The Mighty Meatball


Check out my new column on Meatballs in the Journal Gazette

Get Me Guacamole: Stat!!!

I came to realize that what I thought was guacamole was really only a poor imitation of the real thing. My neighbor Marta, a great cook and Mexico City native had several “authentic” versions available whenever guests like me stop by that sent me begging for her recipes and scurrying back to my kitchen to try to recreate some of her family favorites.

Avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole. The Aztec’s and then the Spaniards who colonized the area documented their love of the fruit.  Avocados are a very healthy fruit with 60% more potassium than bananas. Avocados are also sodium and cholesterol free and have only five grams of fat per serving, most of it the “good-for-you” monounsaturated kind.
      Considered a New World produce, there don’t seem to be any date specific “first” guacamole recipes The Aztecs referred to guacamole as ahuaca-mulli which translates to “avocado sauce” or “avocado mixture”. Seems that one of the reasons they like it so much was that they believed that the avocado had supernatural aphrodisiac properties (ok, that’s obviously an entirely different column for a different time). 

Since avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole, it’s important to start with a fresh, ripe avocado. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. For most purposes, the Hass variety of avocado is usually the best choice. It has a sublime buttery taste and smooth texture that is perfect for guacamole.

Fresh garlic is also a must.  The pre minced garlic (sold in a jar) or garlic powder just doesn’t have the punch of the freshly chopped. However, be careful that a heavy hand with the garlic doesn’t have it overpowering the avocado. Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice adds not only flavor and punch to your basic guacamole, it helps preserve it longer from browning. Fresh, finely-chopped cilantro is another ingredient thing that can enhance the flavor of your guacamole. However, be warned cilantro has a distinctive flavor and may not be to everyone’s liking. If you’re into onion, you’ll love the sharp flavor, crunch and texture it gives to guacamole. I also add chilies and peppers if I have them available. Last, but not least, I usually add fresh tomatoes.  Make sure your tomatoes are fresh and firm so that they keep their shape as well as adding a subtle tang to the recipe

             I’m planning my own personal guacamole party this weekend. Everyone’s invited, just make sure to bring your own chips, I’m not planning on sharing mine.


NOTE: For a very quick and easy “guac” just take a 1/4 cup of your favortite salsa and mix it in with 1 mashed avocado.


4 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 ripe, medium Roma tomato, seeded, diced

1/2 cup minced sweet white onion

2 serrano chilies, seeded, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

4 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Hot pepper sauce, sea salt, white pepper to taste

Cut avocado in large chunks and mash them coarsely in large bowl with a fork. Add the cumin, tomatoes, onion, chilies, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper and hot pepper sauce and blend gently, leaving some small chunks is fine. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt and pepper if desired. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups.


1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds

1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon shredded pickled ginger

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar


3 tablespoons Cider vinegar, mixed with1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Wasabi powder or prepared horseradish

15 to 20 won ton skins

Place sesame seeds in a 7-8″ frying pan over medium-high heat. Shake pan often until seed begins to pop, 3-4 minutes. Pour them from pan; set aside to cool. Peel and pit avocado; dice into a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed, ginger, vinegar, and wasabi; mix gently. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining seed. Serve with wonton crisps.


wonton crisps: Preheat oven to 450.  Grease a cookie sheet. One at a time dip the wonton skins in water; shake off excess. Lay them in a single layer on the greased baking sheet. Bake for 4 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness of the won ton skins. Cool on racks. If you want to make the crisps a day or two ahead of time package them in an airtight container and store at room temperature. Serves 6


This spicy guacamole combines herbs, red peppers and cayenne and was sent to me by a reader from New York.

2 avocados, about 1 pound

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup small cherry tomatoes (cut in halves or quarters, if large)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

3 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 rounded teaspoon dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the avocado in a bowl. Coarsely mash it (DO NOT PUREE). Stir in the lemon juice. Add the peppers, tomatoes, green onion, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix to combine. This recipe tastes best made as close to serving as possible. For short-term storage, seal in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the guacamole. Serves 6.


