It seems that most cultures have a flatbread of sorts. I thought the Italian versions were pizza and focaccia - and then I learned about piadina. Piadina hails from the north of Italy - Emilia-Romagna - more or less between Florence and Venice. It is a simple bread of flour, water, lard, and often a bit of dairy - from milk to yogurt to sour cream - and dates from the 1300s. I used sour cream today, because that's what I had in the 'fridge.

Right out of the skillet, it is soft and feathery-light. I have no idea what it's like after it has set for an hour - we didn't let it sit for 10 minutes!

I had seen a sandwich on La Cucina Italiana made with piadina and thin slices of fried eggplant and even thinner slices of swordfish. My first thought was to fry up an eggplant, but then I thought of using Little Gram's Eggplant Appetizer that I made, yesterday, along with some lettuce and hot peppers from the yard.

It worked. Really worked!


I cut the recipe in half because I only wanted two.


adapted from Milk Street

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup lard, room temperature


In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Process 5 seconds. Add the lard and process until combined, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, add the yogurt and then the water. Process until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 1 minute.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.

Roll each dough ball into a 10-inch round. Poke the surfaces all over with a fork.

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium until a drop of water sizzles immediately, 4 to 6 minutes. One at a time, place a dough round in the skillet and cook until the bottom is charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip and cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

This is another really quick and easy bread that really surpassed all expectations! I pretty much figured it would be good - but I had no idea how good it was going to be! The eggplant and the peppers really made for a spicy and flavorful sandwich - something I can see us having, again.





South of the Wall Sandwiches

Back in the late '80s or early '90s, I subscribed to Eating Well magazine. I was working in Nutrition and Dietetics at the time, and was actually starting to learn about food as fuel for the body and not just have it look pretty on a plate. I knew the science behind making a cake - flour and eggs for structure, sugar and fat for tenderness, and how different batters react to different pan shapes and temperatures  -  but didn't know the science behind the ingredients - and how they reacted in the body and how the body transformed and used them. For all intents and purposes, I still don't - but I have a better idea today than I did 30 years ago... I'm still a cook, not a Dietitian.

But... life is all about learning, and I wanted to learn healthier ways of putting things together. I ended my subscription because the magazine morphed into more of a woman's health magazine with recipes, but not before I bought the Eating Well Cookbook. I've been hauling this book around since 1992 and it's made the cut every time I've done a cookbook purge - there are a couple of recipes in it that I like. I probably hadn't opened it in 10 years, but it has always made the cut.

Today, I opened it.

I did a produce run to Gentile's after the gym, and saw some really nice tomatillos. And a perfect poblano pepper. I started thinking back to a chicken recipe in Eating Well and headed downstairs to get the book. I found the recipe. Naturally, it was nothing like what I had remembered, but it gave me a starting point for something else.

It also gave me a reminder about different cooking methods. Poaching a chicken breast in a pot with water and flavorful herbs and spices not only makes a flavorful piece of chicken - but it makes a flavorful broth that can be used, as well. It's all coming back to me, now...

I had rolls but no tortillas, so I made sandwiches. Next time I'll make the tortillas!

Shredded Chicken with Tomatillos

poaching liquid

  • 8 oz chicken breast
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 large poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Place chicken breast, water, shallot, bay leaf, peppercorns, oregano, basil, and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through - about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow chicken to cool completely in the poaching liquid. When cool, shred chicken and reserve 1 cup of the poaching liquid.

In a medium skillet, saute onion and poblano pepper until vegetables are wilted. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add cumin and cook about a minute.

Add tomatillos and cook until they are broken down completely.

Stir in shredded chicken and heat through. Add additional broth as necessary to maintain desired consistency.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, desired.

This easily made three hefty portions - more than we needed, tonight. Lunch portions for tomorrow!

I think it would have been great with a perfectly-ripe avocado. I did pick one up but it wasn't quite there... Fresh tortillas would have been nice, as well - and cheese... but we were being good.

I think it's going to be fun to revisit those thrilling - thinning - days of yesteryear.

And on a totally unrelated note...

Hard boiled eggs. They're good for you. I really like them. They're a pain-in-the-ass to peel.

