Monthly Archives: August 2015

Grilled Ham Steak With Mustard Sauce



I always keep a jar of apricot preserves in the pantry. It is a great way to add a sophisticated touch of sweetness to everyday recipes. The combination of mustard, honey, and preserves really imparts a delicious, savory-not-too-sweet flavor to the ham. This recipe couldn’t be easier — Grill – Turn – Baste – Grill – Turn – Baste – Grill – Done! Really good! Served with Southern Collard Greens.



  • 1 lb. ham steak, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apricot preserves


  1. Mix mustard, honey and preserves.
  2. Heat grill. Grill ham uncovered for 4 minutes.
  3. Turn ham and brush mustard mixture on. Grill 4 minutes longer.
  4. Turn ham and brush remaining mixture. Grill 2 minutes longer. Serve.



Southern Collard Greens



Collard greens are a southern dish that finds it origins in the slave diet. Slaves were given discards and leftovers and had to come up with creative ways to make them tasty and nutritious. Eventually, this dish found its way onto the dinner tables across the south and became a traditional favorite. Collards are a bit tough and bitter so they are generally cooked with salt pork or ham hocks and spices until they soften up. They are served with corn bread and “pot likker” —  a nutritious, concentrated broth that is eaten using the corn bread to soak it up. I used Emeril’s Essence as my house seasoning; however, I also really love the Neely’s Smash Seasoning. The combination of the seasonings and the hot sauce created a spicy, savory “mess of greens”. Served with Grilled Ham Steak with Mustard Sauce.



  • 1/2 pound smoked meat (ham hocks or turkey wings)
  • 2 t. House seasoning
  • 1 t. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup hot red pepper sauce
  • 1 large bunch of collard greens
  • 1 tablespoon butter


    1. Grab a large pot and bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add the meat, seasoning, and salt.
    2. Once the pot is at a full boil, throw in a half-cup of your favorite hot sauce.
    3. Let the meat and seasoning simmer for the next hour.
    4. Wash the greens thoroughly and remove the stems that run down the center.
    5. Stack a handful (6-8) leaves on top of one another, roll them up, and slice into 1/2 – 1″ thick slices.
    6. Place greens in a pot with the meat and add butter.
    7. Let this cook for another 45-60 minutes and stir occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed .


Eggplant and Spinach Curry



Whew — the prep for this recipe was so time intensive. It would be great for a family dinner or an evening with friends where the work load could be shared. Washing, stemming and chopping almost 1-1/2 lbs. of spinach; peeling & chopping eggplant, onion and tomatoes; removing all of the leaves from a bunch of cilantro, chopping and freezing the excess . . . made for a very full afternoon. That being said, this was a beautiful recipe full of fresh vegetables and flavorful spices.  The cooking process moves along quickly so preparation is key. Begin by cooking mustard seeds until they pop — really kind of fun — like pop corn when they go to town. Add the spices and the aroma begins to build and becomes intoxicating. I substituted sambal oelek (an Asian chile based condiment made of pounded/chopped fresh cayenne chili peppers) for the minced jalapeno since I had some on hand. Keep adding the vegetables in stages, and you end up with a beautiful meal that is both nutritious and delicious! Served here with brown rice and quinoa.



  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds) in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 20 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, stems removed, and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook, stirring, until they pop.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne, and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the onions and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapenos and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
  4. Add the eggplant and salt cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Add the cilantro and stir well. Season, to taste, and serve hot over cooked rice.

~from Emeril Lagasse


Chicken Salad with Grapes



I love to find a recipe that calls for ingredients that I already have in the pantry. I picked up some chicken on sale and roasted some to set aside for later. Add little celery, onion, some grapes and chopped walnuts and *voila* you have a great cold salad for lunch. This recipe is as delicious as it is easy. Enjoy!



  • 2 12 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise


  1. Combine chicken, celery, grapes, walnuts, and onion.
  2. Blend Miracle Whip, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Fold into the combined ingredients and chill.
  3. Serve with just about anything – crackers, chips, rolls, bread or bagel.


Second Take: Chicken and Bunashimeji Mushroom Stir-Fry



I was determined to salvage the remains of the Rosemary Chicken with Portabella Mushrooms! I began a stir fry with some of the fresh veggies I had on hand — carrots, Brussels sprouts, corn, garlic, grape tomatoes and, last but not least, the beautiful, organic Bunashimeji (Beech Mushrooms) that I picked up in Pittsboro. Then, I  caramelized some onions and added what was left of the sauce to it, thinning it a bit with broth. I added poultry seasoning and a touch of brandy to boost the flavor as well. I cut the chicken into thin slices and added it to the mix to quickly heat through along with the reclaimed sauce.  And . . . success!!



