Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Frittata che assomiglia a pizza (Frittata That Looks Like Pizza)

Frittata That Looks Like Pizza
(Frittata che assomiglia a pizza)

This frittata is prepared so that flipping, as suggested by many recipes, is not necessary. Dried egg whites are used to attain a lower amount of cholesterol since about 9 eggs are needed. Dried egg whites are available from vendors online.


4 level tablespoons dried egg whites (equivalent to 6 eggs)
3 large whole fresh eggs
7 fluid ounces warm water
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
Olive oil to cover bottom of a 10½ inch cast iron skillet
8 ounces of uncured Italian sausage, casing removed
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into rounds
4 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese

Add the dried egg whites well in advance of cooking to a 2 cup measuring cup. Add half of the warm water and start wetting down the egg whites as they start absorbing the water and get gummy. Once that stage occurs, add the rest of the water and proceed with rehydration process. Allow the mixture to rest stirring every so often to get the egg whites completely absorbed. Add each of the whole eggs, one at a time, breaking the yolk as stirring is done to completely incorporate the whole eggs with the rehydrated.

Preheat the cast iron skillet on the cooktop at medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the olive oil starts to shimmer, lower the heat and add the diced celery and diced onion. Sautè until the onion appears to be translucent.

Add the Italian sausage to the skillet, breaking it up as it browns. Once the sausage is browned, evenly spread the sausage, celery and onion mixture over the skillet surface. Then evenly add the egg mixture to the skillet. Watch the skillet to determine that the bottom of the eggs is setting. Once the eggs seem to be set, transfer the skillet under the broiler. As the top of the frittata starts to brown a bit, pull the oven shelf out and add the slices of tomato to the top of the frittata. Slide the shelf back under the broiler to cook a bit, but do not allow the exposed surface of the frittata to burn.

Remove the skillet from the broiler and turn off the broiler. Add the grated mozzarella to the top of the frittata, and place in the cooling oven to allow the cheese to melt. Once the cheese is melted, the frittata is ready to serve.

No salt and black pepper need be used because the sausage is seasoned.

Serves 2 to 4 depending on the appetite of the diners.

Buon appetito!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Comfort Casserole


1 medium-sized onion
2 medium carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
1 pound of green cabbage (wedge from 3 to 4 pound head, core removed)
2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
6 chicken thighs, skinned but bone-in
½ pound smoked sausage
¼ cup catsup
¼ cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


1.     Peel the onion, cut in half from leaf end to root end, lay flat surface of onion on cutting board, and thinly slice onion halves in semicircles. Cut carrots on a diagonal into thin ovals. Slice cabbage to thin ribbons resembling noodles. Slice smoked sausage into bite-sized oval no more than a ¼” thick.

2.     Pour oil into a heated large non-stick skillet. Brown chicken thighs, 3 at a time, on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side. Set thighs aside after browning. Add slices of smoked sausage to brown until slightly caramelized on each side of the slices.

3.     Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a ceramic casserole large enough to contain the chicken thighs in a single layer. Keep the skillet on medium heat reserving the oil used to brown meats. Layer the casserole with the sausage ovals. Place the chicken thighs on top of the layer of sausage.

4.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sauté onions in skillet with reserved oil. Add the cabbage when the onion slices are translucent, and allow the cabbage to wilt stirring mixture often. When the cabbage is wilted, add the carrots, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and orange juice. Mix the vegetables well and layer on top of the meats in the casserole.

5.     Cover the casserole and place in the preheated oven. Braise the casserole contents for about 40 minutes, then serve.

No salt or pepper was added because the condiments and smoked sausage seasoned the casserole mixture.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chicken Paprikash and Variations on a Theme

Chicken paprikash is a dish that has many different recipes. I have seen at least a dozen variations. Paprikash is of Hungarian origin, but many Slavic and other cookbooks have recipes for the dish. Paprika is the Hungarian word for pepper. I have a Czech cookbook that has the recipe in it.

My mother made chicken paprikash when I was growing up. She gave me a copy of her recipe when I asked for it. The recipe was what I would call minimalist. It called for a chicken cut up into parts, some diced onion, a cup of tomato juice, a mere ½ teaspoon of paprika, a cup of sour cream, a tablespoon of flour, salt and ground black pepper. It was to be served with rice or noodles.

I have enhanced the recipe with additional vegetables and condiments. The reason for the enhancement was to increase the nourishment of the dish, and keep from having to cook side dishes of vegetables. If you have read any other chapters in this book, you have probably come to the conclusion that I can’t let well enough alone.

Here’s the variation on a theme. I suggested to my wife that I make some chicken paprikash for our Saturday night dinner. She told me that there were no chicken parts in the freezer. There were a couple of 1-inch thick boneless center-cut pork chops in the freezer. Their weight was about a pound. The chops had been in there for a couple of months. I decided to use the chops as a substitute for the usual chicken.

