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Category Archives: main dishes

Quick Thai Spicy Coconut Shrimp 

We’ve made this dish several times this year. It’s a New York Times recipe. I hope you love it too!

In a medium bowl combine:

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2-4 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cup sambal

1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

2 pounds medium raw, deveined, shelled shrimp

  • Place a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. 
  • Add

3 tablespoons light sesame oil

  • Heat just until smoking.
  • Add the shrimp mixture and sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add

1 cup scallions

2 cups steamed broccoli pieces

  • Cover and simmer for 3 minutes until heated through.
  • Stir in

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1-14 ounce can coconut milk

  • Simmer 3 minutes or until cooked through
  • Add 

1 bunch cilantro, chopped coursely

  • Serve over brown rice

Paella on the Grill

Last night Dave made his best paella yet! This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Paella on the Grill, found in the July/August 2016 issue or online at

Here is the link to the recipe. You may need a subscription to open it.

Paella is a Spanish rice dish with many variations. We enjoyed paella in Albufera, a town near Valencia in southern Spain. They are known for growing rice and making their paella with a dry caramelized crust of rice that is the most prized part of the dish!  It’s called the socarrat.

Traditional paella is made on the grill which provides a large cooking surface to develop the socarrat and a charcoal heat that gives the smokey flavor. The amount of shrimp, chicken and chorizo you see here is more generous than the traditional Valencia style. It’s all about the rice!

Notice the paella pan is thin, has impressions hammered on the bottom and is not covered with a non-stick surface.

We use a 17 inch traditional paella pan you can buy online or at our local Eastmans Party Store in Midland Michigan. It does NOT have a Teflon-like coating. We coat it with oil after using to prevent rusting.

We use a Weber charcoal grill with a gas starter. 

This is a great recipe to serve for family and friends!

Russian Orthodox Easter Eggs

My grandmother was Russian Orthodox and she was from Belarus. She made these types of colored Easter eggs with dried yellow onion skins. Her technique was to combine cooked eggs and onion skins in a large pot of water and then soak them for several hours.

I like to give the eggs a marble look and also at the same time cook the raw eggs with the yellow onion skins.

  • Wrap medium to large pieces of dried skins from yellow onions around each egg in varying degrees of cover to make patterns.
  • Secure skins by wrapping further with string. Don’t tie too tight.
  • Place eggs in a large pot in a single layer with not too much crowding.
  • Add water and cover the eggs by 2 inches.
  • Cover pot and bring to a boil.
  • Turn heat to the lowest possible level.
  • Cook 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let the color absorb for 1 and 1/2 hours or so.
  • Drain, dry and voila!
  • A quicker technique is to not wrap the onion skins and only combine them in the pot.
  • As Grandma Korzin would say at Easter in Russian “He is Risen!”

Beet Burgers with Corn Salsa and Red Cabbage Cole Slaw




Beet Burgers have a real meaty taste and look! I love them! The secret is roasting the beets!

Served here with Elote/Corn Salsa, you don’t need ketchup or mustard. I used fresh corn and Parmesan shavings in the salsa. For the cole slaw recipe I substituted red cabbage for the green.

I found these fantastic sites on Instagram!

Go to Chocolate for   Look for Beet Burger with Elote Salsa

Here is the link:

 CravingsinAmsterdam has a recipe for Tamarind Roasted Chickpea Tacos with Apple & Cabbage Slaw. I used the slaw recipe and substituted red cabbage for the green.

Here is the link:


Stracotto, an Italian Beef Stew With Puréed Cauliflower, Mashed Potatoes or Pasta


Stracotto means OVER COOKED in Italian and is the reason this beef stew is so tender and succulent!  It is usually served with potatoes or pappardelle pasta, but the Italian beef and tomato sauce is paired here with Puréed Cauliflower! Fewer carbs and more veggies to get you to the goal of 4 cups of vegetables a day!

