With “Spectre” in theaters right now, it seems appropriate to bring this recipe back.
At first, it seemed almost silly to try to make one…but the classic James Bond martini has always fascinated me. I’m not talking about the clichéd Sean Connery “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.”  I’m talking about the real James Bond martini, which appeared in Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel “Casino Royale” and only appeared in the most recent “Casino Royale” motion picture starring Daniel Craig.
To quote the novel:
‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’ ‘Oui, monsieur.’ ‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.  Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’ ‘Certainly, monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleasant with the idea. ‘Gosh that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter. 
Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating.’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’ 
He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip. 
‘Excellent,’ he said to the barman, ‘but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.’ 

To quote the movie: http://youtu.be/Vc7n7yyXWsU

Bond named this drink the Vesper martini, after the character Vesper Lynd, portrayed by Ursula Andress in the 1967 adaptation, and Eva Green in the 2006 adaptation of “Casino Royale.”
My version of this classic drink remains true to the original, though I’ve changed brands due to personal preference. In the novel, Bond just asks for “vodka.” (Of course, this was back in the 1950’s when we didn’t have 100 brands to choose from!) My choice for best-bang-for-the-buck grain vodka is Tito’s: it has just enough of an edge, which is what this drink needs.
Bond asks for Gordon’s gin. I’m partial to Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire. Again, in the 50’s, what good British agent wouldn’t drink Gordon’s?
And the original Kina Lillet had its formula changed in the 1980’s to keep up with the times by reducing the quinine, which made it bitter. The French aperitif wine, Lillet, is today’s version: a blend of wine grapes, oranges, orange peels and quinine. Lillet is not a vermouth, though you’ll find it in the vermouth section of your favorite liquor store. Some aficionados claim the martini is just not the same without the original Kina Lillet formulation, but I find that the drink works just fine for me.
ingredients again
So…measurements true to Bond:
3 oz. Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire
1 oz. Tito’s
1/2 oz. Lillet
I prefer combining these over ice in a cocktail shaker, and I stir, not shake. I strain it into a chilled martini glass and I skip the lemon peel. I prefer three olives instead…stuffed with garlic, if my wife is away on a business trip!
A side note: the correct pronunciation of Lillet is Lih-LAY. Grammatically in French, the double-l would make it sound like Lih-YAY. So to keep that from happening, they spelled it Lilet for a while until the French were used to the correct pronunciation, then they went back to Lillet on the bottle.
A few years ago, at Le Saint-Amour, a great restaurant in Quebec City, the dish I ordered had these small strange-looking root vegetables sitting next to my roasted duck entrée. They resembled tiny twisted parsnips…or caterpillars! I needed to know what these things were, and so I asked my French waiter, who came back with a piece of paper that had the word “crosne” written on it. He said: “I don’t know how they say it in English.”
Back at the hotel room, I went right to the laptop and started a search on-line and discovered that crosnes (pronounced crones) are also known as Chinese artichokes, and although they are somewhat common in European gardens, they’re really difficult to find in the states.
The leaves look like mint, but don't have a fragrance.

The leaves look like mint, but don’t have a fragrance.

The plant is a relative of mint (though the leaves have no aroma), a perennial, is easy to grow, spreads on its own, and has those small, convoluted and delicious root clumps (known as tubers to gardeners.) So what’s not to like? Well, apparently, it’s not the gardeners that don’t want to deal with them…it’s the chefs! The tubers are very small and need a little extra effort to make sure they’re washed clean before cooking. They don’t need to be peeled (now that would be a pain in the ass) but to many chefs, even the washing is too much of a hassle.
As a Master Gardener, I found all of this pretty interesting so I searched for sources to buy crosnes plants. It took a while (most growers were in Europe or Great Britain), but I finally found a source in Oregon that sold the plants and I bought a few for my home garden.

Much like mint, crosnes are pretty hardy and are tough to remove once well established, so they need to be planted in an area where you don’t mind if they take over. The tubers are ready to harvest October through November, and as long as I leave some in the ground over the winter, the crosnes will be back again the next year. Seems pretty low-maintenance for such a delicious treat!


