Thursday, April 21, 2016

Stewed Rhubarb

Long-time cooks will roll their eyes: Stewed rhubarb? Everyone knows how to make that! No, they dont. Youd be surprised what some people have never made because they wrongly think it may be difficult. I’m feeling über lazy today, and don’t want to do anything that requires a lot of work, which is why the simplicity of rhubarb came to mind. Although Stewed Rhubarb is great on its own, it’s sublime over ice cream, plain cake, or Greek yogurt.

Stewed Rhubarb:

4 c. (1 L) fresh rhubarb 

3 tbsp. (45 mL) water (see Note
1/2 c. (125 mL) granulated sugar, or to taste
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Twist rhubarb stalks from their root. Trim and discard leaves - theyre toxic. Slice away and discard tough end piece, cutting where knife easily penetrates stalk. Rinse stalks before slicing into 1-in. (2.54 cm) pieces. Blot dry and refrigerate until needed, up to a week.

Bye, bye leaf!

So long, baby!



Rinsed, sliced, raw rhubarb freezes well in airtight containers or freezer-strength bags, for later use in muffins, pies, or fruit soup (see Naughty Note). To stew it, bring water and sugar just to the boil in a large saucepan, until sugar dissolves fully. Add cinnamon stick and rhubarb. Cover, reducing heat to medium-low. Cook about 7 min., until rhubarb is soft, checking to ensure pot doesnt boil dry. 

Start stewing!

Serve hot or cold, either on its own or over yogurt or ice cream.

Oh, YUM!

Note: For a delicious rhubarb drink, follow recipe above, using 3/4 c. (180 mL) water instead of the lesser amount stated. Strain, chill, and pour liquid into glass. 

Eating - or drinking - rhubarb is good for you!

Rhubarb is high in dietary fiber. See:  Rhubarbhealth benefits include its ability to aid weight loss, improve digestion, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stimulate bone growth, avoid neuronal damage, increase skin health, prevent cancer, optimize metabolism, improve circulation, and protect against various cardiovascular conditions.” All of which sure sounds good to me!

Naughty Note: See my blog for the world’s best rhubarb soup! Go to:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nicole’s Potato Croquettes

Show the nice people what you’ve made, Nicole.
Thith ith what I made ...

Potato Croquettes.

Tell them how you made it.
Thith ith how I made it.
“So this serves 2?

Nicoles Potato Croquettes:

1 c. (250 mL) cold, leftover mashed potatoes (see Potato Note)
1 egg
1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped spring onion 
3 tbsp. (45 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. (30 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Canola oil, for frying 

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except crumbs and oil, mixing well.

Add egg and other stuff.

Mix well.

Using an ice cream scoop, form equal portions of potato mixture into ovoids (egg-like shapes). 



Roll in Panko crumbs. Chill 30 min. for easier handling and to assure Croquettes hold their shape.

To heavy skillet, add oil to a depth of 1 in. (2.54 cm) over medium-high heat. Using two slotted spoons, carefully slip chilled Croquettes into hot fat, turning gently after 45-to-60 sec. Drain on paper toweling. Serve immediately. Yields 4 Croquettes (2 per serving).


Potato Note: Potatoes should be previously prepared with small amount of butter and milk or cream. Mixture should be fairly stiff. If not, add extra flour.

*   *   *

“Wasn’t that easy, Nicole?
“That wath a lot of math. I dont like math!
Wasn’t that easy, Nicole?
“Yeth. But I thtill dont like math.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sarah’s Guacamole

Just as I gave you a second version of Hummus yesterday (the first, indexed in 2011), here’s another version of Guacamole, courtesy singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan. This is a great dip with tortilla chips, or (along with salsa and sour cream) as a delicious accompaniment for Quesadillas

Check out my Three-Pepper Quesadillas, blogged Feb. 3, 2013. Or simply put the word Quesadillas into the search engine at the top left of this page. Come to think of it, put the word Guacamole into the same search engine so you can compare both recipes.

