Author Archive

Small Plates, Big Fun!

Monday, September 14th, 2015 No comments

Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth

Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth

If I could add another chapter to my book, it would be a Small Plates chapter. Small plates give you an opportunity to explore so many wonderful options to satisfy your palate. You don’t have to go to a trendy restaurant to achieve a dining adventure like that, however. You can do it by inviting a group of friends to create this experience in the comfort of your own kitchen – which is exactly what we did on Saturday night. There were 10 people involved in our Small Plates/Big Fun evening. We divided the group into 5 teams of two chefs each. Each team was responsible for one of the courses. I had most of the ingredients prepared in advance (measured, chopped, etc.) Each team took “Center Stage” in the kitchen as they prepared their assigned dish. We had an extra special bit of fun with this concept when everyone picked a song to go with their dish…Kristina started it all with Hukuna Crostata as she and Marc prepared their Apple Crostata. We also heard Les Poissons during the preparation of the fish dish, among others.

Our menu was as follows:
A few items prepared by hosts to give our chefs some nourishment during cooking:
Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomatoes
Blistered Green Beans

Then the fun started:

Peach and Burrata Arugula Salad by Juan and Karin
Pear + Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion + Candied pecan+arugula+aged Balsamic as improvised by Annette and Peter
Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth by Gary and Louise
Chicken Bastilla by Genevieve and Dan
Apple Crostata with Almond-Crumb Topping by Kristina and Marc

The recipe for the Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel, Leek and Saffron Broth follows:

Serves 6 as a Main Course or 10 Small Plates

1 cup thinly sliced fennel (bulb only)
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 large tomato, chopped

2 ½ lbs. Alaskan halibut, washed, dried and cut into 3 oz. pieces
3 dozen Penn Cove mussels

4 tablespoons EVO (3 for vegetables and 1 for browning fish)
32 oz. box of fish stock or chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
Sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons flat leave parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons G-Rub (recipe in Cook the Part)

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté onion and fennel for about 5 minutes. Add chopped carrots and leeks and cook until soft.
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato. Add wine and saffron and cook for 5 minutes until all vegetables are soft and flavors are blended. Add ½ of the fish stock. Cook for additional 5-10 minutes.
Brown halibut in an iron skillet.
Add mussels to stock mixture and cook for 2 minutes until most of mussels are opened. Add browned fish to pan and cook just until done, adding more stock if needed. Discard any unopened mussels.

Divide seafood into 10 bowls. Add broth to each bowl. Sprinkle parsley over top. Serve with toasted bread.


Patty Mekita’s Famous Meatballs

Friday, July 17th, 2015 No comments

Patty Mekita with Kait

In Patty’s Own Words!

I get the sauce started first and it was as follows:

Olive Oil (maybe a tablespoon or two or three)

2 large onions chopped

A bulb of garlic (or at least eight or nine big pieces of garlic) finely chopped

Lots of freshly chopped basil (maybe at least a generous dozen big leaves)


1 Cup of white wine

A small can of tomato paste

A large can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (break them up with your hands first, or say, use a mash potato masher)

A large can of diced San Marzano tomatoes

A large can of San Marzano puree

Sauté the onions in the olive oil, then add the garlic, then add the basil and salt and pepper and sweat them all well together; then add the cup of wine and stir well and let that cook for a few minutes and really get hot and start to burn off the alcohol. Then add the tomato paste to this mixture and stir really well. Then add the tomatoes, one can at a time, and stir slowly.

Once this sauce is well mixed and on a low simmer, start the meatballs (these are all general measures):

1 ½ lb. of chop meat – this does not have to be the expensive kind, it can be reasonably priced and it will be delicious and fine (ground beef for those not familiar with this term)

2 large pieces of garlic finely chopped

1 Cup of bread crumbs (I tend to use Gluten-Free crumbs made by Panache Pantry – the Gluten-Free Vintage Sicilian)

1 Cup of shaved parmesan or grated Grana Padano (I used shaved parmesan in the meatballs on Saturday, and had grated Grana Padano on the table for sprinkling)

½ cup of chopped fresh parsley

1 jumbo egg or two small eggs

Water – like maybe a generous ½ cup or more if needed

Once the meatball mixture is really well mixed, I start rolling them into balls and just toss them into the sauce leaving room in between each one so they don’t bump into each other and break up. Once that’s all done I put the lid on the big pan and let it cook slowly for hours, giving a stir in the center of the sauce about every hour. At a minimum I cook it for about five or six hours.

I have many variations of this sauce with timing and some slightly different ingredients, or the preparation of fresh Roma tomatoes. A very delicious addition to this sauce that cooks all day is braising baby spare ribs early on, and also preparing rolled beef bracciole (which are filled with S&P, grated cheese and pignoli nuts) – and then you have real Sunday Italian sauce that’s cooked all day with delicious meats.

My recipes above are not fattening and they are pure and healthy, so please don’t leave out any of the ingredients to skimp on a few calories.

I’m really particular about the San Marzano canned tomatoes if I don’t prepare fresh ones – it’s the white can with the long San Marzano tomatoes on it, I think they’re distributed by a company in Pennsylvania.


Chicken, Shrimp and Filet Satés with Peanut Sauce

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 1 comment
Marinate chicken and shrimp

Marinate chicken and shrimp



For your next BBQ, try something different!

1 cup kecap manis (Sweet Indonesian Soy Sauce)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ pounds filet mignon, cut into strips across the grain, 1/2” wide, 1/2” thick
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch strips
24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails on
36 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least one hour
Banana leaves for serving décor

Peanut Sauce
1 cup creamy peanut butter
Juice of ½ lime
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon chopped jalapeño
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare Satés.
Cut filet and chicken into strips as indicated.
Prepare filet, chicken and shrimp skewers. (Keeping each separate due to different grilling times.)

Make Marinade.

Combine all ingredients and pour over skewered satés in a shallow pan. Refrigerate until ready to grill or broil.

Prepare Peanut Sauce.

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and stir continuously until sauce begins to simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently and leave in saucepan. Reheat when ready to serve.

Grill Satés.
Heat grill on medium heat. Grill the skewers as follows:
The chicken skewers should take about 4 minutes per side.
The filet should take about 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
The shrimp should take about 2 minutes per side. Cook just until they turn white and remove so as not to overcook.


Ready for Cinco de Mayo?

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 No comments
Toast Margarita or Lemonade

Margarita Toast

To get started, make one pitcher (or more!) of lemonade using this simple recipe:

Fresh Lemonade


1 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed, or frozen if you prefer)
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiling water (this is called simple syrup—the heat allows the sugar to dissolve)

1) Mix both the lemon juice and simple syrup together in large pitcher
2) Then, add four cups of cold water and ice

To Serve: Sometimes we have the lemonade “on the rocks,” sometimes we have ½ lemonade and ½ freshly brewed ice tea for an Arnold Palmer, and sometimes we have half lemonade and ½ Pellegrino (for a lighter lemony sparkling water).

For kids, you can even dip the glass rim in sugar (the kid version of our Margarita salt).


Simple Homemade Margaritas

For an adult refresher, follow this recipe (thanks to Carin Canale-Theakston):


Grab a 12 oz. container frozen limeade
Fill the limeade container as follows:
1 container water
1 container tequila
1 12 oz. bottle Corona beer

1) Mix all together in a large pitcher. Serve in Margarita glasses filled with ice (with or without salted rims).