I have tried every system under the sun - starting with cold water starting with hot water adding salt adding baking soda adding vinegar bringing to boil turning off heat letting sit... Every one of then will work sometimes. Every one of them won't work sometimes.

BUT... I have now steamed the eggs on two different occasions - different eggs from different cartons - and every egg has peeled perfectly.

We shall see how the third time goes...



Pulled Pork and Fresh Rolls

I love unattended cooking. Saying that, it's surprising that I don't like crock pots. Then, again, an oven is so much more versatile - and I don't have to feed a family 10 minutes after walking in the door. I get their usefulness. I'm just not crazy about the results.

An oven browns and caramelizes and intensifies flavors - like it did today for tonight's pulled pork.

The concept for tonight's dinner came from a Cook's Country recipe for Citrus-Braised Pork Tacos. I just wanted the pork because I was making sandwiches, not tacos, and it looked like it was something that could be played with.

It was.

Pulled Pork

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon annatto
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 2 pound boneless pork roast, cut into 1-inch chunks

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, oregano, annatto, ­allspice, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste begins to darken, about 45 seconds. Stir in water, orange juice, 2 tablespoons vinegar, Worcestershire, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, scraping up any browned bits.

Add pork and bring to boil. Transfer to a 300°F oven, uncovered, and cook until pork is tender, about 2-3 hours, ­stirring halfway through cooking.

Remove from oven, shred pork, and enjoy!

This is what it looked like coming out of the oven after about 3 hours.

And this is what it looked like after shredding into a nice, clean pot.

Of course, one cannot have sandwiches without bread, so off I went to look for a fun roll recipe. I found the Knotted Dinner Roll recipe I've used a few times and decided to just make them as buns instead of knotted rolls.

Easy peasy.

Half went into the freezer for another day. So much for trying to clean it out a bit.

Oh well.

Off to eat a couple of cookies...



Sloppy Joe's and Dirty Potatoes

My original plan for dinner, tonight, was either split pea or lentil soup. I bought a ham last week because it was ridiculously inexpensive and cooked it up last night.

I have had - and cooked - many hams over the years. I can appreciate a really good ham, but a cheap ham has its place, too. With just a bit of patience, just about anyone can turn a supermarket freebie into a holiday centerpiece. Low and slow without a lot of extraneous stuff - a few cloves stuck in should suffice.

And I like unsliced hams. I'm not a fan of spiral-cut hams for a couple of reasons... First, have you ever had one that was actually cut properly? And second - they dry out. HoneyBaked Hams - the supposed Cadillac of Hams - are pretty sad, in my not so humble opinion. Not to mention, ridiculously expensive.

But, wait... this is supposed to be about sloppy joe's - not ham. Focus!!

But focusing is difficult when you're writing on the laptop in the back yard in gorgeous 78°F (that's about 26°C for the rest of the world) weather. Today just wasn't soup weather.

So Sloppy Joe's moved from lunch to dinner and dirty potatoes replaced the fries. Ham and bone are vacuum-packed and frozen for another day.

Dirty Potatoes is a Pop recipe. He was a pretty good cook in his own right and actually enjoyed getting into the kitchen now and again. Breaded Veal Cutlets, Dirty Potatoes, and Apple Cole Slaw will always be my Pop-In-The-Kitchen memory. Along with his eggs fried in an inch of bacon grease, of course. Damn, they were good. And french bread toast. Can't forget the toast.

It's amazing that so many of my fond memories of life revolve around food.

Pop's recipe for his Dirty Potatoes is pretty straightforward - he wrote it out for a Family Reunion Cook Book circa 1996:

Peel at least 2 potatoes per person.

Cut longways in fours (or sixes for large potatoes). Put in large cake pan. Oil all sides of spuds. Put in oven at high heat and keep checking until crispy on outside. Keep turning till all sides are brown like french fries.

His idea of a "large cake pan" was a 9x13 pyrex pan. I'm a sheet pan person, m'self... and I'm sure those "two potatoes per person" harken to his firehouse cooking days - and the 10 lb bags of russets we got - mostly small potatoes for a cheaper price.

The sloppy joe's were just onion and bell pepper sauteed in a bit of oil, ground beef added, along with a bit of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then some tomato paste and a bit of water to thin.

Really simple, really basic, and perfect for a sunny spring day.