This recipe is adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins. There are several steps, but so worthwhile!

Stracotto starts out by searing a whole beef pot roast. After it simmers in beef broth it’s removed from the pot and sliced into pieces.

Here’s what that looks like. I used red peppers instead of green this time:

This beef roast is sliced during the cooking and after simmering 3 hours is dished up with mashed potatoes and topped with the hearty Italian tomato sauce.

Shavings of hard cheese like Parmesan can be dropped on top.

Directions and Ingredients

  • Place a large saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat. 
  • Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and swirl around
  • Add a 3 and 1/2 pound beef chuck roast. 
  • Keep over medium high heat and brown on one side. Don’t touch or try to turn it until it’s deeply browned, about 10 minutes each side.


  • Once it’s crusty brown, 10 minutes, turn it over and brown the other side


  • After it’s browned, remove beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add to the same saucepan:


4 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

8 cloves garlic, slivered

  • Sauté until softened. 
  • Place the roast back in the saucepan over the vegetables
  • Pour over the roast:

2 cups beef stock

  • Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.
  • Remove the roast and place on a cutting board
  • Trim off the fat and divide roast into 3 to 4 inch wide sections
  • Slice the sections across the grain into 1/4 inch slices


  • Return the slices to the saucepan.
  • Mix in the following:    

2-28 ounce cans diced tomatoes OR 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce for a thicker sauce (If you like spice measure heaping teaspoons)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

5 dried bay leaves or dried Mirto leaves which I found in Corsica and Sicily

2 green peppers chopped

1 and 1/2 cups rich red wine, like Cab, Shiraz, Chianti, Pinot

  • Bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours

At this point it’s ready to serve with the traditional penne or pappardelle style pasta or mashed potatoes. It’s super on its own too as a hearty soup!

I used Puréed Cauliflower here which is like a light mashed potato.

Puréed Cauliflower

  • Wash 1-2 large heads of cauliflower and cut into big chunks
  • Place in a medium saucepan with an inch of water. 
  • Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer till tender, about 10 minutes
  • Drain the cauliflower and purée with an emersion or stick blender.

The Pureed Cauliflower using 1 head of cauliflower serves 4-6. The Stracotto serves closer to 12. If you are serving a crowd, use 2 heads of cauliflower. The Stracotto is so involved, I like to make this big recipe and freeze the leftovers or serve to guests at a dinner party. Perfect comfort food for cold winter nights


Flash Baked Salmon

Super quick and yummy! Cooks Illustrated is my source 😉

  • Heat your oven to 500 degrees and place a rack at the lowest level.
  • Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place it on the bottom rack.


  • I used Sockeye Salmon with the skin, and cut a 1 and 1/3 pound filet into 4 pieces
  • Pat dry with paper towel
  • Cut 4 diagonal slits in the skin of each piece, but don’t cut through to the flesh 


  • Rub all sides with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt
  • Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees


  • Place the salmon skin side down on the hot baking sheet
  • Bake 6 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees, or to your preference


  • Voila! Serve at once!

Cajun Spicy Baked Chicken

This is another of my Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun recipes that’s best served with Dirty Rice and Gingersnap Gravy. See my Recipes list for links to these. 

If you look at his cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, this recipe is called Boneless Half Chicken. Each serving is one boneless chicken thigh and drumstick wrapped around a boneless chicken breast and tucked in an oval shape. The skin is left on both the breast and leg. My recipe serving size is one or two chicken thighs. The Dirty Rice is very meaty, so if it’s served with this chicken, I think one thigh is plenty!

