That time of year

Chef Rouler's herb and lettuce bed

It’s that time of year when the lettuce sets are almost done, lettuce seed planting #1 is in full swing and #2 is close to harvest.  SALAD EVERY NIGHT !!  If we could only figure out how to get Garden Tomatoes ripe by June in Michigan, it would be heaven. If you’re like me, you get bored with the samo, samo salad dressing(s), so here in lies the lesson for you foodies.

 Quick Questions: 1) How many bottled dressings do you have in your refrigerator  2) How many of them are past their code dates?  3) How many different kinds of vinegar do you have in your pantry?4) How many different kinds of oil?

 Currently, I have five(5) vinegars in my pantry and three oils.  The simple solution, make your own dressing!  It’s fresh, can be different every meal, MUCH less expensive than the bottled variety AND you’ll feel like a Foodie every night as you experiment with flavors.   I also have an abundance of fresh herbs, so they either go in the greens mix or in the dressing.

Simple rule of thumb is One Part Acid to Three Parts Oil.  Be it Tbsp or 1/4 Cups it’s still 1 to 3.  Personal taste will dictate more or less acid and should you want another flavor to dominate the taste, a 1 to 4 ratio works better.


Let’s start with the base:  2 Tbsp Vinegar, 6 Tbsp Oil, Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper, Crushed clove of garlic optional.  This is plenty for one night’s salad.

Now, what do you feel like?  Raspberry (got preserves), Honey & Mustard, Italian (Oregano, Basil), Caesar: one egg , Parmesan cheese and anchovies.   No anchovies? Bet you have Asian Fish Sauce   Read the ingredients, Anchovy extract, salt, sugar, contains FISH. 

 Also use sesame oil, fresh ginger and soy sauce for Asian flavorings.  South of the Border: Cilantro and Lime juice as acid.  Lighter flavor to go with a herb (Dill, Oregano, Tarragon, Rosemary) sub lemon juice for vinegar.

 I like the Italian sweet red wine vinegar dressing too.  Reverse the ratio 3 part vinegar, 1 part oil and add sugar until you balance the acidity to a just tart level: 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and 2-3 Tbsp of sugar.  Add fresh basil or oregano and take it to another level.

That’s a start, should get your dressings flowing. So endith the lesson for today.

Bon Appetit and Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!


Summer Side dishes to take to a Party

A request has come in for side dish ideas to take to a summer cook-out.

 So here are a few long time favorites


Mrs. Miller’s Broccoli Salad

Combine 24 hours in advance:
1C              Mayo
½ C            Sugar
3Tbsp         vinegar
Combine Dressing with
2C              Chopped Broccoli
2C              Chopped Cauliflower
1ea             Chopped Onion
1#               Cooked crumbled Bacon
Add just before serving
1C              Cashew Nuts ( buy halves and pieces)
1C              Raisins
Serves 10-12

Broccoli Slaw Ramin Noodle Salad

1 16 oz  pkg broccoli slaw
2 pkg. Beef Ramin noodles soup mix
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 Bunch green onions, sliced 
Dressing – put in blender or shaker 
1 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
add flavor packet from Beef noodle mix
1/2 c. sugar
You will not need all of the dressing so if you double this only make 1 1/2 of the dressing.
To Make Salad – open up containers and dump all into a large bowl.
(flavor beef packets will go into the dressing)
crush the noodles with your hands or a little with a rolling pin.
Before you pour on the dressing be sure to stir up the sugar and then shake well.
Pour on dressing just 1/2 – 1 hour before dinner and chill salad. 
Also great the next day.  It is a crunchy salad.

