Simply delicious: Caramelized Carrot and Ginger Soup

Easy Peasy!

The truest of beauty lie in simplicity. A sunrise at the break of day. Strolling under a starry night. The taste of a fresh tomato as it is plucked from the garden as you take a juicy bite, the warmth of the sun still lingering as you experience its tart acidity. Life is defined by the purest of moments.

Add this caramelized carrot and ginger soup to the list. It’s so simple, yet so tasty, it’s almost stupid. The ingredients are as such:

1 ½ lbs. baby carrots

1 Stick of unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon plain yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 pinch of salt

The end result is a rich, dreamy concoction that is both excellent as a cool treat on a hot day or as a steaming hot bowl to warm your soul on a cold day. At our recent secret supper, we had it warm, defying logic in light of the balmy 99 degree weather. Our geothermal A.C. had the house chilled to a pleasant 78 degrees,  so warm and yummy was good to the tummy.

 The secret weapon in all this simplicity is provided by a little pressure cooker action. Peel the carrots, dice them down to 1 inch sections, then toss them into the pressure cooker with on stick of unsalted butter. Heat the pressure cooker to medium heat for about 5 minutes and allow it to pressurize. Turn the heat off and in about 5 minutes, you will have perfectly caramelized carrots that will only require a quick whir in the blender or a food processor to turn into this marvelous, decadent soup.


Before all the blending action takes place, allow the pressure cooker to cool a few moments under a cool facet until the pressure releases enough to open. Pop in the grated ginger and stir until blended. Allow the ginger to stew in the hot carrots until softened. About 3 minutes. Add the carrot mixture to your blender or food processor and give it a few quick pulses. The carrots should already have somewhat of a pureed consistency from the pressure cooking process at this point. Add the heavy cream and yogurt along with a pinch of salt then pulse a few more times until blended. You can either serve the soup hot at this point of refrigerate it to serve at a later time cold.

In the immortal words of those famous Cooking Channel hostesses, The Two Fat Ladies“Easy Peasy”!! Simply delicious.


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Filed under Carrots, dinner party menu, Ginger, Pressure Cooker meals, Soup, Vegetables, vegetarian

Arugula and Grilled Peach Salad with Mozzarella and Balsamic Dressing

Late Spring is the perfect time for salads

Late Spring is the perfect time for salads! With a variety of lettuces starting to pop up in the gardens and farmers markets beginning to show their first fruits, a wide variety of options spring to life when it comes to putting together a creative little number. One is not limited to merely mixing and matching greens when approaching the subject. Be BOLD! Explore and experiment! Do something WILD! Cooking was meant to be fun, and the best way to achieve that is by stepping outside of the box to try something new.

When the opportunity arrived to prepare for our little Secret Supper, I wanted to showcase fresh items which where readily available, all the while, attempting to push flavors in new directions. Generally, one would not think about throwing fruit on the grill. The end result is full of surprises, with the grill bringing out flavors usually not experienced in the fruit. On this occasion, I paired the sweetness of peach with the bite of arugula. A touch of smokiness from the grill adds a little something unexpected.

You can cook, or you can create food that is art! With a little experimentation, you too will find bold new flavor combinations. Here is the basic salad recipe. I suggest throwing it out the window and creating something with your own unique signature!

Arugula and Grilled Peach Salad with Mozzarella and Balsamic Dressing


¾ cup balsamic vinegar

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 firm, ripe peaches- halved and pitted

4 ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups fresh baby arugula

1 ball mozzarella, cut into ¾ inch chunks


Prepare a medium gas of charcoal grill fire.

Combine the vinegar and thyme in a 2-quart sauce-pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to about ¼ cup, around 6-9 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the thyme sprigs and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Rub the peaches all over with 2 tsp. of the oil and season lightly  with a few pinches of fresh thyme, a pinch of salt and few grinds of pepper. Grill cut side down until lightly charred, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Slice each half into thirds.

In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 2 ½ tsp. oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter. Top with mozzarella and peaches, then drizzle with about 2 Tbs. of the reduced Balsamic dressing, adding more to taste. Season to taste.


Filed under Balsamic Vinegar, Greens, Salad

Can You Keep a Secret?

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” –A.A.Milne

“And last, but definitely not the least, I wish you food for your tummy.”

A.A.Milne being the intellectual mind and playwright behind the eternal classic Winnie the Pooh. If I were Winnie the Pooh, with his ever insatiable appetite, I would surely wish for honey. In many ways, I guess you could say that I am very Pooh-like. You see, to me, and to many others, food is love. I’ve said it before- no greater way exists to share your love for another than to nourish their body and soul with but a tiny morsel or bite.

