Not Your Typical Meat and Potatoes…

I think foodies like like to believe that they coined the term and the concept of fusion foods. But the reality is that fusion foods have been around for centuries if not millennia. And this weeks recipe is really a classic example of what happens when two cultures combine techniques and ingredients to create a whole new food experience. Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that exemplifies fusion cooking. Beef is seasoned with soy sauce and vinegar, paprika and cumin. Then its stir fried in a wok along with onions, roma tomatoes and french fries. It all comes together for some rib stickin’ comfort food.

Lomo Saltado

serves 4

1 lb flank steak cut into thin strips

1 lb Cooked French fries.

¼ cup soy sauce

2 TBS white vinegar

½ cup chicken stock

1 TBS Aji Amarillo Paste *

1 medium sized onion cut into. thin wedges

1 yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips

3 Roma Tomatoes seeded and cut into wedges

¼ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

2 scallions chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

2 TBS cooking oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl combine salt and pepper, cumin, paprika, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste and vinegar. Add in the sliced beef and set aside to marinade for about 15 minutes. In a large wok over medium high heat, heat up 1 TBS cooking oil until it shimmers add the chopped scallions and garlic, Drain the beef but retain the liquid and place the beef into the hot wok an stir until the meat has browned on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the other TBS of oil to the wok and add in the onions and yellow bell pepper, cook until the onions become translucent. Add the meat back into the wok along with the reserved marinade and stock. Turn down the wok to medium and let the sauce reduce by half. Add the French fries and tomatoes and let the fries and tomatoes warm back up, which will take about a minute. Its ready to serve.


*Aji Amarillo Paste is available in Latin Markets, If you can’t find it, leave it out and use more yellow bell pepper.

Comfort Food……

Braised chuck sitting on top of mascarpone whipped potatoes and garnished with lemon zest and parsley

We were in Denver a few weeks back and happened to be there for their first snow fall of the year, and a really awful game 3 of the 2018 NLDS (and not because it was cold and rainy but because it was just a really bad one-sided baseball game). Having lived in Southern California for the past few years, my body has forgotten what actual weather and cold feels like. So I spent the entire time there shivering (I literally had to buy a blanket and hand-warmers during the game) and craving hot chocolate (spiked of course), soup and hearty rib stickin’ comfort food.

My wife travels to Denver quite a lot for business and she has been talking about  taking me to Steuben’s for years (Steuben’s your Steubie Snacks are pure culinary genius but I’m sure you already know this). They’ve got a great menu and take on American Cuisine (and cocktails). I opted for their pot roast which looked like it was actually braised beef shank versus a roast. It was so good that I will go out on a limb and say that it is one of the best pot roasts I’ve ever had. I’ll go further still and say that it topped a lot of ossobucos and braised short ribs as well. It was so good that even though our hotel room didn’t have a microwave I still took the leftovers and attempted to re-heat them using the iron in the hotel room (unsuccessfully mind you so I ate them cold and they were still good).

I’m now back in perpetually sunny Southern California (we actually had a thunderstorm the night I got back into town.) it’s still warm  and I still have a craving for some comfort food. So I’m going to make pot roast with mashed potatoes. This is going to be scheduled to publish on Election Day so some comfort may be needed (Don’t forget to vote!).

I have a lot of co-workers that are partial to their slow-cookers and Insta-pots and as my wife will surely attest I need more kitchen appliances and gadgets like a hole in the head, I prefer to make things like pot roasts and such in a dutch oven. I like that I can sear and brown all in the same pot. This method works for short ribs, shanks and roasts. I’m going to use a 2 lbs boneless chuck steak today because there’s only going to be 2 of us to eat it and it will cook fairly fast.


2 carrots peeled and diced

1 medium union diced

2 stalks of celery diced

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1 15oz can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

1 2-3 lbs beef or pork roast

2 TBS bacon fat or oil

salt and pepper

bouquet garni of rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley

parsley and lemon zest for garnish

½ cup red wine (optional)

Dry beef with a paper towel then season both sides with salt and pepper. In a large oven proof pot or roasting pan over medium heat, heat 1 TBS fat or oil until shimmering. Place the beef in the pan and brown both sides.

Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Drain and retain the liquids from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the stove-top and add in the remaining 1 TBS of oil. Add onion, celery, garlic and carrots and sautée until vegetables start to soften and brown.

Add the beef back into the pan along with the juices. Add the can of tomatoes and enough beef stock (or water) to so that the roast is completely covered.

Toss in the bouquet garni, cover the dutch oven with its lid and place in a pre-heated 325F oven. Check for tenderness periodically and add liquid as needed. Roast should be easily shredded. Taste for seasoning and serve over mashed potatoes or grits or along side roasted vegetables.


