I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Board Certified!

This Monday I flew out to Baltimore to complete the last step of my General Surgery Boards. It is an oral exam and they can ask you about anything. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency on the Inner harbor. The accommodations were excellent. It was right across the road from the Inner Harbor - a big shopping and dining complex on the water. The USS Constellation is docked there as well as numerous other ships that you can tour.

Baltimore is famous for its crab so I ate nothing but crab for 48 hours. The test was very difficult but I got good news today:

"We are pleased to inform you that you successfully passed this examination."

Red Eye Gravy

This being the South, I have easy access to country ham. It is a ham that is cured a little different than what I grew up with. It is a little tastier and a little saltier but you have to be careful when you are cooking it so that it doesn't dry out. They sell it by the slice down here, ready to throw into a cast iron skillet. Traditionally it is served with Red Eye Gravy.

One folk legend surrounding the origin of the "red-eye" name credits former United States President Andrew Jackson with requesting ham with gravy as red as his cook's eyes, which were bloodshot from drinking the night before.

Another circulating explanation is that the black coffee in the gravy will keep people awake. A more empirical account of the name's origin is that "red-eye" describes the oily fat circles that appear in the gravy.

Red Eye Gravy and Country Ham

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drop in a little corn oil or butter and fry the ham for a minute or two on each side. You'll know the ham is done when the fat turns translucent. Do a few slices this way and then remove. DON'T COOK THESE TOO LONG OR THEY WILL GET DRY. ALSO DO NOT COOK THEM UNTIL SECONDS BEFORE YOU ARE READY TO SERVE THEM. Drop a cup of black coffee into the bottom of the pan and deglaze the hammy goodness. Cook it for a minute or so until a little of the coffee evaporates. Viola - red eye gravy.

Acorn Squash Weather

Its getting to be time to start eating acorn squash. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. This blog started almost 3 years ago with acorn squash! We made some recently. If you click this link you can see the full method.

Cowboy Chicken

My cousin Kurt had his wedding at the Humboldt Country Club. They served an excellent chicken dish and from time to time I get hungry for it. Here is my version.

Cowboy Chicken

(Kurt’s Wedding Chicken)


3 chicken breasts

in 2 T butter

season with fines herbs, seasoned salt, pepper

Deglaze pan with ¼ cup sherry and add:

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

For the sauce combine:

1 can mushrooms, drained

1 can cream mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery

2 T soy sauce

1 cup milk

2 t salt

fresh ground black pepper

Arrange chicken in pan with onions and garlic. Top with sauce and cover with croutons. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes covered. Remove lid and place a slice of velveta on top of each piece. Bake until melted.

Dirty Burger tricks

We had burgers last week. I have written fairly extensively about burgers on this site. My burgers continue to evolve with little tweaks here and there. Have you ever had a burger that sat on your plate for a little bit and the bottom bun got nasty and soggy? Well last week I figured out the solution to that problem. It is simple: after taking the burgers off the flame, instead of setting them on a bare plate set them on a few paper towels on a plate to cool. The paper towels will take up most of the sloppy bun creating liquid.

Other tricks:
Buy good buns and make them into garlic bread buns by wiping with butter and sprinkling with garlic salt. Either grill in a pan or set them over the fire for a few seconds until the butter melts. Alternatively you can bake them face up on a cookie sheet in the oven for a minute or so if you are doing a bunch at once.

Buy FRESH toppings. A very thin slice of red onion is a nice touch, as are fresh lettuce and thinly sliced tomato.

Experiment with different cheeses. In the photo below I used shredded cheddar to great effect.

Tortilla Soup

My wife made an excellent soup last week. She got the recipe from the book Everyday Mexican. I have mentioned Rick Bayless in other posts and it is his new book. I never had tortilla soup before medical school. There wasn't much authentic Mexican food around my hometown. We had a Taco Tico but that is about it unless you count Taco John's and nobody ate there.

Hands down this is the best tortilla soup I have ever eaten. I would go so far as to say this is one of the top 3 soups I have ever eaten, period. You simply must give this a shot!

Tortilla Soup

1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, or substitute another large chile of your choice

1 15oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain

2 T vegetable or olive oil

1 medium white onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 quarts chicken broth

1 large sprig fresh epazote, if you can find one! If not don't worry about it.