So, when the occasion did rise to invite a few friends, new and old, to come by our humble abode for an impromptu dinner party, my main aim was to roll out all the stops and shower my guests with a full fledged, food fueled love fest!

When I was but a wee lad, I can recall my parents reveling in dinner parties of the grandest scale. Food and drink would abound and I can recall the hubbub of conversation, laughter and rollicking good times. Music was played and trays of delectable bites were placed before the guests from which to graze. A potluck of courses would ensue and I recall the look of divine contentment lingering on everyone’s faces as the evening began to wane…or maybe that was the end result of imbibing in a few too many cocktails?

Nevertheless, the indelible lore of the supper club still lingers in my mind. If you explore it’s origins a bit, you find Wikipedia describes them as such:

Supper club in United States is an American dining establishment generally found in the Upper Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas. They were traditionally thought of as a “destination” where patrons would go to spend the whole evening, from cocktail hour to enjoying night club style entertainment after dinner. They feature a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

Having their birth, in part, during the latter part of Prohibition, the supper club in its earliest form was a bit of a reclusive endeavor. With folks dodging the law in order to imbibe in a few stiff drinks as an aperitif followed by a substantial intake of food to sloth it all off, the secret supper club served as an oasis from the troubles of life. We chose to keep our little affair a secret because this very blog you are reading, in conjunction with several other endeavors I have been recently undertaking, are creating quite a stir. The end result being a whispering of murmurs calling for an establishment to be formed by which one might further indulge in what I have so far, only offered to the public visually.

The Secret Supper Club, which has just been hereby outed, took place. The destination: our house on the edge of town. A decent spread was put out, drinks and good times where had by all and it has been decided to be a good and rewarding thing. Just so happens we might do it again. When and where? They are up in the air, because, after all…IT’S A SECRET!.

Beautiful photography provided by our friends Rob and Amber Garrett at Look Here Photography.


Supper Club guest, Michael Glass, leaves his lasting impression.

For now, we will resort to the usual and share the after effects with you. For the next coming week or so, I will relay a few of the dishes we partook in and share their recipes. Enjoy!

The Prelude- mixed charcuterie plate

Spring Crab Salad with Avocado, Peach and Jalapeño


½ pound jumbo lump fresh crab meat

½ Hass avocado, skin and pt removed, cut into 1/4inh cubes

1 one medium peach, cut into ¼ inch cubes

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ cup red onion, finely diced

¼ cup loosely pack cilantro leaves, finely chopped

½  jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch of fresh ground pepper

"Secret Recipe" Bourbon Bacon Jam

June Menu- Secret Supper Club

Appetizers/Hors D’Oeuvers


Charcuterie Platter

Liguria Salame

Tuscano Salame

Veneto Salame

Spicy Capicollo

Soppressata di Calabria

Cheese Platter

Bourbon Bacon Jam

White Wine and Rosemary Pickled Portobella’s

Crab Salad Cups

Cucumber with Herbed Cheese




First Course

  • Spring Ceviche with Shrimp, Avocado, and Cucumber


Second Course


  • Arugula, Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad with a Balsamic Honey Dressing


Third Course

  • Caramelized Carrot and Ginger Soup


Fourth Course

  • Spring Pea and Bacon Risotto with Braised Pea Tendrils


Main Course

  • Sesame-Ginger Beef/Tofu and Shiitake Kebabs in Citrus Hoisin Glaze


Dessert Course


  • Avocado Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis, Crème’ Anglaise and Fresh Mint Ice Cream


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Filed under appetizers, bourbon, condiments, crab dishes, dinner party menu, hors d'oeuvres, Salad, secret supper club, Uncategorized

Sure Don’t Make Them Like They Used Too

American, land of the free and home of the brave. Once she was thought to be the land of milk and honey. Full of splendor and promise, she was the belle of the ball, exuding opulence and grandeur. During the late 1800’s, heavy industrialization proliferated throughout the eastern states of a still young America. Fortunes where made and the rich, luxuriated in their lavish lifestyles of wealth and abundance. This sprang forth the Gilded Age, an era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post-Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.

The Gold Boom’s of California in 1848 and Colorado in 1859 further expanded both the population and fortunes of our great nation. The Colorado gold rush, which followed approximately a decade after the California Gold Rush, was accompanied by a dramatic influx of emigrants into the region of the Rocky Mountains and exemplified by the phrase “Pikes Peak or Bust”, a reference to the mountain in the Front Range that guided many early prospectors to the region westward over the Great Plains. The prospectors provided the first major white population in the region, leading to the creation of many early towns in the region, including Denver and Boulder, as well as many other smaller mining towns, some of which have survived.

Many struck off to Colorado, looking to stake their own claim on fortune. Henry Cordes Brown, a carpenter-turned-real-estate entrepreneur from Ohio, came to Denver in 1860 after a number of adventures in California, Peru, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri. In Denver, Brown purchased several acres of land, including a triangular plot at the corners of Broadway, Tremont and 17th street, where he grazed his cow.

Brown originally left his Ohio home in 1860, planning on striking it rich in California.  However, as his family passed through Denver, his wife liked it so much, she reportedly said to him, “Mr. Brown, thou may press on to California if such be thy wish. I shall remain here.”

Making Denver their home, the Browns soon homesteaded 160 acres on what would later become known as Capitol Hill.  A shrewd businessman, Brown soon developed the acreage into the most influential neighborhood in the city, where the wealthy began to build palatial brownstone mansions up and down Grant and Sherman Streets.

Henry made a fortune from his real estate development; however the economic panic of 1877 nearly destroyed him.  He was forced to sell his palatial estate to Horace Tabor for $50,000, but the enterprising Brown soon recovered his fortune and by 1880 was worth nearly five million dollars, making him one of the wealthiest men in Colorado.

When the Windsor Hotel, one of Denver’s most elegant at the time, would not let Brown enter because he was dressed in cowboy attire, Brown decided to build his own hotel, and in the process, outdo the Windsor. In 1888, he retained architect Frank E. Edbrooke to design a new hotel, the likes of which had never before been seen in Denver.

The Brown Palace Hotel in 1898

Edbrooke designed Brown’s hotel in the Italian Renaissance style, using Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone for the building’s exterior. For a finishing touch, artist James Whitehouse was commissioned to create 26 medallions carved in stone, each depicting a native Rocky Mountain animal. The hotel’s “silent guests” can still be seen between the seventh floor windows on the hotel’s exterior.

The Atrium of The Brown Palace, Denver,Colorado.

For the interior, Edbrooke designed an atrium lobby, with balconies rising eight floors above ground, surrounded by cast iron railings with ornate grillwork panels. No one knows for sure whether it was done intentionally, but two of the grillwork panels were installed – and remain – upside down. Edbrooke imported onyx from Mexico for the lobby, the Grand Salon (now the Onyx Room) on the second floor, and the eighth floor ballroom. The hotel was hailed as the second fire-proof building in America. No wood was used for the floors and walls, which were instead made of hollow blocks of porous terracotta fireproofing.

After an expenditure of $1.6 million – a remarkable sum for the time – and another $400,000 for furniture, The Brown Palace Hotel opened on Aug. 12, 1892. It had 400 guest rooms (compared to 241 today) that rented for between $3 and $5 a night. There were two banquet halls, a ladies’ ordinary (lounge), and a Grand Salon. The lobby housed a smoking room, a men’s bar, a ladies’ waiting room, and at least 18 stores. Today, there are four restaurants, 11 banquet rooms (all but one on the second floor), a gift shop, spa, floral shop and business center.

There were, and still are, many interesting and unique features about The Brown Palace. Because of its triangular shape, all rooms face the street. Early on, guests were asked whether they preferred morning or afternoon sun. The hotel derives all of its water from its own original artesian well. A huge carousel oven, at least half as old as the hotel and one of only three known to be in existence, still turns out the melba toast, macaroons and other baked goods on a daily basis in The Brown Palace bakery.

The Brown Palace Hotel has been open for business every minute of every day since Aug. 12, 1892. Unlike most and perhaps even all historic hotels, The Brown Palace has never closed for renovation. Instead, it has been remodeled, refurbished, updated and redecorated on an ongoing basis, including the latest $6.5 million restoration of the top two floors, and $3 million for the newly constructed Spa at The Brown Palace.

Standing the test of time, The Brown Palace today remains what it was originally meant to be – a grand, unprecedented hotel. Indeed, The Brown Palace is still known for many of its original qualities: its unusual triangular shape, its stunning, eight-story atrium lobby, its elegant atmosphere, and perhaps most importantly, its ability to treat weary travelers like royalty.

Afternoon tea, a longheld tradition at The Brown Palace.