Pork Product Beans

1#      Pork Sausage
1#      Bacon
1c      Diced Celery
1c      Diced Onion
1cn    Tomato Soup       
1cn    Tomato Paste
1c      Brown Sugar
1/2c   Molasses
1T     Mustard Powder
2T     Chili Powder
2cn    Pork and Beans (16oz)
1cn    each drained  ( 3 cans total)
          Green beans, Yellow beans,  Kidney beans or other bean (Pinto, Black, Butter, Chili)
Brown sausage and bacon, sauté onion and celery
Combine with other ingredients, Season to taste: Salt, Pepper, Hot Sauce
Bake 1 hour @ 350°  Feeds 18-25 people

Deep South Salsa

Black eyed peas – 1 can (drained)
Black beans – 1 can (rinsed and drained)
White corn – 1 can (drained)
Red onion – 1, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Yellow pepper, chopped
Red pepper, chopped
Olive oil – ½ cup
Apple cider vinegar – ¾ cup
Sugar – ½ to ¾ cup
Paprika – ½ teaspoon
Garlic & cilantro, chopped to taste

And from the annals of Party Grandma’s recipe cards

Bologna Ring Thing

1                 Ring Bologna
                   Open Pit BBQ Sauce
Place ring on cookie sheet, score several times ¼ “ deep.
Baste with BBQ sauce.
Bake 2 hours at 250° Basting with sauce every 30 minutes.
Serve with Party Rye

 It was a big hit in the 1950’s…………………

Brunch for the Masses

Mollie does Brunch for the Masses in DC

Having done this party several times, it warms my heart to see my daughter Mollie duplicate it with great results.

Need advice on serving 10-80 people? I have all the facts, lists and recipes to feed the Masses.

Sunday Brunch Strata for the Masses

For:            8-10                                                    15-20
                        6                   Eggs                                      12
                        2c      Milk or Half&Half                       4
                                    salt and pepper
Blend in:
                         3c      Cubed Fr. Bread (day old)      6
                         3c      Grated Cheese                              6
Melt in Saucepan:
                        5Tbsp         Butter                                    8
                        3Tbsp         Flour                                      6
                        ¼ tsp         Dry Mustard                     1/2
Add to Egg Mix
Blend in:
                         3c      Meat and/or Veggie               6
                                    (Ham, Bacon, Sausage)
            (Onion, Peppers, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Spinach)
        Favorite Combos: Sausage, Onion and Peppers, Broccoli and Cheese,
                                                   Spinach, Bacon, Onion and Mushroom
Bake 375°
                         1 Hour                                                       1-1/2 Hours
Dish can be made a day ahead and stored in plastic ziplock bags or baking dish.


1C       Brown Sugar
1/2C    Butter
2TBS   Light Corn Syrup
1C       Chopped Pecans
18        Inch Slices of Day Old French Bread
9          Eggs
2C        Half and Half
1Tsp    Vanilla
2 TBSP            White Sugar
1 TBSP            Cinnamon
½ Tsp              Nutmeg
Melt brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in saucepan.  Pour into bottom of 3Qt rectangle baking pan. Sprinkle with half of pecans.
Layer half of bread slices, sprinkle with half of TOPPING and remainder of pecans
Layer remainder of bread.
Mix together eggs, half and half and vanilla.  Pour over bread and press down bread with back of a spoon to absorb liquid.
Sprinkle remainder of TOPPING.
Chill for 8-24 hours
Bake, 350° for 30-40 minutes.  Make sure center is not mushy.
Let stand 10 minutes then invert pan on to serving platter.  Or invert slices on to plates when serving.
May garnish with more chopped pecans, serve maple syrup on side or dust with powdered sugar
Serves 8-12

Joyce’s World Famous Brownies

For almost 10 years we ran the Carillon Cafe(s), at which we made my wife’s brownie recipe.  Somewhere along the  way her brother Bob related how good they were and exclaimed, “They’re World Famous”. Thus the title and ….They ARE!!

Joyce’s World Famous Brownies

2c               Sugar
2/3c            Cocoa
2/3c            Melted Butter
4                 Eggs
1/2tsp         Salt
1-1/2c        Flour
1tsp            Baking Powder
2tsp            Vanilla
2c               Chocolate Chips
Combine Cocoa and sugar in bowl.  Add melted butter.
Stir in eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add.  Fold in vanilla and chocolate chips.
Greased 9×13 pan Bake 25-30minutes @ 350°
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut when cool

Charlie Trotter Goat Cheese Dip

8oz  Goat Cheese
4oz  Cream Cheese
Mold into log

4oz          Chopped sun dried tomatoes
3T            Julienne Fresh Basil Leaves
2T            Olive Oil
1T            Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp       Crushed Garlic
Salt and Pepper

Whole rounds of Pita Bread with olive oil and grill until brown and scored.
Salt with coarse salt and slice into wedges.
Pour Mix over cheese log and serve at room temperature.

