I can still hear my family exclaiming with joy when it was announced that we were having farfel. At long last I have rediscovered this delightful side dish that goes well with any roasted meat and perhaps even fish.


1 small onion or 1/2 medium-large onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

6 (or so) mushrooms (white or crimini) cleaned and chopped 

1 C farfel (egg barley noodles)*

2 C chicken stock

Schmaltz (chicken fat) or Canola (or other vegetable oil)

salt and pepper to taste

*Available on Amazon


Heat some schmaltz or oil in a pan and saute the diced onions. Add the garlic and cook until just translucent. Add chopped the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add the egg barley and toast until light brown. Add the chicken stock and salt and pepper. Cover and cook (as if it were rice pilaf) until liquid is absorbed 20 minutes or so. The pasta should be cooked through but not soft.

This can be made ahead, cooled and reheated gently adding more broth if it seems a bit dry.

Some people toast the noodles first in a 300 degree oven. Some people boil it and drain it before combining with the other ingredients and then baking it. I think the method I have given is more like what we had growing up. 

Sardinian Cheese Brodo with Fregola

Fregola, as it turns out is the Sardinian "sister" of Easter European Farfel.  have eaten fregola as a side dish prepared as a pasta course or appetizer, but this dish was a new concept for me. This is a good way to use up saved Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano rinds. I am including the traditional soup along with suggested optional ingredients that were inspired by a dish my daughter and her boyfriend enjoyed at a Sardinian restaurant in Sydney Australia. Hope you enjoy it. 


2 quarts water

8 oz pecorino rinds or hard Pecorino Romano cheese) or more if you like a stronger flavor (You can also                      use Parmigiano if you prefer its nuttier flavor)

sea salt to taste

¾ C fregola


lightly sauted zucchini rounds 

zucchini blossoms

basil oil


Bring rinds and water to boil and lower to simmer for 1 ½ hours. Strain the rinds/cheese from the soup and season to taste with salt.  Bring broth to a boil and add the fregola. Cook until al dente, correct seasoning and serve. If you like, you can add the "optional ingredients just before serving, drizzled with some basil oil.




Turkey Roasted on a Baking Steel

I must confess that I love gadgets. The newer and the more technically designed to take advantage of advances in the science of cooking the better. I recently purchased a cooking steel (from Bakingsteel.com) to use instead of a pizza stone to bake pizzas, bread etc. The science is that the steel holds the heat in a more concentrated manner and therefore bakes whatever is on it more quickly and evenly. It does in fact work great.


Just before Thanksgiving, I received and email from them touting their new experimental turkey, roasted on top of the steel. They had me at “experimental”. I was in. It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful and was cooked in a remarkably short time because besides taking advantage of the heat of the steel, it also roasted on a cookie sheet instead of a roasting pan, allowing the heat to permeate the turkey without the interference of the sides of a pan.


The following is their recipe with some adjustments of my own. You can visit the website for this recipe to read the full explanation and see their beautiful photos.  


15 lbs Turkey (living on the farm preferably)

         (I used a 14 pound turkey-I think that is why it was a little over temp. at the end of the                                   cooking time-next time I will use a 15pounder.)

2 gal Poultry Brine (see Chef Thomas Kellers recipe) 

         (To save refrigerator space, I used a dry brine of salt and pepper and a little sugar for 2 days lightly          covered and uncovered for I day ahead to allow the skin to dry out for better crisping-I might try              the wet brine next time.)

3 ea apples, quartered

2 ea oranges, sliced

2 ea squashes, sliced in rounds

2 lbs carrots, rough chopped

2 ea vidalia onions, large dice

1 ea red onion, large dice

1 ea leek, large dice

2 ea heads garlic, sliced crosswise

1 bunch celery, washed and diced large

2 ea large parsnips, large dice

1 ea bunch parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage

Salt and Pepper

1 lb. butter, soft (room temp)


1. For the brine, dissolve all of your salt, sugar and spices in 1 gallon of water. Once dissolved, add ice to cool rapidly and cover with enough water to make entire solution about 2 gallons. Pour cool brine over turkey. Put a couple plates on top incase the bird tries to escape. Throw a lid on top and wait until tomorrow.

