Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

I've been dreaming of Sweet Potatoes.  They're one of my favorite foods - yet, like a lot of things, they tend to get overlooked.  They're almost always in the house - and almost always just get popped into the oven and baked.  Until tonight.

I actually peeled one, sliced it thin, and made a sort of galette out of it.  I'm going to eventually fry some sweet potatoes, I know.  But not tonight.

Sweet Potato Galette

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Peel potato and slice thin. Mix potatoes in bowl with brown sugar, spices, and flour.  Mix well.  Add 2 tbsp melted butter and mix.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in an 8" skillet and layer potatoes evenly, overlapping in concentric circles.

Press down, cover with foil, and place a 425° oven for about 45 minutes.  Remove foil for last 15 minutes of cooking.

The cicken was marinated in olive oil, red wine, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs d'Provence and then grilled over indirect heat for about 45 minutes.

I made the bean salad yesterday.

Fresh Bean Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled cranberry beans (or a can of beans of your choice, rinsed and drained)
  • several ounces of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook beans until soft.  Blanch green beans.  Place both in ice water to stop cooking and quickly chill.

Drain.  Mix in bowl with remaining ingredients.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

And I used up the last of the bread dough in the 'fridge for a fresh loaf of bread.

Time to mix up a new batch tomorrow!

Leafy Greens

We had our weigh-in at work today.  I only dropped half a pound.  But... considering how we've eaten this week - and that ice cream - I'll take not gaining anything as a positive step forward.  We did do a bit of munching this week.  Well... we do a bit of munching every week, but it seemed a bit heavier this week for this time of year.

Oh.  And it's National Donut day today.  I ate a peanut butter cream-filled donut whatever (that probably had every known ingredient I refuse to knowingly eat) that was divine.  That's the nice thing about standards. They're totally changeable to reflect the situation.

So donut consumed, and a mere half-pound gone, I decided we needed salads, again.

I love salads.  Victor loves salads.  I just haven't been seeing that stellar produce.  Stuff has been "okay".  It hasn't been "OMG!  Eat me right now!".  But it's getting there...  So it's back to those leafy green vegetables.  And everything else under the sun.

Tonight's dinner started off with a bed of romaine.  Not a lot.  And then a few grapes.  I love grapes.  And then some of the hot peppers Victor fried up Monday.  And some baby roma tomatoes.

I heated up a grill basket on the grill and played a bit of clean out the refrigerator.  Yellow zucchini, green zucchini, bell pepper, broccoli, and asparagus.  I drizzled a bit of olive oil on them, some salt and pepper, added some chopped fresh herbs from the garden and it all went into the basket with a piece of London Broil on the grill next to it.


The dressing was fun.  I had a couple of white peaches that were almost past their prime, so into the blender they went with a bit of white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a pinch of herbs d'Provence.  A drizzle of olive oil made a rich, creamy, and slightly sweet emulsion that worked really well with the beef and the roasted vegetables.

I've decided we need to be ever-so-slightly-good for dessert tonight, so I'm going to skip the chocolate ice cream and make a clafouti.  I picked up some Rainier cherries, that, while not the traditional cherry one would generally use, will still totally rock.

Off to pit.....

Spring Salads

The calendar is saying Spring, but the weather is saying winter.  Dayum, it's cold outside!

I did my weekly shopping for decent weather - salads.  I'm thinking I'd rather have stew.  But I have all of these salad ingredients to use up.  So it's damn, the temperature - we're having salads!

The salads were basic mixed greens, grilled beef, tomatoes, broccoli, yellow squash, mushrooms, raspberries, and egg salad.  The highlight, was Victor's Tomato Vinaigrette!

It was olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, anchovy paste, Greek oregano, minced garlic, salt and pepper.


A couple of slices of raisin walnut bread with last night's tomato butter, and it was a salad to remember!

Friday Weigh-In

Well...  it was too good to last.  Two weeks of effortless (albeit small) weight-loss turned into reality this morning.  I gained a half-pound.

