the inside raw – or worse cook it all the way through and be left chewing on something very dry. However, when pounded thin and cooked quickly, Chicken Breast Cutlets stay juicy and tender. Add to that the satisfying crunch of panko breadcrumbs, the zing of pineapple and kumquat, and you’ve got a Chicken Breast Cutlets recipe that’s both classic and modern enough to recapture its place at the center our dinner party plate once again. GREG

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney Citrus-Cumin Chicken Breast Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Citrus-Cumin Chicken Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from Thomas KellerPublished
Citrus-Cumin Chicken Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (a bit less than 1 pound each)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • salt and pepper (as needed)
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • 1 cup kumquat-pineapple chutney (see recipe)
  • ½ cup citrus-cumin dressing (see recipe)
  • fresh dill (as needed for garnish, optional)


Lay one chicken breast half flat on a cutting board. Holding the chicken flat with the palm of your hand, cut horizontally through the thickest side of the breast. Pull the breast open like a book and continue to cut horizontally, separating it into two equally-sized halves.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the half breasts. Using a meat mallet, a rolling pin or a heavy frying pan pound the chicken breasts until they compact into cutlets about ½-inch thick. Try and use just enough pressure to get an even thickness without pulverizing the meat. Repeat with remaining breast. The cutlets may be prepared up to one day in advance.

To continue, set the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls. If using ground cumin add it to the bowl with the panko and stir until well incorporated.

Season the chicken cutlets generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the eggs and coat thoroughly with the panko, pressing lightly to adhere.

Add about ¼-inch canola oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the panko covered chicken cutlets (in batches if necessary) and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Serve the cutlets topped with kumquat-pineapple chutney, drizzled with citrus-cumin dressing and garnished with fresh dill (if using).

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2 cupsSource Jean-Georges VongerichtenPublished

The chutney can be refrigerated for up to 1 week

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney


  • 1 cup whole kumquats (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely diced peeled pineapple (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon Madeira wine


In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the kumquats for 1 minute. Drain and repeat 3 times. Halve each kumquat and squeeze out and save any juice; discard the seeds. Thinly slice and/or chop the skins.

In the same saucepan, combine the diced kumquats with the pineapple, lemon juice, brown sugar, orange juice, kumquat juice and Madeira and bring to a boil. Simmer the chutney over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Citrus-Cumin Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Melissa ClarkPublished

My zesting grater has the option of very thin strips or a fine grate. I chose strips for this presentation.


  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 orange (some zest and juice)
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)


Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and toast the cumin seeds in it until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a medium bowl, grate the zest of half the orange into the bowl. Then juice the orange and add the juice as well. Grate the lime zest and squeeze in the juice. Add the ground cumin, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

I owe photographer Eric Wolfinger credit for the inspration of this Chicken Breast Cutlets photograph.

Why I Blog. The Thread That Led Me Here


Why I Blog. The Thread That Led Me Here

Happy New Year. Another new year and the tenth new year for this blog. Gawd. Maybe it’s Holiday melancholy or maybe it’s life bearing down on me. But sometimes the thought of pecking one more word into this keyboard makes me wonder why I blog at all. After all, I’m the primary caregiver for my partner’s elderly mother. There’s an argument to be made that at this stage of my life there are things more important than a food blog. Even a food blog I love.

And yes, I do still love it, though it’s easy to look back over this past year and tell myself that there’s much to feel gloomy about in today’s crazy online world. Especially if this were a political blog. Or even a fashion blog. I mean 2017 is the year that brought us those tacky Trump ties that hang well below his belly, and of course Man Rompers…

Man rompers

Thankfully, however, this is a food blog. Most of us food bloggers, I’m proud to say, have done a respectable job presenting delicious fare. Good for us!

So to celebrate that fact I’ve decided to try something I haven’t done since 2009 and 2010. A “Top Posts” year-end roundup.

2009 Top 10 Sippity Sup

I know you know what those are. You see a lot of them this time of year. Usually, these posts are based on a bloggers analytics and they represent the most popular posts of the year for a particular blog. It can be quite interesting from my wonky blog lover’s perspective. However, I didn’t really feel like delving into my numbers quite so deeply, so I decided to present my own personal five favorite posts of the year. Statistics be damned.

