Rice & Beans~ Friday Dinner

End of the week. What’s in the cupboard? Fridge? Kazmati rice. Can of black beans. Canned whole tomatoes. Leftover pork chop. Onion. A zucchini.

In a small saucepan sauté 3/4 cup rice in a little olive oil. Season with 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. cayenne. Stir. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, stir, bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In a large fry pan, in a little olive oil, sauté chopped onion, pork chop, zucchini until browned. Season with garlic powder, cracked black pepper to taste. Add can of black beans, drained. Stir. Add can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped. Stir over high heat, then cover and turn to low.

When rice is cooked, fluff and add to fry pan. Stir. Add a little more chicken broth and simmer covered until ready to eat.

Serve with jalapeños, or mixed olives, or sliced lime as garnish.

Pioneer Valley Spring Supper

In a heavy oval skillet, sauté Hatfield bacon until crispy, add Hadley grass tips and julienned farm stand bell pepper until brown. Whisk together 3 fresh Williamsburg eggs with Garelick Farms skim milk. Add to skillet and stir until set on the bottom. Season with cracked black pepper and chopped chives.

Put pan under the broiler until golden brown on top. Serve with salsa, jalapeños.

First Hadley Grass!

125-50_Hadley_grass_feature_250Finally here! The best day of the year. Farm stand opens with Hadley grass. The Pioneer Valley’s world-renowned asparagus. Steam it. Roast it. Break it where it naturally splits. Never peel it. Steamed: I like to steam it until still firm. Blanche with cold water to stop cooking. Serve with vinegar & oil, cracked black pepper, oregano as a salad with fish or chicken. Roasted: Place stalks on a baking sheet so not touching. Drizzle olive oil. Roll around in the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked peppercorns, shaved asiago. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Good with anything.

Photo: James Baigrie, Saveur 2007

Betsey’s Stuffed Cabbage

Traditional comfort food for a cold rainy day. Boil a cored small green cabbage in salt water until leaves are soft and easily peeled off. Pour cold water over leaves in a colander and let drain. Keep unused leaves and cabbage core for soups.

Coat bottom of a stock pot with a little olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté one large onion, chopped; 3 carrots, chopped; 1 orange, sectioned and chopped; 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped. Brown lightly. Add 1 8-oz. can drained sauerkraut, 1 can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped. Sprinkle whole mixed peppercorns to taste and mix all ingredients together. Boil then reduce to simmer.

In a bowl, season 1 1/2 lbs. ground meat of your choice with dried onions, salt. Add 1 egg beaten lightly and 1/3 cup rice. Mix together. Fill larger drained cabbage leaves with meat mixture, making balls that fit into the stem side and wrapping the leaves around and under so they stay closed around the meat. Place stuffed leaves on top of the simmering vegetables so that they are tightly packed and stay closed, stem side down. Push them into the veggies and sprinkle liberally with paprika. Cover and simmer for one hour.

Dissolve 12 small or 6 large ginger snap cookies into the juice of a large lemon. Pour on top of the cabbages. Cover and simmer for another hour.

Dr. G’s Potato Latkes

Grate 4 large raw peeled potatoes into fine strips into a bowl of ice water. Press out moisture and drain on paper towels. Put potatoes into a large bowl. Add 2 lightly beaten eggs and blend to bind. Add 1 cup matzoh meal and thinly sliced bunch of green onions (scallions). Blend together with fingers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a non-stick fry pan and coat with vegetable oil until hot. Fashion potato mixture into 4 inch diameter, 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on both sides until crispy. Keep latkes warm in a 200 degree oven on a platter until ready to eat. Serve with apple sauce and Strahl Brisket.

Strahl Brisket

Lovingly derived from Birdie Sandler Strahl’s original, enhanced by daughter Betsey Strahl Levine’s creative touch:

4-5 lb. first cut fresh brisket of beef. Not too lean, need some fat. Serves about 8-ish. It shrinks. In a dutch oven, brown brisket well on both sides to sear. Take out and place on dish. Brown at least 3 large sliced onions, the more the better. Put the brisket back into the pan and season with generous amount of paprika, pepper, garlic powder, salt. Pour 16 oz. canned tomato sauce over the meat.

