Hungarian Goulash

The first signs of autumn has meandered on to our ranch. Cool evenings, transitioning to near frosty nights. Just the kind of weather that gets me back into the mood for hearty stews and slow cooked meats

Hungarian Goulash
2 1/2 lbs stew meat (beef or venison)– cut into cubes {at least 1″}
1/2 cup (about) all purpose flour for dredging
olive oil
1 large onion–cut in half then thinly sliced in have moons
10-12 crimini mushrooms–sliced
4 cloves of garlic–smashed and kept whole or near whole
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
14 ounce diced tomatoes-with juice
1/2 cup water
2 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp of each)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in bottom of a dutch oven (just enough to coat the bottom). Dredge the meat cubes in flour and shake of excess. Toss into the hot oil and sear meat on all sides. Do not crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary. Once the meat is seared add it back to the pan with juices (if working in batches) and add onion, mushrooms and garlic. Add a bit more olive oil if needed. allow to cook down for a few minutes. add the sweet paprika, smoked paprika, hot paprika and caraway seeds and give it a good stir, so the spices are evenly distributed. This will also toast the spices a bit. Add the tomatoes and water and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Add beef broth and cover. place in a 350 preheated oven and allow to cook for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender.
Remove from oven and add lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then taste again for salt. stir in sour cream and parsley (check one more time for salt). Serve over buttered wide-noodles or dumplings

Buttermilk Biscuits

When I was in high school what we called“the roach coach”, rolled up come lunch-time. It was selling all sorts of delicious read really unhealthy food stuffs. Once a week it stopped at KFC; loading up on chicken and biscuits. I would queue
for the length of our lunch break, for those biscuits. Big, fluffy & buttery, they were just the nutritious lunch i needed (ha ha). Those days are long gone. Roach coaches are now gourmet eateries. And i am much more discerning in my biscuit adoration.

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour-plus more for kneading
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bakewell cream
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 Tbs unsalted butter–cold & cut into small squares
1 cup buttermilk–cold + more for brushing tops

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry knife to cut in the butter, allowing for both pea size and smaller pieces of butter. Do not overwork, you want the butter to stay relatively firm and cool. Quickly add in the buttermilk and stir to create a moist dough. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and press into a rectangle. Do not saturate in flour, but also use enough to prevent sticking. Bring the short ends of the dough in, folding into thirds. Give the dough a quarter turn and press or roll again into a rectangle. Fold into thirds. Repeat 2 more times, using enough flour to keep dough from sticking. After the final turn, roll the dough into a 3/4″ rectangle. Use a biscuit cutter to make rounds, or for simplicity, cut evenly into squares. Brush top of each biscuit with buttermilk, and place on a lined baking sheet. I like to place my biscuits fairly close together, so they bake together a bit. It gives it a little softness around the edges. If that is not your thing, make sure you have at least 1 1/2″ separation when placing in pan. Bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Chard & Ricotta Pie

When we are up at the cabin, I don’t always have a full larder. I do however, have a garden and a few cheats in the freezer. This invariably leads to simple and creative dinners. I was able to whip this up in a snap. Mostly because, our garden overflows with chard.

Chard and Ricotta Pie
10 sheets filo dough
olive oil
grated parmesan
1 garlic clove–finely chopped
1/2 medium onion–finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch (about 12 large leaves/4 cups chopped)–chopped–discarding stems
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly grated parmesan
a few turns of the pepper-mill

Use an 8×10 pan. Layer the filo by brushing each sheet with olive oil, and a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese. The bottom layer should be 6 sheets. Trim the ends and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on low–toss in the garlic and onion. cook just until the onions begin to sweat and turn translucent. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Toss in the chard and allow to wilt, giving a good stir to evenly cook. After about 5 minutes, toss in about 1/4 cup of water and cover. Allow the chard to get nice and soft. allow to cool slightly. strain off the liquid and place in a bowl. add the ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and pepper.
evenly spread into the prepared filo crust. Take the remaining 4 leaves of filo one by one and scrunch them in a loose accordion. Place on top of the spinach layer, making sure to cover the entire top of the pie. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a bit more cheese.
Bake at 375F for about 30-35 minutes. You will look for the filo to be nice and crispy. Serve warm or room temperature. This is very easy to crisp up in the oven for a “next-day” treat!