You can see my choices at the end of this post. Which is a kind of lazy way to do it I know, but as I was working on this project I started to wonder – does anybody really care what motivates me to blog?

Do I even know why I blog?

So before I get too far into this post let me say that I’m not looking for affirmation. I write this blog because I want to. It’s really that simple.

I say this because, whenever I think about shutting down this little blog an enduring image pops into my brain. It’s a memory of my mother standing on one leg like a flamingo in our suburban Michigan kitchen about 1972. I’m just a shy guy in grade school, hanging out with my mother – trying to avoid the rowdy neighborhood kids.

I don’t know if her stance was some throwback to her childhood passion for ballet, or if she just found this pose to be comfortable. But there she was, in short shorts, standing in the kitchen left foot crooked up and resting just above the right knee. Forming her legs into a perfect representation of the number four. She’s leaning over the counter (still on one leg) reading a book. That book is Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Long before Julie Powell began to teach herself to cook by blogging her way through this classic, my mother had decided to master the art of French cooking all on her own, with no audience (save me).

My mother loved to cook, no matter how much she complained about it. I mean here she was, a busy (doctor’s) wife and a (shy gay son’s) mother with all kinds of obligations I can only imagine, taking the time to read a cookbook. And I mean read it like a novel (bookmarks and all). I’d never seen anyone do that with a cookbook before.

Most of the kids I grew up with did not venture beyond meat and potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, or mac and cheese. But that was not my experience, or at least the sum total of my experience. We ate everything. I mean considering the times, my brother, sister and I were kids with pretty sophisticated palates. But my mother could also be a bit of a pop princess. She dressed like Mary Richards (she and Mary had the same figure). She rocked to the Eagles, Elton John and Queen. To my pre-pubescent horror, my mother wore bikinis. Other mothers did not wear bikinis.

She was “with-it” in other ways too, even when it came to food. High trends (sake, sushi, fondue, Cuisinart) and even low trends (Jell-O salad, smiley-face cookies, and crunchy tacos) none of these escaped my mother’s attention and curiosity. Hence we kids were exposed to all of this as well. Yes, even sake.

What I am trying to say is this: you don’t realize the imprint these things make on you. I mean, there I was just a kid watching my mother read a cookbook so I could avoid team sports and the beginnings of a long thread were being formed. It takes time and requires some distance, but eventually, you understand that the thread was left for you to pick up and follow. If you are able to knit that thread into the fabric of your life then you’ll know what happiness is.

Why I Blog

I come to this place in my life and this blog after doing so many other things – both professionally and personally. If ten years ago, someone had asked me why I blog about food I’d have probably answered, “I sort of fell into it.”

But that’s simply not true. I’d been preparing for it since I was a small boy.

I’d like to think my mother would have gotten a kick out of my blog. However, like an old-school journalist or some modern-day chef, she may not have particularly approved of my blog or even blogs in general. She was a woman of strong opinions. Though I’m sure I’d disagree with her. I’m a man of strong opinions. Sadly I’m left only to imagine what she might say if she saw these photos of my favorite blog posts of 2017. She passed away in 1993. Long before I ever saw the thread she left for me that led to this blog.

So, why do I blog? I don’t know, but I betcha I won’t quit in 2018. GREG

My five favorite posts of 2017 (plus one dessert!)

With no particular reason and in no particular order

Swordfish with a Simple Pan Sauce

Serve Swordfish (Again!) with a Simple Pan Sauce


Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta

Caprese Stacks with Candied Pancetta


Mexican Chocolate Tart

Mexican Chocolate Made into a Tart


Resuscitated Breakfast Pizza

Resuscitated Breakfast Pizza: The Good, the Bad and the Delicious


Seared Scallops with Sautéed Fennel in Saffron Broth

Mapping Out Dinner: Scallops with Saffron Broth & Fennel


Spring Lamb Ragù with Artichokes, Fava Beans, and Maltagliati (badly cut) Pasta

Maltagliati Pasta with Spring Lamb Ragù

New Year Black-Eyed Peas with New to Me Guajillo Chiles


Black-Eyed Peas in Guajillo Sauce with Cilantro Pesto

According to legendary Southern gossip, black-eyed peas are associated with a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck.” Which is how they’ve found their way into many folks’ New Year’s Day supper menu. I’m not superstitious. In fact, I doubt this little recipe of mine for Black-Eyed Peas in Guajillo Sauce with Cilantro Pesto will bring anyone good luck. Still, I hope you have the good fortune to give this recipe a try. It’s delicious– and delicious is as lucky as life gets these days. I’m sorry if that sounds sad, but the truth is I’m thrilled to see the big ugly backside of 2017 walk out the door.

