Today is National Meatloaf Day. Few dishes scream out “comfort food” to me like meatloaf. My Mom’s meatloaf was awesome, and she’d cut a huge slab of it onto my plate, with fantastic butter-loaded Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles on the side. I couldn’t stop eating it.

I never thought of making meatloaf when I moved away, because it gave my Mom something special to make for me when I came home to visit. She was thrilled that there was a dish she could make that I would devour every time, without hesitation. (The others were her roasted lamb and Lithuanian pierogis called koldūnai (kol-doon-ay).

But now that my Mom has moved into an assisted living facility where she can’t cook, I’ve had to take meatloaf matters into my own hands. I never got my Mom’s exact recipe. But I had an idea of what went into it, so I gave it a shot.

The standard mix for my Mom’s meatloaf was one-third each ground beef, pork and veal. I went 50-50 with the beef and pork instead. My Mom used Lipton onion soup mix in her meatloaf. I chose to stay away from packaged chemicals. And instead of layering slices of bacon on top as many people do, I used my own home-cured and smoked pre-cooked bacon that I chopped up and put inside the loaf.

To keep this dish gluten-free, I use GF breadcrumbs, and I also don’t use the Lipton onion soup mix, because it can contain non-GF ingredients.


1 yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
pork fat or olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
1/4 cup ketchup
4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
2 eggs


Sauté the onion in a little oil or pork fat until translucent. Let it cool, then mix in the salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, ketchup, bacon, eggs, and the sautéed onion mixture. Form it into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour.





I have chicken at least twice a week…can’t get enough of it! So I’m always looking for new recipes. I especially love marinades, because it’s easy to prepare ahead of time, and the flavor goes right through the meat.

The balsamic used in this recipe is the basic, $9-buck-a-bottle stuff. don ‘t use your 25-year-old aged fancy balsamic!



4 lbs. chicken parts, or 1 whole chicken cut up
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
extra virgin olive oil


If the breast of the chicken is really large, you’ll want to cut it in half so that it cooks as quickly as the other parts. Put all the chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag.

In a bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

Pour the contents of the bowl into the Ziploc bag, seal tightly, and squish it around to make sure the marinade reaches all surfaces of the chicken.

Marinate the chicken for about an hour at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350.

Using an oven-proof pan, heat some olive oil and then place the chicken pieces in the pan. Sear for 2 minutes on one side, then sear for 2 more minutes on the other. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, making sure the chicken has cooked all the way through.





My last blog featured Reuben Seup, the lovechild of a Reuben sandwich and French onion soup. Crucial to its success is good pastrami. Sure, you can buy it in a store if you want to settle for a nasty slab full of chemicals and preservatives, but nothing beats making it yourself. Pastrami starts as corned beef, which starts as beef brisket.

It takes about 3 weeks to make corned beef, and a little more time after that to reach pastrami nirvana. But it’s not difficult to do.

Corned beef has nothing to do with corn. ‘Corning’ is a technique for preserving raw meats for long periods by soaking it in salt brine. This method was used before the days of commercial refrigeration. Back then, the large salt kernels used in the brine were called “corns.”

Brining is a time-honored way of preserving and it prevents bacteria from growing. Both pastrami and corned beef are made this way. Both corned beef and pastrami start with a brisket of beef. Corned beef is then cooked–usually boiled–and served. Pastrami is made when the brined meat is rubbed  with more spices and smoked to add extra flavor. So corned beef and pastrami are the same meat, just treated differently.

Saltpeter is an ingredient that has been used in brining beef for years. It adds the traditional red coloring to the corned beef and pastrami meat. But since saltpeter can also contain carcinogens, I leave it out. The meat may not be the usual bright red color, but the flavor and texture of the meat will not be affected.

Brining the beef brisket

Brining the beef brisket

Step one: corned beef…

beef brisket (about 8-10 pounds)
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tsp. paprika
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices
3/4 cup Kosher salt
2 quarts cool water

Place the brisket in a large container made of non-reactive material, like glass or plastic.

In the 1/4 cup of warm water, combine the sugar, minced cloves, paprika and pickling spices.

Dissolve the 3/4 cup of salt in the 2 quarts of water. Pour in the sugar/garlic/paprika/pickling spices mix and stir everything together. Pour the mixture over the meat in the container. Make sure the meat is totally beneath the surface of the liquid. (You may need to weigh it down to do this.) Cover the container.

Refrigerate the container and contents for 3 weeks, turning the meat once or twice per week. At the end of the third week, remove the container from the refrigerator and take out the meat. Soak the meat in several changes of fresh cold water over a period of 24 hours to remove the excess salt.

At this point, if you want corned beef, prepare and cook it using your favorite recipe. But I’m all about the pastrami!

