Chili Con Carne

We're getting ready for football, tomorrow.

The San Francisco 49ers are playing the Philadelphia Eagles - in Philadelphia - to see who's going to The Super Bowl.

As you probably all know, Victor is an East Coast Philadelphia boy and I'm a West Coast San Francisco boy. And after 20 years in Philadelphia, we're back out west.

If the Eagles were playing any other team, I'd be a rabid Eagles fan - but they're playing my hometown team. I hafta root for my hometown team. It's practically a rule.

Victor is seriously out-numbered.

Phoebe and Nancy are coming over for the game and we're cooking up a west coast meal - chili, jalapeño poppers, quesadillas, bean dip, guacamole, beer, and tequila....

It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's easy to put together.



Chili Con Carne

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 3 dried guajillo peppers
  • 3 dried puya peppers
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  •  2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can diced mild green peppers
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina

Soak pinto beans overnight. Drain and set aside.

Place chiles in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let sit about 15 minutes to soften. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Discard stems and seeds. Process chiles, tomato paste, garlic and reserved liquid until smooth.

In a large pot, sauté onion and poblano pepper. Cook until wilted. Add ground beef and cook until beef is broken up and mostly cooked through.

Stir in spices, oregano, and pureed chile mixture. Add the stock, beer, tomatoes, canned chiles, and beans, Bring to boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer until beans are done - about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in masa and simmer another 20 minutes.


Serve with assorted toppings: oyster crackers, cheeses like cotija or Mexican blend, chopped avocado, chopped onions, sour cream...

Chili is definitely one of those foods that taste better the next day, so plan accordingly!



Our Super Bowl menu will be completely dependent on the outcome of tomorrow's game. It could be another west coast feast or it could be Jersey Mike's Cheesesteaks. Whichever team wins, we will be rooting for them in the Super Bowl.



Cold Noodles With Tomato-Peanut Sauce, Pork & Peppers

I was reading the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle - one of four newspapers we subscribe to - and came across a recipe for a cold noodle dish that sounded pretty good. As luck would have it, we had all the ingredients in the house, so I decided to give it a try.

Final result?!? Meh.

It wasn't bad... it just wasn't really good. It was a little too bland. It lacked a punch. Probably the most flavorful part of the dish was one of the chicken meatballs I made the other day.

I used heirloom tomatoes and ground pork. Perhaps a sausage would have helped, but the blandness was in the sauce. I think it needs a bit of help. Some chilis... some ginger... even some nice, salty soy sauce would help.

I really liked the concept, so methinks I'll be trying this one again.

Oh... and a POUND of noodles for 4 people?!? Waaaaaaaaaaaay too much. A standard serving is supposed to be 2 ounces. Even an overly-generous 3 ounces per person would be really filling!

Cold Noodles With Tomato-Peanut Sauce, Pork & Peppers

adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

Serves 4

  • 1 pound fresh lo mein, udon or dried spaghetti noodles
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing with noodles
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground pork or sausage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound Jimmy Nardello, red bell or other sweet peppers, stemmed and chopped
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened roasted peanuts
  • ¾ pound Early Girl or Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 3 or 4 large)
  • 5 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar or lemon juice (or mix of both)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro and/or mint, plus more if desired

Instructions: Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions then drain and rinse under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible. Transfer the cool noodles to a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat them. Season with salt and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmery, add the ground pork, using the back of a spoon or blunt wooden spoon to break the meat into bite-size pieces and crumbles. Cook, tossing and turning every few minutes, until cooked through and you have a mix of crispy browned and tender bits. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the peppers and cook, tossing and turning until the peppers are softened and tender but still have a fresh pepper taste (taste a piece or two), about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small serving bowl and let cool before serving.

Place ¾ cup of the peanuts, tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, fish sauce and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, season with salt, pulse, taste again and season again if needed.

Pour the tomato-peanut sauce into the bowl with the noodles and toss very well to combine. The noodles should look fully coated and there should be some sauce pooling at the bottom of the bowl. If there isn’t, or if the sauce looks too thick, add a few splashes of water at a time, tossing in-between. Season with salt again and taste until it’s sufficiently saucy and delicious.

Chop the remaining ½ cup peanuts. Serve the noodles in bowls with the cooled pork and pepper mix spooned over the top with the chopped herbs and peanuts.





