Pápa Sauce

We were having friends over for a bit of wine drinking and, coincidentally, dinner. It was a fine June Saturday afternoon and evening, so I opted to convert an old favorite – Puerto Rican Pork Roast – into a marinated and grilled filling for street tacos.

I planned on using my Rice Vinegar Coleslaw for the tacos; but thought they could probably use a  little sumpin’ sumpin’ more to pull it all together.

Then, I came across this sauce.

A little bit sweet, a bit smoky, and a bit spicy, this paprika sauce was a hoooge hit with all gathered around the dinner table.

The original recipe(s) I found all seemed exactly the same, and most claimed pride of origin so, to stay out of that particular cat fight, I made a few changes to the recipe(s) – like cutting back 25% on the sugar called for – and changed the name to Pápa Sauce, in honor of the Hungarian paprika used.

It really is quite good, easy to make, and, stick around to the end, ’cause I have a kinda cool option for it that cranks this sauce’s usability up to about 20 on a ten point scale.

•1 cup ketchup
•3/4 cup sugar
•1/4 cup white vinegar
•3 tbsp hot sauce
•3 tbsp water
•1 tbsp paprika

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring often, over low heat until the mixture comes to a boil.

Allow to simmer, still stirring often for five minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Transfer to a jar and stash in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to really develop, then serve as you will.

Like I said, pretty frikkin’ terrific on my street tacos, but…

and this is an option I did not offer my dinner guests because I tried it just after I whipped it together and it was *ok.*

The next day, however, after resting in the fridge, and then schmearing it over leftover taco shells for dinner?

Oh. My. GOOGLE this is good!

Simply whisk a couple of tablespoons of the cooled Pápa sauce into a couple of tablespoons of your favorite mayonnaise, then stash in the fridge overnight.

Pretty awesome and – and this is where we kick this sauce up to 20 or so on most rational scales – go ahead and fergettabout your ‘secret’ sauces for burgers or pizza or sammiches or… hmmm… salads?

This creamy bit o’ goodness will be your go to for sauce for all your summer needs.

And mebbe into the fall and winter, too.

But, back to the tacos…

So. To recap.

Creamy Pápa Sauce spread on the toasted street tortillas; then Rice Vinegar Coleslaw, grilled Puerto Rican Pork, a drizzle of the regular Pápa Sauce, and a slice or two of Pickled Avocado.


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Baked Mac and Cheese With Tomatoes and Basil

True confession: growing up, mac and cheese in our house was Kraft Dinner, y’know, in the blue box. Nothing against my mom, who was a pretty awesome cook, but, well, it was Kraft Dinner, it was cheap, easy, and it was the 60’s and 70’s, so…

I never really expected much different from mac and cheese than that.

Mebbe work a bit of mid-century magic and turn it into Zanzetti, or perhaps an interesting Pasta Salad.

So, while looking through a recipe box loaded with cards from the 70’s, I was a struck by this one, baked mac and cheese casserole with tomatoes on top.


Could be a nice, vegetarian dinner, with the added goodness of tomatoes. Or…

It could be all that was wrong with the 70’s – from avocado green appliances to indoor/outdoor carpet and flocked wallpaper. There was only one way to tell.

I needed to try it.

Of course, I also needed to bring it into the 21st century; swapping out one large, sliced tomato for quartered grape tomatoes tossed with chopped basil. I also added a bit more seasoning than originally called for and, while the macaroni did come in a big blue box, it was not from the nice folk at Kraft.

All in all, I can safely say that this is my new fave mac and cheese, and it may very well soon be yours, too. Try it and see.

•8 oz elbow macaroni
•1/4 cup unsalted butter
•2 tbsp flour
•2 tbsp Ranch dressing mix
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 cups half and half
•1 tsp fave hot sauce
•2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
•1 cup diced grape tomatoes
•Basil, chopped

*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.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain, rinse, and set aside.

Heat your oven to 375º and apply cooking spray to a two quart shallow casserole.

Melt the butter in a large pan, then stir in the flour, ranch seasoning, seasoned salt, and peppers.

Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes, until everything has come together in a dark, kinda clumpy roux.

Gradually whisk in the half and half – like mebbe 1/4 of a cup at a time – whisking until the mixture is smooth before adding more.