Step two: making Pastrami…



Brined and rinsed corned beef brisket from above recipe, patted dry with paper towels
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated garlic

Combine the coriander seeds, black and white peppercorns and mustard seeds in a spice grinder and grind coarsely. Place them in a bowl. Add the salt, paprika, brown sugar and granulated garlic. Mix well.

Rub the mix into the brisket well, covering all sides.

Heat the smoker to 225 degrees and smoke for several hours using a less intense wood, like oak. When the internal temperature of the meat has reached 165 degrees, it’s done. It isn’t necessary to smoke pastrami as long as you would a regular brisket because the long brining time makes the meat tender.

It’s very important that absolutely everything that comes in contact with the meat is very clean. (This includes your hands.) Also, make very sure that every inch of the meat reaches the 165 degrees before it is removed from the smoker. The corned beef is now pastrami! Let it rest before slicing.


Posted: October 12, 2016 in bacon, cheese, Food, Recipes, sauerkraut
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As the weather gets cooler here in Southern New England, nothing sounds better than a hot bowla soup and a sandwich!

But why have soup and a sandwich when your soup can be your sandwich? I had all the ingredients to make a Reuben sandwich. But I wanted soup. So I made Reuben Seup…I mean Soup!

Think French onion soup, but using Reuben ingredients…


Take an oven-proof soup bowl. Line the bottom with some rye bread.


On top of that, place a nice helping of sauerkraut. I use sauerkraut that’s been rinsed and drained, then sauteed with some onions and bacon until lightly caramelized.


Slice pastrami as thinly as possible, and simmer it in a pot of homemade chicken stock until tender. Season stock with salt and pepper, if needed. Pour the stock and pastrami over the sauerkraut.


Layer slices of Swiss cheese over the top of the bowl. Place under broiler until melted.




It satisfied my soup and sandwich craving!


Yesterday, October 6th, was National Noodle Day. But I find any excuse to chow down on a great noodle dish!

There’s something about Asian noodle dishes that make them incredibly addictive. They’re great hot or cold, and easy to make at home, which is important to me because I live in the boonies, about 30 miles from my favorite Asian restaurant. I store an arsenal of basic Asian ingredients in my pantry, so slapping this together is no effort at all.


Asian noodles


4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Satay sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese chili garlic sauce
12 oz. package Chinese noodles (use rice noodles to make it gluten-free)

Combine the peanut butter, sesame oil, Satay sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
Boil the noodles until al dente. Drain.
Mix noodles with the sauce. Devour.

Ideally, a thin cut like a skirt steak works best for this recipe. But I didn’t have any in my freezer. What I did have was a fat ribeye, so once I thawed it, I sliced it lengthwise to get two large, thin steaks which would easily suck up the marinade I was going to make. And the ribeye was nicely marbled, so it stayed juicy and tender.




1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons each finely chopped ginger, garlic, cilantro and unsalted dry roasted peanuts
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon each of light brown sugar, lime juice and chile oil
2 lbs. beef ribeye
1/4 cup chicken stock

To make the marinade, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cilantro, peanuts, scallions, sugar, lime juice and chile oil in a bowl. Transfer half of it to a shallow dish.
Add the steak to the dish and turn to coat well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate the remaining marinade.
The next day, light a grill. While it’s warming up, add the chicken stock to the reserved marinade. This will be the dipping sauce for the beef. (I like it at room temp.)
Take the steak out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Season it with salt and pepper, and grill it over high heat until medium-rare, about 5 minutes.

If it’s too cold to light a grill, heat a cast iron pan, add a few drops of avocado oil, and sear the beef on both sides before placing it in a pre-heated 375-degree oven to finish cooking.


The latest rage in food is finding new uses for cauliflower. Personally, I love the taste of it so I don’t really need alternatives. But my wife’s on a gluten-free diet, I need to reduce my carbs, and we both love pizza. It seemed that maybe a cauliflower crust could be the answer.

The key to the crispiest crust possible is to make sure you bake it thoroughly before you put the toppings on.  Even if the crust comes out a bit soggy, all is not lost. Just grab a knife and fork… It’ll still taste pretty darn good.


2 cups riced, then cooked cauliflower
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
mozzarella cheese
tomato sauce
additional pizza toppings of your choice


Cut the cauliflower florets into chunks and toss them in a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of rice. Don’t over-process, or you’ll get mush.



Microwave the riced cauliflower in a bowl for about 6 minutes on high. No need to add water. Depending on the amount of liquid in your cauliflower, you may need to transfer it to a fine mesh strainer to let it drain. Once it has drained, transfer it to a clean dish towel and wrap the sides around the cauliflower, gently pressing out the excess water. You want to get it as dry as possible. Dry = crispier crust. But be careful…let the nuked cauliflower cool first or you could burn your hands!