As for preparation, a light saute in olive oil and butter (or lard), and a little salt and pepper, is all they need. They also go well with a deep, rich demi glace reduction like I had with my duck at Le Saint-Amour.

This past Thanksgiving, I combined several traditional desserts in one: pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and tiramisu. The challenge was to make it gluten-free, since my wife is sensitive to gluten. Rather than using the traditional lady fingers used in tiramisu, I used a GF product that replaces graham crackers. And though it can be presented in a trifle bowl, I made individual servings.

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 oz.) prepared pumpkin
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons pumpkin or apple pie spice, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temp ( I use espresso)
1 box (22 oz.) graham crackers or gluten-free substitute


In a large bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In another large bowl, combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with a mixer until well blended. Fold gently into the whipped cream.
Pour the graham crackers into a food processor and process until you get very fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine the coffee and remaining pumpkin spice and vanilla. Pour the coffee mixture into the graham crackers a little at a time, and mix with a fork, until it resembles wet sand.
In each glass, alternately layer the pumpkin cream and the graham cracker mix. Serve with a little extra whipped cream on top, or with ice cream on the side.

Man, that’s a loaded blog title if I ever saw one! Years ago, I read an article about how a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe credited to Marilyn Monroe was discovered. Apparently, she could cook–and she was good in the kitchen as well. Wha! (Thanks. Drive safely. Try the veal.)

Dated around the time she was married to baseball great Joe DiMaggio while living in San Francisco, it was decided that the recipe was authentic for, among other reasons, its lack of garlic, which DiMaggio reportedly despised!

I tried the recipe years ago and tweaked it, adding garlic, of course. This makes a family sized platter of stuffing. Using a food processor to chop makes things much easier.



20 ounces sourdough bread
1 lb. chicken livers
1 lb. ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 stalks celery, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped parsley
4 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
1/2 cup chopped prunes or raisins
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts…or a combination
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons black pepper


Break the sourdough into pieces and soak them in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring the excess water out over a colander and shred the bread into pieces.

Boil the chicken livers for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop them into small pieces.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef in the olive oil, stirring occasionally. Break up the meat into small pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onions, parsley, eggs, prunes or raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and scatter over the stuffing mixture. Mix again. Taste and adjust for salt.

Refrigerate, covered with foil, until ready to bake.

To bake: Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook 1 hour with foil on top. Remove the foil and cook for 1 hour more at 300. Keep an eye on it. Ovens vary, and you want it out of the oven before it gets too dry. If it does get dry, sprinkle a little chicken stock or water on it, cover with foil, and heat for 10 minutes.

For me, deep-fried turkey is just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. Sure, they now have indoor turkey fryers, but I’m not crazy about that idea, either.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’m a purist and always use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And, unless you want your turkey to taste like gasoline,  never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.


Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes (don’t use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)


Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately. (A great recipe in my next blog.)

Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you’re using a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. Important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

If you pull the turkey out too early and find that it still needs cooking, or if your coals die out too soon, simply place the bird in a 350-degree oven to finish. It will still have that wonderful smokey flavor from the grill.

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away. Time to talk turkey! No matter what method you prefer to cook your bird, brining it beforehand will make it tastier and juicier. And it’s easy to do.

It’s basic high school science: the brine has a greater concentration of salt and water than the molecules of the protein (in this case, a turkey) that is soaking in it. By simple diffusion, the protein molecules suck up the salty water and keep it. When you cook the meat, some of the water evaporates, but the meat still has far more moisture in it than it would have without the brine soaking, and the result is a moister, more delicious bird.

Some people use giant syringes to inject their turkeys with crazy solutions, but I think that the old way is still the best when it comes to brining. Get a big pot, fill it with the brine, and soak the bird in it. Done.

Here’s my tried-and-true turkey brining recipe. Once the brining is done, you can cook the turkey whatever way you like best. I use a method where I grill it inside a Weber grill with charcoal. It comes out smokey and absolutely amazing. I’ll have that info in the next blog.