Bake at 350 degrees tightly covered for one hour. Uncover and add 1 cup sweet Jewish or another fruity red wine. Bake covered for another hour. Uncover and take out the pot roast and slice against the grain. Put sliced meat back into the pot and make sure it is covered with liquid, add chicken broth if necessary. Bake another hour or until it falls apart.

Serve with hot horseradish and Dr. G’s Potato Latkes.

Heavenly Haddock


Moist and flavorful. So easy, too. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Yes, that’s right. In an oval fry pan, drizzle olive oil on the bottom and place one large or two haddock filets on top. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Drizzle olive oil on the filet(s), season with salt and pepper, then pats of butter, panko crumbs, and finally thin lemon slices. Bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes and remove pan from oven. Remove lemon slices.

Put broiler on low. Spoon residual olive oil over panko crumbs. Place under broiler on top rack until panko is brown. Serve with rice and capers or salsa. That’s it. Always perfect.

Lamb Curry

In a small bowl, mix together: 2 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. turmeric, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. In another small bowl, mix together: 2 tsp. cayenne, 1 tsp. cardamom, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 4 tsp. sesame seeds, 1/4 tsp. cloves.

Clean and cut 2 leeks into wide slices. In a dutch oven, brown in a little olive oil. Add 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb cut into 1″ cubes. Brown on all sides. Add 1 onion, coarsely chopped. Add 1 sweet bell pepper, 2-3 jalapeño peppers julienned. Stir together all ingredients. Sprinkle the mix of coriander, turmeric, garlic powder and ginger over the mixture and stir. Add 1 can whole tomatoes. Stir and bring to boil. Cover and turn to low heat.

In a small fry pan, heat 3 tbs. olive oil. Add the cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, sesame seeds, cloves mix. Stir until seeds are toasted. Uncover pot and pour hot spices in and stir thoroughly. Deglaze the fry pan with some chicken broth and pour residual spices and broth into the lamb. Stir. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Add 4-5 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes. Stir into lamb pot. Cover and bring to boil, then turn down to simmer for an hour or so until potatoes are tender but firm. Add 1-2 cups thawed frozen peas. Stir in and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve with plain yogurt, chutneys, naan.

Veal Oscars

Classic Veal Oscar is garnished with fresh asparagus, crab meat topped with a béarnaise sauce. Academy Awards are not in asparagus season. Not a fan of rich sauces. So. Watch the red carpet with this revised winter version for 2:

4 veal scallopini pounded lightly to tenderize. In a large deep fry pan, brown quickly on both sides in a little olive oil and set aside in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup butter and a chopped shallot to the hot skillet. Brown and deglaze with 1/4 cup dry white wine. Add 1 can white asparagus tips (drained) or best fresh store bought tips you can find, lightly steamed. Add juice of 1 lemon. Season to taste. Add veal back into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes covered. Add 1 lb. cooked chopped lobster or crab meat and stir just to warm. Serve veal topped with asparagus, lobster or crab and sauce with a side of pasta or rice. Can substitute chicken cutlets for veal.

Pork Tenderest Loin

After years of looking for recipes for pork tenderloin, it’s clear that butterflying and grilling with a rub is most flavorful. But, it dries out. And, winter is here. The moistest tenderest methodology I’ve found is the following:

Cut the loin crosswise into 4-5 chunks, depending on length and size. Between two sheets of cling wrap, pound out the slices, both sides, so that they flatten to a “steak-cut” of about 1/2″.  Marinade in a favorite sauce. I like Stonewall Kitchen Teriyaki, Sriracha, Wasabi Ginger, or Maple Chipotle sauces. I also add a little balsamic vinegar. Coat both sides of pork tenderloin “steaks”.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or more. When ready to cook, bring to room temperature.

Sauté 2 julienned bell peppers, a chile or jalapeño pepper and/or a sliced onion in a large frying pan in a little olive oil. Push to outer sides of pan. Take pork “steaks” out of marinade, pat dry and sear on both sides. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth and stir to deglaze. Add more fresh sauce over the meat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until cooked through but still pink. Serve topped with peppers, onions and sauce juices over rice.