Monthly Archives: April 2009

“Fusion” marinated steak and lemon asparagus

Ages ago I visited a restaurant here in Chicago that had a unique, well what I thought was unique, marinade for their steak.  I couldn’t remember ever aspect of it, so I thought I’d simply give it a go. For this I used filet strip steak that I ended up cubing for before marinating.  

Please note you will need skewers and a deep oven pan for this recipe.


  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • Soy Sauce (enough to cover the steak in my container of choice)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stalk of crushed lemon grass

Mix your marinade together, place the steak into an air tight container with the marinade and the meat set in the fridge for roughly 24 hours. Make sure you shake the marinade roughly ever 4 hours (if possible).  

When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 275.  Take your skewers and place roughly four pieces of steak per skewer, and place over your deep oven pan.  


Cook in the over for roughly 30 to 40 minutes at 275, basting the meat with the left over marinade ever 10 minutes.  This will bring the steak to a very nice medium rare.  Obviously, cook to your desire and check the meat often.

Lemon Asparagus

I wanted to keep with the lemon flavored theme, even if the taste was ever so faint.  Here is what you’ll need for the Asparagus:

  • 1 bunch Fresh Asparagus
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • lemon juice
  • 1 pad of butter
  • freshly crushed black pepper

Cut the asparagus to the length of your choosing and place into a deep frying pan.  Add enough lemon juice to cover the bottom of the pan, include your pad of butter, and boil the juice for roughly 5 mins.  Your asparagus will turn a nice bright green when it’s ready.  

Once bright green, take off the flame and drain off remaining lemon juice.  Add the garlic powder and black pepper and you are set!

For this dish, I used Trader Joe’s Jasmine Rice for the base and placed the meat over the rice and asparagus:


And for a close up..

Come on, admit it... you want some!

Come on, admit it... you want some!

This didn’t match the exact flavor of the restaurant, but it was close.  I may play with using lemon paste instead of lemon grass to add a bit more of the lemon zest aspect.  The curry and tumeric leave a nice taste after the initial blast of Soy Sauce.  Also, the medium rare preparation is perfect for this dish – especially with the cut of meat.  I could also see how this dish could easily turn into a BBQ meal.  

Bon Appetite!

King Size Corn Muffins

Back in March, Wandering Coyote @ ReTorte made some King Size Corn Muffins.  Right away I knew I had to give these a try…because bigger is always better.(Right Donna-FFW?)  After tracking down a king size muffin tin and finishing a number of other recipes, I finally got down to making the muffins.

(Original recipe can be found here)

Blend together:
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

Sift in:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal 
½ cup cut corn (I used Trader Joe’s Organic)

Throw the mixture into your King Size Muffin Tin and back for roughly 35 mins.  One can make normal size muffins as well but make sure you bake for roughly 20 to 25 mins.

And in the end you get…


The cut corn was an addition I made to her original recipe.  It seemed like a good addition to me, and I will toy with adding more than a half cup the next time I make these.  These are dense little treats that could go well with a meal or as a quick breakfast.

Oh, one more shot…

"Gourmet" turkey meatloaf!

The raw ingredients:


And not terribly beautiful to look at, but I can assure you quite yummy is the final product. I need to say that normally I would use the traditional loaf pan, but we’re switching out our non-stick coated stuff for healthier options like stainless steal, glass and cast iron and haven’t gotten around to the loaf pans yet.


So the ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 large onion (diced in small bits and sauteed)

1 bulb garlic (or to your liking, diced and cooked up with the onions)

1 cup pecorino/romano cheese blend (you can choose any dry grated cheese you like)

1/2 cup pesto

2 tsp red chili flakes (more or less according to taste–I like spice)

1 cup oats soaked in milk for several hours (Bread crumbs are traditionally used in meatloaf. When I became aware of my wheat sensitivity I came up with the oats as an alternative and they are quite delightful even if you can eat wheat! I recommend you give it a try.)

3 eggs

3 handfuls of dehydrated tomatoes (not pictured above—I thought of it as I cooked the onions and garlic and threw them in with some water to steam and reconstitute—my step-dad sends us loads of them every year from their very prolific garden)

Salt to taste. I also tossed in a bit of Tamari while steaming the tomatoes as part of the reconstitution process…but just a bit of it…didn’t want to be aware of the Tamari in a distinct fashion. (Tamari is basically soy sauce but it’s made without wheat)


Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes if you want to use them.  The alternative is half can of tomato paste in the meat mixture or if you have it on hand and eat the stuff a hefty squirt of Ketchup. I don’t eat Ketchup anymore, but it works if you do.

Put aside the sauteed veggies and let cool.