Sarah’s Guacamole:

4 small, ripe avocados
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp. (45 mL)  chopped white onion
3 tbsp. (45 mL) chopped red onion
3 tbsp. (45 mL) lime juice
2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped, fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) chili powder
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp/ (0.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Peel, pit, and chop avocados into chunks. In bowl, combine avocados, jalapeño pepper, tomato, white and red onions, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Yields 1-3/4 c. (415 mL).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hummus Wraps

This simple recipe has two parts: Hummus, and the vegetable-filled wrap that goes around it. Because I try to watch my weight, I used a modest 7-in. whole-wheat tortilla, eating about 150 of them, rather than the standard, 10-in. tortilla of which most people eat just one. Compared to my 7-in. wrap, a 10-in. wrap looks so-o-o huge! So watch your weight the way I do - by eating on smaller plates. On to todays recipe!


2 large garlic cloves
7 tbsp. (105 mL) olive oil
Salt, to taste
Juice of one lemon
One 19 oz. (540 mL) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

Into a blender, add garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until garlic is finely chopped. 

This mini citrus squeezer simplifies clean-ups and storage.

A blender makes very quick work of Hummus.

Add garbanzo beans, using pulse setting until mixture appears slightly textured but not smooth. 

Add drained, rinsed garbanzo beans to blender

Use as a spread or in these Hummus Wraps.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hr., allowing flavors to blend. 

Note: There are many ways to make hummus, each a little different. For another, check the Index under Appetizers: Dips and Spreads (Hummus).

Hummus Wraps:

6 whole-wheat, 7-in. soft tortillas
Hummus recipe (above)
1-1/2 c. (375 mL) chopped long English (seedless) cucumbers, skin on, quartered
12 or 13 grape” tomatoes, halved (see Tomato Note)
1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped spring onions 
1/2 c. (125 mL) fresh parsley tops, stems removed
6 leaves baby Romaine lettuce 

Have all ingredients arrayed and prepared before starting. Spread center insides of each tortilla with about 1/4 c. (60 mL) Hummus. Gently press combined cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley into spread. Top with Romaine leaf. Fold and close wrap, securing with long pick. 

Youll be adding cucumber, tomatoes, Hummus,
green onion, fresh parsley, and Romaine lettuce.

Spread Hummus down center of each tortilla.

Lightly press fresh veggies into Hummus.

Veggies dont come any fresher than this!

Trim parsley stems before sprinkling with parsley.

Fold wraps; secure with picks.

Tomato Note: “Grape” tomatoes are larger than cherry tomatoes, but not as large as regular small tomatoes.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

EZ Ham ’n’ Pasta

This no-bake dish is pure comfort food. When I made it last night, I thought: I oughta I take it easy like this more often! Its a great way to use leftover ham, too.

EZ Ham ’n’ Pasta:

2 tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil 
2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped onion
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 c. (60 mL) milk
1/2 c. (125 mL) full-fat dairy sour cream
2 tsp. (10 mL) poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) celery salt
3 c. (750 mL) cubed, cooked ham
1 medium apple, peeled and cut in paper-thin slices (see Note)
1/3 c. (80 mL) combined red, green, and yellow bell peppers, diced
3/4 c. (180 mL) frozen peas
4 c. (1 L) penne or egg noodles, uncooked
Parmesan cheese, as desired

Array and prepare all ingredients before starting. Bring large pot of salted water to the boil. 

It all starts with boiling water!

Add penne or egg noodles, stirring occasionally and cooking as package directs, about 12 min. or until tender. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in large skillet. 

Add onion, stirring over medium heat until tender. Reduce temperature to medium-low, stirring in soup, milk, sour cream, poppy seeds, and celery salt until well combined. Add ham, apple, bell peppers, and frozen peas. Heat to serving temperature.

Add thinly cut apple to hot ham sauce.

Drain penne, transferring to pasta bowls. Ladle ham sauce over pasta, serving at once. Dust with Parmesan at the table. Serves 4.

Dust with Parmesan: Buon Appetito!

Note: While a knife will do, a mandolin slicer is the fastest way to cut the apple in this dish into paper-thin widths. 

Portrait of mandolin slicer with totally anonymous woman.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub

Simple? Yes! Delicious? Yes! In case you havent noticed, barbecue season is just around the corner! 

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub:

1/4 c. (60 mL) coarse salt
1/4 c. (60 mL) dark brown sugar
1/4 c. (60 mL) sweet (regular) paprika (not the smoked type)
2 tbsp. (30 mL) freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients, dating and storing in an airtight jar away from heat and light. Use within six months. 

Note: For a spicier rub, add 1 tsp. cayenne powder.