4 chicken breasts, browned

1 large, ripe avocado, pitted and cut into small cubes

Monterrey Jack or white queso, shredded

Tortilla chips

1 large lime cut into wedges

Toast the chile by holding it a few inches over the open flame of your gas burner. If your stove is electric, slit the chile and remove the stem and seeds. Flatten it out onto a dry pan over medium high heat and press down with a spatula. When little blisters appear turn it over and repeat. Tear into pieces and transfer to a blender along with the diced tomatoes in juice. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Puree mixture until smooth. Pour into a heated soup pan and stir constantly until thickened to about the consistency of tomato paste. Add broth and simmer about 15 minutes. Separately brown chicken breasts cut them into small pieces. Add them about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with cheese, avocado and tortilla chips. Squeeze a little lime over all just before eating.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Foreboding Article

There was an article in the Daily Iowan today that is attempting to damper expectations for this Saturday's game.

Badger QB no stranger to Hawk 'D' - Sports

I hope the Hawks win but I am thinking they are going to get killed. Wisconsin is a tough team and playing them at home will be no easy task. I added the Versus channel and the Big10 network to our cable. I think this week's game is on ABC or something so I may not even need the new channels.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summer Salad

It is late summer, early fall down here in Louisville. We ate at a place called Cunningham's on River Road. It reminded me a lot of my Grandma and Grandpa's old river cabin. They served us a "summer salad" which was always called refrigerator pickles in my family. Ours wasn't quite so inventive, consisting mainly of cucumbers and onions.

Louisville Summer Salad

1 cucumber, peeled but leaving stripes of skin
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings and then cut in half
half a dozen or so plumb tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small jar pimentos
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t celery seed
1/4 cup salt
a few T balsamic vinegar

Combine everything and put into the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Mexican Meatballs

I am a big fan of Rick Bayless. He is the owner of Frontera Grill in Chicago, my favorite Mexican Restaurant. I have all of his cookbooks. I recently bought Everyday Mexican. A recipe that really intrigued me was his meatballs. We made them and were blown away by how tasty they were.

Mexican Meatballs

1 pound hamburger or ground pork
3 pieces raw bacon, finely diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Combine all of the above ingredients and mix very well. Form into balls and bake on a cookie sheet at 450 until done. Place baked meatballs into a baking dish.

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes or 28 ounces of fresh roma tomatoes, blackened under the broiler
2 cloves garlic - pan roasted
1 t pepper
1 t oregano
salt to taste
2 chipotle peppers in sauce

Take all ingredients and combine in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Combine sauce and meatballs and cover with aluminum foil. Bake 50 minutes at 350 covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

Here is a photo of garlic roasting in a pan.

Here is what the finished meatballs should look like:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Here it comes.

My phone is blowing up with text message insults. Iowa freaking lost 13 to 15. At least I enjoyed the game in an English pub drinking Guinness. Sorry non-drinking readers. I rarely mention alcohol.

Here is the difference. I am not a fair weather fan. I have weathered everything from 1979 to now. As we speak I am saving up for a massive donation so that I can get season tickets for the Hawks for next year. I'd love to see the Cyclone fan with my teeny income that is saving after a LOSS for tickets next year.

We will slog on. Iowa football is not for the faint of heart.

Now, all of that said, Iowa freaking AGAIN looked past Iowa State. The problem, as I see it, is that the coach, Kirk Ferentz did not grow up in Iowa. He doesn't understand that even in bumblestink Kentucky I am going to go to work and take a ribbing for this game. Lets not even talk about the players that didn't grow up in Iowa. At least I am 10 hours from Iowa. Imagine what my buddies Easy E and Money D are going to face when they go to work. Iowa is expected to win this game every year. Oh well. I would rather be the guy that takes the ribbing than the fair weather fan that jumps on board whenever such and such a team is winning. This rant of course excludes all of my naughty Iowa State Cousins and my Iowa State Uncle, who was a running back for Iowa State. I am really glad that they enjoyed their day today.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day before the big game!

The daily Iowan had a good article on the game tomorrow.