I saw it coming.  I'm actually surprised it was only a half-pound.  I was not a good boy this week.    I haven't been eating breakfast which starts the non-stop munching when I get to work.  Self-control is not in my vocabulary on days like that.

So...  it's a half-pound reality check. It cost me a buck, too.

The weather has turned warm and we're finally starting to see produce that's at least grown in the United States.  (I just refuse to buy out-of-season produce from New Zealand or wherever.)

So...  Here's to being a better boy this week!

Another Summer Salad

This was a bit of a clean-out-the-refrigerator-and-produce-bowl salad since I'm doing the grocery shopping tomorrow.

Perfectly ripe plums, a slightly over-ripe avocado, mushrooms, zucchini strips, heirloom cherry tomatoes, chicken, and Israeli couscous.

The couscous was left over from the other night when I stuffed zucchini blossoms.  I added some diced sugar plums (I'm sure I'll be having visions of them dancing in my head, tonight!) and a couple of teaspoons of the dressing Victor made.  I thin-sliced a zucchini on the mandoline, baked the strips in the oven for about 5 minutes with a bit of S&P, formed them into tubes, and filled them with the couscous salad.

I had planned on grilling the chicken breasts, set up the charcoal chimney, lit everything...  waited until it looked as if it took, and headed into the house.  20 minutes later, I went out and it was stone cold.  Ooops!

So... I thinly sliced the raw chicken (it was in a fig and vinegar marinade) and stuck it under the broiler.  It wasn't quite as lovely and juicy as it could have been, but it was really good with Victor's simple balsamic dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil & oregano, garlic, S&P).

And we were good boys tonight - we didn't clean our plates!

Masala Salmon and Squash Blossoms


Masala, Mango, and Mayo.  A great combination - especially when salmon gets included.

The masala was masala tandoori naan - the bread base for... the mango was the mango ginger chutney that was mixed with... the mayo - which became the sauce covering the masala tandoori naan.

I dusted the salmon with garam masala and popped it into a 350° oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cooked a half-cup of Israeli couscous and set it aside.  I diced a shallot and half a small zucchini in a drizzle of olive oil, added a diced tomato, garlic, and a pinch of S&P.

I mixed that all with the couscous, some chopped fresh basil, and about 3 ounces of feta cheese.

It was stuffed into squash blossoms and then into a hot skillet with a dab of butter.  I turned down the heat, put a lid on the pan and let them cook for about 2 minutes.

Everything totally rocked.  I think I could have eaten a dozen of the squash blossoms.

And there's gonna be a homemade cherry cobbler for dessert!

Dover Sole


Bastille Day.  I can hear a flippant Marie Antoinette stating "qu'ils mangent de la brioche".

I suppose I could have found a fabulous French recipe for sole tonight.  Sole Meunière would have been a great choice - it was Julia Child's first meal in France, after all - but I wanted a bit more tonight.  I've already had my culinary revelation and wasn't looking for another...

I found a recipe for a Sole Picatta with Capers and Grapes and thought it held promise.  I didn't care for the fact that it called for white grape juice in the sauce.  That stuff is just waaaaaaay too sweet for me - but I did like the combination of grapes and capers.  A new recipe was born!

Dover Sole Picatta

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Dover sole fillets
  • flour
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp capers

Heat oil in large skillet. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  Add to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer fish to plates. Add wine and whisk up any browned bits. Add butter and capers. Bring to boil and  add grapes.  Simmer sauce until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon sauce over fish.

It was served with a mixture of black japonica rice, mahogany rice, and wild rice cooked with a shallot sauteed in a bit of butter, garlic, S&P, and chicken broth.

Vegetable was zucchini with tomatoes and fresh basil.

And... besides the chocolate cake, we have G Carl Tripician Macaroons from Atlantic City!  Their website states: Tripicians is now in the ninety-nineth year of the Jersey Shore Macaroon tradition.    Our Macaroons are made from the finest of ingredients, using a complex baking process and a time-honored recipe that hasn't changed since 1910.  Our chewy flavorful Almond Macaroons and Coconut Macaroons are truly unlike any others.  They're delicious, they're sinful, they're addictive.  Try some today!