2. Drain brine off turkey and let air dry. At this point, you can start to prepare all of your vegetables. Pre-Heat your oven to 450 degrees. 

3. Make sure all of your vegetables are washed and dried. No need to peel your parsnips of carrots here, just rinse them. Soak your leeks to get the dirt/sand out of them. Remove outer dry skin of onions. Toss all of your fruits, vegetables and herbs in olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside. 

4. With a heavy hand, season the bird inside and out with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Then take your pound of softened butter and smear across the top part of the breast of the bird. Set aside.

5. On a normal baking sheet, spread a hefty mix of your veg/fruit/herb wonderfulness around. Place a normal resting rack on top. Use remainder of your veg to stuff in the cavity of the bird (makes it even more delicious.)

6. Place your hefty, well seasoned and stuffed bird on top of the roasting rack and slide on top of your Baking Steel inside your oven. 450 degrees. 30 minutes. You want that golden brown color to start forming. After 30minutes, open oven, rotate and baste. Close it up and turn oven down to 350 degrees.

7. Baste every 30 minutes and rotate. 2 hours in total at 30 minutes should take your legs to an internal temperature of 150 degrees. DON'T FREAK OUT! your bird will continue to cook to upwards of 165 degrees. NO ONE WILL GET SICK! Large meats carry over significantly and you don't want a dry bird after all of this love that you've put into it.

8. Resting time will be about 20-30 minutes. Your bird will still be warm to serve, trust me. Slice your breast, tear away you legs, enjoy your day. Follow us this week to see what else you can do with your turkey.

         (I drained the juices into a fat separator and added them to the gravy. I didn’t serve the                              cooked veggies/fruit but they looked delicious-Next time I will serve them as well.)


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Salmon with Mustard Yogurt Dill sauce

I have made the salmon with this sauce many ways. In all recipes it is a good idea to bring the salmon to room temperature for more even cooking and then brine it for ten minutes (believe it or not that is enough-per Cooks Illustrated)  in a solution of 1 Tbs. table salt to 1 cup of water, and then patted dry and seasoned with pepper  before cooking.

With the skin on I have had success by patting it dry, seasoning it more only with pepper and  sautéing  it in a nonstick or cast iron skillet in 2 Tbs. of  hot olive oil, skin side down for 3 minutes, then flipped over and finished on the other side for  3 minutes.

I have grilled skinless filets after brining, patted dry and seasoned with pepper, a little olive oil, a little dijon mustard and some chopped dill. The cedar plank are soaked for at least 2 hours in water and then placed on a medium hot grill and heated until smoking. The fish is then placed on top of the planks (with the top lowered if it is a gas grill) and cooked the fish is opaque for about 6 minutes.

I have also cooked skinless filets after brining, (seasoned only with pepper) in a non stick oven safe pan heated over medium high heat.  2 Tbs. extra virgin are then added to the pan and the salmon is placed in the pan "skin side" up and cooked for 2-3 minutes until a brown crust begins to appear on the bottom. The pan is then placed in a preheated 425 degree oven for 6 minutes to achieve a perfect medium rare temperature. Without the skin-I think this is my favorite.

With any of these preparations, I prepare a yogurt mustard dill sauce as follow (Note-amounts are really just suggestions-adjust to your taste)


  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 C yogurt (nonfat-full fat-your choice)
  • 1/4 C Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • chopped dill (amount to your liking)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


At least  1/2 hour before serving, to allow the flavors to meld,  combine all of the above ingredients and adjust the amounts to taste. Before serving, check again for any adjustments. Place some of the sauce on the bottom of the plate and top with the cooked salmon. Serve with lemon wedges and pass the remaining sauce.

I am not sure why, but I like to serve this with elbow maccaroni  with butter and sour cream. It must be something I can't remember from my childhood.