Mix the meat and all the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Once the saute has cooled a bit mix that in with all the meat ingredients.

Oil pan. I use an olive oil spray. Dump the meat mixture into the pan.

Put into pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. I never know exactly how long a meatloaf is going to take. Just see that it’s browned and make sure the interior is cooked by putting a knife in the middle and see that it comes out clean.


Homemade flat bread with steak, bell peppers and garlic sauce

Bob @ I Cook Stuff got me motivated this past week with his home made flat bread recipe. I just couldn’t pass that up, I had to give it a go. I took his recipe for the bread and added my own touches, so here we go.

Please note, I was doing several things at once here – feel free to do in any order you desire.

This is what we started with:


Apparently the steak was a Great Buy!

Bell Peppers

With the recent discussion of organic foods, I decided to stop at Whole Foods for this meal. I was VERY impressed with the quality of the vegetables. The peppers I picked were rich in color and crisp. While not a long time eater of peppers, I can say these were the best peppers I’ve ever had.

Take your peppers, de-seed them and slice them up. (I have to include a picture, they were so impressive to me)


Whole Foods, I'm really impressed with your veggies.

Steam them in roughly an inch of water for about 5 to 7 minutes, remove from heat and drain.


I used a thin cut steak for this meal. The prep was really easy… stupidly easy. Simply cut into strips, use about two teaspoons of oil in a medium heated pan and cook until the meat is about 3/4th done – once the meat look brown but still retains blood.

Remove from heat, drain, and put into a bowl.

Now, I say “3/4th done” because a thin cut steak – like a skirt steak – is rather hard to cook. More often than not, people tend to over cook such thin cuts. I remove the steak when it is still “bleeding” but brown as the internal heat will finish the cooking process without overcooking the meat into little strips of leather

No, I did not season the meat as the Garlic Sauce acts as the seasoning for the dish.

Garlic Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and chill.

Garlic and Pepper Flat bread

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup ice water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp fresh black pepper

(Bob’s Recipe can be found here)

Mix all the ingredients together until you have a nice ball of dough. Flatten out the ball and cut into four equal parts. Take a cutting board, add flour to the board so the dough does not stick, and shape the bread to your desired size and thickness. Get a hot skillet ready, with olive oil coating applied, and fry up the flat bread. Make sure you flip the bread with a spatula constantly to prevent burning. Depending on the thickness of your, the bread has the ability to cook quickly. Indicators that your bread is ready will include browning and slight cracking.

There are a few modifications I made to Bob’s instructions.

First, I found the 1 cup of water was not enough for the dough. I added another ½ cup in order to provide enough moisture to mix all of the ingredients together.

Second, Bob suggested the cook time on the bread to be roughly 30 second. I made the bread slightly thicker than his which lead to mine to be around 2 to 3 minutes in total. Also, I did the bread over a high flame.

Assemble! Fold up and eat like a pita.


Wrap up and enjoy!

The bread is OUTSTANDING and not hard to make at all. Bob, thank you for turning me on to this one. The Garlic Sauce is a cool taste that blends well with the bell peppers and steak.. Alternate uses for the sauce could be as a vegetable dip or simply to eat with the bread.



I was very flattered when Van asked me yesterday if I’d like to contribute to this blog.  I really don’t know exactly what my contribution will be at the moment, but I have been assured that there will be no pressure (right, Van?).

How about I take requests.

Anyone have anything in particular they’d like me to write about?  I’m feeling a little stumped right now.  I always have stuff coming down the pipe for my own food site ReTorte, but now that I’m part of a group blogging effort I feel like I must  perform!

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

My version. I grew up with this dish and started making it from memory in adulthood. I use a lot of tuna to make it high in protein as I need lots of protein and not so many carbs myself.

The “raw” ingredients. This is one of the very few things I make that has a lot of canned and boxed food.


Finished product in a real pasta bowl from Italy that I grew up with in my home. It’s a bit large for the quantity of pasta I made but it’s pretty!


So the ingredients:

1 large red onion diced

Garlic to taste (I go with pretty much a whole bulb—this is of course according to taste)

Large bunch of parsley chopped up

Pesto–that’s the funny looking green thing next to the bowl of tuna—it’s about a quarter cup of frozen pesto—I made it from last years crop of basil from our garden. If you’re using fresh basil, which would be better, also use a large bunch.

Anchovies in olive oil—the whole can chopped up fine. Use the olive oil when you cook your onion and garlic…it’s yummy.