Arent-I-Smart Note: How to use a barbecue rub? See:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Herbed Tomatoes

This tremendously simple recipe is one of my all-time favorites! Be sure to use firm tomatoes lest they collapse in the oven under their own lusciousness. Large tomatoes do better than
Flavorful and colorful: Herbed Tomatoes
ones in this recipe. And fresh herbs taste better than dried, because honestly Dollinks, any dish called Herbed Tomatoes may just have something to do with the fresh-is-best flavor of herbs. 

Herbed Tomatoes:

4 slices bacon, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) pepper 
2 tbsp. (25 mL) chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. (10 mL) chopped fresh oregano
4 large, firm tomatoes, each horizontally sliced in half
6 tbsp. (90 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (see Note)
1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. (see Additional Note). Sauté bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet but do not blot dry. Add garlic and onion to bacon fat. Sauté until golden. Mix in salt, pepper, mint, and oregano. Return bacon to mixture. Spread halved tomatoes in ungreased shallow baking dish. Top with bacon mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with butter or margarine. Bake, uncovered, 30 min., or until tomatoes are just tender. Serves 4-to-8.

Note: I believe the flavor of real Parmesan cheese would be lost among these ingredients. I prefer to use powdered, shake-on Parmesan for this dish. 

Additional Note: This recipe works best in a standard oven rather than a microwave. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dave’s Fabulous Angus Burger Sauce

It may be snowing in Cleveland and Toronto, but its warm and sunny in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. In fact, its burger time! Rons son Dave created this fabulous barbecue sauce for Angus burgers. He mixes the ingredients together to brush onto each side of the meat before popping it on the grill (thawed or frozen ... makes no difference, says Dave)

These are the best burgers I’ve ever eaten! When I asked Dave for the ingredient proportions, he said: “I couldn’t even guess the ratios. I make this camp-style - by feel, based on the weather and the size of the crowd!” In Daves very words, this is exactly how he does it:

Daves Fabulous Angus Burger Sauce:

A bunch of ketchup
A few tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
A few tablespoons hot sauce such as Sriracha
A good dusting of garlic powder

Never heard of Sriracha sauce? Here it is! See:

I promised Dave total anonymity, so I won’t reveal his face or surname. 

Trust me, Dollinks, this burger sauce is terrific! And so is Dave.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Recipe for Disaster

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. So I did. But just for today. What’s on my mind? The fence. We needed one to keep rabbits and deer out of the back garden.

So we talked to a fence guy who said: “I will build a great fence - and nobody builds fences better than me, believe me - and I’ll build it very inexpensively. I will build a great, great fence on your southern property line, and I will make your neighbors pay for that fence. Mark my words.”

To which the fence guy’s son, Eric, added: “My father will build the fence so fast, people’s heads will spin.”

“But how are we going to get our neighbors to pay for it?” we asked. To which the fence guy said: “It’s an easy decision for your neighbors.” And walked away, not really answering our question. When we tried to get specifics, he said: “We don’t know where the rabbits and deer are coming from. We don’t know who they are. They could be ISIS.”

We thought that was scary, so we got another quote from another fence guy. He said we needed to “patrol and secure neighborhoods before the rabbits become radicalized.” 

“What does that mean?” we whispered. “They’ll eat your tulips,” he said. Our hands flew to our mouths in horror.

The first fence guy said he’d keep an eye on the rabbits. It was only fair to hear what he had to say. “I saw the migration and it looks like mostly strong males. There aren’t that many females or bunnies. I understand the whole thing with migration. It’s a horrible thing. It should never have happened in the first place.”

“We’ve heard that the scent of human hair can keep deer from entering a garden,” we said.

“Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy,” said the fence guy. “Sorry, losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest - and you all know it. Please don’t feel stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”

We tried to steer the conversation back to the effect human hair might have on deer. 

“I do not wear a rug,” said the fence guy. “My hair is 100% mine. I get up, take a shower and wash my hair. Then I read the newspapers and watch the news on television, and slowly the hair dries. It takes about an hour. I don’t use the blow dryer. Once it’s dry, I comb it. Once I have it the way I like it - even though nobody else likes it - I spray it and it’s good for the day.”

We looked at one another in confusion. “How much will our fence cost?” we asked.

“Eight billion bucks.”


The fence guy shrugged. “The neighbors are gonna pay for it.” 

