Smoked Salmon Rigatoni with Asparagus and Peas

I am not normally a fan of cream sauces but this recipe is definitely an exception.  Be sure to use hot smoked salmon and not cold smoked (like lox).

Smoked Salmon Rigatoni with Asparagus and Peas

  • pound fresh asparagus
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ounces smoked salmon, flaked into small pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb rigatoni 
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and then cut on a slant to pieces about an inch long.  Steam the asparagus or wrap the asparagus in a damp paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes so they are just barely tender and still bright green, then set them aside.  Cook the frozen peas according to the package and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  In the meantime, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat and saute the shallots and garlic until soft but not brown. Stir in the cream and simmer about five minutes, until the cream has thickened somewhat.

Flake the salmon by hand into bite size pieces, add it to the cream and turn off the burner. Season with pepper and lemon juice, then add the asparagus and peas.

Add the pasta to the pot and drain when done. Briefly reheat the sauce. Transfer the rigatoni to a warm serving bowl, pour the sauce over it and toss. Sprinkle with dill and serve.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

While in Michigan this past week, I ate with my aunt and uncle at classic American Chinese restaurant…the kind we do not really see any more, at least in Atlanta.  Visualize Chinese horoscope placemats, faux carved entryways, a massive fish tank, and of course the plum sauce and hot mustard in the jars on the table.  My absolute favorite cuisine is authentic Sichuan Chinese however, I do have a massive soft spot in my heart for the American influenced Chinese.  Mongolian beef, General Tso’s chicken, moo goo gai pan, and chop suey are all A+ in my book.

Anyway, the place we were at made their own egg rolls in house and they were stellar.  These were not the uniform shape, mushy middle, clearly frozen items you most often see these days.  They were plump, crispy, and the stuffing had great texture.  I joked to my aunt that I wanted a bowl of just the insides and she said this was already a thing so I started looking for recipes.  Apparently this is a big thing among the paleo crowd which is definitely not my bag.  I closed all of my browser tabs and decided to just do my own.

This is basically a cabbage heavy stir fry that used ground meat instead of cuts.   As with any stir fry, use whatever vegetables you want and treat all measurements listed below as suggestions.  This is a super quick and easy dinner that I really enjoyed.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (always remove stems)
  • ½ head green cabbage, shredded finely (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup baby bok choy, sliced
  • 3 carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 scallions, rough chopped

Put the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, and brown sugar together in a small bowl, whisking to incorporate.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and start to cook the ground pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.  If it looks exceptionally lean, feel free to add a little but of neutral cooking oil but this should not be needed.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  When the pork is about half done, add in the garlic, ginger, and thinly sliced onion.

Once the pork is done, add the mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and baby bok choy.  When everything is mixed together, add in the prepared sauce.  Cook while stirring frequently until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy (about 4-6 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve with the chopped scallions, extra sriracha if desired, and rice.

My Classic Meatloaf

There are a million different recipes for meatloaf out there and I feel like I have tried way too many of them.  The recipe below is what I would consider to be my favorite and it is largely based on the America’s Test Kitchen recipe.  I have increased the amounts of a few items and changed out a couple of ingredients but it is 95% their recipe.

Many people do their meatloaf in a standard loaf pan but I have never been a fan of that method.  The bottom of the meatloaf just ends up steaming in grease while cooking and the texture is never right.  A standard baking sheet has always been my preferred pan of choice but this time I used a foil lined broiler pan.  If you have one, I would recommend using it if only for the ease of clean up.

Note that a key in this recipe is to mix all of the ingredients together without the breadcrumbs.  Adding the breadcrumbs at the end ensures they do not get too broken down during the mixing process.

You can use all beef or even turkey for this recipe if you like but the mixture of chuck, pork, and veal is ideal.  If you do all beef, use 1 lb chuck and 1 lb sirloin.

For the bacon, this is one of the rare instances where you want it to be the thin stuff.  Thick cut bacon will curl up and separate during the baking.



Classic Meatloaf


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup minced italian parsley
  • 1/2 pack of thinly sliced bacon

Put the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan, whisk together and set aside for later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are planning to cook this immediately after mixing.  Add a swirl of oil to a skillet and saute the onions and garlic until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Scrape into a bowl or plate so they can cool down.

Put the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, cayenne, and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.  Add in the three meats and use your hands to gently combine them with the egg mixture. The meat will be very wet at this point but we want to get everything evenly mixed before adding the breadcrumbs.  Once the mixture has been evenly integrated, add in the panko breadcrumbs and the parsley.  Again, gently work the mixture with your hands until it is evenly blended.  If you are not immediately cooking the meatloaf, place the bowl in the fridge for the flavors to meld for 2-3 hours.

Next we want to make sure our seasoning is correct…better to know now rather than after you have cooked the whole thing.  To do this, heat a small pan on medium/high.  Grab a couple tablespoons of the meat mixture, form a patty, and cook it until it is done.  Taste and then add more salt and pepper to the mixture if necessary.