The Brown Palace is truly a rare gem. Few places exist in this day and age which exude the same grandeur and regalia. They sure don’t make them like they used too! A chance last minute business meeting landed us in Denver last week- on a long Memorial Day weekend, nevertheless. We stayed at the Brown Palace, where we did indeed feel like we had stepped back in time and where we also felt like we were being treated like royalty.


What has this all got to do with my meager little food blog, you may ask?


 We where also very pleased to find out Denver happens to be a splendid little food town. Here are a few highlights from our food-filled adventure in the Mile High city…

Ship Tavern

located at The Brown Palace, Denver Colorado

Truffle French Fries at Ship Tavern, Brown Palace.

Ship Tavern: The Brown Palace, Denver,Colorado

Ahi Tuna Burger

The Delectable Egg

The California Benedict

Stuffed French Toast

Lou’s Food Bar

1851  West 38th AVE.

Denver, Colorado

Beef Carpaccio, Parmesan, Arugula

White Bean, Harcots Vert, Hard Cooked Eggs and Sherry Vinaigrette

TAG Continental Social Food

TAG is located on bustling Larimer Square in Denver’s historic LoDo downtown district.
1441 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202

Sample Menu


Lemon Herbed Sea Bass

Wild Boar Chop


Fresh Mint  Ice Cream Recipe

The Windy Saddle

1110 Washington Avenue

Golden, Colorado  80401

Everythings Golden!

Windy Saddle Cafe

Tuna Salad Sandwich and Chipotle Turkey Club

Afternoon Tea

The Brown Palace Atrium

Tea for Two!

Housemade Pastries

Tea Sandwiches

God save the Queen!

Room Service

The Brown Palace

A fond farewell!

Denver has a fabulous food scene indeed. We just touched the tip of the iceberg in the four days we where there. On a return trip, and very soon, I might add, we hope to visit Table 6,  Riajo, Bistro Vendome,  and Panzano as well as the many other outstanding eateries, food trucks and other culinary delights which Denver has to offer!

Notable Guests at The Brown Palace

Since Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1905 en route to a bear hunt in the Colorado Rockies, every U.S. President except Calvin Coolidge has stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel. Dwight Eisenhower even ran his 1952 presidential campaign from offices on the second floor of the hotel.

During World War II, troops were quartered at the Brown Palace Hotel and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division were known to rappel from the balconies, much to the management’s chagrin.

Pop-star Billy Joel once joined the lobby pianist for a duet, and actress Zsa Zsa Gabor’s cat was once lost in the hotel heating system.

The Beatles stayed at the Brown Palace during their 1964 tour and the hotel was inundated with applications from young women eager to work as housekeepers during their stay.

The Rolling Stones brought more than 200 pieces of luggage during their two-night stay in 2003.

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Carrots, Curry, dessert, Eggs, Meat Dishes, Pork, root vegetables, Salmon, sauces, Side Dish, street food, Tuna, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Fresh Mint Ice Cream

Fresh Mint ice cream at TAG


1 Cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Pinch of salt

2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves

5 large egg yolks


Warm the milk, sugar,1 cup of the cream and salt in a small saucepan. Add the mint leaves and stir until they are immersed in the liquid. Cover and remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature for one hour.

Strain the mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan (the milk will be a nice shade of emerald green).Press on the mint leaves to extract as much of the flavor as possible, then discard the mint leaves. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer on top.

Rewarm the mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mint liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the sauce pan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through a strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Freeze in an ice cream freezer about 45 minutes to an hour, until ice cream is set. Chill in a freezer for at least two hours before serving.


Filed under dessert, Herb, Ice Cream, Mint

Don’t Give Up The Ship

When you cook, No greater compliment exists than when someone asks you to share a recipe, assist them in their kitchen efforts or comes to you for advice. I am finding, the longer I cook, the more frequently this tends to happen.

Such was the case recently when an old friend sent me an email asking me to help her out. You see, she is currently acting as the “cookie” on an historical re-enactment project called the Flagship US Niagara.

Docked at the Erie Maritime Museum, in Erie, PA, the Flagship US Niagara serves as a reminder of a very critical piece of the history of the United States. In service during the time of the War of 1812, the real Flagship Niagara, under the command of Oliver Hazard Perry, was very crucial in our countries defeat of the British Naval fleets which allowed us to go on toe rather decisive victory in the War and eventually go on to open up the west to settle the remainder of the United States.

Later called the Hero of the Lake, At his request, Perry was given command of United States naval forces on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton had charged prominent merchant seaman Daniel Dobbins with building the American fleet on Presque Isle Bay at Erie, Pennsylvania, and Perry was named chief naval officer.