Carolina Pulled Pork

6-8#                Pork Loin or Butt   (serves 12-18, 4 oz. portions)

2c                    Dry Rub Mix (see below)
1cn                  Beer- Amber Ale or Porter
1c                    Wood chips (Hickory, Mesquite, Apple)
1/2c                 Cider Vinegar
1/2c                 White Vinegar
2Tbsp             Sugar
1Tbsp             Hot Sauce
1 tsp                Red Pepper Flakes
Hoagie or Sub Buns, Sliced Onion, Cole Slaw, Dill Pickle slices
Rub meat with Dry Rub, let rest 30 minutes.  Pre-heat grill or smoker to 400°. Soak wood chips in water, drain, then place in smoker or on grill.  I put chips in small aluminum bread loaf pan in the corner of the grill. Score/Sear meat on grill turning every 10 minutes.  Turn heat down or off to reach 325° and cook meat 2 hours total, turning every 30 minutes.  Check heat regularly to maintain 325-350° temp.  Chips should be producing smoke.  Meat will be cooked (160-170°interior) after 2 hours. Remove from grill, place in large roasting pan or disposable aluminum roasting pan.  Add one can of beer, cover with foil and place in 325° oven for 3-4 hours.
Meat is done when you can shred meat with a fork.  “Pulls apart with a fork, falls off the bone.” Meat can be held until needed (reheat in oven) or served immediately. With two forks shred meat in pan to allow it to soak up any pan juices, pour sauce over meat and toss until absorbed. Serve on bun (toasted) with onion, slaw and pickle garnish. Can add BBQ sauce if you prefer.
Dry Rub
1c        Brown Sugar
1/4c     Emeril Essence or other Cajun Spice
1/4c     Canadian Steak Seasoning
2Tbs   Salt
2Tbs   Paprika
1Tbs   Garlic Powder
1Tbs   Cumin
1Tbs   Black Pepper
1Tbs   Cayenne Pepper (hot) or Chili Powder (Medium)
1Tbs   Thyme

Amuse Bouche Challenge 2008


Having produced a 12 course meal for Christmas Eve four years in a row, we decided to take a break from the huge production and get the daughters involved.  So we created the Amuse Bouche Challenge.  Each person was to prepare a tintillating bite of flavor to amuse the mouth. We had score cards for Taste, Presentation,Originality and Extra Credit points (see below) . Daughter Katie won with her Stuffed Date wrapped with seasoned bacon (sorry can’t find a picture) but only because Mollie left off an ingredient and admitted it. (See negative Extra Credit pts !!)
Fortunately we had plenty of Champagne

The Winner

Chocolate Brie Paninni

Diver Scallops with Artichoke and Pancetta

Steak Oscar on Artichoke "Spoons"

Christmas Eve 2008 Amuse Bouche Challenge

Each contestant must present an Amuse Bouche for the champagne hour(s),
consisting of one incredible mouthful of food, intended to stir the
taste buds and awake the appetite
Entries will be scored by the Judges based on 20 points.  10 for taste,
5 presentation and 5 for originality.
Extra point credits follow:
        Uses Quail egg                                                     5
        Feeds scrape to dog while prepping          4
        Matches or compliments Champagne     3
        Uses protein                                                        2
        Makes salad or soup                                        1
        Gets Bleeped                                                     -1
        Cries or cuts finger                                        -1
        Tastes food using prep utensil                  -2
        Forgets ingredient                                        -3
        Feeds dog during competition                 -4
        Judge spits out food                                     -5
Highest total points wins the Challenge and is declared the Amuse Bouche
for 2008!