Turmeric and Cumin Crispy Smashed Potatoes

I do enjoy serving a meal of homegrown and freshly harvested food. I swell with pride as I lay a platter down proclaiming all prepared from our garden harvest. ‘So simple and easy’ knowing full well that the ease I feel is from years of; curiously
observing generations of the amazing cooks in my family, of boldly wandering into restaurant kitchens simply asking to see a technique, of sitting with locals at a farm table in the hills of Italy, on the banks of a river in Costa Rica, or roadside in India. I listen of trial and error and of trial and success. I learned of turmeric potatoes in India, brightly colored and deeply spiced. They are a perfect accompaniment to richly stewed meats. The version I present here is a bit more tame; still brightly colored and assertively spiced, but more suited to roasted meats or a vegetarian meal.

Sadly, my potato harvest was a bit of a bust this year…but in a brush of serendipity, I was sent a few pounds of potatoes from Friedas asking if i would like to give them a try. I like the piccolo potatoes for this recipe. Once cooked they have crispy crust, with creamy interior

Turmeric & Cumin Crispy Smashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs small potatoes
(i used piccolo from the little potato company, this will work with new, fingerling or any other small potato)
1 Tbs turmeric powder
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbs olive oil
1 generous teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 generous teaspoon whole mustard seed

Place whole potatoes in a pot of cool water to cover. Add turmeric and 1 tsp salt and stir. Bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked through). Drain and place in a roasting dish in a single layer. Using the back of a fork, press each potato until it is a bit broken and smashed, but not completely flattened. In a skillet, place the olive oil, cumin and mustard seed. Heat on medium until the seeds begin to jump and pop. Immediately pour the hot oil and spices evenly over the smashed potatoes. Place immediately into to 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes. Check periodically and stir if needed for even roasting. Remove from oven and taste for salt. Pair with roasted chicken or minted lamb or simply dab a bit of plain greek yogurt mixed with a bit of lemon juice over the top for a warm salad.

Roasted Swordfish on Garlic Crouton

One of the great things about my life is that it has been well lived. I have gathered great friends along the way. Friends from all walks of life and all parts of the world. Friends who know I don’t answer the phone before 9 am. On a Saturday morning recently, I was up early reading my email. One came through from an old friend currently living in Memphis. It asked, “you awake? I have a question for you and I don’t want to wake you”. It was sent at 7:45am. I loved her for her courtesy. I called her 2 minutes later. In return,sshe shared with me an amazing recipe of roasted fish on garlic croutons. She found it on epicurious. I have changed the recipe a bit, but really only slightly. It is so perfect. Just like the lovely who shared it with me.

Roasted Swordfish on Garlic Crouton
olive oil
2 bunches fresh spinach
tomato sauce
1/2 cup onions–finely diced
3 anchovy fillets
large can whole tomatoes
3 garlic cloves–coarsely chopped
about 10 basil leaves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs capers-drained
4 swordfish filets or steaks about 7 oz each
olive oil
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
salt and pepper
garlic crouton
4-1/2″ thick slices country bread
1 clove of garlic-cut in half
preheat the oven to 450F

For Spinach
In a skillet, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Quickly saute the spinach until it is wilted but still has its color. Remove the spinach from the pan and set aside. quickly rewarm just before serving.

For tomato sauce
Heat a large skillet and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and cook until they begin to sweat. Add the anchovies and cook until the anchovies have disintegrated into the oil and onions begin to get golden brown. Toss in the garlic and give it a few stirs. Add the tomatoes, crushing each one to bits, by hand, as you add it. Give it a good stir and leave to simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Just before removing from heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, basil leaves and capers. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep warm
For Fish
Put a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish. Place the fish on top. season with salt and pepper and chili flakes. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. place in the oven and cook until the fish becomes opaque, about 8-10 minutes.

For Garlic Crouton
Place your bread slices on a sheet pan in the oven to toast. Slice the garlic clove into 2 pieces. Once the bread is toasted, lightly rub each slice with the garlic.

To Assemble
While everything is still warm, place a garlic crouton on each plate or on serving platter. Top with spinach. Next place a piece of fish on top of the spinach. Generously bathe in the tomato sauce. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top to serve.