On September 10, 1813, Perry’s command fought a successful fleet action against a task force of the Royal Navy in the Battle of Lake Erie. It was at the outset of this battle that Perry famously said, “If a victory is to be gained, I will gain it.” Initially, the exchange of gunfire favored the British. Perry’s flagship, the USS Lawrence, was so severely disabled in the encounter that the British commander, Robert Heriot Barclay, thought that Perry would surrender it, and sent a small boat to request that the American vessel pull down its flag. Faithful to the words of his battle flag, “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” (a paraphrase of the dying words of Captain James Lawrence, the ship’s namesake and Perry’s friend), Perry ordered the crippled Lawrence to fire a final salvo and then had his men row him a half-mile (0.8 km) through heavy gunfire to transfer his command to the USS Niagara. Once aboard, Perry dispatched the Niagara’s commander, Captain Jesse Elliot, to bring the other schooners into closer action while he steered the Niagara toward the damaged British ships. Breaking through the British line, the American force pounded Barclay’s ships until they could offer no effective resistance and surrendered. Although he had won the battle aboard the Niagara, he received the British surrender on the deck of the recaptured Lawrence to allow the British to see the terrible price his men had paid. Perry’s battle report to General William Henry Harrison was famously brief: “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

This was the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron had surrendered, and every captured ship was successfully returned to Presque Isle. Although the engagement was small compared to Napoleonic naval battles such as the Battle of Trafalgar, the victory had disproportionate strategic importance, opening Canada up to possible invasion, while simultaneously protecting the entire Ohio Valley. The loss of the British squadron directly led to the critical Battle of the Thames, the rout of British forces by Harrison’s army, the death of Tecumseh, and the breakup of his Indian alliance. Along with the Battle of Plattsburgh, it was one of only two significant fleet victories of the war.

This brings us to modern times and the Flagship Niagara replica, which now calls the Erie Maritime Museum its home. The museum opened its doors May 21, 1998. As home port of the Flagship Niagara, the Erie Maritime Museum presents the story of the Niagara as the reconstructed flagship of Pennsylvania and the warship that won the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Offering a wide range of multi-media and interactive exhibits, and coupling with lively interpretive programs, Erie Maritime Museum vividly illustrates Niagara’s history and the region’s rich maritime history.

At a time when our country is reeling from record unemployment, declining economics and political unrest, never has this phrase stood as a more fitting or worthy “Battle Cry” which to rally behind!

Here are a dozen classic Chowder, Stew and Soup recipes I sent to my “cookie” friend on the Flagship US Niagara to stymie off hunger and fuel their bodies while hoisting sails on deck!

Tomato Bisque


1 28 can Whole Tomatoes

1 cup water

1 Medium Sweet Onion, Chopped

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 pinch raw sugar


In dutch over, combine 1 can fire roasted tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer. Add garlic, celery salt, sea salt, white pepper and nutmeg and cover. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Sauté until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and add to food processor. Add tomatoes and mascarpone then puree until smooth.

Return to dutch oven and simmer over medium heat until warm. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Clam Chowder


* 4 slices bacon

* 1/2 cup chopped onion

* 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* 1 cup bottled clam juice

* 1 cup half-and-half

* 2 (6 ounce) cans minced clams

* salt and pepper to taste

* 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan, crumble and set aside.

2. In the same saucepan with the bacon fat, saute the onion and potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to coat.

3. Pour in the clam juice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

4. Add the half-and-half and minced clams and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, whisk in the heavy cream, if desired. Allow to heat through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and crumbled bacon. (Note: Do not boil if adding cream.)

Classic beef Stew


* 4 pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed)

* 2 large onions, diced (2 cups)

* 1 6-ounce can tomato paste

* 1 cup dry red wine

* 1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

* 1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)

* 2 cups beef broth

* 1 tablespoon kosher salt

* 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

* 1 bay leaf

* 1 cup frozen peas, thawed


1. Coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer to a heavy casserole or a heavy, covered saucepan or Dutch oven.

2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; transfer to the casserole. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the casserole. Stir in the broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.

3. Cook the casserole in a 325° F oven for 4 hours, or in the saucepan or Dutch oven on the stovetop over low heat for about 2 1/2 hours. In either case, stir occasionally and add up to 1 cup of additional beef broth if necessary. Add the potatoes and carrots during the last hour of cooking, and the peas just before serving.