  • Combine this seasoning mix in a small bowl:

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika


  • Remove fat, rinse and dry well:

10-12 pieces of skinless boneless chicken thighs

  • Sprinkle and rub seasoning on both sides of chicken as evenly as you can 
  • Form each piece into a rounded oval by turning the two thin sides under
  • Place in a baking pan


  • Sprinkle with:

1/2 cup finely chopped onions


  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Bake chicken 20 minutes and test internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Increase baking time if needed. When it reaches 165 degrees, remove from the oven
  • Serve immediately, with or without the Dirty Rice and Gingersnap Gravy

Gingersnap Gravy



Gravy is a spicy sauce seasoned with Cajun spices and is thickened with Gingersnap cookies. It’s a Paul Prudhomme Cajun recipe from Louisianna. I serve it with Dirty Rice and Spicy Cajun Chicken. See my Recipes list for these links.

  • In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix:

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

  • In a large skillet over medium heat melt:

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, your choice. The Cajun style is butter, as is the French.

  • Add and Saute:

3/4 cup finely chopped onions

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic


  • Saute 5 minutes
  • Stir in the seasoning mix and cook 5 minutes, stirring


  • Add:

8 cups chicken stock

  • Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 25 minutes
  • Whisk into the broth until dissolved:

12 Gingersnap cookies, broken in pieces


  • Continue cooking 10 minutes, whisking often.
  • Add:

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground ginger


  • Continue whisking and simmering a few minutes. Taste and add more gingersnaps, brown sugar or ginger if you prefer. Simmer after your additions a few minutes.
  • Strain the gravy through a fine mesh strainer. Line it with cheesecloth too if you have it. You’ll have to press the gravy through the strainer with a spoon. 
  • Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Serve with Cajun food or any plain style chicken or rice.



Baked Macaroni and Cheese

The ultimate comfort food for all ages!

My young grand kids were coming so I prepared this for them. It was a family favorite when I was a child and when my children were young. Everyone loves it!

This is from a Chicago cooking school back in the day, The Francois and Antoinette Pope School Cookbook, where my mom took lessons. This was before Julia Child, post WWII.

1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked in salted water and drained

In a large saucepan melt 2/3 cup butter

Whisk in 2/3 cup flour and simmer a few minutes.

Whisk in 2 tablespoons dried mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer a minute.

Gradually whisk in 4  1/2 cups hot milk. Stir constantly and simmer 5 minutes.

Add 12 ounces American cheese or Velveeta cheese. Stir until melted.

In a buttered 2 quart casserole layer the macaroni and cheese sauce in several layers. Top with sauce.

Layer 5 American cheese slices on top and bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until browned.

Seafood Stew

Jan Doty made this recipe for us this winter and Dave and I have made it several times since! The fresh tarragon provides a bright flavor. Adding the seafood at the very end allows for preparing most of the stew before guests arrive. Thank you again Jan for another outstanding recipe!

Seafood Stew

Seafood Stew

Poaching is an excellent way to cook seafood, since the cooking liquid makes a flavorful base for sauce. This recipe features a French technique called monter au beurre (to mount with butter), whereby chilled butter is whisked into the cooking liquid at the last minute to ensure a satiny sauce. We often double the recipe when entertaining which serves at least 10. A single recipe is written here.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry white wine

28 ounce carton of low sodium chicken stock and/or seafood stock (Swanson’s Cooking Stock is a favorite) (if you want a thicker soup, add 1/2 the amount of stock)

3/4 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined or more

3/4 pound large sea scallops, cut in half or more

1 pound cod, cut into 2 inch cubes

1 pound frozen baby clams, thawed (add liquid too)

1 pound frozen mussels, thawed (add liquid too)

2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1 and 1/2 cup chopped fresh plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon rind

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more as desired

  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven.
  • Add leek and garlic and cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomatoes, wine and broth and bring to a simmer at least 10 minutes. Keep at a low simmer covered until ready to serve.
  • When you are ready to serve, whisk the butter in.
  • Add the tarragon, lemon rind, salt, pepper and cayenne and bring broth to a boil.
  • Add the seafood and all it’s liquid.
  • Bring it up to a full boil.
  • Serve immediately with white rice or brown rice and crusty bread or naan/Arabic bread.