Japanese Chicken Meatball Salad

Japanese-Style Chicken Meatballs

It has definitely been a while since I put fingers to keyboard and wrote about something I made. It's not like we've stopped eating - a look at my waistline will prove that not to be the case. It's more that we really haven't been cooking significantly different foods from the 2, 576 posts and 1,259 other recipes already on the site. I mean, how many times can I cook and wax poetically about the same ol' things?!?

And then, the other day, my latest copy of Milk Street arrived. It's a fun magazine. I really do like Chris Kimball. He has an Alton Brown approach to cooking - the science and chemistry behind food - along with stories about where the food came from. Granted, sometimes the ingredient lists can get a bit kludge, but all-in-all, they're pretty good.

The latest issue had a recipe for a Japanese-Style Chicken Meatball that really sounded interesting. And, as luck would have it, I had the ingredients!

To make it even better, we just started watching a show on Prime called "James May - Our Man in Japan". It's a pretty fun travel show with May - an Englishman - travelling from north to south in Japan, doing things your basic traveler would never think - or be able - to do. It's fun and interesting.

So... Milk Street recipe, Japan travel show... Time to make some meatballs!

Naturally, I couldn't just serve them over rice. It's summer time. That means salads. About as un-traditional as one can get - but it really worked!

I also found a recipe for a "Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing", so off we went...

Japanese-Style Chicken Meatballs

adapted from Milk Street Magazine

  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, 1 smashed and peeled, 1 finely grated
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons finely grated, the remainder thinly sliced and bruised
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 scallions, minced, divided
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Ground black or white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for oiling your hands

Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray; set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, smashed garlic and bruised ginger. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until reduced to ⅓ cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and ginger; transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Rinse out and dry the skillet.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, the grated garlic, the grated ginger, ¼ cup scallions, the panko, egg white, sesame oil and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Using your hands or a silicone spatula, vigorously stir and knead the mixture until well combined and sticky. Using lightly oiled hands, divide the mixture into 16 portions (about 2 tablespoons each), form each into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press each ball to slightly flatten it into a 1- to 1¼-inch round.

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Place the meatballs in the skillet, reduce to medium and cook until lightly browned on the bottoms, about 4 minutes. Flip each meatball and add the sake-soy mixture; continue to cook, occasionally turning the meatballs and basting them with the sauce, until the centers reach 160°F and the exteriors are glazed, 5 to 7 minutes; reduce the heat to medium if the soy mixture is reducing too quickly.

Japanese Chicken Meatball Salad


And then the salad dressing... I really like making my own dressings. This one is going into the rotation.

Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing

adapted from All-Recipes

  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine minced onion, peanut oil, rice vinegar, water, ginger, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well-pureed, about 30 seconds.

We went out and bought a Ninja blender, and the smoothie cup it came with is the perfect size for making a batch of dressing - and it really makes for a smooth finished product.

Hopefully, this will get me out of my rut and start cooking a few more new, fun things...

It could happen.....



Niter Kebbeh

Spiced Butter Oil

To make about 2 cups

  • 2 pounds unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • l 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed with the flat of a knife, or a pinch of cardamom seeds
  • l piece of stick cinnamon, 1 inch long ·
  • l whole clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan, heat the butter over moderate heat, turning it about with a spoon to melt it slowly and completely without letting it brown. Then increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is completely covered with white foam, stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible point and simmer uncovered and undisturbed for 45 minutes, or until the milk solids on the bottom of the pan are a golden brown and the butter on top is transparent.

Slowly pour the dear liquid niter kebbeh into a bowl, straining it through a fine sieve lined with a linen towel or four layers of dampened cheesecloth. Discard the seasonings. If there are any solids left in the kebbeh, strain it again to prevent it from becoming rancid later.

Pour the kebbeh into a jar, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature until ready to use. Kebbeh will solidify when chilled. It can safely be kept, even at room temperature, for 2 or 3 months.

Korean Meatballs

Korean Meatballs

Right now, the two main proteins in the freezer are chicken and ground beef. In my quest to find something new and different to make with the ingredients on hand, I headed off to the NY Times cooking site for inspiration.

One recipe that caught my eye was Korean Barbecue-Style Meatballs. I have no idea why these would be considered Korean, but, they came out damned good - and we had all the basics in the house!

Korean Meatballs

They don't use a binder - no egg - and use Ritz Crackers. I had the Trader Joe version and it worked great.

Korean BBQ-Style Meatballs

adapted from NY Times

  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt - or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers (12 crackers)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek

Heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and use your hands to gently mix.

Shape the meat into 12 golf-ball-size rounds and arrange on a greased rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Lots of spicy garlic flavor. I can see a lot of variations on this theme as ingredients change in the pantry.

A definite winner.

Korean BBQ

BBQ Pork Tenderloin

In my quest for fun, new - to me - spicy peppers, I ordered some Korean Gochugaru Pepper Flakes online. While I know that I like eating Korean food, I haven't cooked a lot of Korean food. We used to frequent a Korean restaurant on 9th & Judah in San Francisco that had fantastic food - there was no reason to cook it if you could get such wonderful food right down the street.

Fast-forward many years, and Gochugaru pepper flakes are on their way. My first use was going to be on a pork tenderloin.

Sadly, the package was damaged in transit and never arrived. It was sent back - with full refund. I ordered another.

On to Plan B.

I had a container of Korean Gochujang Paste in the 'fridge, so I started there.

Gochu in Korean, is pepper and garu means powder. Gochujang is a paste that has gochugaru in it - along with other ingredients. The things you learn...

I decided to make a BBQ sauce of sorts, so I broke out the blender. I put in a half of an onion, 6 small radishes, 3 cloves of garlic, about 3 tablespoons of gochujang paste, and three tablespoons of ketchup, along with a pinch of salt and blended it all into a smooth sauce.

I sliced the tenderloin into about 3/4-inch slices and placed them into the sauce for about an hour. From there, they went onto a very hot grill for just a few minutes.

Onto the plate, topped with chopped scallions, and served with white rice.

Korean BBQ

It wasn't the most authentic Korean BBQ, but it did have a lot of flavor. Not overly hot and not overly sweet, it had a nice balance of flavors.

The gochugaru pepper should arrive this weekend. We shall see what other concoctions we can come up with...


Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup and Tomato Galette

It's summertime and it's rather hot outside, but with the air conditioner running, it could be any time of the year, at all, indoors. Time for some soup!

Victor found a recipe for a Turkish red lentil Soup that sounded like the perfect dinner. A spicy red lentil soup drizzled with a spicy oil. How perfext!


Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup


For the Soup:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt, to taste

For the Paprika Oil:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Pick through your lentils for any foreign debris, rinse them 2 or 3 times, drain, and set aside.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté the olive oil and the onion with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir it around for around 1 minute. Now add the cumin, paprika, mint, thyme, black pepper, and red pepper and sauté for 10 seconds to bloom the spices. Immediately add the lentils, water, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil.

After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover the pot halfway, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have fallen apart and the carrots are completely cooked.

In the meanwhile make the paprika oil by swirling together the olive oil, paprika, and red pepper in a small sauce pan over medium heat. The moment you see the paprika starting to bubble, remove the pan from the heat. It's done.

After the soup has cooked and the lentils are tender, blend the soup either in a blender or simply use a hand blender to reach the consistency you desire. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of paprika oil, wedges of lemon, and extra mint and red pepper for everyone to customize to their taste.

While Victor made soup, I set my sights on a tomato galette

It's a stellar year for tomatoes - they are just sooo flavorful - I doubt I will ever get my fill of them.

This was about the easiest thing to make in the history of easy things to make. I pulled the pie dough out of the freezer, but it's really easy to make.

Tomato Galette

  • 2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz mixed cheeses, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Gently toss tomatoes, garlic, and 1 tsp salt. Let sit 5 minutes (tomatoes will start releasing some liquid). Drain tomato mixture and transfer to paper towels.

Tomato Tart

Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper to a 14" round about 1/8" thick.

Tomato Tart

Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet.

Tomato Tart

Scatter cheese over dough, leaving a 1½" border.

Tomato Tart

Arrange tomatoes and garlic over cheese.

Tomato Tart

Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed to create about a 1 1/2" border.

Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and pepper. Chill in freezer 10 minutes.

Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 55–65 minutes.

Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

Top with sun-dried tomatoes, if desired.

It was the perfect combination - soup and galette - and it really brought home the flavors of summer.





Taboun and Spiced Chicken

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

It seems that the more I learn, the less I know. I learn a bit of something and next thing I know, I need to learn a dozen more things to learn the how's and why's for the first thing to make sense - or to put something in perspective. The minutiae...