Classic Gazpacho


* 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound)

* 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded

* 1 medium onion

* 1 large roasted red bell pepper (available in jars)

* 3 cups tomato juice

* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

* 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

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Cut 1 tomato, 1/2 cucumber and 1/2 onion into 1-inch pieces and transfer to processor. Add bell pepper and puree. Transfer to bowl. Add tomato juice, cilantro, vinegar, oil and hot pepper sauce. Seed remaining tomato. Dice remaining tomato and cucumber and onion halves and add to soup. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead.) Serve well chilled.

Carrot Soup with Orange and Tarragon


* 1 tablespoon butter

* 1 1-pound bag classic-cut peeled carrots

* 3/4 cup chopped onion

* 3 cups low-salt chicken broth

* 1/2 cup orange juice

* 1 tablespoon brandy

* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

* Fresh tarragon sprigs

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Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; sauté until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add broth; cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in orange juice, brandy, and chopped tarragon. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish soup with tarragon sprigs and serve.

10 Minute Shrimp and Bean Stew


* 2 tbsps olive oil

* 3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin

* 1 cup tomato sauce

* 2 cups water

* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

* 1 tsp dried thyme, or 3-4 sprigs of fresh

* 1 can (15-oz) butter beans, drained

* 1 can (15-oz) white cannellini beans, drained

* 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

* 1 lemon, juiced

* salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic slices on medium-low heat, until the garlic begins to sizzle. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, water, pepper flakes, thyme, and beans. Turn up heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shrimp, and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in bowls with bread.

Bacon and Potato Chowder


* 8 slices bacon

* 2 teaspoons olive oil

* 1/2 onion, chopped

* 1/2 cup diced carrots

* 1 stalk celery, diced

* 1 quart chicken broth

* 4 cups cubed potatoes

* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

* salt to taste

* sour cream, as needed (optional)


Cook bacon in a soup pan until crisp. Remove, and reserve. Discard bacon fat, and add olive oil to the pan. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté on medium-low until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in cheese, until melted. Dice bacon and add to soup. Seasoning with salt, and serve hot with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.



* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 1/4 cup butter

* 1 rib celery, chopped

* 1 onion, diced

* 1 can crushed tomatoes (28-oz)

* 2 cups clam juice or fish stock

* 2 cups white wine

* 4 cloves crushed garlic

* 1 lemon, juiced

* 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

* 1 bay leaf

* 1 teaspoons dried basil

* 1 teaspoon dried oregano

* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 Dungeness crab (about 2-lbs), cracked and cleaned, or 1-lb frozen crabmeat thawed

* 2 pounds walleye fillet, cut into 1-in slices

* 24 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

* 12 mussels

* 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped


1. In a large pot, on medium-low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the celery and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for one hour. Add a splash of water if the sauce gets to thick. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.

2. Add the crab, shrimp, and halibut, and simmer covered another five minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more, or until the mussels open. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Italian parsley.

Brunswick Stew


* 1 cup chopped onion

* 2 tablespoons bacon drippings

* 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts

* salt and pepper

* 3 cups water

* 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes

* 1/4 cup dry sherry

* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

* 1 pound fresh lima beans

* 1/2 cup okra

* 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

* 2 tablespoons butter


In a stockpot or Dutch oven, cook chopped onion in the bacon grease. Add the chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. When chicken is browned on all sides, pour off the excess fat. Add the water, tomatoes, sherry, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook slowly over low heat for 1/2 hour, then add the lima beans, okra, fresh or frozen corn kernels from the cob. Simmer 1 hour. Add the butter and cook 1/2 hour longer.

Sausage, Potato and Zucchini Stew


* 1 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 pound spicy, garlicky, and possibly smoky sausage (Italian, Cajun, Chorizo, etc.), cut in 1-inch pieces

* 1 onion, chopped

* 6 zucchini, cut in 2-inch pieces

* 1 1/2 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, cut same size as zucchini

* 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth

* 1 bay leaf

* 6 springs fresh thyme

* water as needed

* salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* 1 cup cherry tomatoes

* 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives (and/or any fresh herb)

* 6 thick slices of crusty bread


In a Dutch oven or soup pot, brown the sausage and onion in the olive oil, over medium-heat. Add the zucchini, potatoes, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and a big pinch of salt. Add enough water to just cover.

Note: I didn’t use garlic in this recipe since the sausage I used was quite garlicky. If you’d like, you can add a few minced cloves just before the onions are soft.