Stir in the Sherry Peppers Sauce and, what the heck – add that bit o’ hot sauce, too – there is a lot of pasta and cheese to add some flavor to!

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a minute or so, until the mixture has thickened nicely.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked macaroni and 1-1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. Transfer to the prepared shallow baking dish.

Note: another change from the 70’s: I used a bag of shredded, 4 Cheddar cheese blend.

Toss the chopped tomatoes with the basil and arrange over the top of the macaroni.

Scatter the remaining cheese over the tomatoes and pop into the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the cheese is nicely golden browned and the casserole is heated through.

Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for ten minutes before serving.

This was pretty frikkin’ spectacular, and will now be served pretty darned often around about these parts.

Try it yourself and see if you don’t agree.

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An Old New! Take on Tuna Salad

I was leafing through a magazine while traveling and came up with a really tempting looking – and sounding salad.

Instead of a more traditional vinaigrette method, this salad – based on a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook – uses the oil from oil-packed tuna to make a wicked tasty dressing that is actually not too, too bad for you! Not really any sugar, very little salt added – and that bit o’ sodium is a home made seasoned blend, so the wee, tiny bits of sugar and salt added are negligible.

Besides. It’s summer. It’s a big, beeYOUtiful bowl of salad, and, as I noted above, it is wicked tasty!

Note: I was making a double batch – some for lunch with friends, and some for dinner at home, so I doubled up on the tuna recipe.

Another Note: the magazine suggested making the vinaigrette in the salad bowl, which, would be fine, if I wasn’t kinda wanting to make a bunch o’ stuff ahead (lunch with friends, recall?) – so I added the dressing ingredients to the tuna, added the chopped olives and peppadew peppers, and stashed ’em in a covered bowl in the fridge until I needed to put it all together. The upside? I nicely blended tuna dressing and no soggy greens!

Last (I PROMISE!) Note: I used my fave sherry vinegar. If you don’t have any, cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar will work a treat. Who knows, even rice vinegar might could be good here!

•2 cans tuna packed in olive oil
•1 tbsp sherry vinegar
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•1 tsp dried oregano
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•Chopped Kalamata olives
•Chopped peppadew peppers

Have a ball here, I used:
•Shredded green leaf lettuce
•Romaine lettuce
•Blanched asparagus
•Thinly sliced radishes
•Shredded carrots
•Thinly sliced sweet onion
•Chopped grape tomatoes
Grilled Corn cut from the cob
•Crumbled Feta cheese
•Cooked and crumbled bacon

Empty the tuna into a large mixing bowl, then add the vinegar, lemon juice, and remaining ingredients and stir to blend well.

I got my olives and peppadew peppers from the olive bar at my market, and, since they already had a bit of a brine to them, I stirred ’em into the tuna before covering and chilling until needed.

That is it!

I also assembled the rest of the salad and set it aside in another covered bowl to crisp.

When it was time, I turned the greens into a large salad bowl, added the tuna dressing, and tossed it all to mix well.

We all thought it one fine salad, except…

We also really loved the addition of this nicely spiced Cherry Pepper Vinaigrette.

Let’s see…

lunch with friends, a pretty spectacular salad, some tasty brats and potatoes, and, of course… a bit of wine – a nice Vouvray to kick off the summer.

Go ahead and really enjoy the heck out of your salad!

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Cherry Pepper Vinaigrette

So, this started out as a Bobby Flay recipe for grilled scallops and a nicely zippy sauce to on top. but…

While the scallops were, indeed, excellent; they did not really need this wicked tasty vinaigrette – most likely due to the excellence of our chosen scallop monger (Whole Foods) and my not-so-secret method of soaking scallops in milk for at least one hour before cooking them, which consistently gives us sweet, sweet scallops, which don’t really need no sauce.

Too bad, in a way, because this really is a pretty excellent sauce – just mebbe more suited to a nice grilled pork or lamb chop; or even a nice salad.

Let’s try it out, shall we?

•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•1/4 cup sliced hot pickled cherry peppers, drained (check the Italian section of your market)
•Roasted garlic
•2 tbsp sherry vinegar
•2 tbsp Zippy & Sweet Mustard (or your fave Dijon)
•2 tbsp lemon juice
•1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp dried shallots

Note: I have a new twist to my fave Zippy & Sweet Mustard at the link above. I now use Mike’s Hot Honey – infused with chilies to add a nice extra bit of heat to the sweet.

