From the monthly archives:

March 2013

Artichoke pasta with shitake and crimini mushrooms was less of a choice than a demand. Jan showed me picture of a pasta dish and said “I want that.”  I am not really sure what she showed me, but it looked like mushrooms and the evidence was the proof  as both mushrooms were on sale for $1.99 a pound.

Up front I will tell you that I broke a few rules cooking the mushrooms. Actually all of them. I rinse them in water and toss them in liquid before cooking. And the cooking starts with a ten minute boil/steam in the lemon juice. Uhm… yeah, I pretty much behave from there. Basically I achieved  the best tasting “canned” mushrooms ever. Odd yes, but the texture will go well with the thick pasta that I am using for the dish.

Every once in a while, Jan will come across Foglie di Carciofo, or artichoke leaf pasta in Italian. She usually finds this at Home Goods at random times and some higher end specialty food stores. It’s a bit expensive for pasta, but well worth it. The tooth of this pasta with the earthiness of the shitake and flavor of the crimini works really well.


12 ounces of Foglie di Carciofo pasta or other really dense pasta like rigatoni.
4 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
16 ounces shitaki mushrooms
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Extra salt for the pasta water


Cut off the stems of the shitakis and discard.
Slice the shitaki and crimini musrooms about 1/8 inch thick.
Rinse the mushrooms in cold water to wash off any dirt (don’t rinse them first, wet mushrooms are hard to slice).
Place the mushrooms in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

Set the pasta water to boil.

Choose a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid.
Heat the pan on medium high until hot and add the olive oil and garlic.
Cook for a minute or so and add the mushrooms and any liquid.
Toss with the garlic and cover.
Cook for ten minutes stirring 2 or 3 times.

Add the pasta to the water and cook as directed minus one minute. It should still have some bite to it and not be soft.

Uncover the mushrooms add the wine, salt, pepper and red chili and cook until most of the liquid is gone. Stir frequently.
Once the liquid is mostly gone, reduce the heat to low.
Add the cream and stir.
Add the Parmesan and stir.
Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

Once the pasta is done, drain and add to the mushroom sauce.
Turn the heat to medium and toss the pasta with the sauce for 3 minutes.

Serve with extra parmesan cheese.


Okay, it’s the third day after Saint Patrick’s day and what are you going to do with the leftovers from the boiled dinner? Especially the vegetables. How about a grilled rueben with a hot and crispy potato salad?

The star here is the potato salad. And this is good stuff. Kid approved stuff. Potato crack.

I usually have more vegetables left over than corned beef. So a dish that makes them shin is always useful. Basically it’s a hash with Balsamic vinegar added once the vegetables are crisp. Remember, always add the oil or fat to a HOT pan. This will help keep everything from sticking to the pan.

Also it worth making the Russian dressing from scratch. The recipe below is just enough for 4 sandwiches. I never thought much of Russian dressing on salads so a whole bottle would be too much. You probably have all the ingredients in the fridge and pantry. So why not?

First we will make the dressing. Then get the potatoes started and finish with the Ruebens.

Russian Dressing Ingredients:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon finely minced dill pickle (or any pickle really)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Salt to taste


Mix all ingredients together and let it combine for at least 30 minutes.

Warm Potato Salad:

This is leftovers so the amounts can vary. But basically the amounts are as follows. Also, when you chop up the potatoes and carrots we are not looking for a uniform size. I actually broke up the vegetables with my hands.

About 2 cups boiled potatoes.
1/2 Cup or more  boiled carrots
1/2 Cup boiled onion (if you have them)
1 Slice bacon
olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons  chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste


Add a good slug of olive oil to a hot fry pan. The temperature should be medium high.
Dice up the bacon and add to the pan.
Fry until the bacon is almost crisp.
Add the potatoes, carrots and onions.
Let the vegetables  fry for 3 -4 minutes. When they easily release from the bottom of the pan flip them over.
Repeat 2 or 3 times until everything is crisp and browned.
Add the green onion and parsley and mix into the pan.
Drizzle in  the vinegar to deglaze the pan and toss the mixture well.


Grilled Rueben:

Basically you want about 4 ounces of corned beef for each sandwich. Traditionally, you would use sauerkraut. But that’s not what we have. So take your cabbage and slice it up. Squeeze out the water and add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and some salt. Mix well and we have a decent cheat for kraut.. You will need about 1 cup of the prepared cabbage.

8 Slices pumpernickel/rye swirled bread
16 ounces sliced corned beef
1 cup/8 ounces prepared cabbage or sauerkraut
1/2 cup prepared Russian dressing (see above)
8 slices Swiss cheese


Spread out the slices of bread on the counter or cutting board.
Lightly butter each of them and flip over.
(yes it’s messy, but we are making food here).
Spread each slice with the Russian dressing.
Working on 4 slices, add a layer of one slice swiss cheese, 4 ounces or corned beef, 2 ounces or cabbage, and another slice of swiss cheese.
Cover with the slices of bread, dressing side to the inside of the sandwich.

The next step is to pan grill the sandwiches. It’s probably best to us two pans or a griddle f you have it.
(probably a good idea to check on those potatoes).

Place the sandwich on the pan on medium. let cook for about 3 minutes. Press the sandwich with a press or a spatula to compress.
Cook until the bottom is lightly browned and flip.

Press down the sandwich again and cook until the bottom in browned.

Serve it all up. A Guinness stout might be a good idea as a side dish.


Cajun Rice and Beans

Thumbnail image for Cajun Rice and Beans March 16, 2013

I wasn’t going to post such a simple thing as Cajun rice and beans. But I can imagine chef King reach out from Oregon and smack me on the head with the admonition, “Don’t teach the recipes; teach them how to cook.” How to make this adds up to much more than dinner. I never […]

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Savory French Toast

Thumbnail image for Savory French Toast March 9, 2013

A Savory French toast recipe with fresh mozzarella and pesto. We were snowed in on Thursday so a big breakfast was in order. Sledding can take a lot out of a kid. I like French toast just fine, but I really have an issue with sweets. Over time, I decided to go savory with french […]

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Spaghetti Carbonara

Thumbnail image for Spaghetti Carbonara March 8, 2013

Spaghetti carbonara is a fairly easy dish and one that I needed. I am in the middle of a kitchen renovation and, well we have no kitchen. The counter guys broke the granite yesterday so now we are kitchen impaired for a few days. Everything had gone smoothly. I was feeling good that we would […]

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Baked Clams

Thumbnail image for Baked Clams March 3, 2013

Sorry Mom, but I kind of changed the recipe. But only a lot. While I love my Mom’s baked clams, over the years I have fiddled with it into the recipe below. They are much lighter with less bread crumbs. Plus I added bacon and cheese. I know the cheese is a blasphemy, but I needed […]

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Biscuits and Gravy – A Southern Sausage Gravy Recipe

Thumbnail image for Biscuits and Gravy – A Southern Sausage Gravy Recipe March 1, 2013

The weekend is coming and I need something to take the stress off first thing. I am not sure that  biscuits and gravy is the way to fix the stress that adolescents can cause, but it’s a start. Good old comfort food. The technique used here is a basic white sauce. Basically it is ratio of […]

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