Antipasto Pasta Salad

So, yeh, fergettabout the mayonnaise for this salad; and, while we’re at it, let’s fergettabout the gluten, too, because we’re making this salad with chickpea pasta!

Penne chickpea pasta, blanched asparagus, grape tomatoes, chopped marinated artichoke hearts, onion, Feta cheese, and assorted Italian style deli meats – I used coarsely chopped, uncured salami and sopressata – and it was tasty!

But first, let’s talk about the pasta…

We’ve been using Banza brand and have been loving it for the most part, though friends swear by the chickpea and lentil pasta. Every store in my area is different; some carry the gluten free pastas in with the regular and “carb smart” pastas, some carry them in their “organic” section, and some have dedicated “gluten free” aisles.

Chickpea pasta is not quite as absorbent as regular pasta, so, it will not soak up as much of the dressing (and flavor), but it’ll still get the job done.

Another thing about the chickpea pasta is that, on the back, with the cooking instructions, it says to “expect foam.”

No sh… ermmm, shucks, Sherlock!

But – after using my tall stock pot to cook the pasta, and battling the foam by near constant stirring; I’ve discovered that cooking it in a lower, wider Dutch oven style pot yields much less foam, so, cool!

•1 pkg penne pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed according to package instructions
•Assorted Italian cold cuts, sliced into thin strips
•Sliced Peperoncini, drained well
•1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
•Grape tomatoes, quartered
•Blanched sliced asparagus*
•Thinly sliced onion
•Basil, fresh chopped or from that tube in the produce section of the market
•Crumbled Feta cheese
•Italian Dressing

A note on the feta cheese. I am loving this Wisconsin chunk style packed in brine, it is so much more flavorful, and a bit smoother, even creamier, than the same brand’s dry packed crumbled Feta, so, check it out; I think you will be pleased.

A note on the Italian dressing. I use this powdered mix from a local company that, as the package front states, really contains no funky ingredients. I can only find them at one store around here, but you can order online, here.

Place the prepped meat and veggies in a large bowl and toss with the basil and Feta cheese. As you will note in a minute or so, I forgot one of Julia Child’s main rules: “always start with a bowl bigger than you think you will need.”


Sooo… after transfering all that to a bowl large enough to handle the meats and veggies and cheese, and the pasta; pour the prepared Italian dressing over all and toss well to coat evenly.

Cover and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours, or, even better, overnight, to allow the flavors to blend and the pasta to soak up some of the dressing.

Serve at cool room temperature.

*Wondering about how to blanch asparagus? It’s simple! Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then stir in one tablespoon each sugar and salt. For this batch, I used a smoked bacon and onion sea salt from

Add your trimmed asparagus to the boiling water and cook for two or three minutes, until bright green.

Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water and push the spears about a bit to ensure they are all cooled quickly. This shock will help to lock in the bright green color.

Drain the asparagus well on a towel.

How easy was that?

Oh, and many thanks to Alex Guarnaschelli for posting the blanched asparagus method on the Food Network web site.

When in doubt, you just gotta go to da Google.

Posted in Pasta, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pork Loin Ends, Ollie’s Way

One of my local markets carries Pork Loin Ends – a slightly fattier tip of the tenderloin – for a ridiculous price – 1.99 per pound.

Each package contains four boneless loin ends – more than enough for a couple of dinners for us.

I always marinate them first, and, since I had multiple dinner plans for this batch, I opted to start off with Ollie’s Marinade – it is most excellent for much more then just burgers!

•Pork loin ends, or chops, your choice

Ollie’s Marinade:
Dry Seasonings:
•1/4 cup sugar
•2 tbsp paprika
•1 tbsp garlic powder
•1 tbsp crushed red pepper
•1 tsp curry powder
•1 tsp ground black pepper
•1 tsp ground coriander
•1 tsp fennel seed
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp cornstarch
•1/2 tsp turmeric

Liquid Seasonings:
•3/8 cup lemon juice
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•2 tbsp A-1 steak sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 tsp Heinz 57 sauce
•2 tsp cider vinegar
•2 tsp canola oil

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk the liquid seasonings together in a large beaker, then, in a separate bowl, stir the dry seasonings with a fork until well and truly blended.

Whisk the dry seasonings into the liquid seasonings – an immersion blender works a treat here; then pour over the pork in a gallon sized zipper bag.

Note: if you plan on making Ollie’s Most Excellent Sammich Sauce, don’t forget to take out two tablespoons of the marinade before pouring over the pork.

Seal the bag, give it a couple of flips to coat all bits of the pork, then stash on a rimmed plate, for to catch any drippage, in the fridge for a couple of hours or, always more better, overnight.

When you think to, give the bag a flip or five.