Olive oil–an additional tbls or so

Capers (3 heaping tbls)

Kalamata Olive tapenade (3 heaping tbls)— I used this because I didn’t have fresh whole olives. Whole pitted olives cut into thirds are better!! I like chewing on those bits of olives and really tasting them. In this sauce the tapenade disappeared into the sauce and while it still tasted really good, it would’ve been better with a high quality black olive chunks. My favorite are oil and salt cured black olives. They have a very sharp distinct flavor and not everyone likes them. The tapenade, though, is also very easy. No pitting and cutting of olives so it’s convenient.

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

2 cans tuna fish

I used 8 oz of Quinoa Spaghetti. I’m allergic to wheat and find the texture of this pasta much better than rice pasta. It’s almost as good as the real thing, though it’s been so long I may not accurately remember anymore!

Fresh ground black pepper to taste and you might want to salt the water that you cook the pasta in, but if you don’t like salt much or you have to watch your intake, skip that because the capers, anchovies and olives all have a lot of salt.

So saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add the pesto, capers and olives and saute for a couple of minutes with the garlic and onion. Then add the tomatoes, tuna and the parsley and cook until it comes to a boil and then immediately turn it off. I like this not to cook too long.

That’s it.

Bon apetit.

Lumpia Shanghai and Pork BBQ

Years ago I discovered a local Filipino store that specializes in import food items – rice, fruit and drinks.  In the back of this tiny store is a kitchen that happens to serve authentic home made items and they are fantastic.  Healthy?  Yea, guessing not, but some of food that really hits the spot.

I had intended on making a quick salmon dish this evening but my sudden and uncontrollable urge for Lumpia took over.  I thought I would share that urge with you.

What is Lumpia Shanghai?

Lumpia Shanghai (Lumpia for short) is, essentially, a mini egg roll roughly 4 inches in length filed with beef or pork, egg, carrots and various spices.  These little guys are deep fried to sinful perfection and usually served with sweet and sour sauce (which I usually pass on).  I find the addition of carrots in the roll to be sweet enough for me.

There are a number of versions of Lumpia, usually tied to the country and region of origin. I would actually consider this food item to be the ideal finger food.  Just remember to a napkin around as your fingers are bound to get greasy.

Pork BBQ

Anyone who has exposure to Filipino food will know there seems to be a certain affinity for all things pork.  From open pit, full roasted, pigs to skewers, Filipino BBQ pork is quite enjoyable.  No, I didn’t pick up a fully roasted pig, I opted for the skewers.

These little guys are marinated in Soy sauce, with sugar, garlic and lemon juice.  Usually, the pork is BBQed (as noted by the name) but can also be prepared under a broiler.  It is very important that you continue to move/turn the skewers until cooked to your liking because pork can be easily overcooked.  If one wants to really add flavor to the mix, change out the sugar for brown sugar.

Lumpia Shanghai and Pork BBQ just begging for you to eat them!

Lumpia Shanghai and Pork BBQ just begging for you to eat them!

While store purchased Lumpia Shanghai and Pork BBQ hits the spot, if it fresh, the real challenge will be when I decide to take these on in my own kitchen.  It may be some time until that happens as I have a number of other things I would like to get to first, but I will definitely post my adventure once it takes place.

Dirty Rice with Italian Sausage

My general rule when I go grocery shopping is “only buy ingredients.”  What I mean by that is that I don’t buy things that are already dishes and only need to be heated.  I don’t buy spaghetti sauce, I keep tomatoes and garlic, etc. on hand.  That way if I want spaghetti sauce I can have that, and if I want chili it can also be that.  There have been a few exceptions to that rule to satisfy my wife by purchasing things I cannot make better myself.  One of those, Stove Top Stuffing, was eliminated last week when I learned the secret of sage, this week I am able to eliminate my final boxed good from my shopping cart by figuring out how to recreate Zatarans Dirty Rice.  I don’t know why I didn’t try this earlier because I’ve been mixing my own Cajun spices since I learned how to cook (the first thing I ever cooked was gumbo.)  My wife loves Zatarans with Italian sausage mixed in.  Here is how to avoid ever having to by Zatarans again.