We were watching a Netflix show on street food and the host was in Amman, Jordan. One of the things he focused on was refugees bringing different foods to the table. Amman has welcomed literally millions of refugees from throughout the Middle East - Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian to name but a few - and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Much of the street food reflects these different groups.

The show had a lot of different flatbreads being made. I know that different cultures have different versions of flatbreads - from injera to lavosh to focaccia or pizza - but I didn't know of the bazillion cooking techniques that can turn the basic ingredients into such different things. As a guy who has never been to the middle east, I kinda figured your basic pita was pretty universal. It is - and it isn't. From baking on a rounded dome, baking on stones, in an oven, on a flat stove... the same but different. For someone who loves to bake, it's fascinating to see.

The flatbread I made today is based on a taboun - but baked on a flat baking stone, not rounded stones - so, I guess it's really just a pita. Another thing I've learned over time is there is really no such thing as a single authentic recipe of anything. Every home has their own authentic version.

Taboun Flatbread

based on several internet recipes

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the water, honey, and yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

Combine the flour and salt with the yeast and water mixture, and stir to form a soft dough.

Add the olive oil and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats.

Knead the dough briefly and divide it into 8 balls. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover, and let stand for about 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball of dough and roll it into a circle 1/8-inch thick and about 7-8 inches in diameter.

Place on baking stone and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 6 minutes.


The final dish is based on a Palestinian dish called Msakhan - a sumac chicken with sautéed onions.

Za'atar Chicken with Grilled Vegetables


  • 2 tbsp Za'atar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced
  • 3 cups mixed grilled vegetables
  • 2 large thick flatbreads (taboun, lavash, pita, or Syrian saj)


Combine the sumac with the lemon juice. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, then place in a baggie and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the grilled mixed vegetables and heat through. Add a splash of wine and simmer until wine is almost evaporated - but not quite. Transfer to a bowl with all the juices.

Wipe out the pan and place over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and when hot, lightly brown the chicken pieces.

Arrange the flatbreads in an overlapping layer in a large, lightly oiled shallow baking dish. Spoon over the roasted vegetables, then top with the chicken pieces and drizzle any pan juices on top. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

I made two individual dishes because I tend to really over-do it when making things like this. I'd have enough food to feed the neighborhood, if left to my own devices...

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

And then, because eating them out of the casserole was impractical, we just slid them out onto plates.

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

A really fun and flavorful dinner. There was chewy bread, there was bread that had sopped up the juices from the vegetables and the chicken. It was pull-apart eat-with-fingers and a bit of knife and fork. The perfect meal. And you could make this in no time with store-bought pitas.

One of these days we really need to travel the Mediterranean countries from Morocco to Turkey.

There's a lot of good food to be had.....

Pork and Pineapple

The End of Week Forty-Nine

Forty-Nine Weeks. We have survived Forty-Nine Weeks. There are three weeks more to go before we begin our Summer Hiatus.

I can't wait! We're planning on returning to the trainer in September - once a week - for probably another 6 months. We'll still be at the gym regularly, but we're taking the summer off from Training.

The weight has stabilized, the energy is still increasing - and my legs are sore as hell. Just the quads, actually. Forty-nine weeks ago the only quad I knew was a college lawn. I now know lots of different muscles - and how much pain they can produce. I need a break from this routine.

On the other hand, I see muscle definition that has never been present on my body in its 67 years on this planet. It's not quite in the Mr Universe category, but... I know it, I feel it, I see it. I have absolutely ZERO desire to have six-pack abs and rippling muscles. That is not who I am or who I want to be. Knowing that there is a peek-a-boo bicep or the faintest outline of a quad on my leg is more than enough for me. It's the fun little things.

It's my first year of retirement. I'm happy and I feel good.

To quote The Grateful Dead... What a long strange trip it's been.

Part of the long strange trip is all the produce we now buy. While we were always pretty good on the fresh stuff, we now do a Monday run to Gentile's every week and have a lot of fun figuring out what's new, in season, or just looks too good to pass up. Victor pretty much focuses on the fruit and I head towards the vegetables. Meals now revolve around what produce we have and what needs using - it's a lot more fun than planning things in advance!

Tonight's dinner came about because of a pineapple.

We picked up a reasonably ripe pineapple on Monday but with all the other stuff we bought, never made it into the fruit salad. Last night we noticed it was ripe and ready to be eaten. A pork tenderloin came out of the freezer.