And by jove, I think we might!

More Sumptuous Summer Salads


'Tis the season!

Our bountiful bevvy of beauties tonight consisted of:

  • Mixed baby greens
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus, marinated in balsamic and lemon pepper
  • Hard cooked eggs
  • Nectarines
  • Tomatoes
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Avocado
  • Grilled chicken

and a dressing made of balsamic, olive oil, honey, champagne mustard, and garlic.

And we had more of that wonderful chocolate cake for dessert.

Salmon and Mango


I can tell it's time to go shopping - the plates are getting a bit disjointed.  But that's okay - everything tasted pretty good!

Tonight was salmon on the barbie.  Marinated with a bit of garlic and soy sauce, grilled to perfection over hot coals, and served atop a mango and sambal oelek coulis.  Grilled lemons and limes topped the salmon, while grill-basket potatoes and frozen corn rounded out the plate.

Tomorrow is going to be a bit of a busy shopping day...  I need to head down to Gentile's for lots of produce - plus a nice long shopping list for Victor's mom - and then trek out to Wegman's for all of our July 4th party needs.  Plus we're going to have house guests, so we need 10 times more stuff in the house than we normally have. (I'm neurotic, remember?!?)  Busy shopping day, indeed.

We're going for a modified Hawai'ian theme for the party.  That means we can have pork tenderloins with pineapple and still have hot dogs and potato salad.

We make the rules!

Time to start creating menus and writing out shopping lists.....

Friday Fish


As a kid growing up in the '50s and '60s, fish on Friday was an automatic.  But...  since my mom wasn't really crazy about most fish - and she did the cooking - our Friday Fish was usually relegated to her iceberg lettuce tuna salad in the summer, or tuna casserole in the winter.  Fish sticks never entered our home.

I've always liked fish, but, not having had it regularly as a kid, I just don't think about it that much as a dinner item.  And if I do, it's usually a nice, classic recipe such as a Sole Meuniére - sole dredged in flour and fried in half a pound of butter.  Or a nice, meaty fish steak with a Beurre Blanc - more heavy cream and butter.

Adding a few hundred grams of saturated fat to a product that is supposed to be lean and reasonably healthy is pretty much defeating the purpose of eating it in the first place.  Of course, I have never been accused of being logical or rational, either.

I've made a few strides in trying to lighten the classic French-style cooking I learned so many years ago...  I make lots of salsas and other sweet/savory combinations and make broth sauces and gravies where I once would have made a bordelaise.   But my first instinct is always to go with a classic.  And did you know that a hollandaise sauce can go on just about anything?!?  It's frightening.

So...  the challenge is always how to get the flavor and texture I want without resorting to "lite" versions of what was once real food.  (I do have my standards - low as they may be!)

I have to say that I hit a homer with this one, tonight!  It had all the necessary ingredients:  quick and easy to do, tons of flavor, and reasonably healthy, to boot!

Morue Sur un Croûton

  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 5 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cod fillets
  • olive oil
  • 2 thick slices good bread
  • a dozen or so fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Mix first 4 ingredients and set aside.

Place fish on baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until just done, about 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet. Add tomato mixture. Cook until tomatoes soften and sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Season with S&P to taste.

Lightly toast bread. Place on plate and top with tomato sauce, basil leaves, fish, and then a final spoon of sauce.  A bit of fresh basil on top, and dinner is served!

I did some mixed squash on the side - olive oil, garlic, and oregano.

This was so easy to do and got rave reviews from Victor.

And there's still angel food cake with fresh strawberries for dessert.

Salad Dressings

Salad For Dinner

'Tis the season to eat salads!  I love 'em!

Tonight was a clean-out-the-refrigerator-salad.  My favorite kind.

I started off with the greens and then added two types of plums, peaches, and strawberries.  Then there were the blue cheese and/or garlic-stuffed olives... avocados... tomatoes... grilled chicken breasts... and a creamy dressing...

It was a definite stomach-smiler!