1 gallon of water
2 onions
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
1 gallon of ice water
14–15 lb turkey, thawed

Pour the first gallon of water in a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots and celery (no need to peel them) and add to the water. Add salt, black peppercorns, brown sugar, allspice, and bay leaves.

Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove it from heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature.

Remove the giblets from the turkey and place the bird in a container just big enough to hold it and 2 gallons of liquid.

Pour the now-cooled brine over the turkey, then pour in the gallon of ice water.


Make sure the turkey doesn’t float up by placing a plate on top. Put the turkey container in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours, flipping the turkey over in the container halfway through.

Drain the turkey, pat it dry with paper towels, and then cook it using your favorite recipe.


November 5 is National Men Make Dinner Day. At my house, that’s every day. But soup is a great recipe for men to learn, because you can’t burn it!

When I first posted my recipe of Portuguese kale soup, I was told by many Portuguese friends that my soup wasn’t authentic so I couldn’t call it that. Fair enough. Well, my Portuguese pal, Paula, has a great soup recipe that has been passed down from her Mom. Her Mom even adds chicken feet to the stock, which Paula chooses to leave out. Like most Portuguese soup recipes I’ve seen, there’s a ton of carbs: often potatoes with pasta with a lot of beans. But damn, it’s good!

Paula’s Portuguese Soup

3 cans garbanzo beans
2 cans white cannellini beans
1 can pink beans
1 fennel bulb
Large bunch of kale
5-6 potatoes
1 cabbage
2 sticks hot chourico
Beef ribs
1 cup dry macaroni (elbows)
Red crushed pepper wet-optional

Drain and puree  3 cans of garbanzo beans in a food processor. Put the puree in a large pot with about a gallon of water.  Chop the chourico, and add it to the puree along with the ribs. Boil for 20 minutes. Chop the fennel bulb and cabbage into 2 inch squares.  Add the fennel and cabbage to soup and boil for 30 minutes.  Add the chopped kale, and boil for 30 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes and before the potatoes are done, add the remaining drained cans of beans. Add macaroni and cook for a short time at the end.

My version of the classic Portuguese kale soup.

My version of the classic Portuguese kale soup.

Here’s my version: carb-friendly, but still packs a lot of flavor.

4 cups home-made chicken or beef stock
4 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed in cold water
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, through a press
1 lb. chourico, peeled and chopped into small cubes (I use the mild stuff: Mello’s, out of Fall River, Mass.)
1 large bunch organic kale
salt and pepper

Add the stock and water to a large pot. Heat until boiling. Add the lentils.

In a saucepan with a little olive oil, saute the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic for a few minutes. Add the chopped chourico and saute a few minutes more. Add the contents of the saute pan in the pot.

Wash and de-stem the kale, tearing the leaves into smaller pieces. Add the leaves to the pot and stir. The stems go in your compost pile. (You can also use them in a juicer.)

Cook the soup until the lentils are al dente. Taste and season for salt and pepper before serving.

Crab is so delicious, but it’s not inexpensive. So a great crab cake is like a great lobster roll: mess with its wonderful flavor as little as possible. There’s no place for bell peppers or any veggies in my crab cakes. Five simple ingredients make the best crab cake you’ve ever had. I always buy wild-caught American seafood, and it’s easy to make this gluten-free as well.
FullSizeRender (7)
1 pound crab meat
1/3 cup oyster crackers (or GF rice crackers, see below)
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup mayo/mustard blend

To make the mayo/mustard blend, combine 1 cup mayo to 1/4 cup mustard. I use Gulden’s mustard. Set aside.

Take the oyster crackers and pulse them in a food processor until it resembles oatmeal…not too fine.

In a bowl, gently mix all the ingredients. Use a 1/2 cup measure, lightly pack the crab mix into the measure with your hands, then pop them out and place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Pop them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set.

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Place the tray of crab cakes in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until done.

Any leftover mayo/mustard works great as a tartar dipping sauce. Just finely chop some pickles, add a splash of Worcestershire and/or hot sauce, and mix with the mayo/mustard.

To make this recipe gluten-free, I use GF rice crackers (similar to Saltines in texture) and pulse them in a food processor until it resembles oatmeal.