Making the sauce is wicked simple – just place all the ingredients together in a blender jar or immersion blender beaker and blend until nicely mixed and smooth.

Note: you may want to soak the dried shallots in a bit of water, then draining them before adding to the vinaigrette.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a jar, cover, and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

And then?

Yeh, if you must, go ahead and serve it over scallops and blanched asparagus, but, really, wouldn’t it be oh! so much better on a burger? Or steak? Or chicken? Mebbe a salad? Or those pork or lamb chops?

I think so.

You go do what you like.

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Parfait! Zippy & Sweet Mustard

It seems as though Spring is finally here to stay around about these parts, and, given the number of barbecue themed recipes I’ve been posting of late, I thought it high time to revisit and update my favorite mustard – for when you plan on brats ‘n burgers in place of barbecue.

Now, this recipe, based on Howard Johnson’s Spicy Mustard from the always helpful folk at Ask Uncle Pahedrus – Finder of Lost Recipes is pretty much perfect just the way they published it, but…

I happen to prefer Trader Joe’s Dijon mustard, which has an almost horseradish-y bite to it, and now – after coming across it in a new local fave pizza joint – I much prefer using Mike’s Hot Honey (available on Amazon) in place of your regular, run o’ the mill honey – though that works a treat, too! We just prefer the touch of heat this brings with the sweet.

The recipe is simplicity itself: one plus one plus one – ermmm, plus the hint of Aleppo pepper I also like to add.

I use half-cup measures, because that is what fits best in the mustard squeeze bottle I keep in the fridge. Feel free to scale up or down to suit your needs and tastes.

•1/2 cup Dijon mustard
•1/2 cup French’s yellow mustard*
•1/2 cup Mike’s Honey (or your fave honey)
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

*Yes, I really think that it needs to be French’s yellow mustard. I keep my standards, well… standard. Heinz ketchup. Hellmann’s mayonnaise. And French’s yellow mustard. I believe that you do not mess with the best.

Whisk (well, I use an immersion blender) the mustards together with the honey until well blended, then stir in the Aleppo pepper and transfer to your container of choice.

Store in the fridge until needed.

I believe that you will find yourself needing this a lot.

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BBQ Baked Beans

A while back, while looking through old magazine recipes from the 1950’s and 1960’s, I came across one for a “Barbecued Bean Bake” that promised the “entire family will love” this one pot meal of doctored canned baked beans with sliced hot dogs stirred in.


in truth,the recipe called for “pushing the hot dog slices down into the beans,” which seemed to me just a touch violent,

but, to each their own, I guess.

I thought that the recipe held promise, as long as I skipped drowning sliced hot dogs in the casserole, and brought a bit of 21st seasoning into the mix. In fact, I skipped the hot dogs entirely, opting for what could be, depending on the type of canned beans you chose, a vegetarian entrée or side dish.

Also, 21st century dietary issues here, did you know that a lot of canned baked beans are gluten-free? Check on the brands’ web site for confirmation.

I chose to add Peach Butter to my beans, along with a local, spicy ketchup that added an extra bit of a kick to the finished casserole; and had my husband going back for seconds at dinner as well as later in the week for lunch; so mebbe that vintage advertisement was on to something.

•21 oz can beans
•1/4 cup brown sugar
•1/4 cup Peach Butter
•2 tbsp ketchup
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp dried shallot
•1/2 tsp curry powder
•1/2 tsp dried mustard
•1/4 tsp lower sodium Tamari

*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 350º.

Stir everything together in a two quart casserole until well blended.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

Tasty with grilled chicken and yellow rice!

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Barbecued Salmon With Sweet Onion

We were so happy with our Easter Pineapple Salmon that I thought I might revisit the recipe and try it out with some of my Barbecue Sauce and sliced sweet onion.

Unlike our Easter dinner, I wanted to try this version in the oven, as the original recipe called for, then finishing up under the broiler after the oven had been hot.

Worked a treat, and made for a fine dinner with those roasted sweet onion slices and potato salad on the side.

•1 lb salmon filet (I had the skin removed)
•1 sweet onion, peeled and sliced thick
Seasoned Salt

•1/4 cup of your fave Barbecue Sauce
•2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp water (if the barbecue sauce is thick)

•Sliced scallions

*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.

Note: combining barbecue (or most any other) sauce with a bit of avocado or olive oil before grilling or baking is a cool new trick I picked up from somewhere or other, and it works really well with salmon and chicken – probably on most any protein that doesn’t have a lot of extra fat.

Whisk the barbecue sauce together with the oil and Sherry Peppers Sauce, adding water if it looks a bit too thick.

Heat your oven to 350º and line a large, rimmed cooking sheet with foil.

Apply cooking spray, then arrange the sweet onion slices in a single layer across the bottom of the pan.

Season lightly with the Seasoned Salt, then brush with a bit of the barbecue sauce mixture over the top.

Arrange the salmon filet on top of the onion slices, season light with more Seasoned Salt, then brush with the barbecue sauce mixture.

Pop into the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through.

Set your oven to broil, place the baking pan about four inches below the heat, and cook for another two minutes, until the salmon is golden and mebbe a bit blackened in spots.

Remove from the broiler, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.

Note: I get our salmon from a local fishmonger and smokehouse, Captain Porky’s and think that this filet, coming in around $13+ cannot be beat for freshness and flavor. Their smoked salmon is also pretty darned terrific, and makes for a wicked tasty brunch casserole.

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Pressure Cooker Short Ribs, Jamaican Style!

My first job out of college was that of a designer at a medical school in Boston.

For lunch, there was a cafeteria, as well as tons of very good local dives, specializing in Greek and middle eastern foods.

There was also this Jamaican barbecue food truck that put out this incredible beef rib sammich on sweet bread.

I have never come across another like it; and the success of my Korean-Style ribs spurred

me to try to replicate the sweet heat of my food truck fave, and I think I may very well have come wicked close.

Is it authentic Jamaican barbecue?

Heck no! But it is wicked tasty, so come along and let’s make a batch.

•Beef short ribs
•Shredded carots

•1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
•1/2 cup pineapple juice, divided
•2 tbsp lime juice (I used Key lime)
•3 or 4 cloves roasted garlic
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp ginger
•1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/4 tsp allspice
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

*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.

Note: for this batch o’ ribs, I used the more usual sliced beef short ribs instead of flanken-style, but either would work a treat.

Combine the barbecue sauce with 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice and remaining ingredients (I used my immersion blender) until smooth.

Set your Multi/Instant Pot to “Brown” and add the ribs and shredded carrots – do this in stages, if need be, so you don’t crowd the pot.

Brown the ribs for two minutes per side – since these were thicker and sliced with the bone, I did all four sides of each rib piece. If you use longer, thinner flanken ribs, brown for five minutes on each side.

Remove the browned ribs and carrots to a platter and repeat with any remaining ribs and shredded carrots.

Turn the Multi/Instant Pot off and wipe out to remove any excess fat.

Pour the sauce into the pot, then add the ribs and carrots, stirring to coat evenly.

Lock the lid in place and set the pot to “High” pressure for 25 minutes.

When the pressure cycle has finished, quick release the pressure (remember, a clean kitchen towel loosely wrapped around the valve will help to keep the steam from burning you or damaging cabinets.

Using a slotted spoon, remove ribs and carrots from sauce, set pot to “Sauté” and reduce the remaining barbecue sauce for ten minutes, stirring often.

Give it a taste.

Pretty good, but I chose to stir in 1/4 cup additional pineapple juice and sautéed for another seven to ten minutes.

Toss the ribs and carrots in the now nicely thickened sauce and serve.

We didn’t have any sweet Jamaican bread, so instead we enjoyed ours first with garlic smashed potatoes.

Leftovers, as it turns out, were really nice as tacos over shredded cabbage with chopped onion and tomato, and a horseradish and sweet chili sauce (I am still working on this recipe, details to come).

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Pressure Cooker Short Ribs, Korean Style!

Well… technically, this is not just a pressure cooker recipe; it is an all-in-one “Instant Pot/Multi Pot” recipe; where you brown the ribs, then pressure cook ’em to tender goodness and then reduce the sauce to a thick, tasty gravy – all in one pot (kinda the point of the whole “multi pot” thing).

But... if your are old school and still have a stove top or electric pressure cooker, you can use that for these tasty, tasty ribs, too. You’ll just need another pot on the side for browning and simmering.

Oh… and we thoroughly enjoyed these ribs, with a freshly pickled relish on top, over Cauliflower Rice Waffles, but, feel free to go classic and serve ’em with rice.

First things first: this recipe (and, I apologize, but I did NOT note the source), calls for flanken style beef short ribs, which really works a treat with this preparation. I found this batch at Whole Foods, but have subsequently asked the butcher at my local market to cut them for me, and they were happy to comply. Interestingly; the flanken ribs from Whole Foods were a touch less expensive than at my local market, so you should definitely shop and compare.

•2 lb flanken style beef short ribs

•2 scallions, sliced thinly
•1 cup sliced, quartered Persian cucumbers
•1/4 cup diced carrots
•1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
•1 tsp sesame seeds
•1 tsp dried shallots
•1 tsp granulated sugar
•2 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp sesame oil
•1/2 tsp Key (or regular) lime juice

•1/4 cup lower sodium tamari
•3 tbsp gochujang
•2 tbsp peeled and grated ginger
•2 tbsp dark brown sugar
•1/2 pear, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
•2 cloves garlic
•2 tbsp sesame oil
•1/4 cup water

Toss the prepped relish veggies and seasonings with the sugar, vinegar, oil, and lime juice; then transfer to a covered container and stash in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Set your Multi Pot to “Brown” and add the flanken ribs – in batches if need be. Brown the ribs for five minutes per side, then turn the pot off and remove the ribs to a plate before continuing.

Wipe the cooking pot clean of any excess fat.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and pour into the pot.

Arrange the browned ribs on top of the sauce, then lock the lid in place, set the valve to “Pressure” and set your pot to High Pressure for 25 minutes.

Once the pressure cook cycle has completed, quick release the pressure – I find a clean kitchen towel loosely placed over the valve helps to keep the steam from going up and doing a number on my cabinets – and, when the steam has fully vented, open the cover and remove the ribs to a clean platter.

Set your pot to “Sauté” and cook the sauce, stirring every now and then, for about 15 minutes, until it has reduced and thickened.

You can remove the bones from your now oh! so tender ribs or serve them as is, with the sauce drizzled over the top along with some of that fine fresh relish.

Rice, Cauliflower Waffles, plain savory waffles, or heck, even tacos, with mebbe some freshly shredded cabbage and chopped onion as a base – it is all good!

But wait! Tomorrow, we’ll move this Asian inspired recipe to Jamaica, for mebbe even tastier results!

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Roasted Pineapple Moscow Mule

Book Club was coming up, and that meant it was a good time to try out my wicked nizza Moscow Mule cups Ruth and Michael had given me for Christmas, and, it was also a great time to try out a new version of the classic cocktail, made with brown sugar brushed, then roasted pineapple.

The original recipe, from the nice folk at Creative-Culinary.com, called for using fresh pineapple wedges and adding mint (as is usual for a Moscow Mule) – but I had sliced pineapple, and don’t care for mint, so…

All in all, a pretty terrific cocktail to serve to a crowd, and easy, too; especially if you roast the pineapple before hand, and mix up a large batch in a blender, pouring into your cups over ice and topping with good ginger beer and a slice of lime.

A note on the ginger beer: my current fave is Fever Tree, which can be found at most Targets (look in the “mixers” section).

•1 (20 oz) can pineapple slices in juice
•Brown sugar

Cocktail (for a crowd):
•1/4 cup lime juice
•1/4 cup pineapple juice
•1/2 cup vodka
•Roasted pineapple

•Ginger beer
•Sliced limes

Early in the day, or the day before; heat your oven to 450º and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange the pineapple slices (save the juice!) in a single layer in the pan and brush with brown sugar.

Bake in the hot oven for ten minutes, then remove, turn the pineapple slices over, brush with additional sugar, and return to the oven for ten minutes more.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. If doing this the day before, go ahead and stash the cooled roasted pineapple slices in a covered container in the fridge.

When ready to serve, place a couple of slices of the cooled roasted pineapple in a blender container.

Stir the cocktail ingredients together in a pitcher and pour over the pineapple slices in the blender container.

Pulse until well blended.

Pour the mixture over ice in a glass or – preferably, a Moscow Mule cup, add a good splash of ginger beer, a slice of lime, and, if you like, a chunk or two of the remaining roasted pineapple; though… given our Book Club, I saved those slices to make another blender batch or three.

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