Bring to a simmer over high-heat. Reduce to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened slightly. Adjust with water or broth as the stew cooks if it is getting to dry. Use a spoon to skim any excess fat that pools on the surface.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn off heat and stir in the cherry tomatoes and chives, or other fresh herbs. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Stuffed Pepper Soup


* 2 pounds ground beef

* 2 quarts hot water

* 1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce

* 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

* 2 cups cooked long grain rice

* 2 cups chopped green peppers

* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

* 2 teaspoons salt

* 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules

* 1 teaspoon pepper


* In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender. Yield: 10 servings.

Classic Minestrone Soup


* 10 large ripe plum tomatoes (or two 14 oz cans of tomatoes, drained)

* 3 medium carrots

* 2 medium leeks

* 5 ribs of celery

* 2 red onions

* 1 cabbage

* 1 tbsp olive oil

* 2 clv garlic, finely sliced

* 1 heaped Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

* 3 cup ham, chicken, or vegetable stock

* 3 good handfuls of fresh basil, torn

* 6 oz spaghetti

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

* extra-virgin olive oil

* Parmesan cheese, grated


Score the tomatoes and place briefly in boiling water. Then skin, seed and roughly dice. Peel or scrape the carrots, quarter lengthwise and chop. Remove the outer leaves of the leeks, quarter lengthwise, wash well and chop. Peel the celery with peeler to remove the stringy bits, then cut in half lengthwise and chop. Peel and chop the onions. When you are chopping all these vegetables, try to make them more or less the same size (around inch dice. Wash and roughly chop the cabbage.

Put the olive oil into a warmed thick-bottomed pan and cook the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary over medium heat until just tender (about 15 minutes). Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming if necessary. Add the cabbage, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the basil and the pasta, which will absorb the flavors of the soup. Simmer for a further 5 minutes or more. Taste and season. The soup should be quite thick, full in flavor, and the cabbage shouldn’t be overcooked–you want to retain its deep color.

  US Flagship Niagara

Erie Maritime Museum Homeport

Flagship NIAGARA

150 East Front Street

Erie, Pa 16507

ph. 814.452-2744

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Filed under beef, Carrots, Chili, Chowder, Fish, Italian, Pork, Soup, Spicy, stews, tailgate parties, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Not for the Faint-of-Heart…

Life, it can pass you by in a whir if you let it. We rush through our day-to-day, many times, without giving things as much as a second thought. Nowhere is this more evident than during our mealtimes. It seems as if our whole world is geared towards a “make it fast, spit it out of a box” mentality.

This is precisely why I like to occasionally pull out the Big Guns and prepare a full blown, 5-star meal that will knock the socks off everyone. We are not necessarily talking about a 5 or 6 course  coup d’état. I do set my sights to make something impressive enough to make guests want to wonder into my kitchen to see if a star chef from the Food Network has stepped in to take my place.

By-passing those short for time and not for the faint-of-heart, Here are the mixings and makings of just such a meal. Taking inspiration from the early spring offerings at our market and my love for duck, here is what I managed to stir up!

Chinese 5 Spice Duck with Orange-Brandy Sauce

*A quick soak in an orange juice brine infuses the duck with lots of flavor.

For the Duck:

2-4 Maple Leaf  Farms boneless duck breast

2 cups fresh navel or Valencia orange juice

2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. Chinese 5 Spice

Kosher salt

For the Sauce:

3 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

2 Tbs. brandy

1 cup fresh navel or Valencia orange juice

½ cup chicken stock

1 navel or Valencia orange, cut segments into thirds.

1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine the orange juice, zest, 6 Tbs. Salt, and 4 cups water in a large bowl or pot; stir to dissolve the salt. Add the duck breasts and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the duck from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Lightly rub the duck breasts with olive oil, just enough to allow them to coat with Chinese 5 spice. Sprinkle the 5 Spice over duck breasts then rub them to evenly coat.

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a 12-inch oven proof skillet over medium heat. I love my All-Clad D5 non-stick grilling pan for searing off meat in this manner! Add the duck breast and sear about 4 minutes to each side, turning only once.

Place the pan in the oven and roast until an instant thermometer registers 165º F in the center for rare duck or 165°F for a more well done breast. Cook time should be around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a carving board, tent with foil, and let the duck rest while you prepare the sauce.


Pour the juices from the skillet into a heatproof measuring cup. Let the fat rise to the surface and then spoon it off.

Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Off the heat, add the brandy. Return the pan to heat and cook, scraping the pan, until the brandy is almost evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to high and add the orange juice. Boil until thick and syrupy, and reduced to about 1/3 cup. About 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, pan juices and any juices left hanging around on the cutting board. Boil until reduced to about ¾ cup, about 3 minutes.