You’ve probably read about the crazy European olive oil business and how many olive oils are mislabeled and don’t contain what they claim. Some don’t even contain olive oil! Some things I’ve learned:

  • Avoid blends. If the bottle says the olives come from different countries, pass on it. Many that do this use the lowest quality oils they can scrape up from old olives. And many even add oils like peanut oil…dangerous if you suffer from nut allergies.
  • Many producers label the country of origin as Italy, even though the olives didn’t come from there. Italy sells.
  • Go local…or more local, anyway. To me, the European olive oil market is bogus, and I’ve found great olive oils grown and pressed in California.
  • Ask a favor. If you’ve got friends traveling to Italy, Greece, or other olive oil-producing country, they can buy them straight from the olive grower. Ask them to bring some home. You won’t get a lot, but what you get will be really special, and the real deal.

Considering that vegetable oils like canola, corn, safflower, sunflower and others are highly processed and should be avoided, searching out good quality olive oil is worth the effort. The only oils I use for cooking are olive, avocado and coconut.

And the obvious: If you’re paying cheap bucks for a bottle of so-called extra virgin olive oil, you can bet your ass that’s not what you’re getting!


Just when the olive oil scandal has you shaking your head, a new scandal appears: most almond milks contain as little as 2% almonds! That means they have to fill the container with water and additives that thicken them or prolong their shelf life.

Most almonds are grown in California, in the area where the drought has hit the hardest. Almond milk’s surge in popularity has forced many farmers to use techniques that are environmentally unsafe. So now they’re telling you to drink other milk substitutes like soy, rice or coconut milk.

Soy has a world of problems associated with it, the least of which is the non-organic soybeans that are sprayed with Monsanto’s Round-Up. And they contain plant-produced estrogens which can be bad for both men and women.  Coconut milk has loads of sugars. And rice milk has little or no nutritional benefits.

My solution is to make my own almond milk. It’s easy to do, and I know what’s in it; two simple ingredients: almonds and water.

1 cup organic raw unpasteurized almonds
cheese cloth

Make sure the almonds are raw and unsalted. Soak the almonds in a bowl of filtered water overnight. The next day, rinse them well and put them in a blender. Add 5 cups of fresh filtered water and blend well.

Strain the liquid through a double-folded piece of cheesecloth. (For just a few bucks, you can buy nylon material that is made just for this purpose and can be washed and reused.) Toss the solids in your compost pile and refrigerate the almond milk.

The almond milk will stay fresh about a week. I don’t sweeten or flavor mine because I mix it with oatmeal, cinnamon and a little maple syrup…or I use it in fruit smoothies. But you might want to tweak the flavor if you’re drinking it straight.

Shrimp with an orange sauce is something you see on every Chinese restaurant menu. I didn’t have oranges, but wanted a citrus kick to my sweet and spicy sauce. I went with grapefruit and I never looked back!



For the rice:

1 cup basmati rice (I use Texmati brown rice)
2 cups seafood stock (I use homemade shrimp and fish stock)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, finely chopped
splash of peanut oil


For the veggies:

1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and cut into 1/4′ pieces
1 teaspoon soy sauce
splash of peanut oil


For the shrimp:

2 dozen thawed, peeled and de-veined wild caught USA shrimp
2 tablespoons spicy Schezuan sauce
3 tablespoons hoysin sauce
juice and zest of 1 grapefruit
splash of peanut oil


Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. I substituted seafood stock for water. Once cooked, toss in the chopped scallions. Set aside.

Add peanut oil to a hot pan and saute the onions until translucent. Add green beans  and cook until al dente. Add the soy sauce, stir, and then pour the contents of the pan into the rice. Mix well.

Using the same pan, add a little more peanut oil and sear the shrimp on both sides. Don’t overcook! Push the shrimp to the sides of the pan so that a circle remains in the middle. Add the Schezuan sauce and hoysin sauce and stir them together, then blending in the shrimp until the shrimp are covered with the sauce. Add the grapefruit zest and juice and stir until everything is combined and the sauce has thickened just a bit.

Pour the contents of the pan into the rice mix and combine. Add more soy sauce to the rice, to taste.