Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Oxtail soup concoction

 Oxtail Soup Concoction 

OK, this may seem manic, but I have to share this one-off with those of you who like to cook because it was so unexpectedly delicious and took about ten minutes. This is how it happened. It was all done with waaay leftovers. 

1.     Ox tail bits from the freezer: I had made beef stock from oxtails (one oxtail sawed by the butcher into pieces, a quartered onion, some chunks of celery, some chunks of carrot, a bay leaf, some water—you figure it out, just not too much water—and cook it for two to three hours, strain off the broth to keep, ditch the veggies, freeze the oxtail bits).

2.    Some of the leftover stock, gelatinized in the fridge, about ½ Cup or a little more.

3.    Mashed potatoes from three days ago—equal parts potato and celery root pieces—boil the hell out of them, smash’em, add some butter and cream, salt and pepper.

4.    Reduced tomatoes from, like, five days ago. (Take a can of chopped tomatoes and reduce by 50% in a pan on the stove or in the oven at 350, a little salt, a little thyme, until sort of dry-ish.)


  • Thaw out the oxtail pieces enough to take the meat off the bone, or better, heat in a pan until you can take the meat off.
  • Heat in a sauce pan with a little butter and light oil (sunflower or veg oil) along with one or two tablespoons of the reduced tomato goop. Stir to prevent sticking/burning.
  • When hot, add the old stock/broth
  • Add one or two tablespoons of the mashed potatoes and blend into the broth. Don’t thicken too much.
  • Warm
  • Serve in a shallow bowl
  • I also had a few leftover mushroom agnolotti that I refreshed in hot water for a few minutes and added to the mix just before serving.
  • A little parmesan and pepper completed the dish.

This concoction was unbelievably delicious. I was even sober. I don’t have a photo. Next time. 

Wine paring: this would be a full bodied red: Australian Shiraz, Zinfandel, Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon.


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Monday, March 1, 2021

Carrot-ginger soup




This can be made in less than 30 minutes and is delicious! Servings: 2-ish


Here’s All You Need:

            1 or 2 medium carrots, cubed or chunks


            1 small sweet potato (orange meat), cubed


            ½ Winter squash, butternut or other, peeled, cubed or chunks

            Ginger root chopped, 1 – 2 tsp or ground ginger ½ tsp

            Chopped onion or leek or both, 2 Tbsp or more

            ½ apple, any kind, chunks

            Vegetable broth, homemade*, about 1 Cup – 1 ½ Cup

            Salt, black pepper

            Rosemary, chopped finely, ½ tsp at most

            Olive oil, 2 Tbsp


Here’s what to do:

            Heat oil in soup pot

            Add chopped ginger and onion/leeks, cook for 1 minute medium high

            Add carrots/sweet potato/squash, cook 2 min medium high

            Add apples if using

            Add Veg broth enough to cover and boil medium to high until soft, about 10 to 15 min

            When cool enough to handle, blend to fine puree or thinner with more liquid

            Add chopped Rosemary

            Season with salt to taste and simmer for 5 minutes

            Serve with freshly ground black pepper and croutons* (optional but very good)


Wine paring: a fruity white such as Vouvray, Gewerztraminer, Alsatian Reisling, or Viognier.

*Vegetable broth, homemade                       Prep time 15 min

            Place bits of carrot, onion, celery, some parsley, and any other green veg you have, cover with about 1 to 2 cups water depending on quantity of veg. Bring to boil and then simmer for only about 10 min for freshest flavor. Taste and salt, cook more if necessary but pour off otherwise. A very fresh tasting broth, perfect in soups or plain with noodles or rice.


*Croutons: Follow Josh McFadden’s recipe in Six Seasons, or break up bread, toss in small quantity of olive oil, mix and bake at 400 for only 5 to 10 to 15 min depending on the bread, until a bit brown and crispy but not dried out (a little chewy in the middle)



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shredded Zucchini sauté

This simple recipe is delicious and versatile. I first learned about it through a Julia Child video from her TV show in the 70s.

Here’s all you need:
Salt and pepper

Here’s what to do:
1.     Grate/shred the zucchini, place in a bowl and add salt based on amount of zucchini (approx. large pinch of kosher salt for 8 inch zucchini).
2.     Let sit 30 to 60 minutes to extract water
3.     Squeeze water out of zucchini. You can save the liquid for flavouring soups, etc.
4.     Melt 1 to 2 TBSP butter in a saucepan, add zucchini and heat until hot but not cooked. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Variation: add uncooked corn kernels and/or cut up blanched green beans for a more complex taste treat. Again, heat until hot but the vegetables should not cook to the point of softening of texture. The crispness is part of the delight of the dish.

Wine: A white Burgundy (Chardonnay) or Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) best, unless serving with meat that would beg for red Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Butternut squash                     Prep time: 10 minutes

                                                       Cook time: 60 to 90 minutes

                                                       Serves: 2 or 3

It’s butternut squash season! Fire up the oven!

Squash is bland, so concentration of flavors is necessary. In this recipe, roasting creates a savory/sweet side dish that is sure to please you and your guests.

Here’s all you need

1.     One butternut squash, small to medium, peeled and cut into squares

2.     Olive oil, 1 or 2 Tbsp

3.     Ginger root, minced, 1 to 2 tsp

4.     Kosher salt, one large pinch

5.     Pepper

6.     Thyme, ½ tsp to 1 tsp

7.     Sugar ½ tsp

Here’s what to do:

·      Pre-heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit

·      Combine and mix large-dice squash pieces and other ingredients in a bowl

·      Spread onto baking sheet

·      Roast until browned lightly, turning once or at most, twice, approximately 60 to 90 min.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Microwave an egg? It sounds like heresy, but actually it is a significant technological advance. Takes less than a minute from start to finish; end product is more fluffy than an omelet or scrambled egg; eliminates the need to dirty a pan; you cook and eat out of the same dish; does not require butter or oil if that is your preference (I accept that ‘no butter’ is heresy as well!).
I tried this method recently and have been so pleased that I use it regularly.
Give it a try.

·      One egg
·      Glass custard dish or small ramekin (ceramic baking dish)

1.    Break egg and whip with fork (lightly or fully—I prefer lightly)
2.   20 to 30 seconds on high power
3.   Remove from microwave and stir once or twice
4.   15 to 20 seconds, until it starts to rise like a soufflé.
5.   Ready to serve

Two or three eggs makes it slightly more complex. Play with the timing and consider using medium power.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Grilled onions                                                     
                                                                                    Prep time: 2 hour marinade
                                                                                    Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes
                                                                                    Serves: 4

How, you might ask, is grilled onions deserving of a recipe? Well, it is because I have had so many guests complement me, no, go insane over these onions that I figured more people should know about them. The grilling cooks all the eye-watering pungency out of the onions, and each bite is a warm, sweet, slightly crunchy trip to southern California. In the winter, one can use a broiler, but grilling is definitely the best way to go.

The inspiration for this recipe came from a wonderful Italian restaurant in Portland, Oregon, called Pazzo Ristorante, back in the 1980s when balsamic vinegar was starting become popular in a large way throughout North America. The restaurant still thrives in downtown Portland.

MUSIC: This dish is minimalistic. Let me introduce you to musical minimalism if you don’t already know it. Find Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint played by Pat Metheney. It is the perfect piece to lose your minimalism virginity. Equally as inspiring is John Adams’s four movement composition Shaker Loops.
1.    One or two large purple onions. Other types such as Spanish, or Walla Walla sweets also work, but the firm texture and tangy flavor of purple onions keeps me going back to them.
2.   Balsamic vinegar (bulk)
3.   Outdoor grill or broiler (or for the privileged, an indoor grill)

·      Peel onions and slice into whole rounds, about ½ inch thick each.
·      Lay flat in a baking pan or cookie sheet and marinate for 2 hours in balsamic vinegar. You don’t have to completely cover in vinegar, but use liberally, and spoon onto the onions periodically during the two hours.
·      Cook on a medium-hot to hot grill until softened, turning once or more. Usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. 

CADENZA: No salt or pepper is needed usually. Great with chicken or steak and other grilled vegetables, especially red peppers and eggplant. Great cold, in a sandwich the next day, or reheated.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GNOCCHI in creamy tomato sauce:
           Prep time: 10 minutes
           Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
           Serves 2 to 4

Gnocchi must be one of the ultimate comfort foods of all time: soft, sexy little bite-sized potato puff dumplings, firm enough to resist in your mouth, bland enough to absorb whatever sauce you put with them. Gnocchi are wonderful as a starter, side dish or main entrée.

Try this easy recipe. You won’t be sorry. It’s pronounced approximately: “Nyoki”

MUSIC: Listen to the song Calgary from the Bon Iver album BON IVER, and then the rest of the album. Gorgeous. It’s pronounced approximately ‘Bone Yverre’.

  • Gnocchi: one package 500g, vacuum packed, or fresh            
  • Shallots or yellow onion, finely chopped, ¼ Cup
  • Garlic, ½ to 1 medium clove, finely chopped
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes: approx 300 grams (10 oz) or about 30 tomatoes
  • White wine: (vermouth, dry white, or sweet white), 1/3 to ½   Cup
  • Heavy cream (from 18% to 35% fat), ½ Cup to 1 Cup
  • Salt, pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Olive oil: 3 TBSP
  • Thyme (optional) small pinch
  • Slivered basil leaves for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish


·        sautee tomatoes in olive oil for five minutes in a covered shallow sauce pan
·        add shallots, garlic, salt, thyme, pepper, sugar and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft or broken and release some liquid. approx. 5 min.
·        While tomatoes cook, bring pot of water to boil for the gnocchi
·        Add wine to tomatoes and reduce, uncovered, to about 1/3 liquid
·        Salt the pot of water and add gnocchi: stir occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom. Gnocchi are done when they float, about 2 to 5 minutes
·        Add cream to tomato mixture and bring to a medium boil.
·        Add more salt and pepper to taste
·        When gnocchi are done ladle them into the tomato mixture through a slotted spoon and reheat.
·        Mix gently and serve
·        Garnish with slivered fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
WINE: This dish goes well with a red or white. White Burgundy, Chablis or Chardonnay, or a Chianti or Rioja would do nicely. Avoid a really heavy red like a Shiraz. I would accept a nice red Bordeaux, especially if the gnocchi are served with an accent of rare rib eye on the side.