Dirty Rice with Italian Sausage

1 lb Italian Sausage (hot or mild)

Cajun Spice

2 cups Beef Broth

1 cup Rice

1 pat Butter

1 tblspn minced Garlic

1 tblspn diced Onion  

1 tblspn dice Bell Pepper

Cajun Spice

1 tspn thyme

½ tspn oregano

1 tspn pepper

½ – 0 tspn cayenne (depending on your heat preference)

1 tspn paprika

1 tspn garlic powder

1 tspn onion powder

½ tspn celery salt

1.       Prepare Italian sausage.  What I do is fill my cast iron skillet 1/3 full of water and boil the sausages until the water all evaporated, then I sear them in the fat which has been released from them while boiling.  This little trick is how I am able to get the insides and outsides cooked to my desired doneness.  I also use this trick to “grill” onions by adding some oil and butter to the water. When the sausages are done, move them to a cutting board, let them rest and slice into bite size pieces.

boiling-italian-sausage1 cooked-italian-sausage

2.       Saute your onion, pepper and garlic (you could add celery too)in the butter until softened.

3.       Add your Cajun seasoning and let the flavors bloom a little, once you can smell it go ahead and

4.       Add your rice, I always sauté my rice a little

5.       Add in your beef broth and cook rice as you normally do


6.       When the rice is done and all the liquid absorbed, mix in ½ the sausage with the rice

7.       Plate up and add the second ½ the sausage on top


Makes enough for 4.      

Campanelle with Chicken and Vegetables

Last night I was thinking to myself “I want a nice, healthy, fresh dinner tomorrow.” Immediately my mind started running different options – do I want a fresh salad or a simple pasta dish.  After roughly 12 hours with the topic running through my mind, I decided pasta was the way to go. I take my dinner choices seriously!  

This dish is based, in part, on the recipe over at My Tasty Treasures.  I made a few changes based on what seemed right for me and then I had a go. 

What you’ll need:

  • 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Head of Broccoli
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 cups of Chicken Stock
  • 2 tsp of Basil
  • 2 tsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp of Butter
  • ½ tsp of Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp of Salt
  • Shredded Asiago Cheese
  • Pasta (cooked and ready – remember to boil in saltwater!)
Chicken Breast, Red Peppers, Yellow Squash, Campanelle Pasta

Chicken Breast, Red Peppers, Yellow Squash, Campanelle Pasta

Food Prep

Cut your Chicken Into thumb sized cuts, set aside
Chop your Broccoli into Florets
Slice your squash into half dollar chips
Peel and dice your Garlic


1) Place your vegtabiles into a pan with ½ inch of water, steam on medium-high heat for 5 mins, set aside (or cook while doing next part)

2) Place olive oil and garlic into large pan, cook until garlic is brown

3) Add chicken stock and chicken cuts – cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is almost cooked

4) Add Butter, Basil, Salt and Pepper – stir

5) Add Pasta and Vegetables and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken reaches the desired degree of cooking

Finished and ready to go!

Finished and ready to go!

I was hoping for a quick and easy dish, and I found it.  Total prep and cook time is roughly 25 minutes and is not difficult at all.  More importantly, and I very well may be biased, this is one of the freshed dishes I’ve had in a long time.  With a few tweaks this dish could very easily be of restaurant quality. It is truly that good.  The Red Peppers hold the taste of the chicken stock ever so slightly, the asiago adds a bit a sharpness and the chicken is juicy. 

Really, as long as you do not overcook the chicken I truly believe you will enjoy this dish!

Very simple and delicious calamari

The raw ingredients:

Simple ingredients: calamari, butter, garlic and parsley

Simple ingredients: calamari, butter, garlic and parsley

The finished product:


I must confess, I am dealing with a sharp learning curve here. I’ve never photographed food and it’s not as easy as one might think and I am also dealing with the handicap of not having particularly presentable bowls and what not.

Presentation has, in general, not been my specialty. Taste and high quality ingredients are where I’ve mostly excelled. So this blog is challenging me because I do, in fact, have a strong aesthetic sense but have not invested in the sorts of bowls and dishes to make presentation really great. And my photographic skills are lacking. So hopefully all this will improve over time.

In any case the food!

I made a simple calamari dish which is comprised of butter, garlic, and parsley. Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste as well. You cook it about 5 minutes max. It’s really easy!!

This dish consisted of:

1 1/2 lbs of Calamari — bodies sliced in thirds and tentacles whole

2 tbls butter (you can go with more—even a lot more especially if you put this over pasta)

Parsley—the whole big mass of parsley in the picture chopped up (I go for lots of parsley–it’s an incredibly healthy herb that is very high in nutrients–but some may want to use about half the amount of parsley I used. I personally try to maximize nutritional value in my food)

Garlic—again I go very heavy on garlic, you do as you like!

Salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in pan. Add chopped or pressed garlic and saute until very just shy of being browned.
Throw in the parsley and the calamari, salt and pepper at a high temperature and cover.
Cook at medium high for about 5 minutes. Stirring after about 3 minutes and covering again.

Do not overcook! Overcooked calamari can become unpleasantly rubbery!

Should make a nice, tasty broth which you can put over rice or pasta or eat it by itself in it’s soupy delight.