8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup ripe avocado, diced

1 plum tomato, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon roasted red pepper, diced

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon chili paste

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and place them in a baking dish and cover with foil. Cook it for about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. When cool, dice into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl combine the chicken, avocado, tomato, red pepper, oregano, cumin, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, and chili paste. Mix together gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips or pita wedges. Serves 8


1 large avocado, diced
juice from one lime
2/3 cup canned black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 green onions chopped
1 tomato seeded and chopped
hot sauce to taste

In a bowl combine the avocado and lime juice. Add the black beans, green onion, and tomato. Mix to combine but don’t mash the avocado and add the salt and hot sauce to taste. Makes approx. 2 cups. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water

1 cube chicken bouillon, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup avocado, diced

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoon finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

chopped red peppers for garnish  

chopped green pepper for garnish

 Soften gelatin in cold water in a small saucepan.  Add the bouillon cube and salt.

 Heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin and bouillon are dissolved; cool slightly.

 In a bowl combine the avocado, sour cream, green onion, lemon juice, and hot sauce; stir in gelatin mixture.  Pour the mixture into a 3-cup mold and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold onto a serving dish and garnish with chopped peppers.  Serve with crackers.  Makes about 2 2/3 cups.


2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon pepper, ground

1 teaspoon cumin ground

3/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1 red onion large

3 avocados

1 tomato large, diced

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

3 Serrano chilies

3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Lime juice, fresh, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, ground pepper, cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place this marinade in a shallow dish. Slice the onion into 1/4 inch thick slices, add to the marinade, and let sit for an hour. Heat a grill or grill pan until quite hot. Drain the liquid from the onion and place on the grill, about 3 minutes a side. Cool slightly and then coarsely chop the grilled onion. Peel, seed, and cut the avocado into 1/2″ dice (do not mash). Seed and finely chop the chilies. In a bowl combine the garlic, tomato, avocado, chopped onion, cilantro and season to taste with salt and lime juice. Mix gently so as not to mash. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. Makes 2 cups. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


1 1/2 pound fresh or frozen corn kernels (not canned)
1/4 cup water
1 cup of your favorite guacamole recipe
1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red bell peppers, jarred or fresh
1 to 3 tablespoon canned diced green chilies, (I use medium hot)
1 teaspoon rice wine or apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the corn in the water, either in a saucepan or in a microwave, until heated throughout, about 3 minutes. Cool and make sure to drain thoroughly. In a bowl combine the guacamole, peppers, chilies, lime juice and vinegar. Mix gently to combine and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6 to 8. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

Chocolate Will You Please Be My Valentine?

Chocolate has been the “high priestess” of aphrodisiacs since it was discovered over 3,000 years ago in Mexico.  Montezuma (of the don’t drink the water fame) would drink 50 goblets of a chocolate drink a day to give himself stamina to handle his harem of over 600 women.

So with my quantum leap of food logic I say what better way to say I love you on Valentines Day than giving or serving chocolate (for breakfast lunch AND dinner).

Hold on a second before you go rushing out to buy DeBrands, Godiva, Ghirardelli, Hershey’s or even Nestles. You need to know a little bit about the chocolate you’re about to use or eat. Not all chocolate or cocoa is created equally. Different recipes call for different types of chocolate.
          Unsweetened or baking chocolate is simply cooled, hardened chocolate liquor. It is used primarily as an ingredient in recipes, or as a garnish. Semi-sweet chocolate is also used primarily in recipes. It has extra cocoa butter and sugar added. Sweet cooking chocolate is basically the same, with more sugar for taste. Milk chocolate is chocolate liquor with extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla added. Milk chocolate is the most popular form for chocolate. Cocoa is chocolate liquor with most of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. Each form of chocolate can create a different taste so make sure you’ve got the right ingredient for your recipe.

White chocolate is somewhat of a misnomer. In the United States, in order to be legally called ‘chocolate’ a product must contain cocoa solids. Most of the stuff you get in the market place today does not contain these solids so technically it’s not really chocolate. Real white chocolate is primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla.

Chocolate in its many forms is always welcome as an expression of love. The making or serving the following recipes won’t guarantee the love will be returned but they could give you a shot a few extra brownie points.


1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 bars (1.5 ounces each) Dark Chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Coarse sugar

In bowl of a food processor, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pulse until well blended. Add butter chunks and process for a few seconds, just until butter is size of peas. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sugar.

In small bowl, whisk together heavy cream, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour cream mixture over dry ingredients. Add chopped chocolate and stir to form dough. Knead dough lightly in bowl about 10 times. Transfer dough onto lightly floured work surface and shape into 8-inch round disc. Transfer round to plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut round into 8 wedges. Transfer scones to ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until set. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Or serve slightly warm. Makes 8

Modified from


2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened chocolate powder

1 egg

1 egg white

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup milk

strawberries or raspberries or sorbet

Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add all liquid ingredients and stir until batter is smooth and creamy.  Let batter rest in the refrigerator until the air is settled, about 2 hours. When ready to prepare crepes, heat crepe pan over medium heat and pour 1/3 to 1/4 cup of the batter into hot pan. Rotate pan until batter is cooked through and then turn to cook the other side. When done remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Store until ready to serve. May be made one to two days ahead of time. Fill with berries, sorbet. Serves 2.


This recipe is a fun way to portion out cake mix into individual servings much like cupcakes, but with a much quicker bake time.

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup of boiling water

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

In a bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add 2 large eggs to the butter mixture, stirring between each egg to combine thoroughly. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the cocoa water mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just mixed. Batter may be stored in the refrigerator until needed. Makes 4 waffles.


This recipe should be started the night before you want to serve it as it has to sit for at last 4 to 5 hours before you cook it.
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 cups skim milk, divided
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 eggs
2 cups half and half

3/4 cup butter, very soft or melted
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
Whipped cream or maple syrup, optional
Generously grease a 9×13 baking dish that is at least 2 inches deep. Arrange trimmed bread slices on bottom of pan in 2 layers. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk, chocolate chips and sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until chips are melted and sugar is dissolved. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Stir in vanilla. Let cool. In a large bowl, beat eggs, remaining milk and half and half. Mix chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Pour over bread slices. Cover pan tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and prepare topping.

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, walnuts, coconut and dark corn syrup. Spread or spoon the topping over the bread slices. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour or until center is set. If edges are browning to fast, cover with foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes or so until cool enough to spoon or slice. Top with whipped cream or syrup, if desired. Serves 8


1 orange – peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 cup cold milk

1 cup crushed ice

Combine orange pieces, chocolate syrup, milk, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve. Makes 1 serving


2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen white yeast bread dough, thawed, divided

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk
Grease two 9-inch-round baking pans. Roll out 1 bread loaf into 16 x 10-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle 2 tablespoons over dough leaving 1/2-inch border around sides. Sprinkle with 1 cup morsels and 1/2 cup nuts. Roll up the dough starting at short end; seal edges. Cut into 6 slices; place cut side up in prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining bread loaf, sugar mixture, morsels and nuts; place in second prepared baking pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until dough almost fills pans. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool slightly in pans on wire racks. In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and milk and mix into a stiff glaze. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls. Serves 10 to 12.


3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 can of pumpkin (1 pound)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 cup of flour

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

8-12 oz. chocolate chips (miniature or regular)

Preheat oven to 375. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, oil, eggs, Mix to combine. Mix dry ingredients separately; then add slowly to wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Grease muffin pan and fill cups 2/3 full. For full size muffins bake 20 to 25 minutes. For mini muffins bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 12.

It’s Tuna Time


            Tuna fish is one staple that is always in my pantry. Obviously, there are days when time is short, we open a can of tuna, smash it together with some mayo, throw it into a sandwich and call it dinner. BUT, when we do have the time to cook, how many of us reach for that cute little can in order to satisfy that take me back to childhood craving that pops up every now and then.

Tuna is a member of the mackerel family and Albacore Tuna is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef or chicken. Tuna is considered a fatty fish because of its supply of omega-3 fatty acids. This polyunsaturated fat has been shown to protect against heart disease and may also fight breast, ovarian and colorectal cancers. It’s also thought to have a role in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

There are a lot of varieties and grades of canned tuna to choose from. What you choose will depend on your tastes and the specific recipe. Solid or fancy pack will contain large pieces of tuna and is usually albacore. Only albacore tuna may be labeled and sold as white tuna. I’m happy to pay the higher price for white tuna because it has a milder flavor and lighter color. In fact, it looks very much like canned chunk chicken and I sometimes substituted it for chicken in some of my recipes.

Chunk tuna has smaller pieces. Flaked tuna is fairly broken apart and best used for salads where the tuna is mashed and mixed anyway. The latest tuna product to hit the market is tuna packed in vacuum pouches with no added oil or water.  If unopened, canned tuna can be stored in a cool cupboard up to one year. Any leftover canned tuna can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use with four days. Tuna salad with a dressing can be refrigerated up to three days. Cooked tuna dishes such as casseroles can be frozen up to two months.

When it comes to tuna everyone needs to drop their preconceived notion that it’s just for lunch, because a can of tuna can be much more than a sandwich filling or salad ingredient. Canned tuna can be the main ingredient in a creative main course, appetizer or salad.



This recipe is great for break the fast or Shavuot

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups milk

1 can (7oz) tuna, drained

1 teaspoon chopped pimiento

1 can (4oz) mushrooms, sliced — drained

2 hard-boiled egg — diced

1 teaspoon minced onions

Cheese Biscuits

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450. Make the cheese biscuit dough and then make the tuna pie filling.

Melt the butter in saucepan and add the flour and salt, mixing well. Add the milk slowly; bringing the mixture to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the tuna, pimiento, mushrooms, hard cooked egg and minced onions. Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole. Arrange cheese biscuits on top.

Cheese Biscuits:
Sift dry ingredients together into a bowl; cut in shortening. Add grated cheese. Add milk, stirring with a fork until all flour is moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured cloth-covered board and knead gently for 20 seconds. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with lightly floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on top of hot tuna mixture in casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.


1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese — softened

1 7 oz can solid white tuna — drained and flaked

3 tablespoons diced green pepper

3 tablespoons diced onion

3 tablespoons diced celery

5 olives, pimiento stuffed — diced

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a food processor combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the pecans. Process just to combine. Remove the mixture from the bowl of the processor and shape the mixture into a ball; cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Roll the chilled ball in the chopped pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. This can be made 2 days in advance. Serve ball with assorted crackers.
Makes approx 2 cups.


A simple and elegant alternative main dish salad
1/3 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 1/4 cups chopped peeled cucumber
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup raisins
1 (6 oz) can  tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 (11 oz) can extra- sweet whole kernel corn, drained

 Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium pan: stir in couscous. Remove the mixture from the heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill. In a bowl combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, parsley, salt pepper, sugar and garlic powder and stir well with a whisk. Add the couscous, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, raisins tuna, and corn. Toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavors blend. Serves 6 to 7.


An original twist on a classic oriental recipe

2 cans (3 ounces) Tuna, drained and finely flaked

2 cups finely chopped bok choy or cabbage

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/3 cup minced green onions

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root or 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup celery, minced

1 to 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

50 to 60 wonton skins

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Plum sauce, sweet and sour and/or soy sauce for dipping

In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, tuna, carrot, onions, egg, soy sauce and ginger, celery and sesame seeds until mixed. Position the wonton skins on a dry surface with 1 point facing you. Spoon 1-1/2 teaspoons of the tuna mixture in center of skin (use a slotted spoon if filling is wet); moisten edges of skins with water. Fold bottom corner over filling; fold side corners over first fold. Roll remaining corner over to seal. Repeat with remaining wontons.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat about 3 inches of oil. Fry the wontons, a few at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes or until deep golden brown. Drain well on paper towels and keep warm in a 300 oven until ready to serve. Serve hot with plum sauce. Makes 50 to 50 pieces.


For a reduced calorie dish use a nonstick skillet to make the tuna cakes.

1 can (12 ounces) tuna, drained and finely flaked

3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs or matzo meal

1/4 cup minced green onions

2 tablespoons chopped red peppers

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Lemon-Dill Sauce

1/4 cup pareve vegetable or chicken broth

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

Garnish: shredded carrots and zucchini (optional)

In a large bowl combine the tuna, bread crumbs, onions and pimiento and set it aside. In a small bowl beat together the egg and milk. Mix well and stir in the lemon peel. Add the tuna mixture and toss until moistened. With lightly floured hands, shape the mixture into eight 4-inch patties.

In a large nonstick skillet melt butter. Fry the croquettes, a few at a time, until they are golden brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side). Place the cooked croquettes on a cookie sheet in a 300 oven until they are all ready to serve. To make the sauce, in a small saucepan combine the broth, lemon juice and dill and heat until warm.  To serve, spoon shredded carrots and zucchini onto each plate; top with 2 tuna croquettes and spoon the sauce over the top. You can also garnish with an additional slice of lemon. Serves 4. This recipe can be double or tripled


Pureed red bell peppers are the base for a rich red wine sauce.

1 can (9 ounces) tuna, drained and broken into chunks

2 cups chopped red bell peppers (about 2 peppers)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup pareve chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 teaspoon pepper

½ cup water chestnuts

1 red bell pepper, slivered and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 yellow or green bell pepper, slivered and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup julienne-strip carrots

2 cups cooked hot cooked pasta or rice

In a skillet, saute the chopped bell pepper, onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. In a blender or food processor bowl, place vegetable mixture; cover and process until pureed. Return the sauce pan and stir in the wine, pareve vegetable or chicken broth, sugar and pepper. Mix well and keep warm over a low heat.  In a 2-quart saucepan, blanch the red pepper and carrots until they are crisp tender. Stir steamed vegetables and water chestnuts into sauce. Add the tuna and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until heated through. Serve the tuna and sauce over pasta. Serves 5 to 6

Super Superbowl Dips

check out my article on Dips for the Superbowl in the Journal Gazette

Let’s Go Clubbing: Making the Ultimate Club Sandwich

To paraphrase the words of Grocho Marks, why would I want to belong to a club that would have me as a member? Well, obviously, he wasn’t talking about a club that loves club sandwiches because everyone I know who’s ever eaten one is a member of that organization for life.

A classic club sandwich for those of you who have never had this tasty treat is a triple decker sandwich combination of bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise. The most popular theory is that the club sandwich was first served in 1894 at the famous Saratoga Club House the very same place where potato chips were invented.  What is probably more likely origin story is that club sandwich was created in the club cars of the trains zipping in and out of New York, Chicago and Philly (and yes, Philly cheese steak sandwiches are a subject for another column).

I belong to the cooking club of tweaking a recipe once I’ve got it right the first time just because I can and well, I usually end up with something if not better at least more interesting. The following club sandwich recipes are all variations on a theme and all delicious.  For the very best eating experience I suggest that, when possible, you use leftover turkey or chicken rather than the processed and sliced kind of deli meat you usually find in this kind of sandwich if you’re ordering it at a restaurant. Real meat as opposed to processed is always better for you. You can use whatever type of bread you like (whole grain is nice) and low or no fat mayo is just fine.



1/3 cup buttermilk ranch salad dressing

2 red peppers, seeded and diced and divided

1 12-oz. can solid white tuna, drained and broken in chunks

2 stalks celery, diced

1 cup whole kernel corn, drained

4 or 5 thin slices of red onion

12 slices toasted whole wheat or rye bread


In blender container combine the dressing and 1 diced red pepper; process but not too much, you want there to be chunks of the red peppers in the sauce. Set the sauce aside. In a bowl combine the remaining diced pepper, tuna, celery, corn, and 1/4 cup of the sauce.  For each sandwich, spread two slices of toasted bread with the sauce. Top one with the tuna mixture, a slice or two of red onion and lettuce. Place another piece of bread on top and repeat finishing with a third piece of bread. Secure with 2 toothpicks and then cut in half diagonally. Makes 4 sandwiches


2 to 3 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 10 to 12 pieces

Salt and pepper 

 2 teaspoons oil 

1 long loaf multi grain bread or Italian bread (not sliced) 

 3/4 cup mayonnaise 

 1/4 cup honey Dijon mustard 

 1 to 1 1/2 pounds kosher breakfast beef, cooked and drained 

 4 roma tomatoes, sliced

 2 avocados, pitted, sliced thin

1/2 carton alfalfa sprouts

1 thinly sliced English cucumber 

 6 to 8 lettuce leaves 

Slice the loaf of bread in thirds lengthwise and set it aside. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a grill pan and cook the chicken pieces for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until just done. Set the pieces aside on paper towel to drain. Slice the loaf of bread horizontally and set aside. In a bowl combine the mayonnaise with the honey Dijon mustard and mix to combine. Spread the mustard-mayonnaise on the bottom third of the sliced bread. Arrange 1/2 of the chicken slices on the bottom layer of the bread. Top with the 1/2 of the breakfast beef, 1/2 tomatoes, 1/2 avocados, 1/2 the bean sprouts and 1/2 the cucumber and lettuce leaves. Place the middle third of the bread on top and repeat the layering starting with the mayonnaise. Spread the top of the bread with the remaining mayonnaise mixture and top the sandwich. Secure the sandwich with toothpicks and slice into 6 sandwiches. Serves 6


1/2 (16-ounce) Italian bread loaf

1/4 cup Italian dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup mustard

1/2 pound sliced salami

1/2 pound sliced smoked turkey

lettuce leaves

3 roma tomatoes, sliced

8 turkey pastrami

Cut bread diagonally into 12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices; arrange on a baking sheet. Brush slices evenly with Italian dressing. Bake at 375 for 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly toasted. Spread untoasted sides of bread slices evenly with mayonnaise and mustard. Layer 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side up, with salami, and turkey. Top with 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side up; layer with lettuce, tomato, and turkey pastrami. Top with remaining 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side down. Cut in half, and secure with wooden picks. Serves 4.

Modified from Southern Living, JANUARY 2001


4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

1 tablespoon minced onion

8 slices kosher breakfast beef, cooked and drained

6 slices hearty grain bread

8 slices deli hickory smoked or barbeque turkey

4 large tomato slices

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, sliced

red leaf lettuce leaves

In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, minced onion and chili powder. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over one side of the bread slices. On the first piece of bread layer a 1 lettuce leaf, 2 slices of turkey, then 2 slices of kosher breakfast beef, then a slice of tomato and then a 2 slices of avocado. Season with a little salt and pepper. Place another piece of bread on top and repeat. Place the 3rd slice of bread mayonnaise side down. Secure with toothpicks and cut in half. Repeat for the second sandwich. Serves 2.

Submitted by Roxanne Lemers Fort Meyers FL


3 slices whole grain bread

2 leaves lettuce

2 slices fresh tomato

4 strips cooked turkey bacon

3 to 4 oz leftover cooked turkey

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon leftover cranberry sauce

In a bowl combine the mayonnaise and cranberry sauce. Toast three slices of bread. Spread one side of each slice with the mayonnaise mixture. On the first piece of bread place lettuce on top of the mayonnaise. Put a slice of tomato on top of that, then the a few pieces of turkey and 2 pieces of turkey bacon. Place the second slice of bread on top of the cheese, mayonnaise side down. Spread the top of this slice of bread with the mayonnaise mixture. Repeat the layering sequence and top with the remaining slice of bread. Secure with toothpicks and slice diagonally. Makes 2

Submitted by Charles Katrell Chicago IL


1 package puff pastry

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

4 tablespoons honey, divided

6 ounces thinly sliced deli chicken breast

6 ounces thinly sliced turkey pastrami

1/3 to 1/2 cup raspberry preserves

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Defrost the puff pastry sheets and place them on parchment paper and then place the puff pastry on cookie sheets  Cut along the lines so that each sheet is cut into 3 pieces. In a microwave bowl combine the butter and 2 tablespoons honey. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds and then brush the mixture over the dough. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until just lightly golden browned. Cool to room temperature. Spread the top of 2 layers with the raspberry mixture. Top the preserves with the chicken. Place the second layer of the crust on top of the chicken. Spread this layer with more preserves.  Layer the pastrami on top of the preserves. Top with the third crust. Spread the remaining honey mixture on top. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds. Return the loafs to the oven and bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes before cutting. Cut each loaf into 4 sections. Makes 8 pieces


Even though this isn’t technically a club sandwich this recipe from is sooooo delicious I just had to share it.

Peanut streusel:

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup old-fashioned oats

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 eggs, beaten to blend

1/3 cup milk

12 slices firm white or egg bread

3 to 4 bananas, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Ground cinnamon

Maple syrup, optional

For streusel, combine brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon. Add peanut butter. Work into mixture using 2 forks or your fingers, until blended and crumbly. Set aside.

Blend cream cheese, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat together the eggs and milk in a large, flat dish. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons cream-cheese mixture on each bread slice. Top a slice of bread with sliced bananas. Place second slice of bread with cream cheese side down on bananas. Repeat for remaining bread slices. Spray 2 (13-by-9-inch) glass baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Dip a sandwich in the egg mixture, turning to coat each side. Repeat. Place 3 sandwiches in each dish; sprinkle with cinnamon. Have oven heating to 375.Sprinkle about 2 1/2 tablespoons streusel topping over each sandwich, pressing lightly to make it adhere to the bread slice. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Slice in half, corner to corner, for each serving, and serve with maple syrup, if desired. Serves 6.

Wrap Up Your Old Recipes. Try Lettuce Wraps


One of the toughest tasks during the entertaining  is to come up with recipes for appi- teasers  that aren’t the same old same old  fish, soup or salad. While tradition has its place sometimes you just need to think outside the preverbal recipe box and re imagine what you might like to serve to start out a special meal.

            This year, for a first course let’s try lettuce wraps. Delicious, simple, easy to make ahead of time, really beautiful to see and most importantly, they’re different. The following recipes have all been taste tested and have passed my personal “yes I’d serve these to my mother” 5 point check list. Some of the ingredients are a little more difficult to find  but I can suggest that you try the specialty sections or your grocery store or if you keep kosher, the internet and sites like and

NOTE: If you can’t find kosher certified fish sauce or the rice wine I suggest you use the SoyVey products (ie  Teriyaki sauce) instead. You can always use a kosher certified Thai peanut sauce in a pinch.


2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cucumber peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup thinly sliced red peppers, (you can use 1 jalapeno and the rest red bell)  

2 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

2 cups skinless smoked trout fillets, broken into bite-size pieces

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup whole mint leaves

1/2 cup small whole fresh basil leaves

16 small to medium inner leaves of romaine lettuce (from about 2 hearts of romaine)

1/3 cup (about) sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

Place the carrot and cucumber pieces in large bowl. Add green onions, peppers, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce; let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

Add trout pieces and tomatoes to the vegetables and mix to combine. Drain the mixture and then return the mixture to the bowl; add in the mint and basil and toss to combine. Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter. Divide trout salad among lettuce leaves. Drizzle sweet chili sauce over each salad and sprinkle with peanuts.