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. (I like to use my large toaster oven, with the convection feature turned off.)

In a large bowl, use 2 cups of the cauliflower. (Depending on the size of the cauliflower head, you may have a little left over.) Add the parmesan cheese, the eggs, garlic salt, oregano and parsley. Mix well until it forms a sort of ball of “dough.”


Grease a 9″ stainless pizza pan with olive oil. (Lining it with non-stick foil first is an option.) Take your ball of “dough” and press it evenly into the pan, making sure you don’t get it too thin, or you’ll get holes.

Bake the “dough” in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until it looks brown and crispy and is fully cooked. You don’t want it to be soft or soggy.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and add the tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever other toppings you like. (I used some pre-cooked chicken sausage and a sprinkling of oregano.)

Return the pizza to the oven, only this time place it under the broiler, and cook until the toppings have browned and the cheese has melted. Keep an eye on it…be careful not to burn it!



Posted: September 25, 2016 in Food, mustard, Recipes, spicy
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It’s so easy to make your own mustard. And really good mustard. Mustard that hasn’t been sitting on the store shelf for a year. Mustard with real flavor.

Once the mustard is made, you’re supposed to wait a few weeks before using, letting its heat mellow a bit. But I enjoy it right from the start. Feel the burn!



The great thing about this recipe is that you make it with your favorite beer, so use what you drink and you’ll have a mustard like no one else. I used Samuel Adams Boston Ale for this recipe.



1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
3/4 cup Sam Adams Boston Ale
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. fleur de sel
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper


Put the yellow and brown mustard seeds in a bowl and pour in 1/2 cup of the beer. Push the mustard seeds down to submerge them in the beer. (I lay a sheet of plastic wrap down on top to keep them submerged.) Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of beer, the vinegar, honey, brown sugar, garlic, bay leaf salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey and the sugar. Boil for 1 minute, the immediately remove the pan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Toss the garlic and the bay leaf in the trash and pour the liquid into a blender. Add 3/4’s of the plumped mustard seeds and blend to break the seeds. Add the remaining 1/4 of the mustard seeds and pulse just once to mix. You want the mustard thick, with some whole seeds remaining.

Put the mustard in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 3 days, and up to a week, depending on how mellow you want it and how much waiting you can tolerate! After about 3 weeks, the mustard will be at its peak…but it will keep in the fridge for several months. (I can’t imagine it will last that long.)

These tasty, crispy wings get fried just enough to brown, then get finished in an oven. The result is crispy, salty chicken wings that will be devoured in no time. Your only regret will be that you didn’t make enough! My gluten-free version tastes just as good as the original…you’ll never know the difference!


3 lbs. chicken wings
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons hot sauce (I use Frank’s)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I toast Udi’s gluten-free bread til dry and crisp, then put it in a processor)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon paprika
oil for frying (I use a combination of lard and olive oil)


Pour the milk into a bowl and add the hot sauce. Mix well, then add the chicken pieces and toss to coat well. Let the chicken sit in the milk at room temp for an hour. (I’ve found that whole milk–or even 1/2 & 1/2–works better than thinner, low-fat milk. It sticks to the chicken better.)

In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic, onion and paprika.

Heat the oil in a pan until it reaches 350 degrees.




One by one, carefully move the chicken from the milk mixture to the seasoning bowl and coat well with the seasonings, shaking off any excess. Gently place the wings in the oil and fry until both sides are golden, just a few minutes.  (You’re not cooking the chicken, just making the skin crispy.) Place the fried chicken wings on a metal screen raised above a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and when all the chicken has been fried and put on the sheet pan, place the pan in the oven and finish cooking, about 30 minutes.


Yesterday was National Cheeseburger Day!

My inside-out burger is not a very complex idea. I just put the stuff that’s usually on the outside, on the inside of my burgers. Why? Why not?

Instead of dealing with a package of bacon and a package of cheese and a stack of burgers, I’ve got all the ingredients conveniently inside the patties. And as the burgers cook, the fat from the bacon and the gooey cheese melt and combine with the burger meat to make a really tasty and moist burger.

I cook these on the grill, but the cast-iron skillet method, described below, works really well,  too.

I make 2 lbs. of burgers at a time, using humanely-raised local grass-fed beef, from my friends at Simmons Organic Farm in Middletown, RI.  Support your local farmers when you can!


2 lbs. ground grass-fed beef
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
garlic salt
avocado oil or pork fat


In a bowl, combine the beef, the cheese and the bacon, mixing well so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Form the beef into 1/4 lb. patties or larger. Refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook to firm them up.

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a drop of oil or pork fat. Place the burgers in the hot skillet to sear and sprinkle with the garlic salt. When browned, flip the burgers and place the skillet in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.