Now pork chops can be tricky. They often come out dry and tough when not prepared correctly. The reason that pork chops are more difficult to cook now than they were 50 years or more ago is that the meat is much leaner. The recipes in old cookbooks that describe how to cook pork chops are almost useless in today’s kitchen.

I have found that brining pork chops before cooking results in tender chops. The November & December 2001 issue of Cook’s Illustrated contains an article entitled The Basics of Brining (Brining 101 appears on the cover). I’ve prepared pork chops since reading the Cook’s Illustrated article with very good results.

Here’s how I prepared the pork chop paprikash. The brining solution was made first. Add ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of Kosher salt to a quart of cold water (4 cups of water) in a bowl or vessel large enough to accommodate the water and 2 pork chops of the size I mentioned above. Allow the salt and sugar to go into solution. Meanwhile, prepare to process the other ingredients that are to go into the dish.

My chicken paprikash contains most of the ingredients I mentioned above plus bell pepper, carrot, ground hot chile powder and sometimes a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce and/or a few drops of liquid smoke. A chile is the capsicum pod of the chile plant, which is commonly know in the United States as a hot pepper. The rest of the world refers to capsicums as chiles. I use only one brand of Worcestershire sauce, the one that is made with tamarind, not soy sauce.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast

No sugar is added to this bowl of cereal. The oatmeal is a good source of dietary fiber.


¼ cup dried skim milk
dried cranberries, amount can vary
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of water plus a shot glass


Add ingredients to a microwaveable bowl. Place bowl in microwave oven and heat for 99 seconds. Open microwave and stir. Replace bowl in microwave and heat for 45 seconds before stirring again, and heating for an additional 45 seconds. Remove bowl from the microwave, stir the oatmeal and eat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homemade Chorizo

The chorizo was made using pork loin that is ground in an old-fashioned hand-cranked meat grinder. The fine template of the meat grinder is used in lieu for the coarse template.


4 pounds of boneless pork loin, ground as stated above
3 tsp. Kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 palmful of Mexican oregano (not to be confused with Mediterranean oregano)
several garlic cloves
1 or more Tbls. of ground chile powder (not chili powder)*
1/4 cup of cider vinegar

* Chili powder also contains salt, cumin and oregano


Cut the pork loin into small chunks. Grind the meat into a roasting pan that can be used to mix it with the other ingredients.

Add all the other ingredients except the vinegar. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Once it is decided that the mixture is homogeneous, add the vinegar and mix it in until is completely absorbed.

Form the mixture into 8 patties. Put each patty into a separate plastic sandwich bag that has a flap for closing. Put 4 such bagged patties into a freezer bag large enough to hold them. Place both freezer bags into the freezer for future use.

Frittata with Chorizo, Onion and Cheese

This is a frittata made with rehydrated powdered egg whites, whole eggs, homemade chorizo, onion, and shredded mozzarella cheese. A 10-inch old-fashioned cast iron skillet is used to cook the frittata. 


4 Tablespoons of powdered egg whites (equivalent to 6 whole eggs)
7 fl. oz. warm water
3 whole eggs
8 ounces of homemade uncured chorizo (usually made into patties before freezing)
1 small onion, diced
Shredded mozzarella cheese enough to sparingly cover the finished frittata
cooking spray to coat skillet before ingredients are added to it

Nota bene: No salt is added because the chorizo contains salt.


Measure the powdered egg whites into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add half of the water to the egg whites and slowly stir the mixture until the clumped eggs are moistened. Then add the rest of the water and stir until there is an almost smooth consistency. Set aside for a while and stir at frequent intervals. When the egg white and water mixture is of smooth consistency, add the whole eggs one at a time, breaking the yolk and softly beating to incorporate each whole egg. Set the egg mixture aside an proceed to sauteing the onions and chorizo.

Preheat the skillet after spraying it with cooking spray. Add and saute the onions at medium low temperature. Add the chorizo, which should be thawed, to the skillet, breaking up the patty with a spatula, and making sure that the meat is properly browned. Distribute the chorizo and onion evenly in the skillet.

Stir the egg mixture just before adding it to the skillet. Allow the bottom of the frittata mixture to set, takes about 2 or 3 minutes on the cooktop, before removing to the broiler position of the oven. Expose the frittata to the broiler element until the egg mixture no long looks wet and it starts to brown. Once it is lightly browned, remove it from the broiler to a table top onto a pot holder, and add the shredded cheese. Allow the cheese to be melted by the heat of the frittata. Slice the frittata into wedges and serve.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Quesadillas The Easy Way

This is not so much a recipe as it is a technique of preparation. I tried it for the first time today and it worked well. This method was just an experiment. More thought to ingredients will be given the next time I make the quesadillas.