Pineapple, onion, a bit of bell pepper, and beans from the garden were the vegetable base, the pork, sambal oelek, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine were the rest.

fresh vegetables

Those lovely purple beans turn green the minute they get hot. 20 years ago we spent a fortune per pound at a farmers market for them, went to blanche them, and almost died when we saw our purple beans turn green in front of our eyes!

Live and learn.

The final ingredient was a can of bean sprouts. No one sells fresh sprouts, anymore...

A few things harvested from the garden, a fun dinner, and another week of intense workouts behind us.

Retirement really is pretty good.

Pork and Pineapple




Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Wraps

It's 89°F outside with 98% humidity. We're under a Tornado Watch, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, a Flood Advisory, and a Flash Flood Watch. And it's still May. A perfect time to move back indoors with the air conditioning running and contemplate some good food - something not normally in the rotation...

I picked up a pound of ground pork the other day with no actual plan for it - we didn't have any and I thought we should. Victor saw it and he thought he should use it to make lettuce wraps. I thought that was a really good idea.

The beauty of not planning meals - but having lots of ingredients in the house - allows for these impromptu feasts - and feast, it was! It's amazing how something so simple just bursts with flavor. Of course, having lots of things to wrap into your wrap makes all the difference...

Lettuce Wraps

The pork filling is really pretty easy to make - it's cutting up all of the accompaniments that takes the time. Fortunately, Victor knows his way around a kitchen.

Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Wraps


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 hot pepper, minced
  • 1 head lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 watermelon radish, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, chopped


Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add ground pork and cook until no longer pink. Add hot pepper, hoisin sauce and Sriracha and stir until combined.

Spoon pork into lettuce leaves and top with carrots, scallions, watermelon radish, and cucumbers, and drizzle with additional hoisin and sriracha. Fold up and enjoy!

Perfection on a plate.

Lettuce Wraps

Like a taco, they're fun to eat and just slightly messy. Lots of crunch, lots of flavor, and just the right amount of heat. I can see these happening a bit more often.

The leftovers are going to be reworked into a chicken and pork salad, tomorrow, since I roasted a chicken last night and there's plenty left over. I'm thinking lentils, right now, but that is subject to change.

What I do know, is there are more fun meals yet to come!




Vaguely Chinese

Vaguely Chinese

Tonight's dinner is brought to you by things that we needed to use up.

I do the majority of our grocery shopping once a week - not because of any reason other than I hate dealing with grocery stores. I usually have two stores to go to and then I have the treks to the Farmer's Market, Reading Terminal Market, or a specialty store here and there... But wherever I go, I tend to buy enough so I don't have to go back too soon. It's a great system, except towards the end of the week I have to make sure I use up all of the fresh the stuff I bought.

Right now that's kinda easy since anything can go into a pot of soup, but when the soup is made and there's still bits and pieces of veggies that need using, a bottle of cooking sauce is the perfect little helper.

I've said many times that I'm not an intuitive Chinese cook, but I can take a jar of faux-Chinese sauce and doctor it up.

We had a small piece of turkey left from the other night and a small chicken breast, so I cut them both up and marinated them in a concoction of soy sauce, chili paste, sesame oil, fish sauce, rice wine, and lots of garlic.

I sliced up a celery stalk, 2 small carrots, a broccoli crown, and a red onion. Into the skillet they went, and then the marinated chicken and turkey went in. I quickly cooked it all and then added the rest of a bottle of spicy orange sauce that was hanging out in the 'fridge, and a few tablespoons of sambal oelek. When it was hot, I added a drained can of bean sprouts - because there is no such thing as fresh bean sprouts around here.

A few sesame seeds and green onions on top, and over white rice it went.

Really simple, quick and easy, not remotely authentic, but it was tasty and filling.

Tomorrow, Victor is making homemade ravioli.


Chinese Chicken

Vaguely Chinese

I'm working my way through the freezer, again. It's a bit of a never-ending battle - as soon as it becomes manageable, I fill it up, again. Right now, there are lots of bits and pieces that need using up - most of which can probably go into the next batch of soup. Soup is my miracle worker.

There was a bit of Shu Mai and some egg rolls from Chinese New Year, so those came out tonight - along with a chicken breast. I had a bottle of a grocery store Spicy Orange Sauce, so I cooked up the chicken with a bell pepper and some green onions and doused it with the sauce. A bit of white rice and dinner was done.

It does not get much easier.