Ready for a tussle in Ames - Sports

"There will be two interesting twists on Saturday. For starters, Iowa State will honor its 1977 Peach Bowl squad by wearing throwback uniforms that resemble what the Cyclones wore 30 years ago. "

What a coincidence. They are wearing uniforms from their last real bowl game to play this year's bowl game!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hawks rely on steel curtain - Daily Iowan

2 pieces of Hawkeye related news today. The first is that I found a place to watch the Iowa vs. Iowa State game this weekend!!! I'm going to watch it on a TV in one of my attending's basement. He has a 36 inch HDTV down there and a fridge full of football pop which contains a healthy amount of hops.

Second, another article in the Daily Iowan today was about this weekend's big game. I'm a little worried now. I want to continue to see articles about how the Hawks aren't looking past this game to Wisconsin. I don't want to hear about how well we did against the last placed team in the Big East. As far as I'm concerned, we have a completely unproven team at this point in the season. The Hawks need to play every game like it is the championship game.

Hawks rely on steel curtain - Sports

I haven't looked at where the people on the team came from this year. Hopefully most of them grew up in Iowa so that they understand the rivalry here. If they look past this game and lose they will SORELY regret it. For the rest of the year they will be heckled about the outcome of this game. For Christ's sake, when I lived in Kansas City people used to put nasty notes with the score of the Iowa vs. Iowa State game on my car and I'm not a player. All I did was put a stupid bumper sticker on my car. My front license plate was also a tiger hawk but when Iowa started beating Iowa State again (3 out of the last 4) some one ripped it off my car, damaging the bumper.

For Iowa State this is even a bigger game. Most Iowa State fans secretly consider this game their bowl game. Reason being that Iowa is probably the best team they ever stand even a remote chance of beating. Think Iowa State has a chance of beating an Oklahoma or a Texas or even a beaten up Nebraska team? I know last season wasn't the greatest example of Hawkeye football but most years we field a top 25 team. We are certainly better than a Kent State or a UNI, even on our worst years. ON IOWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quinoa Crazy!

I'm in love with the quinoa grain! It is so tasty. You can serve it as a hot dish or as a cold dish. I made up a Mediterranean salad version of quinoa last night to accompany some soup and an omelet.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic

Make the quinoa first. Heat a suacepan over medium heat. Pour in a little olive oil and add the quinoa. Let the quinoa cook for a little without liquid to bring out the nutty flavor. Add the garlic and water, cover and simmer like you would rice. When the quinoa is al dente remove it from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes covered. Allow to cool to room temp.

Combine the following in a bowl:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 t oregano
1 t fresh ground pepper
a few Italian olives, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1/3 of a green pepper, diced

Add the quinoa and stir well. Season to taste with salt or Cavender's Greek Seasoning.

Middle Eastern Cuisine

We are really on a Middle Eastern food kick lately. This post comes courtesy of my wife. Enjoy!

Our San Marzano tomato plant has gone wild. We returned from a short weekend trip to Chicago to find about 40 ripe tomatoes waiting to be harvested. We needed to use them or lose them so we decided either Italian food or Mediterranean food would be practical and also healthy. We opted for Mediterranean food as we have prepared a lot of Italian meals recently and we wanted to avoid too many carbs in an effort to balance our outlandish vacation eating habits. A great cookbook with delicious Middle Eastern fare is The Arab Table by May S. Bsisu. Her recipes span several countries and are extremely tasty, yet easy to prepare. We decided to try a slightly different Jerusalem salad recipe from this book last night. The dressing is creamy with the addition of sesame tahini. This is how the salad is served in many Jordanian homes.

Jerusalem Salad

4-5 plum tomatoes, finely chopped

1 cucumber, finely chopped

5 scallions, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 packed cups hearts of romaine lettuce, finely chopped

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup olive oil

1/3 cup sesame tahini

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss just before serving.

Shish Tawook (Chicken Kebabs)


10 cloves garlic, pressed

½ cup fresh lemon juice

2 T plain yogurt

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. white pepper

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 per person) cut into pieces

Marinate the chicken in a plastic bag for several hours in the refrigerator. Place on skewers and grill.

This eggplant recipe is one of our favorites and comes from a Turkish cookbook called The Sultan's Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan. It was delicious paired with the two previous dishes and even tastes good the next day cold.