But, it’s a new year and I hope better things lie ahead. So I might as well share something that’s new. For me that “new” is Guajillo Chile Peppers (see note).

Of course, depending on where you live, Guajillo Chile Peppers may not be new at all. They’re considered among the Holy Trinity of Chile Peppers in Mexican cuisine. I guess that means they aren’t new to a whole lotta people. I may live in So Cal where authentic Mexican food can be found on most every street corner, but these peppers are new to my vocabulary. Though probably not my taste buds. Guajillo Chile Peppers are an integral part of Mexican mole sauce. GREG

Guajillo Pepper from THE FRESH MARKET

Note: The Guajillo chile is a mild variety of the Mirasol chile. In Spanish “guajillo” means “little gourd,” which refers to the shape of the chile. The flavor is earthy and sweet with a hint of berry and spice. They can be tricky to source in many areas. Ancho, Pasilla, and Cascabel make worthy substitutes.

Black-Eyed Peas in Guajillo Sauce with Cilantro Pesto

Black-Eyed Peas in Guajillo Sauce with Cilantro Pesto

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10-12Published

I don’t always soak my beans before cooking. But in this case, I did.

Black-Eyed Peas in Guajillo Sauce with Cilantro Pesto


  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas (sorted)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 4 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 fresh sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup guajillo BBQ sauce (see recipe)
  • cilantro pesto (to taste, see recipe)


Soak the beans in water 8 to 12 hours. Drain well and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic; cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard seeds, salt, cayenne, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the black-eyed peas and enough water to cover by about 1-inch. Simmer until tender and creamy but not yet falling apart, about 30 minutes depending on beans. Add more water as necessary to keep the peas covered until cooked. Remove the black-eyed peas from the heat and let them cool in their cooking liquid, preferably overnight.

Drain the beans and quickly move them to a clean pot or bowl depending if you plan to serve them warm or not. Allow some of the soaking liquid to come along but they should not be soupy. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems and stir in about 1 cup of guajillo (or other flavorful) BBQ sauce.

Serve the beans gently reheated or at room temperature with cilantro pesto on the side.

Guajillo Chile BBQ Sauce

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2 cupSource Adapted from Travis LettPublished

The sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

BBQ Sauce


  • ¼ ounce olive oil
  • 8 dried guajillo chiles (stems and seeds removed)
  • 6 clove garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes (plus more as needed)
  • 3 cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt (to taste)


In a medium saucepan combine the olive oil, dried chiles, garlic, and diced tomato. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbling vigorously and starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and simmer vigorously for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook until the chiles have softened and all most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a food processor or blender, process the chile mixture to a coarse paste. Add the honey and vinegar and pulse to combine, then run the machine until the sauce is very smooth. Taste and season with salt. The mixture should pour easily but still cling to the spoon. It should not be as ridiculously thick as many store-bought BBQ sauces. Adjust consistency with more water if needed.

Cilantro Pesto

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Published

The pesto can be made 3 or 4 hours in advance and set aside on the counter, covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Cilantro Pesto


  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • kosher salt (to taste)


With a mortar and pestle, break down the cilantro and parsley into a paste, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil to loosen slightly, you might not use all the oil. Season with salt.

Captain Radcliffe’s Holiday Punch


Captain Radcliffe's Holiday Punch

Is the spirit of the season upon you? I bet it is. From Charlie Dickens to Charlie Brown all of our Christmas tales seem to have one theme: wouldn’t it be great if people would just spread a little holiday spirit all year-long? And by “spirit” of course, I assume they mean booze. Rum, whiskey, brandy, and cognac come to mind. I guess that’s why I try to set a good example and provide a cocktail recipe on this blog each Christmas season. This year is no exception and it comes in the form of a Holiday punch. I’m serving this Holiday punch on Christmas eve, but it’s a simple concoction so there’s no reason not to keep this spirit alive no matter the season.