When ready to grill, remove the pork from the marinade (discard the marinade), and allow to come to room temperature.

Grill as you will, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the pork reads 145º.

Let rest for five minutes before serving.

We enjoyed ours the first night with an antipasto pasta salad, then then a couple of days later as carnitas tacos with peppers and onions.

After that, leftovers went in the freezer until the weekend when we thoroughly enjoyed then as black bean and corn enchiladas.

I call that a fair bit of work for one packet of pork.

Posted in Pork | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ollie’s Most Excellent Sammich Sauce

So… recall when we were making Ollie’s Marinade yesterday, and I had you save back two tablespoons?

Well, this is what we’re gonna use it for and, I gotta say, this sammich sauce is good enough to justify keeping at stash of Ollie’s in the fridge.

Creamy, a little bit smoky and tangy,with a few interesting (but not exotic) ingredients, this is not your parents’ secret sammich sauce!

Oh, and do try it on fries and/or onion rings.

Sweet potato fries, too.

•1/4 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
•1/4 cup mayonnaise
•2 tbsp French dressing (the orange stuff)*
•2 tbsp prepared Ollie’s Marinade
•2 tsp dill relish
•1/2 tsp sweet relish
•1 tsp dried shallots
(in a pinch, dried onion will work just fine)
•1 tsp white vinegar
•1 tsp chili sauce
(or ketchup, but chili sauce is zippier)
•1 tsp steak seasoning
(Montreal or whatever your favorite may be)

*I used Ken’s, which is made with real sugar instead of corn sweeteners. If you want more control over your sugars and ingredients, here is an excellent Vintage French Salad Dressing that is a snap to make.

Place all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl or beaker, then stir to combine.

Transfer to a covered container and stash in the fridge for at least three hours before using to allow the flavors to fully blend and develop.

To use for burgers, spread on lightly toasted buns, then add shredded lettuce and sliced pickles. We also had melted Swiss cheese on our Ollie Burgers.

Posted in Sauces/Jellies/Condiments | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ollie’s Burger, Steak, and Chop Marinade

Who’s Ollie?

I haven’t a clue, but I came across this interesting vintage marinade after researching a restaurant mentioned in a novel. The restaurant is long gone in real life, but Ollie’s kinda surprisingly zippy marinade lives on across the interwebs!

Note: I have changed a few things from the original to suit our personal tastes. For example, I am not a huge fan of cumin, so swapped out my fave curry powder.

But see, that’s the cool thing about making your own stuff – you don’t have to settle!

There’s also kindofa lot of ingredients to this recipe, but the final flavor is more than worth the minimal mixing effort.

•1/4 cup sugar
•2 tbsp paprika
•1 tbsp garlic powder
•1 tbsp crushed red pepper (really)
•1 tsp curry powder
•1 tsp ground black pepper
•1 tsp ground coriander
•1 tsp fennel seed
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp cornstarch
•1/2 tsp turmeric

•3/8 cup lemon juice
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•2 tbsp A-1 steak sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Heinz 57 sauce
•2 tsp cider vinegar
•2 tsp canola oil

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk the wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Stir the dry ingredients together in another bowl until well mixed, then stir into the wet ingredients.

Note: the marinade will be quite thick.

Take out two tablespoons of the marinade (I will explain what we’re doing with that tomorrow), then pour the balance of the marinade over your meat of choice in a gallon sized zipper bag. Close the bag, toss a bit to make sure all of the meat is nicely coated, then arrange on a rimmed platter (for to catch any drippage), and toss in the fridge.

The original Ollie recipe was meant to go over burgers, and it was quite good. If you go that route, they only need to marinate for 30 minutes or so before grilling.

Our burgers turned out really well, and very tasty, but, I thought that Ollie could very well be used for other stuff, too.

Like, boneless pork loin ends that one of our local markets stocks at a very decent price.

If you go that route, or choose to use this on steak or chops or chicken or whatever, I would say to marinate in the fridge for at least a couple of hours or, always more better, overnight; flipping the bag over whenever you think to.

When ready to grill, remove the meat from the marinade, shaking off and excess, then grill as you like.

We liked this very much!

Posted in Spice and Seasoning Mixtures, Marinades | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire and Ice Salad

I belong to a Facebook group called “Recipe Clippings.”

It consists of folk sharing images of recipes – usually old ones – they’ve come across that they think look interesting.

That’s how I came across the original recipe for this brined tomato and red onion salad, with added cucumber.

A little research on the interwebs found several versions, so…

I figured I would try my own take on it.

In place of large tomatoes, I used grape tomatoes. In place of one large cucumbner, I used a couple of lovely, small Persian cukes; and added some carrots, Feta cheese, and additional seasonings, too.