Gather the meat mixture and shape it into a roughly 9×5 loaf shape on your pan.  Brush the loaf with about 1/3 of your glaze.  Drape slices of bacon over the top, barely over lapping the slices and tucking them underneath the meatloaf as you go along.

Bake for about 50 minutes then turn the heat up to 425 and cook the meatloaf for an additional 15 minutes (to crisp the bacon).  I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to ensure it is properly done.  You want the interior temperature of the meatloaf to be around 155 degrees.  When it has reached that temperature, remove from the oven and let it stand for about 15 minutes before slicing.  While the meatloaf is cooling, heat the remaining glaze for serving.

Slice as thick as you like and serve with the remaining glaze on the side.

Summer Pea Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

If you live in the south, you know summer has officially arrived when the various field peas hit the markets.  Towards the end of the season, I like to stock up on bags to put in the freezer to get through the parts of the year where the fresh peas are just not available.  If frozen close to when they were shelled, the peas harbor little to no ill effects and are a nice treat during winter.

Pink eyed peas, lady peas, black eyed peas, and crowder peas are some of the most common varieties but there are tons of other heirloom breeds.  Each type has its own nuances but they would all work in this dish.

For this recipe, I used some pickled red onions I had on hand from tacos the previous week.  If you would like to make them, follow the recipe found here.


Summer Pea Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1lb summer peas (lady peas, pink eyed peas, black eyed peas, crowder peas)
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pickled red onion, finely chopped (can use regular red onion as well)
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon smoked hot Spanish paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the peas in a heavy pot and add enough water to cover by 2″.  Bring the peas to a boil and then simmer on low until they are tender (25-30 minutes).   While the peas are simmering, chop the celery, onion, and red pepper.  Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and paprika together and set aside.

When the peas are tender, drain in a colander and rinse under cool water.  While the peas are  still a little warm, toss with the chopped ingredients and then fold in the dressing.  Chill the salad in the fridge for about an hour and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Spanish Lentil and Chorizo Soup

There are few spices that hit my sweet spot more than Spanish paprika (also known as pimentón).  This smokey and spicy cousin of the more common Hungarian paprika is one of the secret weapons of Spanish cuisine and is a key ingredient in Spanish chorizo.  Unlike its Latin American counterpart with the same name, Spanish chorizo is hard and oily like a salami and packed with pimentón.  A little of this stuff goes a long way…this entire pot of soup is flavored by a mere 1/4 lb of the stuff.

This soup is about as easy as it gets and when the cold weather starts to hit, there are few things better.


Spanish Lentil and Chorizo Soup

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Spanish chorizo (about 4-5oz), peeled and diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 12 baby potatoes, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and chorizo, sautéing until the vegetables are softened.  Pour in enough water so everything is covered by at least an inch (about 6 cups).  Add in the lentils, potatoes, and whole garlic cloves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Let this simmer until the lentils and potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the cloves of garlic, squeeze garlic from its skin and mash. Return to the pot. Stir in the spinach.  Once the spinach has wilted, add salt and pepper to get the taste where you want it.

Vinegar Mustard Slaw

There are a million slaw recipes out there and I have tried way too many of them.  I used the measurements listed below this past weekend and it was damn near perfect for my taste.

Mainly posting this here so I do not lose what I did.

  • 1/2 thinly sliced head of green cabbage
  • 1/2 thinly sliced head of red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon of grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together cabbages, carrots, green onions and celery seed. Next, pour a small amount of the dressing on the cabbage mixture and mix together until combined and until desired amount of dressing is achieved. Season with salt and pepper, and chill before serving.

Chicken Stew With Roasted Cauliflower and Olives

The following stew recipe is in contention for one of my favorite things I have made this year.  I do not use cinnamon in my cooking very often but the way it melds with the tomatoes and the olives here is pretty awesome.  The result is a very hearty stew with a very unique flavor.  This recipe was directly inspired by this recipe from the New York Times.  The major changes I made include roasting the cauliflower before adding to the stew, increasing the garlic (shocking), and adding oregano.

I forgot to take a picture of the stew for this post so until I make it again, here is what I looked like after eating way more than I should have last night:

Chicken Stew With Roasted Cauliflower and Olives

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 to 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 15oz cans fire roasted and chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 and roast the cauliflower for 20-25 minutes, until slight browned.  When done, set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in your dutch oven or a large heavy skillet that has a lid.  Brown the chicken, about five minutes per side.  Set the chicken aside on a plate.  Add the onions to the pot with a pinch of salt and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the vinegar and scrape up the remaining chicken bits from the bottom of the pan.   Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onions cook for another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are lightly browned and soft.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, cinnamon, thyme, and oregano.  Bring this to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 10 minutes, then return the chicken and any juice from the plate to the pot.  If the chicken is not fully covered by the tomatoes, add in a cup of water and stir to incorporate. Bring back to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Add the roasted cauliflower and kalamata olives and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken falling off the bone.

Pull the chicken out, remove the bones, shred with two forks, and return to the pot.  Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with french bread or rice.