Fried Eggplant and Grilled Peppers With Tomato and Garlic Yogurt Sauces
Slice 1 large eggplant. Place in a bowl of salted water and soak for 20 minutes. Remove and pat dry with paper towels. Fry in olive oil until browned on both sides. Cover and set aside. Grill the peppers and then cut into 2 inch pieces. Arrange with eggplant on a platter and drizzle sauces over the top. Voila!

Garlic Yogurt sauce

Combine 1 small container of plain yogurt, 1-2 cloves pressed garlic and salt to taste. Refrigerate.

Tomato sauce

Rub 6 plum tomatoes (or more for more sauce) against a box grater to remove the skins and core without having to go to much trouble. Heat a little olive oil in a sauce pan and sauté 3 cloves garlic for about one minute. Add the tomatoes which are already pureed from the grater. Cook for about 2-3 minutes covered. Set aside until ready to serve.

2 Appetizers and a Salad

My wife made a really great opener for some spaghetti with meatballs the other night. She mad 2 appetizers and a tasty salad. We got the recipes from the book The Italian American Cookbook.

I made some marinara from my san marzanos and added in a few meatballs. Here is a neat trick for meatballs - make your meatballs according to whatever recipe but instead of frying them, put some tin foil on a cookie sheet, grease the tinfoil and bake the meatballs at 375 for about a half hour. They stay nice and round and cook really evenly.

Figs and Proscuitto with Gorgonzola

8 fresh (or dried) figs , if fresh cut in half

6 slices imported prosciutto

Olive oil

4-6 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Coarsely ground black pepper

Wrap the figs in strips of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick. Brush with olive oil and place under the broiler for 4-6 minutes. Serve over crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Delicious!

Fried Asparagus With Prosciutto

2 1/8 tsp. salt, kosher if available

12 asparagus spears

6 slices imported prosciutto

½ c plain bread crumbs

2 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ c olive oil

1 ½ T unsalted butter

1 large egg

In a large sauce pan boil water with 2 tsp. of the salt. Trim and boil asparagus spears for 2-3 minutes, then drain and place in a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking. Place asparagus spears diagonally on a piece of prosciutto and roll up. Set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, remaining salt, pepper and cheese in a bowl. In another bowl beat the egg with 1 T water. Dip each prepared asparagus spear first in the bread crumb mixture and then in the egg. When all have been prepared, fry in butter until browned on all sides.

Green Salad With Pears and Gorgonzola

For the salad:

½ cup walnut halves

Italian mixed greens

2 T chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

8 oz. gorgonzola cheese

1 ripe pear

For the dressing:

1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard

2 T red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup plus 2 T extra virgin olive oil

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Iowa vs. Iowa State

This coming weekend is Iowa State's bowl game. To readers who are not familiar with the intra-state rivalry, Iowa plays Iowa State every year. Unfortunately the game takes place in quite possibly the world's ugliest staduim - Jack Trice.

The rivalry, for the most part, only exists in the minds of Iowa State fans. When I was in college, Iowa had beaten Iowa State more than a dozen years in a row. Lately the game has been a little more exciting, as Iowa State has won six out of the last ten games. That said, three of the last four have gone Iowa's way.

I suspect that there will be a lot of tickets available this year. Last weekend Iowa State lost at home, before a record crowd of >59000, to UNI. Oh the humanity!

The one thing that worries me is that Iowa State almost always gives us trouble lately. I think the real problem is that Iowa tends to look past Iowa State. This year they have really good reason to because we are playing Wisconsin the following weekend. I saw an article in the Daily Iowan that gives me a little hope though:
Hawks expect tough game - Sports
There is also another article appearing today which gives some hope:
Hawks prep for raucous road - Sports

I guess there is nothing to do but wait.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Runner's World Chicken

There is an article in this month's Runner's World about cinnamon chicken. My wife made the chicken tonight and to accompany it I made up some quinoa, as suggested in the article. Quinoa is some crazy gluten free grain eaten en masse by the Incas. It was such an important grain as to become a part of religious ceremonies. It cooks up a lot like couscous. I did a little research and came up with the following recipe.

Quinoa ala Kokito

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup red onion, diced and sauteed
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 T capers
1 T chopped parsley
a little olive oil
1 clove garlic

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan. Dump in the quinoa and cook it for a minute or so, shaking it so that the grains get exposed to heat. It will bring out a nutty flavor in the grains. Add in the chicken broth and the garlic clove. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until the grains fluff up and become nice and soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Recover the pot and let it sit off the heat for a few minutes before serving.