Sriracha Hot Dogs


I have been dreaming about this since Friday's burgers...

It's no secret that my favorite food - after ice cream - is a hot dog. It is the ultimate in versatile comfort food. From beanie-weenies to chili dogs, bacon-wrapped to jalapeño pepper topped - and everything in between - I loves me some hot dogs. Fried, grilled, boiled, steamed, dipped in corn batter - they're all good.

And I knew when I tasted the Sriracha Cole Slaw, that I would be putting it atop a hot dog really soon. Two hot dogs, in fact.

Sweet, hot, crunchy... My stomach is smiling...

Pumpkin Soup and Panini

I made a Pumpkin Soup at work all week, so it was only fitting that I make more Pumpkin Soup at home, right?!? I mean, 'tis the season, and all...

Nonna has decided she doesn't like pumpkin, so... as long as we don't tell her it's pumpkin, she'll eat it. But... since she doesn't care for spicy, either, I made her a beef and barley sour and went all out on the heat with ours. Sometimes it's just easier to cook two meals...

I embellished the work recipe and made it heartier with roasted butternut squash and black beans. It was a winner.

Coconut Pumpkin Soup with Sriracha

  • 1 ctn Pumpkin Soup
  • 1 can Pumpkin
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small butternut squash - peeled, cubed, and roasted
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha Sauce – or to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer until hot. Check for seasoning and add salt & pepper, as desired.

Really simple.

The panini were prosciutto, asiago, and apricot jam on Tuscan Pane...

More simplicity.

The weather is starting to cooperate with soups and stews. More to come...

Sausage, Peppers, and Boursin


Last night was subs. Sausage and onion and peppers subs. And boursin cheese.

Every now and again I have to take something pretty basic and traditional and throw  wrench into it. This time, it was the boursin.

Boursin was très élégant back in the day - along with Mateus Rosè. It was like the first adult cheese and having a Boursin Burger was really hip and cool. Really. No making fun. We didn't have Pinterest and Facebook and the internet to instantly see what gastronomical delights were being devoured in Sicily. Food was still local. It was before the celebrity-chef-of-the-moment and 1001 ways coconut oil will make your life perfect.

And that crockery Mateus bottle - perfect for candles when you didn't have a straw-covered chianti bottle - showed you had graduated from Boones Farm. Playing grown-up was so much fun.

Fast-forward a few years and I still buy boursin. Mateus?!? Nah. I still like Chianti, however, albeit a little better quality...

Boursin is still a go-to cheese for mixing into mashed potatoes or melting over vegetables. It makes an instant sauce for steaks and is great in macaroni and cheese.

And stuffed into a burger. Can't forget that one.



Burgers and Fries



I do love me a good burger - there's something almost primal in their greasy, juicy messiness. When they're really good, you pick them up and can't put them back down until you're done. It's an art getting bites of burger, bites of toppings, and getting the occasional french fry into your mouth.

And napkins. Lots and lots of napkins. And even then, I feel like I should be hosed down afterwards. A great burger makes a great mess.

The above burger was a definite mess-maker. It had mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, pickles, onions, lettuce, bacon, and melted boursin cheese along with a good-sized patty between the halves of a whole-wheat bun. I had an avocado that I planned to put on there, as well, but... reality struck.

Even without the avocado it was gastronomic heaven.

Welcome Summer! More to come!




Bacon Cheeseburger Panini



Sometimes you just have to do something because... This was one of those times.

I bought a package of panini slims. Slims have been the rage for a while  - they're almost-see-through little rolls that barely contain whatever filling you put in them. A panini slim is another variation on the theme - rectangular instead of round. We have a panini press, so I decided to go for it in the form of cheeseburger paninis.

I made rectangular burger patties and threw them on the grill. Next, I, cooked up some bacon and opened a jar of roasted red peppers. Some thick slices of fontina cheese and a slathering of mayonnaise completed the sandwich. And then it went into the press.

It had all the makings of a great sandwich - but the bread was too thin. It just wasn't enough to contain all that was going on. The thins themselves are okay - they just need a much thinner filling. Bacon, fontina, and red pepper spread would be a lot more fitting. Forget the burger, completely.