Holiday Punch

Captain Radcliffe’s Punch is a classic English punch circa 1680. According to the LA Times the original calls for “five bottles of wine and the squeezing of 72 lemons.”

This mini-modern version is adapted from David Wondrich’s book, Punch, it’s smooth-drinking and not too boozy. After all, I’m arguing for keeping the Christmas spirit pouring all year. Why kill the sentiment after just one drink?

At its best Captain Radcliffe’s Punch is a cognac drink (though I’ve seen brandy adaptations too) made a little sweet with Sauternes wine. It’s inspired by a romantic poem by the 17th-century English army captain, Alexander Radcliffe. In the poem, the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece became jealous of the earthy libation known as punch and decide to recreate a version of their own on Mt. Olympus with each deity providing one essential ingredient. Sounds like a boring poem to me, but in 1680 people were starved for entertainment I guess…

As I said this Holiday punch isn’t too strong, the mini-version has 6 cups of water in it already, so it’s best when chilled by a single extra-large block of ice instead of fast-melting cubes. GREG

Captain Radcliffe's Holiday Punch

Captain Radcliffe’s Punch

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 20-24Source SaveurPublished
Captain Radcliffe's Punch


  • 4 lemons
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup sweet white wine (preferably sauternes)
  • 1 (750ml) bottle VSOP cognac
  • 6 cup chilled water
  • freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)


Using a peeler, peel lemons, taking off as little white pith as possible. Transfer peels to a heavy bowl; reserve lemons. Add sugar; use a muddler or a wooden spoon to vigorously crush sugar and peels together until the sugar turns faintly yellow and slushy.

Juice the reserved lemons and add the juice to the bowl along with the peels. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a punch bowl; strain the lemon and sugar mixture into the punch bowl; discard solids. Stir in the wine and the brandy. Chill. To serve, stir in water and place a large block of ice in the bowl. Garnish with nutmeg.

Raspberry Palmiers: Tis the Season for Christmas Cookies


It’s Christmastime. That time of year when I tell myself (year after year) that I’m just not going to bother. I don’t mean I’m not going to bother with the holidays. It’s day eight of Hanukkah and we managed to get the candles lit each of the previous seven nights. There’s a good chance we’ll finish the job tonight too. I also don’t mean I won’t bother with Christmas. Though it’s fun to insinuate it just to watch Scroogey glances shoot my way. Nope, my halls are decked with a little Christmas cheer. It’s Christmas cookies I try to avoid. Yet, behold I bring you good tidings of great sugary joy in the form of Raspberry Palmiers anyway.

Yes, Raspberry Palmiers count as Christmas cookies (though barely). Merry Christmas from my sticky counters to yours. GREG

Raspberry Palmiers PrepRaspberry Palmiers Prep Raspberry Palmiers

Raspberry Palmiers with Sour Cream Dough

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6 dozenSource Martha Stewart LivingPublished

I rolled my dough a little bit bigger than the recipe calls for and trimmed it into a neat, straight-sided square.

Raspberry Palmiers


  • 3 cup all-purpose four (plus more for dusting)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 24 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch dice)
  • 3/4 cup chilled sour cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam


Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sour cream and pulse until mixture holds together when pinched. Knead dough on a work surface to bring together, then flatten into an 8-by-6-inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half of mixture evenly on work surface. Let dough stand at room temperature until pliable. Cut in half; place one half of dough on sugared surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll into a 14-inch square. Spread half of jam onto dough, leaving a ¼-inch border all around. Starting from one side, tightly roll dough toward center, incorporating sugar. Repeat, rolling other side to meet first roll in middle. Freeze 15 minutes.

With a serrated knife, cut dough crosswise into ⅓-inch-thick slices. (Refrigerate dough as needed if it gets too soft to slice.) Arrange slices 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake 10 minutes. Carefully flip palmiers with an offset spatula and bake until golden, about 6 minutes more. Let cool on sheets 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Repeat with remaining sugar mixture and dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper, up to 1 week.