  • 3 chicken breast filets, cooked and sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 6 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 ear of corn “Off” the Cob
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 big handful of fresh baby spinach
  • 4 ounces of Bunashimeji mushrooms, separated
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons of Brandy
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or large frying pan (do not use nonstick) over high heat until a bead of water dances when dropped in the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion slices and stir to coat; then spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions to help with the caramelization process. Add vegetable broth if needed to keep the onions from drying out and to deglaze the pan.
  3. Add the leftover sauce to the pan and thin with vegetable broth. Heat through and add poultry seasoning and the brandy.
  4. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil around the perimeter of the wok or pan. Add the vegetables and stir-fry quickly until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the chicken strips and the reclaimed sauce and combine well until heated through. Serve immediately.


Rosemary Chicken with Portabella Mushrooms



It is very rare that I share a recipe that I did not like. Unfortunately, this is one of those. On the surface the recipe looks like it would yield a tasty dish, but that was indeed the problem. The sauce had no flavor — it added nothing to the dish. In addition, I think that the chicken was cooked too long when it was added back to the pan with the mushrooms and broth. If I were to make this in the future, I would cook the chicken completely the first time they were put into the pan and set them aside. Once browned, the chicken just didn’t need another 20 minutes.  I would also add some poultry seasoning or some brandy to the sauce. Stay tuned to Part II when I salvage the leftovers by using them in a stir fry . . .



  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbs butter, divided
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 10 oz package baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup rich chicken stock
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary (or 1 large bruised sprig fresh)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Seasoned Flour

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder


  1. Slice each breast into 2 pieces, as if you were going to butterly it, except cut all the way through.
  2. Mix the seasoned flour ingredients together in a plastic storage bag (I find the cheap bags that require a twist tie to be perfect for this use). I also pound each piece down with a meat mallet to a uniform thickness between 2 sheets of waxed paper. You don’t have to do this, but I find the chicken cooks more evenly and is very tender.
  3. Slice each mushroom in half; set aside. Heat 2 tbs of butter and the 1 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add about 3 breast portions to the bag of seasoned flour and shake to coat. Place in skillet and brown well on both sides. Depending on how large your pan is, you may have to do this in shifts. Remove browned chicken from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tbs of butter to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and garlic, sauteeing over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of stock and the rosemary and deglaze the pan.
  6. Add the browned chicken back to the pan, cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove chicken and mushrooms from pan. Add the cream and heat through over medium-low heat until the sauce is reduced by 25%. This should only take about 5 minutes after it begins to bubble.
  8. Add chicken and mushrooms back to pan and heat through. Spoon sauce over chicken and mushrooms to coat.

~from The Midnight Baker

Hen of the Woods [Maitake Mushrooms]



I came across some Maitake Mushrooms at a co-op yesterday and could not wait to try them out. Maitakes are beautiful flower-like polyvores —  they have layers of caps that are curved like spoons. The mushroom separated easily into smaller pieces that were placed in a pan for roasting. This recipe calls for one pound of “Hen of the Woods”, but I only purchased one (about 4 ounces) since I was only preparing one serving. This recipe calls for lardo, and I wasn’t really interested in trying to procure any. Instead, I used bacon to cover the maitake pieces before cooking. The bacon didn’t have time to fully cook in 20 minutes so I finished cooking those pieces in the microwave. I served the mushrooms on two pieces of bacon with a drizzle of vinaigrette and a bit of parmesan. Really delicious and an interesting side for our dinner . . .

HEN OF THE WOODS [Maitake Mushrooms] (Serves 4)


  • 1 pound Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
  • 2 ounces Lardo (thin slices)
  • 1 Shallot (minced)
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and freshly ground Pepper

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup minced Shallot
  • 4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Thyme (chopped)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Remove large stems from mushrooms, being careful to keep them intact however. If there is any dirt, remove with damp towel or pastry brush. 
  3. Place mushrooms on half sheet tray. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then season heavily with salt and pepper. Sprinkle shallots and garlic evenly over the mushrooms, then drape the lardo evenly over them.
  4. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Turn the sheet tray at 10 minute intervals.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients, except for the oil. While whisking, gradually adding the oil to emulsify.
  6. To serve mushrooms, toss the roasted mushrooms with 1/2 cup of vinaigrette. Garnish with shaved parmigiano.



~from Mario Batali