And one of these was way too much for one person. I could have easily made one and split it. But, I didn't. Cybil ate well.

Since I tend to like heartier sandwiches, I probably won't be getting them all that often, but they will be an option for a lighter sandwich with maybe a cup of soup.

All-in-all... not bad...

Turkey Club


I had a hankerin' for cranberry sauce the other day so I roasted a turkey breast. There is logic to that. Trust me.

We had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted butternut squash, dinner rolls - and cranberry sauce out of a can. It was store-brand, not Ocean Spray. Ocean Spray still uses high fructose corn syrup and I don't buy things with high fructose corn syrup.

The canned sauce more or less worked, but I really can't wait until fresh cranberries are in the stores. I want the real McCoy!

So... I cooked a whole turkey breast which meant there was leftover turkey. A whole half-breast, in fact. I first thought hot turkey sandwiches, but before the thought completely formulated, Turkey Clubhouse Sandwiches took over.

One of life's great pleasures is a turkey club made from fresh turkey.  They're also a bit of a rare treat. So rare, that it seems the last time I made them - or, at least wrote about making them - was three years ago. And with avocado joining the traditional bacon, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes on mayonnaise-slathered toast, it makes it all the better. The only thing that would have sent it way over the top would have been alfalfa sprouts. While I really do like them, none of the local stores carry them - and I ain't driving out of my way for a sandwich ingredient. I'll deal...

Victor lamented that we didn't have frilly toothpicks or little umbrellas so we used a rather large umbrella pick for him.


It kept his dinner shaded and would have been perfect if it had rained while we were eating.

And to finish things off, I made a batch of potato salad.

I guess the goal is going to be making these again a bit sooner than three years. I think I can do it.

The Basic Burger


I was originally going to cook pork chops for dinner tonight, but midway through the day, I got a hankerin' for a cheeseburger. And I do mean cheeseburger. A hands-down-ten-napkin-cheeseburger.

My meal-mates this evening weren't quite as adventurous as moi... Nonna had a burger - sans bun and cheese - with just sliced tomatoes. Victor went for bun, bacon, cheese, and mayo.

I went for the gusto - from the bottom up:

  • whole wheat bun
  • mayo
  • iceberg lettuce
  • tomato
  • bacon
  • pickles
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • burger
  • cheese
  • avocado
  • onion
  • mayo
  • the top of the whole wheat bun

Absolute heaven.

And, I made potato salad. Mom's potato salad... My favorite. For folks who had a mother who cooked, there are some basics that always stick with you - and potato salad is definitely one of them, for me. Others can be very good, but none will ever top Mom's...

And it's a pretty basic recipe:

  • potatoes (russets, yukon gold, red bliss)
  • pickles
  • hard-cooked eggs
  • celery
  • shredded carrots
  • mayonnaise
  • catsup
  • mustard
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Mix and chill.

And I worked the pork chops into a baked ravioli dish for tomorrow night.

Plan ahead...

BBQ Pork Sandwiches



It is 73° outside. Blue skies, a gentle breeze...  It's one of those perfect-weather days that just don't happen often enough. Absolutely gorgeous.

The only thing that would have made today better was if I hadn't broken my glasses this morning. I received my notice from my eye doctor a few weeks ago stating it was time for my checkup. The card has been sitting on my desk to remind me to call one of these days. Well... I finally called. The spare glasses are just not cutting it. I need to see.

Monday, 6pm. I'll be there.

But even being blind as a bat can't take away the beauteous day! Windows are open and real air is in the house. We're on the deck, Cybil is under her rhododendron, and life is good.

Dinner was pretty good, too.

I bought a whole pork loin the other day and cut it into chops. I took the tail end and set it aside for sandwiches or something - and tonight it was sandwiches.

I put the pork pieces in a  pot with water and a sprinkling of garlic powder and chipotle powder. I simmered it for about 2 hours - until it was fork-tender. I drained it and let it cool, and then pulled it all apart with two forks. I then placed it in a skillet with about a cup of Gate's BBQ Sauce.

The pork went onto little seeded egg rolls; mine had avocado, Victor's had cheese, and Nonna's was plain. French fries and ketchup. Yummy!

I see ice cream, strawberries, and fudge sauce later on...

The perfect ending to the perfect day...