Easy Summer Tomato Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

summer sauce with pasta

I mentioned in a recent post that we have a nice little garden out back this summer and now we’ve find ourselves with an (over)abundance of cherry tomatoes. There’s only so many cherry tomatoes I can tolerate in a salad. So I thought I’d make a quick and easy pasta sauce out of them and with the addition of basil, thyme and oregano which is also in (over)abundance make a really light, easy and savory pasta sauce.

I cut the tomatoes in half, tossed them with about 1 TBS of olive oil, added 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 TBS of chili flakes, and the herbs. I roasted them all on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes burst and start to brown.


Because the sauce is so light, thin pastas like angel hair, capellini or spaghettini work best. Just simply toss the sauce with some pasta and add a salty cheese like pecorino, ricotta salata or feta. If you wanna add some protein, it’d be nice with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and finished with some julienned fresh basil. Or if you want to keep it vegan/vegetarian, add more summer veggies like zucchini and eggplant. These can easily be roasted alongside the cherry tomatoes.

The sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of days and can be warmed by tossing with warm pasta. I just put into a jar and toss it in the fridge to use later in the week.


Cedar-Planked Chipotle Chili and Lime Salmon


Summer is finally here and we’re taking advantage of having access to a charcoal grill. We’re also taking advantage of the vegetables and herbs that we planted earleir in the Spring.  Our tomatoes are nice and ripen and the yellow bell peppers are finally changing from green to yellow.

We’ve been conducting a bit of an experiment this week trying to eat seafood as our primary protein.  Last night we had Shrimp cocktail with home-made cocktail sauce. Earlier in the week, we had seared swordfish with zucchini noodles, feta, herbs and frsh corn.  Tonight  we opted for cedar-planked Chipotle Lime Salmon. Cooking fish on a cedar plank, is an easy way to keep fish moist while grilling. The planks need to be soaked in water for at least an hour before using. So a little bit of planning and preparation is needed.

Perhaps, its because I’m a food nerd through and through, but I really enjoy checkimg out what vegetables and herbs are ready to harvest,  This morning’s survey yielded a handful of cherry tomatoes  a yellow bell pepper and cayenne pepper. I augmented the haul with fresh corn, zucchini, onion, a Hungarian wax pepper and a poblano. I julienned all the veggies earlier in the morning and marinaded them with salt, pepper, lime juice, olive oil, and chipotle chili powder. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, you can use a small piece of canned chipotle and use the remainder for the salmon marinade.

Marinade the salmon fillets for a couple of hours, then place on the cedar planks on a medium hot grill. You should be able to hold your hand over the grill for about 5 seconds, if any less, then the grill is too hot.  Depending on thickness of your filets, the salmon should cook in 12-15 minutes.

Salmon Marinade

¼ Tbsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 chili pepper such as serrano or jalapeño

the juice from 1 orange and 1 lime

¼ cup of olive oil

½ of a chipotle chili

Blend all together in a food processor or blender you can add which ever herbs you like. Cilantro and oregano go nicely with the chili and lime. Pour the mixture into a zip top bag and place the salmon in the back skin side up.  We set some of the marinade aside, and used that to dress the greens we had with our salmon.







Mac & Cheese

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go in the oven.

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go into the oven.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I apologize for that. Things have been pretty busy around here. I’ve been finishing up my degree and today was the final day of classes. All the projects have been turned in. You can see some of the things I’ve been working on at my portfolio site. Graduation is next week and I have family traveling in from the West Coast to celebrate.

To help unwind from all the craziness I decided to make mac and cheese. One of my annoyances with mac and cheese (a lot of food really) is that people tend to under season. Mornay sauce itself can be pretty bland as is plain pasta. My way to combat this problem is to make sure to cook my pasta in heavily salted water and to season my mornay heavily. I use sharp cheddar cheese and an aged gouda, as well as add piquant spices like chili flakes, dried mustard, freshly ground black pepper and a hot paprika/pimenton.

Here’s the recipe.

Preheat the over to 400ºF

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheese
½ stick butter
1 egg lightly whipped
1 TBS flour
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried mustard
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly ground coarse sea salt

Cook the pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted water to just under al dente. Drain and set aside. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, melt the butter. When it starts to bubble whisk in the flour. Cook the flour and butter for about a minute. Then gradually add the heavy cream. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir. You’ll notice that the cream is starting to thicken up. Add in your spices and make sure they’re well incorporated into the cream. Take a few tablespoons of the hot cream and add them to the egg. Whisk together for a few seconds to temper the egg, then pour the egg into the larger batch of cream. Slowly add the shredded cheese into the cream and let each addition melt completely before adding the next. Once all the cheese is added in and melted, fold in the drained pasta and stir so that all the pasta is coated with the mornay sauce. Pour everything into a buttered casserole dish and bake in a 400ºF oven for 35 minutes. You can top the mac & cheese with crumbled up potato chips, bread crumbs or more cheese. I had some left over garlic crostini that I ground up in the food processor, so I used that as for my crumb topping. Enjoy!