Downloadable Printable PDF


Elbow Macaroni with Butter and Sour Cream

This is a very simple (and truly non gourmet-but addictive) side dish that for some reason I associate with salmon. Of course it could accompany any number of main courses but I think it would pair best with chicken, pork or veal rather than beef or lamb. In order to make the dinner process easier, I often prepare this ahead and reheat it in the microwave just before serving (perhaps with a bit more sour cream if it seems dry). There are no precise amounts given. Here your taste buds are your friend.

The dish is as follows:

Boil elbow (small) macaroni in salted water until done. Drain and toss with butter. Salt and pepper to taste and add sour cream to give it an almost creamy consistency. Check seasonings and serve at once, or cover and put aside and reheat in the microwave adding more sour cream if it seems too dry.

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Il Forno Caldo Calamari Salad

Although there are many good things to eat at this restaurant in Beverly Hills Ca. this salad is my favorite. This is my version and I am not giving precise amounts as they will vary depending upon how many you are serving. In deciding the proportions, think of this as a salad where the calamari, shrimp and the lettuce are the are the stars, and everything else plays  a supporting role. You really can't go wrong.

  • Equal amounts cleaned calamari bodies (cut into thin rings plus their legs if attached) and small                    uncooked shrimp
  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Slivered red bell pepper
  • capers
  • Pitted Kalamata olives
  • Lemon vinaigrette (made with 1 part lemon juice and a little red wine vinegar to soften the flavor                   to 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some chopped parsley and a                     little chopped dill)

Simmer water with lemon juice (and some lemon wedges) and salt for about 1/2  hour . Place calamari rings in a steamer above the simmering water, cover and cook 2 minutes; turn them over and add the legs (if you have them) and the shrimp sprinkled with a little salt and steam 2 minutes more. Turn and salt again and steam another 2 minutes. Remove calamari and also shrimp if done (though it might need a little more time depending on their size). Toss the warm seafood in some of the vinaigrette and refrigerate to chill. Just before serving toss chopped Romaine with the dressing and the remainder of the  ingredients except for the calamari and the shrimp. Plate the salad and serve with the seafood on top.

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Chinese Chicken Salad

The original recipe without all of my notes was given to me by my friend Momo. This salad has been consumed at many a pot luck and remains a favorite of my friends and family alike and is included here a the request of my daughter, Lauren. The recipe includes crispy fried (maifun) rice noodles, but at the end, I am suggesting some substitutions and additions for those who prefer not to use them. 

Serves 4 as a main course

Salad Ingredients

  • 5 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves cooled and shredded-they be seasoned with                salt and pepper poached in the microwave in some chicken stock, grilled or sautéed-or you                    can substitute store bought packaged cooked chicken breasts from the regular deli section or              chicken breasts prepared and in the service deli section of a supermarket.
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (Do not use the shredded lettuce in bags from the market as                they are too finely shredded. You need to have more texture in the salad.)
  • 1/8 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (You can omit this if you like, but I really love the flavor it adds.)
  • Thinly sliced red pickled ginger to taste (I use the kind in a jar, but you can slice it if you can't              find it in the jar and you can only find it in larger pieces in the sushi section of your                                  market) 
  • 1 package Maifun (rice noodles) broken into pieces, fried and puffed*

To fry the noodles, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a pan until very hot (375-400 degrees). Only after the oil is very hot, add the noodles in small batches. They should explode and puff up immediately if your oil is hot enough. As soon as they are puffed, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and continue doing this until all have been fried and puffed. Do not use any that are not puffed as they will be hard and unappealing. Warning-This is a messy project!

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. dry hot mustard ( Do not use prepared mustard-I prefer Chinese mustard-Dynasty makes               some- but you can substitute English dry mustard)
  • 4 Tbs. sugar
  • 6 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil

To make the dressing use a container that has a lid. Combine the mustard, sugar and soy sauce and mix to form a paste. Add the vinegar and mix. Pour in the sesame and vegetable oil, put on the lid and shake to combine. (If not using immediately, you will need to shake again before using it).