We loved this! Rich thought it actually tasted a bit like ceviche – but with the seafood. I thought it made for a really great, simple to make salad for most any gathering, but especially at this time of year.

•3/4 cup white vinegar
•1/4 cup cold water
•1 tbsp sugar
•1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
•1-1/2 tsp celery seeds
•1/2 tsp Kosher salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

•10-1/2 oz container grape tomatoes, halved
•1 large red onion, thinly sliced
•2 Persian cucumbers, quartered and sliced
•Blanched asparagus, sliced
•Shredded carrots
•Feta cheese, crumbled

Note: if you can, look for Feta packed in brine, like this gem from Wisconsin (or, BEST, genuine Bulgarian Feta). You will never go back to crumbled Feta.

Stir the brine ingredients together in a small pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Boil for one minute, then pour over the tomatoes and red onion in a serving bowl.

Set aside to cool, then cover and chill for at least one hour.

Just before serving, toss in the cucumber, blanched asparagus, carrots and Feta.

Some versions I found of this recipe said that you could keep the salad in the fridge for three days, but I found that by the third, the red onion had tinted the leftovers. It still tasted fine, but was not as attractive as the first day or two.

Tasked with bringing the salad for holiday gatherings? Here you go!

Oh, and the mount of brine called for would easily work with the salad ingredients doubled for a crowd, so, you know…

Posted in Salad, Veggies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reuben Za!

I had this corned beef in the freezer, so I went ahead and cooked in in Guinness in the slow cooker, then finished it off in the oven with Barbecue Sauce.



There was a lot of corned beef left over – I usually only make this for company – so – I was left to choose. Do I make a batch of Corned Beef Salad?


But then I thought about making a Reuben Pizza, so went in search of a recipe.

I actually found two, but they both had, for me, issues.

Canned cheese soup? I think not!

So, I made a batch of my new fave Thousand Island Dressing, put some Pizza Dough on the side to rise, and came up with a plan.

•Pizza crust
•Corned beef, cubed or sliced thin
•Sauerkraut (1 can/jar, well drained)
•Swiss cheese
•4 oz cream cheese, softened
•1/2 cup Thousand Island Dressing
•1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven to 425º and roll out your pizza dough on parchment paper sprinkled with corn meal.

Transfer the dough with the parchment paper to a baking pan and brush with a bit of olive oil.

Bake for six minutes or so, then remove from the oven.

Stir the cream cheese together with the Thousand Island Dressing, Cheddar cheese, and Sherry Peppers Sauce until nicely blended.

Brush this mixture over the partially baked pizza dough, going just about all the way to the edges.

Top the cheese mixture with the corned beef, then the well drained sauerkraut.

Top this all with the Swiss cheese.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese well and truly melted.

Remove from the oven, let rest for five minutes, then slice as you will, and enjoy.


And NO canned cheese soup.

Posted in Za! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best! ‘Za! Dough

So, yeh. This is still my very favorite ‘za! dough, no real changes to the method or the ingredients, but…

the implementation?

Well, now, that is a whole different ball o’ fine home made pizza dough.

See, for this ‘za! – I rolled the dough out on parchment paper with corn meal, then transferred it, parchment paper and all, to a baking pan.

I also, in place of my trust cast iron pizza stone, used a standard half-sheet pan – which was called for in the recipes I cobbled together to make the very tasty looking (and it was) ‘za! shown above. Details on that, tomorrow.

•1 tsp yeast
•1/2 tsp honey
•2/3 cup warm water (110°)
•2 cups flour + additional as needed
•1 tsp salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•Olive oil for the bowl
•Corn meal – for rolling out

Add the honey and the yeast to the warm water in a mixing bowl, stir to combine, and let rest for 10 or 15 minutes, until the mixture has developed a nice bit of foam on the top.

Whisk the flour, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until nicely blended.

Add the flour to the foamy yeast mixture in the mixing bowl, and, using the dough hook, mix on low until a soft dough forms.

Increase the speed to medium and knead for ten minutes, adding additional flour by the tablespoon, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and has cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl. I end up adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup (four to eight tablespoons) additional flour.

Once the dough has come together and, as you can see, nicely cleaned the mixing bowl, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the bowl, remove the dough from the hook, shape it into a ball and place it in the bottom of the mixing bowl, turning so that all sides of the dough ball are lightly coated with the olive oil.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for at least 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.

Note: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: if you cannot get back to check on the dough in the specified time, no worries. You are the boss of that dough; and you can safely leave it in that warm spot for several hours or even overnight if needs be. Some folk claim that letting the dough double, then punching it down and doubling again makes for a better tasting pizza. It’s all good.