Lemon Chicken

I seem to be on a bit of a citrus jag lately. I suspect the reason being this: on our back porch sits a potted lemon tree. It produces exactly 8 lemons every other year. We have coaxed coddled and crooned to it. Sadly, this is its best work. Consequently, when it produces, I get to work. This recipe is really a bit of this and smidge of that. Really delicious, very lemony and extremely popular in our house. The best part: it freezes well.

Lemon Chicken

1 lb chicken breasts
olive oil
1/2 onion–finely chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 2 large lemons (a bit less if you don’t like your chicken really lemony)
1 tsp honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley–minced
Pound the chicken breasts until they are thin like a cutlet. pat chicken dry. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. Cook eat chicken breast enough to just brown, but not to cook completely through. Remove from skillet and reserve. Add a bit more olive oil and toss in the onion. Cook on medium heat until onion begins to soften. Toss in the chicken broth and use tongs or spatula to scrape up all the bits of chicken that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, lemon juice and honey. Stir to combine, then put the chicken back into the skillet. Simmer on very low until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with the sauce spooned over the chicken. Sprinkle a bit of parsley on top. Sserve with lemon slices if desired.


After dinner Mike leaned in real tight and whispered; “you make a great lasagna.” This is delicious, but lasagna it is not.
adapted from mario batali
fresh pasta sheets–boiled and shocked in ice water
For Filling
olive oil
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 generous Tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 egg–lightly beaten
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Glug enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of skillet. Add pork and beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Stir in flour. Add milk and Parmesan cheese. Cook on low for about 10-15 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. Let cool a bit, then add egg, nutmeg salt and pepper. Let cool completely while you boil pasta.

For Tomato Sauce
use your favorite recipe or even a bottle sauce…you need only a little for this recipe
For Besciamella
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for just a minute or two. do not brown. Whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. As it begins to thicken, add the Parmesan, nutmeg and salt. The sauce is to be thickened, but not gooey. It is a sauce.

To assemble
Place a bit of tomato sauce in the bottom of an oven safe dish. Use a very generous tablespoon of meat for each cannelloni. Place meat in the center of the pasta sheet and spread evenly. Roll the pasta into a tube, leaving the ends open. Place in the prepared dish. Repeat with remaining meat and pasta. Once completed, cover in beciamella, swirl in a bit more tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until heated through and the beciamella begins to bubble.

Game Hens with Patatas Bravas

Yesterday I was editing my photos from our trip to Spain and I came across this photo of patatas bravas; which we enjoyed surrounded by the bustle of La Rambla and a darling waiter whom was leaving fake euros under chair legs as a tease. He was getting much more joy from the fake-out than the actual and generous, I might add gratuity we left.

patatas bravas-barcelona

I immediately had a craving. Hubster is a meat and potato kind of guy and I  am a potato and potato kind of girl. If I were making this just for me I would round this off with a glass of red wine and a good read, but such is not the case. I am accompanying them with cornish hen stuffed with creamy and herbed cheese. If you can’t find game hens, or you don’t like them, you can easily stuff a chicken breast or thigh with the cheese mixture.

cornish hen

2 cornish game hens–cleaned and dried
1/4 cup chevre–room temp
1/2 cup cream cheese–room temp
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic-pulverized to paste
1 Tbs chopped fresh chive
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
Mix together the chevre, cream cheese, pepper, garlic, chive, and parsley.  Split into two portions and stuff into the cavity of each hen; truss it up.   Place in a roasting dish and squeeze lemon juice over the hens, then toss the lemon into the roasting pan. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the hens, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 400F oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on size).

Patatas Bravas

2 russet potatoes–peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil
1  large egg yolk
3 cloves garlic–finely chopped
2 tsp lemon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar or drizzle of honey
1/4 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water.  Boil until you can easily pierce– do not overcook.  Drain and let cool. Make sure they are dry.  Heat oil in a heavy pot and fry potatoes in oil until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with aioli.
FOR AIOLI–place egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, salt, sugar or honey, paprika, and cayenne (if using) in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil until it comes together like a thin mayonnaise.  Taste for spice.

NOTE:  If there is NO WAY you are going to make aioli or don’t want to use raw eggs…then do this: put 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 large garlic clove–crushed to a paste), 1 tsp lemon juice, pinch sugar, 1/2 tsp paprika, and as much cayenne as you like in a blender and whirl it until everything is really smooth.  This will taste delicious!