When we looked doubtful, he added: “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich. When I build something for somebody, I always add $50 or $60 million onto the price. My guys come in, they say it’s gonna cost $75 million. I say it’s gonna cost $125 million, and I build it for $100 million. Basically, I do a lousy job. But they think I did a great job.”

“And no one complains?” we asked.

“The neighbors are gonna pay for it,” he repeated.

Changing the subject, he said: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it! The only kinda people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” 

Disgusted, we said we’d talked to a second fence guy.

“I think the only difference between me and the other fence guys is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful,” he said. “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

Emotionally exhausted, we agreed to let him build the fence. And it was high, and the deer couldn’t jump it - but the rabbits still sneaked through and our neighbors didn’t pay.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bagna Cauda

Where to start? Bagna Cauda is neither an African country, a weight-loss supplement flogged by Dr. Oz, faux-leather luggage, or an academic degree with distinction (She graduated Bagna Cauda …). 

What Bagna Cauda is, is a warm dip enlivened with olive oil, butter, garlic, and anchovies. Lucky me! I just happened to have all those ingredients on hand when I decided to make it. Puritans prepare it as a dipper for fresh vegetables but you can forget that nonsense (the exception being cooked asparagus; dunking it into this dip would obviously be gorgeous).

This calorific but outstanding dish came highly recommended by our dear friend Darryl Paulsen (see yesterday’s post). Nibble the slice of baguette you soak in this. Secretly wolfing it down as you hunch over the kitchen sink will not make it any less fattening.

This recipe is so delicious that I’ve published a larger version for the guests you’ll invite to share it, as well as publishing a recipe for two. The proportions are loose, so add and subtract what feels right for you. You may notice that the quantities for 2 aren’t proportional to the quantities for 6. Doesn’t matter. I don’t think you can go wrong with this easy recipe, whatever you do.

Bagna Cauda for 6:

Two 1.7-oz. (50 g) can flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil (drained; oil reserved)
3/4 c. (180 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. (80 mL) butter (no substitutes)
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
One fresh Italian baguette, in 1-in. slices

Add drained olive oil from anchovy fillets to measuring cup. Top with extra-virgin olive oil to make 3/4 c.  (180 mL).Whirl all ingredients in mini-prep or blender until garlic is completely crushed, anchovies are well incorporated, and mixture is almost smooth. Transfer dip to medium saucepan over medium-low heat, keeping warm until needed. Pour into small individual fondue pots over low flame at the table. A cast-iron skillet over a Japanese cooker at the center of the table works well for communal serving. Serves 6-to-8. 

Note: For a close-up look and explanation of Japanese cookers, see:  

Bagna Cauda for 2:

One 1.7-oz. (50 g) can flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil (drained; oil reserved)
1/2 c. (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter (no substitutes)
1-1/2 large garlic cloves, peeled
Four 1-in.-thick slices fresh Italian baguette (two per person)

Add drained olive oil from anchovy fillets to measuring cup.

Anchovies in olive oil.

Youll need some garlic, too!

Top with extra-virgin olive oil to make 1/2 c. (125 mL).Whirl all ingredients in mini-prep or blender until garlic is completely crushed, anchovies are well incorporated, and mixture is almost smooth. 

My mini-prep ... a small food processor.

Transfer dip to small saucepan over low heat, keeping warm until needed. Pour into small individual fondue pots over low flame at the table. Or do what we did (see Down Home Note). Soak torn portions of bread slices in hot dip. Serves 2.

Bagna Cauda was invented in Italy: This is how the Italians do it! 

Down Home Note: Ron and I are “just folks” who don’t normally go to a lot of fuss. And so it was that I looked at the finished Bagna Cauda and thought: “Why dirty a fondue dish? The saucepan it’s already in will be just fine!” As it was. The dip stayed hot as we passed the hot saucepan back and forth. We gobbled it all up - or most of it, at least. I’ll toss the small amount that remains with a little spaghetti for tomorrow’s lunch.  

Further Note: Because I served Bagna Cauda as part of a complete dinner, I accompanied it with a small platter of Assorted Antipasti:

Our Antipasti included a few slices of softened Brie; some thinly sliced salami, prosciutto, and deli chicken; a few mixed olives and gherkins; a scattering of small tomatoes; and some cooked, chilled edamame beans I bought in the deli section of the grocery store. 

We ate much of this - but not all!

By the end of the meal, this was all about the late Darryl Paulsen, friend extraordinaire. We toasted him ...