To Assemble the Salad

Just before serving, combine all of the salad ingredients except for the fried, puffed noodles, and toss with the dressing. (you might not need all of the dressing so you can add it in increments and taste as you go along.) Add most of the noodles and toss gently to combine with the salad. Serve the salad with the remaining rice noodles on top.

If you plan to bring this salad to a pot luck you can combine the salad ingredients, but keep the noodles and dressing separate, and combine them as directed above just before serving.


If you prefer, instead using the fried maifun noodles, you can substitute fried wontons or crispy chinese fried noodles (sold in packages the market). Some people also like to add peanuts or toasted sliced almonds, and some people like to add tangerine segments. That is where you come in!

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Mayonnaise that works

This recipe requires a stick blender is pretty foolproof. As written it creates a neutral flavored mayo that imitates a fresh version of Best Foods/Hellman's type mayo. You can add herbs, garlic, chili or other seasonings as you wish, and you can substitute olive oil for a more assertive flavor. Using garlic as the main flavoring agent along with olive oil will create an aioli type mayo.


  • 1 large egg (some recipes call for egg yolks, but you will need at least 2 to make this work)
  • 1 tsp or more Dijon mustard (to taste)
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp distilled (regular) vinegar, white wine vinegar, or water (I prefer the distilled vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (be careful as to what kind-Morton's is saltier than Diamond and table is most salty-maybe          use a generous pinch. You can adjust the amount later)
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 Cup total (1/2 Cup each) Canola and Grapeseed oil


Using a round container that barely fits the head of stick blender, place the eggs, followed by the mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and sugar. Pour in the oil and let it settle for a minute to allow the oil to rise to the top. Place the stick blender into the container, resting it on the bottom. Using a medium-medium high speed give the mixture a few very short blasts. Then begin slowly raising the blender within the mixture followed by a slow up and down motion until the mixture emulsifies and reaches the desired consistency. Adjust the seasons and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 

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Rock Creek Special

This is my interpretation of a sandwich by this name, served at the Pie in the Sky restaurant at Rock Creek Resort near Mammoth Lakes, California. Whenever I prepare it at home I am transported there and immediately reminded of  wondrous scenery and the fishing I have enjoyed in that area, not to mention the nostalgia I feel for all of the wonderful time I have spent there with family and friends.

 (Serves 2)


  • 4 slices of good quality sourdough bread
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, sliced
  • 4-6 Whole Ortega Chiles sliced open
  • 4-6 Jack Cheese slices
  • Butter, softened and Mayonnaise (homemade even better) 


The amount of ingredients will depend upon the size of the bread. Spread  what will be the outsides of the bread slices with some softened butter and a little mayo. On two of the inside sides of the bread place the Jack cheese slices to cover, followed by the Ortega chilis and the tomatoes. Heat a skillet (or 2) or a griddle over medium heat and place all of the slices buttered side down and toast until lightly brown. Cover the slices with the other ingredients with the other two slices, and let it brown further on one side. As the cheese begins to melt, flip over the two sandwiches and continue toasting until well browned. 

Remove the sandwiches from the pan and slice each in half immediately. Serve with mustard (of choice) and dill pickle chips if desired. This recipe may be increased proportionally. 

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The following typical "Italian Brodo" (broth) recipe forms the basis of many Italian soups and sauces such as Tortellini en brodo, Passatelli, Minestrone, Ribollita and Ragu Bolognese, among others. You can substitute equal parts chicken broth and beef broth, but if you have the time and the inclination it is worth the effort. It can be frozen (in smaller increments) for later use.

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Ragu Bolognese

During my two extended stays in Bologna, I was fortunate to learn from several of my local friends how to make the "perfect" traditional ragu Bolognese, a sauce that serves as the basis for traditional tagliatelle and lasagna Bolognese. Unlike the American concept of a meat sauce which is basically a tomato sauce with meat, this is just the reverse-a meat sauce with some tomato. Although some people do not use milk to make this, I like the mellow and soft mouth feel it adds to the flavors. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the wonderful friends who generously shared their guarded secret recipes, from which I adapted this one.

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