I used large flour tortillas and filled them with thin slices of ham and a mixture of grated cheeses. I spread a mixture of mustard and mayo on half of each tortilla. Then the ham was layered on the spread followed by the grated cheese. Next the other half of the tortilla was folded over the filled half.

Each of the filled and folded tortillas was laid on a preheated panini maker and grilled. It does not take long for the cheese to melt, so be careful not to burn the tortilla. Remove the quesadilla from the panini maker to a plate or cutting board. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges and serve either yourself or a crowd.

Take into consideration that this is more about method than recipe, and fill the tortillas with ingredients that you desire. Just don't over do it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Small Frittata Sandwich

This is a simple sandwich with only 4 ingredients. It is a change from my usual fare that I have for lunch.

2 large eggs
1 heaping teaspoon of salsa arrabbiata (recipe is included on this blog)
2 or 3 slices of processed cheese or provolone
2 slice of good rye bread

Add the salsa to the middle of a small bowl and then add the eggs to the same bowl. Beat the eggs and salsa together.

Preheat a small skillet on the cooktop. I use a 6" cast iron skillet. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook at low heat until bottom of mixture sets. Then transfer the skillet under the oven broiler.

Watch to see when the mixture has been completely set. It takes only a few minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven. Set the skillet down on a pot holder or trivet.

Slice the frittata in half and place the halves on a slice of rye bread. Position the 1st half so that the 2nd half of the frittata does not completely overlap the 1st half. Lay the cheese slices on next. Then cover the cheese with the other slice of bread.

Now you can eat the sandwich.

Buon appetito! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Surimi Soup 2 – My Way

This recipe is a variation on a theme. The surimi costs about $2.67 per pound. Compare that price with those prices for fresh fish at any fishmonger's counter. 

15Apr11 – Income Tax Day


Canola oil
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. ground mace
2 small onion (golf ball sized), diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 celery rib, diced
1 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes, liquid drained and reserved
2 Tbs. flour
Drained tomato liquid and water to make 2 cups
Heaping baby spoon chile powder
1 cup of frozen corn
1 lb. surimi, torn by hand
Heaping ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
Kosher salt, pinch
1 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk
Water from rinsing evaporated milk can


Heat the canola oil in a tall sauce pan, and add curry powder, mace and chile powder when oil shimmers. Add onion, celery and then garlic when onion is translucent.

Add flour briskly whisking it to make a roux. Add the tomato liquid and water mixture a little at a time allowing the roux to thicken and adding water as needed.

Add the corn, drained diced tomatoes, chopped surimi, salt, and evaporated milk plus water swirled in the milk can. Bring heat to a simmer for several minutes. Serve.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweet Potato Hummus

 The original recipe was given to me by our eldest daughter. It did not contain cumin and coriander. I like my hummus more savory than she does. 

The immersible blender really helps create a smooth dip. I try not to waste any of the finished product and the blender works well in wide mouthed plastic containers like those in which soup is purveyed by Chinese carryout kitchens.

Sweet Potato Hummus – Amended Recipe
Recipe my way made 05Apr11

1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled and microwaved for 30 seconds
1 sweet potato, baked and peeled
½ cup of olive oil
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander

Puree the chickpeas, spices and garlic with immersion blender in a plastic container* recycled from Chinese take-out. Add the sweet potato flesh and process drizzling the olive oil in the mixture while the blender is running. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

* Use of the plastic container avoids the need to transfer the mixture.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Warm Glow' Pasta Sauce

This pasta sauce recipe was a figment of my imagination in that I never made it before entering it in a newspaper recipe contest. It was the 3rd time that I entered the annual contest. The first 2 times were not winners, so I conjured up this recipe as a joke. The newspaper is published in a town which had a large number of inhabitants of Italian heritage. I assumed that each family of such a heritage had a family recipe that was traditionally treasured and needed another one like a hole in the head.

After being awarded 2nd Place in the category in which needed to entered by a professional chef who judged that category, I made a batch. It really tasted great. However, here's another aspect of the judging; the judge never made it either and agreed with the ingredient list because he had worked in the Southwestern United States and was familiar with the chiles that are ingredients of chile puree.

Category 4. Entree (Fish, Vegetable, Pasta)

            'Warm Glow' Pasta Sauce 
        1993 Prize Winner   2nd Place

            1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
            1 large onion, coarsely chopped
            2 ribs celery, finely chopped
            4-6 garlic cloves, minced
            2  28 oz. cans tomato puree*
            16 oz. chile puree (recipe follows)
            1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
            2 tsp. dried basil
            1 tsp. dried oregano
            1 tsp. sugar
            salt & black pepper, to taste

            * should contain no herbs and spices

            Saute onion and celery in olive oil using a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients. Add garlic just as onions are transluscent, and saute 1 minute longer. Add tomato puree and chile puree. Bring to a slow boil, then turn down heat to a simmer. Add parsley, basil, oregano, salt, black pepper and sugar. Simmer for about 1 hour. Add water if sauce gets too thick. Serve over 1 lb. of your favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions.