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or white wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon wasabi paste (see note)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley
4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1/2 cup 1/4-inch-cubes peeled jicama
2 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3 cups shredded chicken
12 to 16 butter lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, kosher salt and wasabi paste. Add the parsley, green onions and jicama;
toss to coat. Gently stir in avocados. Divide the avocado salsa and shredded chicken among the lettuce leaves. Top each with toasted sesame seeds and serve 3 to 4 wraps per person. Serves 4.
Note: Find Wasabi paste in most supermarkets in the Asian foods aisle or with other sushi ingredients, or at an Asian market.


This recipe is from Todd Wilbur and Top Secret Recipes

3 tablespoons oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup water chestnut

2/3 cup mushroom

3 tablespoons chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot mustard

2 teaspoons water

1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.

Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.

Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Sauté chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce” cups”. top with” Special Sauce”. Makes 4 appetizer servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


2 limes, juiced (about 1⁄4 cup)

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons chili paste

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 cups roasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped.

2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

12 Bibb lettuce leaves (about 1 head)

3 cups fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks

Kosher salt
Whisk the lime juice, sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the peanuts and cilantro and stir until combined. When ready to serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter. Put about 1⁄4 cup of pineapple in each leaf and season with salt to taste. Top the pineapple with the nut mixture. Serves 4.

1 head Iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 red chili – 1 de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion or 2 small shallots diced
1/2 cup extra firm tofu cut into thin slices
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
4 green onions sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Cut off stem of iceberg lettuce and separate the leaves and place in a bowl of ice cubes so that they become cold and crisp. Heat oil in a wok or a large frying pan.

Add garlic, ginger, red chilies and shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the tofu, carrot, cabbage and spring onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lime juice and soy sauce. Add the bean sprout and stir fry for a minute and remove from heat. Take a whole lettuce leaf and place 2 or 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with fresh basil. Add roasted peanuts (optional) Make into a wrap and enjoy.


1/2 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Iceberg lettuce leaves, crisped in ice water, drained
2  cups shredded cabbage (store bought is fine)

2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup green onions, sliced

In a skillet over medium high heat sauté ground beef and garlic; remove from heat, add Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, hot chili oil and sesame oil; taste for seasoning.  Can be made ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.  

When ready to serve reheat the mixture; put drained lettuce leaves on a serving platter; cabbage in a bowl with serving tongs; rice in a bowl and onions in another small bowl.  Allow each person to make their own wrap and adding more hot seasoning according to their taste. Serve with sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.


Partially freeze the beef to make slicing thinly easier (to make it really simple, get your butcher to slice for you!) make certain to squeeze out any moisture in the beef before starting this recipe. These are delicious and simple to make

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce (optional or to taste, add in for extra heat, or use dried chili peppers)

7 green onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 lbs steaks (cut across the grain into very thin slices, no more than 1/8-inch thick)

2 tablespoons oil

chopped green onion, for sprinkling

1 large lettuce leaf (or use any soft lettuce leaves such as butter lettuce)

cooked white rice

In a bowl stir together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, ginger and 4 tablespoons sesame seeds; mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the steak and toss to coat; marinade 20 minutes at room temperature. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until JUST smoking, then add in the steak slices in one layer, saute the slices turning occasionally until browned and cooked through (this should take about 4 to 5 minutes, you will most likely have to cook the beef in batches, depending on how large your skillet is). Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with green onions and remaining 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Serve the lettuce leaves on the side and roll the beef in the leaves. Serve with cooked rice. Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings


8 ounces mock crab meat

1 ripe mango, peeled, pit removed, and diced into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup diced jicama (peel, then dice)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

3 green onions, white and part of the green, finely chopped

10 leaves Boston lettuce, washed and dried well (other lettuce can be substituted, but Boston lettuce works particularly well)

Orange Sesame Sauce:

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup orange-flavored yogurt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl combine the mock crab, mango, jicama, cilantro, and green onions and toss to blend well. Fill each lettuce leaf with about 1/3 cup (or slightly heaping 1/4 cup) of the mixture. In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, orange yogurt, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper until smooth. Drizzle a tablespoon of the citrus sauce over the mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve. 5 appetizer servings (about 2 wraps each)

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