Beet and Persimmon Christmas Salad


This Beet and Persimmon Salad with Blue Cheese and Crunchy Seeds was inspired by Top Chef winner Kristen Kish. She has a similar salad featuring summer stone fruit in her new cookbook Kristen Kish Cooking. What I loved about this recipe is the crunchy seed garnish. It’s made by baking seeds and honey together creating a crisp crumble that has a similar appearance to granola. But I have to admit that it’s her wreath-like presentation of this dish that made me copy her nectarine version to include a more seasonally appropriate combination of beet and persimmon. Making this a colorful plateful of something I’m going to call a Christmas Wreath Salad. GREG

persimmon slices Beet and Persimmon Salad with Blue Cheese and Crunchy Seeds

Beet and Persimmon Salad with Blue Cheese and Crunchy Seeds

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source adpated from Kristen KishPublished
Beet and Persimmon Salad with Blue Cheese and Crunchy Seeds


  • 2 tablespoon raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoon assorted other flavorful seeds (such as anise, nigela, coriander, sesame, poppy, and/or flax)
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon, extra virgin olive oil (divided, plus more for drizzling)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • 2 pound baby beets (use various colors if you like)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and halved)
  • 2 (½-inch wide) strips orange peel
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 firm Fuyu persimmons (trimmed, peeled, sliced crosswise into rounds)
  • 6-9 ounce crumbled blue cheese (or to taste)
  • 20-30 flat parsley leaves
  • 4-6 lemon wedges (or to taste)


Prepare the crunchy seeds: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small bowl toss all the seeds with honey, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Spread in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the heated oven until toasted; 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they burn easily. Set aside to cool then break into small but variously sized clumps.

Roast the beets: Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Remove the greens and scrub the beets well. Arrange the beets on a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer and add the garlic cloves, orange peels, thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorns, and water. Drizzle the mixture with remaining ¼ cup olive oil and season generously with salt. Cover tightly with foil and bake up to 1 hour, or until the beets are tender (start checking at 40 minutes); transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool somewhat; discard the liquid and aromatics. If you are using multiple colors of beets roast each color separately as the cooking times vary and red beets will discolor the other beets.

When cool enough to handle (but still warm) peel and trim the beets and slice them into bite-sized wedges. Separate the beets by color to avoid discoloration.

Cut the persimmon rounds in half to create half moons, set aside.

To serve: Divide the beets and persimmons between 4 to 6 individual plates. Arrange them artfully. I chose a ring pattern for a holiday presentation, but any arrangement is fine. Sprinkle each one with blue cheese and crunchy seeds to taste then arrange parsley leaves on top. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges for spritzing.

Lucky Number 10: Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Curry-Tomato Relish


Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Bacon, Cheddar, and Curry-Tomato Relish

Though it’s not fancy, I consider the sandwich one of my favorite categories of food. Still, there’s a subset of the sandwich family that, for me, eclipses even the burger. You can’t talk about sandwiches and not include an appreciation for the grilled cheese sandwich. Or at least I can’t. As the Saveur sandwich issue stated several years back, “Plans falter and empires collapse, the no-fail recipe fails. But you can pretty much take it on faith: Grilled cheese will not disappoint.” In fact, the very first sandwich I ever shared on this blog was a Prosciutto and Red Spinach Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich. Since then there have been 54 sandwiches and this is the tenth grilled cheese sandwich: Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Cheddar, Bacon and Curry-Tomato Relish.

My grilled meatloaf version of a cheese toastie (as the Brits say) is a colossal example of a sandwich that does not disappoint. I was very careful in choosing the ingredients for this sandwich because I really wanted it to be a two-fisted wonder. I chose melted cheese, bacon, leftover meatloaf, and a curried-tomato condiment so flavorful it could double as a pasta sauce. This grilled meatloaf sandwich has a lot going on. So much so that it almost defies the grilled cheese subset to which I’ve assigned it.

Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Cheddar

Which got me thinking. What is a grilled cheese sandwich anyway? It’s a broad category because it can include a simple combination of cheeses oozing out of buttered sourdough, or a more robust panini-style sandwich requiring two hands to rustle. Either way, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich to me, and it remains a favorite. Probably because it was one of the first foods I ever learned to make all on my own. Once mastered, it’s easy to experiment with a grilled cheese sandwich, so I guess I have. New cheeses and new partners. I pretty quickly learned to look beyond Velveeta and try other cheeses. Swiss, mozzarella, gruyere– even brie, they all make a great grilled cheese. But it’s Cheddar that remains my favorite. I guess it has just the right amount of oomph for my palate. And believe me, this grilled meatloaf sandwich deserves a cheese with oomph. GREG

Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Bacon, Cheddar, and Curry-Tomato RelishCurry-Tomato Relish Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Bacon, Cheddar, and Curry-Tomato Relish

Pan Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Cheddar, Bacon, and Curry-Tomato Relish

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2Source Inspired by Tom ColicchioPublished
Pan Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with Cheddar, Bacon, and Curry-Tomato Relish


  • 4 slice Italian country loaf bread
  • 4 slice Cheddar cheese (or to taste)
  • 4 slice cooked bacon
  • 4 slice room temperature cooked meatloaf (or to taste)
  • ½ cup curry-tomato relish (see recipe)


Lay two bread slices on a clean, dry work surface. Place two slices of Cheddar onto one slice of bread, then top with two slices bacon. On the other slice of bread lay two slices of room temperature meatloaf, then top with a dollop or two of the curry-tomato relish. Spread the relish evenly across the meatloaf. Carefully close the sandwich and repeat the process to make a second sandwich. The recipe can be made to this point a few hours in advance, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

When ready to grill, use a pastry brush to generously brush both sides of each sandwich with melted butter. Cover the bread evenly, going all the way to the edges.

Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches to the skillet, cheese side down, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide them around in the pan a few times during cooking to ensure even browning. Turn the sandwiches over and repeat. Do not crowd the pan, work in batches in necessary.

Slice on the diagonal and serve the sandwiches warm.

Curry-Tomato Relish

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Published
Curry-Tomato Relish


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion (peeled, halved and thinly sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (plus more if needed)
  • 1 pound small tomatoes (halved, seeded, and roughly chopped)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook stirring often, until softened and just beginning to color. Add the sugar and curry and cook stirring often, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add tomatoes, water, oregano, and a big pinch each salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick and chunky and most of the liquid has evaporated about 15 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt, pepper and/or more vinegar. Use immediately or store, covered and refrigerated, up to one week.

Traditional “All-American” Meatloaf

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Martha Stewart LivingPublished

Be careful not to over-knead the meatloaf ingredients; doing so will result in a heavy and dense loaf. Use a combination of meat for perfect meatloaf: beef for flavor, veal for tenderness and easy slicing, pork for juiciness.


  • 3 slice white bread
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery, strings peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4½ teaspoon teaspoons dry mustard
  • 8 ounce ground pork
  • 8 ounce ground veal
  • 8 ounce ground round
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more needles for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ¼ inch-thick rings


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove crusts from bread, and place slices in the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Transfer breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. Do not substitute dried breadcrumbs in this step, as they will make your meatloaf rubbery.

Place carrot, celery, yellow onion, garlic, and parsley in the bowl of the food processor. Process until vegetables have been minced, about 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. (Chopping vegetables this way saves time and ensures that vegetables will be small enough to cook through and not be crunchy). Transfer vegetables to bowl with the breadcrumbs.

Add ½ cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, pork, veal, beef, eggs, salt, pepper, Tabasco, and rosemary. Using your hands, knead the ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. The texture should be wet, but tight enough to hold a free-form shape.

Set a wire baking rack into an 11-by-17-inch baking pan. Cut a 5-by-11-inch piece of parchment paper, and place over center of rack to prevent meatloaf from falling through. Using your hands, form an elongated loaf covering the parchment.

Alternatively, you could put the meat into a loaf pan, but I like the crust that forms all over from this method.

Place the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup, remaining 2 ½ teaspoons mustard, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the glaze over loaf.

Add oil to a medium saucepan set over high heat. When oil is quite hot, but not yet smoking, add red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and golden in places. Add 3 tablespoons water, and cook, stirring, until most of the water has evaporated. The onions should be jammy. Transfer them to a bowl to cool slightly, then sprinkle onion over the meatloaf (this step is optional).

Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes, then sprinkle rosemary needles on top. Continue baking loaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees; about 25 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool on rack, 15 minutes.