Swirl in the orange segments. Then, off the heat, swirl in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and parsley until the butter is melted. Season to taste with salt and a few grinds of pepper.

To serve, cut the duck on diagonal into thin slices and arrange each on a bed of coriander carrot purée. Drizzle with the sauce.

 * Try this as a side:

Roasted Radishes with Brown Butter Sauce and Radish Tops

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Filed under Duck, Meat Dishes, Oranges, sauces

Roasted Radishes with Brown Butter, Lemon and Radish Tops

*Recipe courtesy of Bon appetit magazine April 2011 Issue.


2 Bunches medium radishes (such as red, pink, and purple; about 20)

1 ½  Tbs. olive oil

Coarse kosher salt

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut off all but ½ inch of radish green, reserve trimmed tops and rinse them well, checking for grit. Coarsely chop radish tops and set aside. Cut radishes lengthwise in half and place in a medium bowl. Add 1 ½ Tbs. olive oil and toss to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more kosher salt if desired.

Melt butter in a heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of coarse kosher salt to the skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.

Transfer roasted radishes to warm shallow serving bowl and drizzle with brown butter. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.

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Filed under Quick and Easy, root vegetables, sauces, Side Dish, Vegetables

Coriander Carrot Purée


1 lbs. Heirloom baby carrots, chopped into small cubes.

1 medium russet potato, chopped into ½” cubes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

½ cup heavy cream

2 Tbs. Chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tbs. butter

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg


Place about 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium stock pot. Bring heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high. add carrots and the potato cooking until fork tender. Remove from heat and drain the water from the stock pot.

Place carrot potato mixture into a blender or food processor along with butter and pulse for about 2 minutes. Add coriander, garlic, heavy cream and nutmeg, then pulse again for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and pulse until combined. Season to taste with remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.

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Filed under Carrots, condiments, garnish, Side-dishes, Vegetables, vegetarian

Sometimes you feel like a nut…

I woke up today feeling kind of nutty. I had no idea why. I was craving something new, something novel for breakfast. I often wake up with these whims and usually they lead to something I have never made before.

Some days I will search our cookbook library (and yes, we have more than enough to classify it as such) for just the right thing. Others, I will just pursues the fridge to see what’s on hand and start adding things like a mad man. A pinch of this, a handful of that, until, all willy-nilly, it somehow manages to come together. Some would say I am a mad scientist of sorts.

Nevertheless, we had some bananas on hand and I have been pondering how to utilize the remaining ricotta from a recipe earlier in the week. Low and behold, I gave birth to a lovely, fat stuffed French toast that was just the thing to kick off our day. Come to find out shortly after breakfast that it was, in fact, national pecan day- unbeknownst to me!

The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”

Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste.

Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn. It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora” (where the word “hickory” comes from).  It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.

So, now that you know a bit of the history, here is the sweet concoction, in honor of National Pecan Day.

Banana Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Maple Candied Pecans



3 Farm Fresh Eggs
1 Whole Banana, Mashed
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup Pecans, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dohner Maple Camp syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon raw sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2-4 slices rustic Tuscan bread


In a medium bowl, hand  mix ricotta and banana just until blended. Do not over blend. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and mix until combined.

Cut a slit down the side of each slice of bread and form a pocket. Be sure to leave the ends closed. Stuff each pocket with about 2 tablespoons full of banana ricotta mixture. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, add 3 eggs, heavy cream and remaining ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Whisk until well blended.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to a medium skillet and melt over medium heat. Add pecans and toss until coated with butter. Add teaspoon of raw sugar and maple syrup. Continue to toss until sugar starts to caramelize. Set aside.

Heat medium skillet and grease with a small pat of butter. Dip each stuffed slice of bread into egg custard then place into skillet, and brown each side.

Plate and top each with candied pecans and natural maple syrup. You can also garnish French toast with Cinnamon Ginger whipped cream.

Cinnamon Ginger Whipped Cream


½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon raw sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder


In a chilled metal mixing bowl, add heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. With a mixer, whip the mixture on high until heavy peaks form. Chill for at least 10 minutes and serve.

*Dohner Maple Camp

West Milton, Ohio
Locally tapped maple syrup, maple sugar, and candy.

Phone: 937-884-5759

Visit to purchase your own.

Find out how to make your own maple syrup here.

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Filed under Banana, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Flavored Whipped creams, Ricotta