Creamy Jalapeño Sauce

This sauce is one of my new favorite things to keep on hand at all times.  I had this a few times when eating at the taquerias around Atlanta and just assumed the creaminess came from avocado when in fact, there is no avocado at all.  The bulk of the sauce is just peppers, onions, and oil.  This is about as cheap and easy as it gets.

This sauce is great as a simple dip with tortilla chips and it is also killer on tacos, turkey sandwiches, and hamburgers.

Note that the recipe calls for 7-8 average size jalapeño peppers and you do not remove the seeds.  The boiling portion of this tones the peppers down a good but but this is still a very spicy sauce.  If you want it less spicy you can take the time to remove the seeds after boiling or you can use half jalapeños and half poblanos.


Creamy Jalapeño Sauce

  • 7-8 average size jalapeño peppers (or if you want it less spicy, use 4 jalapeños and 2-3 poblanos)
  • 1 small/medium yellow onion, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (I like grapeseed)
  • juice of one lime

Place whole peppers (stems and all) and onion halves into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Boil the peppers and onion for about 15 minutes.  Reserve ~1/2 cup of this cooking liquid, then dump the pot into a colander to drain.  Let the peppers and onions cool for about 15 minutes.

Trim the very top of the peppers to remove the stems and then place the peppers, onion, garlic, salt, oil, and lime into a blender and blend until smooth.  If the texture is too thick, slowly add in some of the reserved cooking water.

Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, shaking before using.

Gochujang Pork Belly and Green Onion Skewers

Pork belly is one of my favorite things (shocking) but it is something I do not treat myself to very often.  When cooked over a high heat fire, the alternating layers of fat and meat get super crispy on the outside and silky tender on the inside.

Like the meatballs I posted awhile back, this recipe uses the spicy Korean chili paste known as gochujang. It is used as the backbone of a spicy and sweet glaze for the skewers that gets super caramelized over the high heat of the grill.

IMG_4513 IMG_4515

Gochujang Pork Belly and Green Onion Skewers

  • 3 lbs uncured pork belly without the skin
  • 1-2 bunches, thick green onions
  • 1/3 cup gochujang
  • 1/4 cup hoisin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon garlic, minced

Slice pork belly into 1″ x 1″ chunks.  If the pork belly has the skin or an excessive amount of pure fat, trim it down to whatever amount you want.  You want enough to get a crispy fat layer but not so much that it is overwhelming (maybe 1/4″ or so).

Mix the gochujang, hoisin, soy sauce, molasses, rice wine vinegar, and garlic until smooth.  Put the pork belly chunks into a zip lock bag and pour 1/2 of the sauce over and toss to coat.  Seal it up and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Cut the top half of the green onions (the all green part) off and set them aside.  Cut the bottom half of the green onions into chunks that are a little over 1″.

Slide the pork belly chunks and green onions onto the skewers, alternating the whole way down.

Get your grill going to medium hot.  Add the skewers and be sure to flip them every few minutes or so.  Cook until you have developed a nice crispy exterior and the interior is done (probably 15 minutes).  Brush with the remaining sauce halfway through.

Thinly slice the tops from the green onions and garnish the skewers when they come off the grill.

Vietnamese Bún with Shrimp

Vietnamese food is without a doubt one of my favorite cuisines.  In fact, I would say that Sichuan Chinese is the only thing that regularly tops it in my book.  Vietnamese food is a flavor explosion that hits all over the taste spectrum.  The salty umami blast of fish sauce, smoky charcoal grilled meats, the liberal use of fragrant herbs, and broths that simmer for days all culminate in a food tradition that is hard to top.

One of my favorite dishes, especially in the warmer months, is Bún (pronounced boon).  Bún is basically a bowl of cold rice noodles that can then be topped with infinite variations.  Grilled beef, grilled pork, shredded pork, shrimp, chicken, and even chopped egg rolls are all common toppings.  These proteins are combined with all kinds of fresh vegetables, pickled vegetables, herbs and peanuts, then they are dressed with a mixed fish sauce (nước mắm pha).

For the recipe below, the only thing you really need to follow is the dressing and the preparation of the noodles.  What you add in can be changed up to suit your taste or what looks fresh at the market.  I really like mine with roasted or grilled pork but today, I decided to go with shrimp.


Vietnamese Bún with Shrimp


  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons water, to taste
  • 2 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh Thai (also sold as “bird’s eye”) chile, minced

Combine the six ingredients above into a small bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  If you are not familiar with nước mắm, this will taste incredibly salty and pungent but remember, this is going to flavor a ton of unsalted veggies and noodles.  Cover the sauce and set aside (or place in the fridge if you like).

  • 1 tablespooon oil (coconut, grapeseed, or olive)
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp
  • 4 oz thin rice noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed with cold water
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded on a box grater or cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 handful chopped basil (can also substitute or combine with cilantro and mint)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Heat your oil in a pan over medium heat.  Season your shrimp with pepper and cook until just done.  Place the shrimp on a plate and set aside.

Place a half of the cooked and cooled noodles in the bottom of a bowl.  Top with shrimp, carrots, onions, cucumbers, herbs, and peanuts.  Spoon dressing over the top and toss to coat.  EAT.