Chile Puree:

            2 dried pasilla chilies*
            2 dried guajillo chilies*
            1 medium onion
            2 Tbs. olive oil
            2 Tbs. flour

            * mildly hot chilies available at better supermarkets, Latino stores, or by mail order

            Roast chilies under broiler for about 3 minutes to bring out flavor. Then put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, and soak for 1/2 to 1 hour. Reserve water used for soaking. Remove and discard stems from chilies. Cut chilies in pieces. Cut onion into chunks. Put chilies, onion, and reserved water to cover solids in a blender. Blend until smooth and thick. Use judgment when adding water. Heat oil in saucepan. Add flour to oil and whisk till smooth. Add blended chilies and onion to saucepan, stir until all ingredients well mixed. simmer for about 5 minutes. Chile puree may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.

1993 Times Herald Recipe Contest Entry

Surimi Soup

Surimi Soup – My Way*

Surimi is a term meaning "formed fish" in Japanese and refers to fish pulp that's formed into various shapes. Most surimi found in North America is made from Alaska pollock, a fish with a lean, firm flesh that has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. It is found in supermarkets and some other stores where it is labeled as crab legs or lobster. Make sure that you read the label so that you are aware that it is not really crab or lobster.

Note that ingredient measurements are not exact, and that does not matter as long as the cook does not go to extremes.


Canola oil
½ tsp. turmeric
1 small onion (golf ball sized), diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups of water, add as needed until sufficient
Grinds of nutmeg
1 teaspoon chile powder (not chili powder) or more according to taste
¾ cup of frozen corn (optional, I had this in the freezer)
1 lb. surimi, torn by hand
Heaping ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
Kosher salt, pinch
1 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk
Water from rinsing evaporated milk can, as needed


Heat the canola oil in a tall sauce pan, and add turmeric and chile powder when oil shimmers. Add onion and then garlic when onion is translucent.

Add flour briskly whisking it to make a roux. Add a little of the water at a time allowing the roux to thicken and adding water as needed. Grind in the nutmeg.

Add the corn, chopped surimi, salt, and evaporated milk plus water swirled in the milk can. Bring heat to a simmer for several minutes. Serve.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salsa Arrabbiata (Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce)

This recipe used chiles bought a store that caters to local Hispanic people and the inventory is both Italian and Hispanic people. Although the ingredient list includes ripe poblano chiles, I'm not sure that's what they were because I've seen mislabeled produce at the store in the past. These chiles looked like elongated red bell peppers and were larger than poblanos that I've seen in other store. I tasted the placenta of one of the chiles and it was hot.

Note that no sugar has been added, and it is not sweet. This sauce is viscous and can be thinned with water or vinegar. It can be used in sandwiches, soups, and stews.

Salsa Arrabbiata
Hot Pepper Sauce – made with ripe red poblanos and bhut jolokia chiles

Made Saturday night 26Mar11

5 Ripe poblanos, roasted and peeled
2½ steamed ghost peppers (bhut jolokia)
5 microwaved* garlic cloves
~ 1 tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
Kosher salt, 2 or 3 pinches
1 inch chunk fresh ginger root, peeled, thinly sliced and microwaved*
Olive oil and 1 shot glass water added resulting in desired viscosity

Combine all ingredients in a wide-mouthed glass jar that will accommodate an immersion blender. Blend until fine and desired consistency is achieved. Store covered in the fridge.

The Italians use ‘arrabbiata’ with culinary names to indicate spiciness. Arrabbiata means 'angry' in Italian, and the term just tickled my funny bone.

* Microwaving partially cooks the garlic and sliced fresh ginger so that they are more easily processed by immersion blender.

The Blog Mission

The Blog Mission is to share the results of kitchen experiments, successes and failures, with those who wish to be creative in the preparation of food and condiments. Posts on this blog will not necessarily appear on a daily basis.

 My personal culinary motto is "Cook like a peasant, dine like a gourmet." I belong to the "What if...?" school of cooking specializing in "cuisine impromptu." I have no formal culinary training so you may wish to take what is presented at this site with a grain of salt.

Some of the creations here may not have units of measure associated with all the ingredients in a list for a recipe. One is expected to use one's gut feeling about quantities of ingredients included in a recipe of a prepared dish or condiment.

If one becomes a regular visitor to this site, one will soon realize that I have a strong preference for preparations that contain pungent chiles (hot peppers or peperoncini, you choose the term).

Welcome to my world of culinary endeavors.