Koto Kapama (Cinnamon Chicken)

1 chicken (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

5 peeled garlic cloves

1 ½ T (or more) extra virgin olive oil

2 peeled, coarsely chopped onions

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup water

1 cup chicken stock or canned broth

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 T fresh oregano, chopped

Boil water with some sea salt and set aside. Rub chicken with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Mince 3 of the garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown chicken. Remove chicken and set aside. Sauté onions and minced garlic until golden brown and softened. Add wine. When the wine is evaporated add the water, broth, tomato paste, remaining 2 garlic cloves and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan. The sauce should cover about ½ of the chicken. Simmer covered for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over a bed of quinoa or your favorite whole grain or rice.

Hawkeye Weekend

I'm a little behind on our current events. The weekend before last we met 2 other couples with kids in tow in Chicago for the Hawkeye Game. We rented a townhouse in my old neighborhood.
It was nice because it was on a quiet dead end street with a park at the end of the block for the kids.
It was close to the U-Haul on Fullerton, a place which has caused me much misery moving into and out of Chicago.
The first night we were there we walked up the the Diversey Gino's to get a few pizzas. While our pies were baking we stopped into a little local bar with an Old Style sign. There were 2 dogs on the floor and it was like walking into someone's living room. We were the only 3 people in the bar who didn't know everyone else. When our pizzas were finally done we walked back and chowed down. Here is a photo of the holy grail of pizzas:

Yes people, that is a Gino's Deep Dish Pepperoni, the mother of all pizzas.

The next morning I explored the neighborhood and found a close grocery store, Starbucks and other essential establishments. We all piled onto the El for a trip down to Soldier field.
Here is a picture of our naughty one on her first El ride.
It was a long walk from the train station to the Soldier Field parking lot but when we got there we were rewarded with a crazy tailgate party. Its all very hush hush and top secret.
The party seemed to end way too soon but we were all excited to take Soldier Field.
There were 40,000 Iowa fans and 20,000 Northern Ill. fans. The balance of fans looked something like this:
Iowa proudly took the field.
The action started a little slow with a few incomplete passes but the Hawkeyes eventually won.
The band was of course stellar both in the stands
and on the field.
The walk home didn't seem as long as the walk there, but I wasn't carrying 30 pounds of beverages on the way back. Those ended up in the old gullet.
The rest of the weekend was just as fun. I lead us on a wild goose chase to get Penny's Noodles. They have a dish called hot pepper noodle that we call HPB. Unfortunately they were closed for renovations and we ended up at an awful Buffalo Wild Wings.

The next day we took the kids to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Everyone had a good time but when it was time to leave our baby threw a huge tantrum. We hadn't seen the lions yet.

After the zoo Easy E, D and I tooled on up to Wrigleyville for some Cubs action. There were no tickets so we ended up going to the Cubby Bear for some dogs and Old Style. That night we went on yet another of my wild goose chases to find a place we used to eat at called Lindo Mexico. Despite me calling them and confirming that they were open, we found out that the restaurant closed years ago. DOH! It was salvaged by a walk down the block to another naughty Mexican restaurant that we used to frequent.

It was a great way to spend a weekend!

Hawkeye Football

The Hawks have started their season with a bang. Unfortunately our Big 10 brothers to the north have started with more of a whimper. Coverage of the abysmal start can be found in a NYTIMES article from Sunday. My favorite quotes from the article are:

"The Michigan football team has fallen to a new low, looking as disjointed as a scattered jigsaw puzzle."

"One week after the most embarrassing loss in the program’s history, the Wolverines were humbled again Saturday, with nowhere to hide before 109,733 at Michigan Stadium."
"Michigan’s defense tackled horribly Saturday, allowed huge plays, made mental mistakes and was manhandled at the line of scrimmage."

And lets not forget this all time classic:

"Michigan Stadium, called the Big House, has become the Fun House for the opposition."


The Hawkeye's, still unranked, have started the season 2-0, behind numerous teams with records of 1-1. Oh well. Like Rodney Dangerfield, we can't get no respect.