When you are ready to deal with the risen dough, sprinkle the corn meal on a large piece of parchment, punch odwn the dough one more time, then place in the center of the parchment paper.

Flatten the dough out with your hands, then sprinkle to top with some more corn meal and roll out – this particular ‘za! called for a rectangular crust, for that’s the way I went.

Once the dough is rolled out, transfer, parchment paper and all to your baking pan or pizza stone, and proceed as you will.

I like to brush my raw dough with a bit of olive oil and pre-bake it in a hot 425º oven for six minutes or so before topping.

And there you have it, ready in a couple of hours or the next day, it is totally up to you, my fave pizza dough.

This one is gonna be one of my fave combinations, a Reuben Pizza!

Those tasty details, tomorrow…

Posted in Bread/Pastry, Za! | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Newer! Best! Thousand Island Dressing

Today’s post, and tomorrow’s, are both kinda Parfait! (repeat) recipes, except…

I’ve switched some ingredients out here and there, mebbe changed my method a wee, tiny bit, and, now, I think they deserve to stand on their own.

Take this Thousand Island Salad Dressing. I already considered it “the Best!” but who knew that using chopped capers in place of dill relish, and my Zippy Mustard in place of Dijon would make me so very happy?

It’s a snap to make, too.

•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•2 tbsp sour cream
•2-1/2 tbsp cocktail sauce
•1 tbsp Zippy Mustard – or Dijon
•2 tbsp diced capers
•1 tbsp sliced green olives
•1 tsp dried chives
•1 tsp dried onion slices
•1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Peppers Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/8 tsp celery salt
•1/8 tsp Cayenne

Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl, then transfer to a covered container and stash in the fridge for at least three hours before serving.

Note: serving a crowd? This recipe can easily be doubled.

Posted in Salad Dressings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Party Shrimp

Rich came across this recipe, from the nice folk at Taste of Home, and asked me to give it a try.

I added a few ingredients to the original recipe – Aleppo pepper and my own Sherry Peppers Sauce – and we grilled our shrimp in stead of broiling; and we split the pound as our main course for dinner instead of offering up a tasty bowl or three to friends and family.

Tho that will more than likely happen, soon!

Grilled or broiled, Sherry Peppers and Aleppo pepper added or not, this is truly a winner recipe from Kendra Doss, of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

•1 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
•1 tbsp Sherry peppers Sauce*
•1-1/2 tsp brown sugar
•1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
•2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
•1/2 tsp dried basil
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Combine all of the ingredients but the shrimp in a gallon sized zipper bag, thenseal and toss to blend.

Add the shrimp, toss to coat well in the marinade, then reseal and stash in the fridge for two hours, flipping the bag whenever you think to.

When ready to broil or grill, remove the shrimp from the marinade (discard the marinade).

Arrange the shrimp in a single layer about four inches from a hot broiler; or place in a grill basket on a hot grill.

Broil or grill three minutes, then turn the shrimp over and broil or grill another three or four minutes, just until the shrimp are pink and firm.

Pretty terrific as dinner with Korean potato salad and rice vinegar cole slaw.

Note: if you are making these to pass at a party, tail on shrimp would work a treat.

Posted in Appetizers/Munchies, Seafood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My New Favorite Marinade!

I picked up a couple of really nice looking steaks at the butcher, then considered what, exactly to do with them.

Grilling was a no brainer; the weather was perfect and Rich had spent the day chilling, so, no issues with sending him out onto the deck in the early evening sun.

But… the steak. What to do?

I have a perfectly lovely marinade that we enjoy on steaks, chops, most anything, but…

I was in the mood for a little something different, and so went searching around the interwebs.

What I found looked good, but, in my experience, any soy sauce based marinade comes out, again, to me, too soy tasting; so I started swapping things around, and came up with this, my new favorite, which will be sampled this summer on steaks and chops and chicken and salmon and who knows what else; because it really is just that good!

•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
•1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
•2 tbsp honey
•2 tbsp avocado oil
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp crushed roasted garlic
•2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
•1 tsp lower sodium Tamari
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp onion powder
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp liquid smoke – I used Mesquite

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Place all of the marinade ingredients in a gallon sized zipper bag, seal, and toss until well and truly mixed.

Add your steaks – or chops, or whatever, reseal the bag, flip a couple of times to coat both sides well, then stash in a fridge on a rimmed plate (to catch any drippage) for a couple of hours or, always more better, overnight, flipping the bag whenver you think to.

About an hour before grilling, remove from the marinade (discard the marinade) and allow to come to room temperature.

Grill as you will.

Lovely, with a nice salad and a better Canadian Cab Sav.


there’s veal chops in the freezer, or, I could swing by the fishmonger for some salmon…



Posted in Spice and Seasoning Mixtures, Marinades | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment