Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

This happens to be one of my wife Kendall's favorite meals.  It works best pared with a grilled cheese sandwich, and a cold fall evening.

3 lbs fresh pumpkin peeled and sliced, and roasted in oven drizzled with melted butter for 45 minutes to one hour
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 ancho chile seeded and
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup *
1 cup heavy cream

In a large dutch oven sweat the onions, carrots, and celery in butter with cloves, ancho chili, and cinnamon.  Add stock, roasted pumpkin, nutmeg, and maple syrup.  Cook on low temperature for one hour.  Puree soup in batches in your blender.  Be careful to only fill your blender jar half way if you are pureeing hot liquid and use the lowest setting.  Have a firm grip on the top of the blender lid otherwise it will all end up on your ceiling.  Put back into the pot and add cream.  Serve hot and enjoy!

*Grade B maple syrup is the second tapping of the tree.  The tree needs to work harder to produce the sap for this, so it pulls more nutrients from the ground and a more intense maple flavor is the result.  Grade A will work, but use real maple syrup and not the Mrs. Butterworth's Please.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pablo's mom's rice

This is another one of my favorite things.  Gandules or pigeon peas, and sazon seasoning can be found in the Mexican section of your local mega mart as well as your local Mexican grocery store.

1/2 lb salt pork cubed, or if pre sliced cut into strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
1 can Gandules (pigeon peas)
1 1/2 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
2 packages sazon seasoning
1/2 cup cilantro leaves chopped

In a 2 quart pot, bring water to a simmer.  Add the cubed salt pork and blanch for 2 minutes to remove much of the salt.  Remove from water and blot dry with a towel.  Discard the water.  In a large pot add the olive oil and bring up to medium high heat.  Add the salt pork and brown.  Remove the pork from the heat.  If there is a lot of grease left over drain all away except for a couple of Tbsps.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add the chopped cilantro stems and pigeon peas, and finally the rice.  Continue to stir for another minute and then finally add the chicken stock.  Add the sazon and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cover for 20 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro leaves just prior to serving and top with the crispy salt pork.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

salad nicoise

Lets talk a little bit about this salad.  In a fancy restaurant you might have a beautiful piece of seared tuna sliced thin and served as the centerpiece to this salad.  I have to agree that it is a nice touch, but we’re talking country French here, and I think that the canned stuff is actually more authentic than the fresh albeit more elegant seared tuna steak.  That being said, I would stay away from Charlie the Starkist tuna, or the Clucker of the Sea.  A fine can of oil packed tuna is what you want.  Healthy gourmet has the right stuff.  Also I prefer the marinaded rather than overly salted canned anchovies, but if you can only get the canned ones, let them soak in water for a couple of hours changing the water twice, and then set them in olive oil for a few minutes.  This will take a lot of the unpleasant saltiness out of them.  Yes I said bottled marinated beans or asparagus.  The French can their vegetables for the winter, and lettuce is actually a winter crop but asparagus is not, so it would stand to reason that they would mix mediums here.  And quite frankly I love the really good canned vegetables.  Again, not talking the cans of beans or asparagus you get in the canned vegetable aisle of Kroger.  You might have to look a little harder for the good stuff.  This salad embodies both the pantry and the earth, and that’s why I like it.  You can substitute grape or cherry tomatoes for the others if you like.  I like the smaller ones simply for the look.  The hard boiled eggs are a must.  Get your mise en place ready for this one early. 




1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1 medium shallot, minced

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves 

2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves 

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves 

1 Tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper




2-3 cans of tuna

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered 

10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces

3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths

1 small red onion, sliced very thin

8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
(French jarred marinated green beans are actually preferred.  You could also substitute jarred marinated asparagus.)

1/4 cup niçoise olives 

2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional.  If you can find fresh marinated anchovies all the better.)



1 Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.  Or place all ingredients except for oil in your blender and turn on lowest speed.  While blending open the feed tube and slowly drizzle in the oil for a better emulsion.

2 Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water (*or chicken stock) to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.  Remove potatoes from cooking liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.

3 While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter.  Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

4 Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans (unless using canned ones!) Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.  I use white asparagus as well cooked the same way, or pickled.

5 Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers , and serve immediately.

*by cooking the potatoes in chicken stock you get a much better flavor, and you can re-use the stock for whatever other project you are doing.  The stock will have potato starch in it which can help as a thickener.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toasted Ravioli or T-Ravs

I’m from St. Louis originally, and I have to say that this is one of my favorite things to eat.  Every restaurant in St. Louis, and I mean EVERY restaurant has toasted ravioli on the menu as an appetizer.  I’ve seen it in a Mexican restaurant in the city, figure that one out.  I guess tradition is tradition.  Now, one of the funniest things about this is no one makes their own ravioli.  They all come from “The Hill” in St. Louis, which is the Italian neighborhood.  They come frozen, and are thawed, breaded, fried, and passed off as their own.  Since producing ravioli in mass quantities can involve seriously expensive machinery, no one wants to incur the cost, but everyone wants these little morsels on their menu.  My favorite comes from a sports bar called “Rigazzi’s”  (they make their own!)  this place usually has one of the St. Louis Cardinals dining there.  So here’s the recipe the way most of the restaurants make em. 

2 large eggs
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk (thicker and richer taste than regular milk for this recipe)
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs 
1 1/2 cups good-quality marinara sauce (the recipe on this blog would be just the one!!!)
about 4 cups vegetable oil for frying 
24 fresh bite-size ravioli, thawed if frozen 
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan  

In a shallow bowl beat together eggs and evaporated milk. Put bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. In a small saucepan heat sauce over moderate heat until hot and keep warm, covered.

In a small heavy kettle (about 5 quarts) heat 1 inch oil over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 350°F. While oil is heating, dip ravioli in egg to coat, letting excess drip off, and dredge in bread crumbs, knocking off excess. Arrange ravioli as coated on a tray.

With a slotted spoon gently lower 4 ravioli into oil and fry, turning them occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. With slotted spoon transfer ravioli as fried to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350°F. before frying remaining ravioli in same manner.

Transfer hot ravioli to a platter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serve ravioli with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Monday, August 24, 2009


So last night I braved the timpano for the first time, and it turned out great.  This is a very fun recipe, and if it turns out right, you will end up the big hero.  If not, well, it still tastes good.   By the way, there is no right or wrong for this, you can put anything in one of these.  I like different pastas because I think it makes a much more dramatic presentation.  

Pasta Crudo

3 cups all purpose flour
3 ounces cold butter cubed
4 ounces cold lard cubed
5 egg yolks
ice water

In a food processor, add the flour, butter, and lard.  Pulse until all are incorporated and the mixture resembles tiny little pebbles.  Add the egg yolks and pulse some more until all are incorporated.  Remove the mixture from the food processor to a stainless steel bowl.  Slowly add ice water a Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together into a workable ball.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Sauce One

2 oz unsalted butter
2 oz all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup pesto sauce
2 egg yolks
cracked pepper

Melt your butter in a large sauce pan, and whisk in your flour.  Keep whisking until the flour takes on a wonderfully nutty aroma, and turns a slightly darker blonde.  This is called a blonde roux.  At this point whisk in your milk, continue to whisk as the mixture thickens.  Add your heavy cream and continue to whisk.  If the mixture becomes too thick, add more milk an 1/8 cup at a time until it no longer thickens past a nice saucy thickness.  Whisk in the cheese, pesto, and cracked pepper.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the egg yolks.  Tempering the eggs is not necessary. 

Sauce two

Two cups marinara sauce (recipe on blog)
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients together in a stainless steel bowl, no need to heat.

Remaining ingredients

1 lb cooked spaghetti
1 lb cooked rigatoni
1/2 lb sliced sharp provalone cheese
1/4 cup slice pepperoni
2 cups of quartered meatballs
1/4 cup sliced green Italian olives
6 sliced hard boiled eggs

Combine the pesto cream sauce with the spaghetti.  You may not need all of it.  Set aside the remaining sauce to garnish.  Combine the red sauce with the rigatoni.

On a well floured surface, roll the pasta crudo into a circle 1/4 inch thick.  Using a timpano mold, or a 5 quart dutch oven, or even a wide but shallow stainless steel bowl, drape the dough over the top of the cooking vessel, and tuck it neatly inside.  There will be a lot of overhang, don't worry about that.  Take a few of the provalone slices and layer them on the bottom.  Add about 2 cups of the red pasta, and put that on the next layer.  Sprinkle with some of the olives, add some slices of hard boiled eggs.  Add another layer of pasta, this time 2 cups of the spaghetti.  Smooth it out, and toss in the meatballs forming another layer.  Add more olives.  Add another 2 cups of the red pasta.  Smooth it out as best you can and add the second half of the eggs.  Cover the eggs with the remaining slices of provalone cheese.  Add 2 more cups of the spaghetti.  Cover with the pepperoni.  Now, fold the overhanging dough over the top of the pasta to completely cover.  If you need to patch it, don't worry it should work out OK.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the dough is a beautiful golden brown.  

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Put a serving plate upside down on top of the timpano, and invert, removing the baking dish.  Now, let it rest another 15 minutes before you slice into it.  If it cools it will stay together.  If not it will fall apart.  Slice, and serve on a plate drizzled with remaining white sauce and some marinara.  Garnish with a basil leaf.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The worlds best slaw

From my family picnics into the mountains I developed a love of coleslaw.  Granted, it was usually the coleslaw from a popular fast food chain who's founder looked like a skinny santa in a southern searsucker suit.  If ya'll can guess who I'm talking about.  Coleslaw did mean an evening drive up Junction Creek Road in Durango colorado, eating fried chicken under the aspens beside a beautiful little river.  For some reason, every time I eat any kind of coleslaw, I feel nostalgic for the mountains, and temporarily drawn back to that former chapter of my life.  Since I started cooking on my own I've looked for a good recipe, but so many of them seem laden with heavy mayonnaise, so I developed my own.  This one is a lot lighter than your traditional slaw, but not lacking in taste.

1 peeled jicama shredded into matchstick sized pieces (a root that is in most mega marts, just ask your produce guy)
2 cups red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1 Granny Smith apple cored, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (can be found in most mega marts.  Really just white wine vinegar that's sweetened but I won't tell if you won't.  You can use regular balsamic if you like, it just makes it look like mud, still the same flavor though.)
2/3 cup safflower oil or other nuetral flavored oil
2 Tbsp honey
pinch salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

In your blender combine all the ingredients except for the oil.  Turn the blender on, and slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube at the top.  Toss enough dressing to lightly cover with the salad ingredients, and refrigerate at least 2 hours for the dressing to fully work it's magic.  Remaining dressing is wonderful on salads, and will keep for a week.  If you like, you can toss about 1/3 of a cup of blue cheese in with the coleslaw for a nice bite!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pablo's Mom's Roast Pork

One of my very best friends is a great operatic tenor named Pablo Veguilla.  Right now he is singing with the Paris opera, and is really loving France.  He is of Puerto Rican descent, and comes from a very rich culinary heritage.  Pablo's Mom is one of the sweetest human beings walking the planet right now, and I wish that everyone on the face of the earth could meet her and taste her cooking at least once in their lives.  They would be the better for it.  Pablo was my roommate for many years in Philadelphia, best man in my wedding, and we went to Florida State together.  His Mom would make occasional appearances in our home and always make her roast pork.  It was a must, and I'm sorry to say that no matter how many times I've made it, I never have quite gotten it right.  It never tastes the same.  I have a feeling that there is some kind of magic weed she sneaks in with the oregano.  Or perhaps, and it probably is this, it's just the love.  It always tastes better when someone you love, and someone who loves you makes it.  So, in honor of Mrs. Veguilla, here is this recipe.  

1 5 Lb pork picnic roast or Boston Butt
1/8 cup Dried Mexican Oregano
1 whole pod of garlic crushed and finely minced
5 Tbsp Spanish Olive Oil
several turns of black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sweet Spanish yellow onions sliced
1 cup chicken stock

In a small bowl combine the oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil.  Make a paste out of it.  Take your roast, and with a parring knife, stab several holes into the roast all over.  Using your finger, push the paste into the holes all over the roast.  Probably about 25 puncture wounds will do.  Put the roast, onions, and chicken stock into a large dutch oven.  Place in a 325 degree oven and cook for 3 hours or until the meat reaches an interior temperature of 165 degrees.  When Roast is done, remove it from the oven.  It should fall apart.  Serve with yellow rice, or on hoagie rolls dipped in the juice.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Steak au Poivre

I just got home a few minutes ago from seeing the movie Julia and Julia, (which I loved!)  Holy crap Meryl Streep.  If she doesn't get the Academy Award for her performance, all is wrong with the world.  Anyway, I was inspired to include a very traditional recipe for Steak au Poivre in the blog today.  This is one of my favorite meals, and if you make it, you'll see why.  It is very easy if you have the right ingredients.  If you happen to not have made your veal stock yet, then for shame!  You can't really substitute a box stock for this because the veal stock is already at full reduction, but you could reduce this all the way down from the box stock, it's just the intensity of flavor won't be there.  There is a night before preparation if you want to go the extra mile.

1 16 oz 1 1/2 inch thick dry aged ribeye steak (check at specialty butchers or Whole Foods market.)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 clove smashed garlic
healthy pinch kosher salt
cracked black pepper

Combine the butter, garlic, salt and pepper.  Rub the melted butter all over the steak, and place in a ziptop bag in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove the steak from the fridge a full hour before you intend on cooking it so that it comes to room temperature.  Many people don't know about this step.  For one, you will get a more consistent temperature for your steak if you let it come to room temperature, and the steak will be much more tender.  Another reason is that the outside of the steak could burn before the inside is cooked to a nice medium rare. 

Let's talk about steak temperatures.  For a nice medium rare steak, if you lightly push down on the steak in the center and it feels soft like your earlobe, it has come to a nice medium rare.  If you touch it and it feels like the flesh between your thumb and first finger, it is medium.  If it feels like the tip of your nose, it is well done.  As far as I'm concerned, cooking a steak to well done should be the eleventh thou-shalt-not in the ten commandments.  If you do like your steak the consistency of shoe leather, don't waste your money on a dry aged steak and just get one from cellophane central at your local mega mart.  You won't be able to tell the difference.  If your cardiologist is telling you to eat your steak well done, let me tell you this.  Eat your steak medium rare, and only have one every couple months or so.  Cooking a steak till all of it's juices have dripped into the fire and there is nothing but tar left is settling for less than you deserve.  Just don't eat it as often and indulge yourself on the rare occasion.  Settling for second best is like marrying the girl that irritates you just because you don't want to be alone.  Just say no.  Okay, here's step two.

1/2 cup cognac (you don't need to spend a fortune, you can get one in small bottles at your local liquor store)
1 Tbsp green peppercorns (these are found usually with the capers in the store.  They are not a spice, but a bud.  They are a lot more tender than the black peppercorns you are used to.)
1/2 cup reduced veal stock
1/2 cup cream
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp softened butter

Bring an 11" frying pan to medium high heat on your stovetop. (DO NOT USE NON-STICK!)  Non stick pans will smoke before the pan is hot enough and send foul toxins into the air.  Also you will not have any pan scrapings stuck to the bottom of the pan which is the base for the sauce.  I also don't suggest cast iron because the de-glazing process will release the black seasonings imbedded into the pan.  I suggest stainless steel or aluminum cookware.  (Afraid of Alzheimer's?  Read my section about cookware.)  Drop the steak right onto the hot pan.  It will immediately start to brown.  The shock of the heat will seal in the juices much more effectively.  Cook for three minutes on side A.  Don't move it around, just let it be.  Turn the steak, and cook another 3 minutes.  Do the touch test, it should be at about medium rare.  Take the steak out of the pan and move it to a plate to rest while you prepare the sauce.

De-glaze the pan with the brandy, scraping the fond off the bottom of the pan.  All of the burnt on pieces of steak will liquify with the brandy.  Add the peppercorns, veal stock, and cream.  Let the sauce reduce on medium heat by half or until it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and taste.  If it needs salt, add it, but it probably won't need it.  Whisk in the softened butter to finish the sauce leaving the pan off the heat.  Slice your steak into 1/4 inch slices against the grain of the meat, and on the bias.  Drizzle the sauce liberally over the top, and garnish with a little dusting of cracked black pepper and perhaps a little minced parsley.  This steak cries out for a full bodied red wine.  I like a Barolo, or Amarone.  Enjoy

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chili con Carne

This is absolute bliss for me.  I love this stuff.  My Dad used to get Hormel chili in a can, and make me chili mac all the time, and unless you’ve had that, something is missing from your life.  It’s like the best spaghetti Bolognese you’ve ever had (ON CRACK!)  My addiction to chili started at a young age, and has progressed from the can to several different signature Dallas Bono recipes until I finally decided on this one as the absolute best, and definitive version.  I would usually make several quarts of this stuff and freeze it in pint baggies for later, and believe it or not I would intentionally cook this the day before eating it so the flavors could marry even more.  Sometimes I’d put on soft music, and candlelight, and I’d get all dressed up to get in the mood…  OK, I’m just joking about that, but you get the idea.  Here is the other thing.   A while ago I left the beans in the can, and just concentrated on the meat.  To me, beans belong in the baked bean pot (Which I adore with almost as much freaky sensuality as the chili) not in a good pot of con carne.  This recipe actually has three parts, first the meat, second the tomatoes, and finally the chili sauce.  It is complicated in some ways, and time consuming, but just like any other well planned courtship, the payoff can be mind blowing!

The meat

Ground beef is for hamburgers (which is my death row meal by the way) not for chili.  I feel very strongly about this.  And we want meat with lots of connective tissue here, so brisket, or flank or skirt steak works the best.  I prefer skirt steak.  Lamb stew meat, and pork shoulder.  Don’t use your prime cuts!!!  It won’t taste as good.  Much of the magic comes from the gelatinized connective tissue.

1 lb cubed skirt steak 
1 lb cubed pork shoulder 
1 lb lamb stew meat 
2/3 cup masa corn flour (don’t use corn meal, you want the masa, you can find it in the Mexican section of any grocery store) 
¼ cup homemade chili con carne chili powder (recipe attached) 
1 tbsp salt 
cracked black pepper 
1 sliced yellow onion 
4 cloves crushed garlic 
2 bay leaves (or avocado leaves) 
3 amber colored beers, or honey browns

toss the stew meat in all the ingredients except for the beer, onion, and garlic.  Heat 3-4 tbsp of corn oil in the bottom of a heavy cast iron dutch oven.  Drop the meat in to brown in batches.  There should be more space on the bottom of the pot than meat, we want a quick and high heat browning here.  Add a little more oil, and add the onions, let them sweat for about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute.  Once browned, remove the meat, and deglaze with the beer, making sure to scrape all the fond off the bottom of the pot.  Add the bay leaves.  Add the meat back in and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Continue to cook for 2 hours covered at a slow braise.  If you like you could transfer to a crock pot and keep on low for about 4-5 hours.


You could buy canned tomatoes, and if you are short on time, go ahead but you won’t get the complex goodness that the roasted tomatoes offer.  And yes, I know there are onions in two of these applications.  One is sweated, and one is roasted, the flavors will be very different.

4 lbs tomatoes (peeled, and de-seeded) 
1 sliced yellow onion 
1/8 cup chili powder mix 
generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp kosher salt  

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pour into a roasting pan and set in the over for 45 minutes to one hours until the tomatoes have given off most of their moisture and begin to caramelize.  Remove and scrape all the tomatoes out of the bottom of the pan.  Put the pan directly on the stove top, and pour ½ a beer in to deglaze the pan.  Pour the tomatoes and the deglazed juice into the chili pot.

Chili red sauce

6-8 New Mexico dried red chilis 
1 8 oz can tomato paste 
4 cups stock (beef or chicken) 
3 canned chipotle chilis with sauce
1 clove garlic 2 oz bitter dark chocolate

In a 250 degree oven toast the chilis for 10 minutes, flipping twice.  Remove and de-stem and de-seed.  Leave the seeds if you want more heat to the chili.  Put into a pot with hot oil, and continue to cook for 30 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and stir quickly allowing the tomato paste to begin to brown on the bottom of the pot.  Add the garlic, chipotles, and the chocolate and add the stock continuing to stir.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Let cook, and puree in a blender until smooth.  Add to the pot of chili.

Season the chili pot with salt if needed, and enjoy.  For chili mac, make extra red sauce, and toss a cup in with a lb of boiled spaghetti.  Pour the chili over the top and add cheese and chopped onion.

Homemade chili powder

6 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 dried arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
6 dried chilis de mulato
Op. 6 - 8 dried thai chilis for added heat
4 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Place all of the chiles and the cumin into a medium nonstick saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, moving the pan around constantly, until you begin to smell the cumin toasting, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

Once cool, place the chiles and cumin into the carafe of a blender along with the garlic powder, oregano, and paprika. Process until a fine powder is formed. Allow the powder to settle for at least a minute before removing the lid of the carafe. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. 


Saturday, August 1, 2009

What impresses me as a chef, and as an eater

There are a lot of things that I look forward to when I go out to eat.  To me, it is the ultimate in entertainment, and always a great adventure.  However the things that really impress me are not the big culinary gastronomes who have perfected a new way of cooking with liquid nitrogen, or the guys who sculpt their food into intricately garnished, ring molded works of art that almost seem to scare you away from eating them.  Yes, I respect this, and yes, these techniques I've either endeavored to learn or want to learn in the future.  But truly impressed?  Not usually.  To me food speaks to me in a language that is much simpler.  When the ingredients become so camouflaged behind pretense that I can't figure out what I'm eating, I actually lose interest after a while.  When I was younger I went to a few strip clubs with friends, either for parties, or as a fun thing to do on a Saturday night.  When you walk into one of those places as a young man in your 20's the only thing you can think of is BOOBIES!  BOOBIES EVERYWHERE!  But for me, after a while of gawking at a sea of silicone enhanced heaving chests, I actually have to say I became bored, and somewhat depressed.  Who were these women?  What were their histories?  Was one a single Mom who hated her job and would do anything to support her child?  Did one have a drug addiction she was supporting?  Some were actually college students putting themselves through school any way they could.  But did they really enjoy their jobs?  Was this reality?  And most importantly to me, did I leave better for it?  I feel the same way about food in a lot of ways.  I don't want the flavor of a delicate filet of fish masked by some sauce that has a stronger flavor profile than what it's supposedly enhancing.  I don't want to have to dig my way through a sea of garnishments to find what I'm eating.  Since these dishes I'm dining on used to be walking breathing creatures I think we as chefs owe it to them to present them as tributes to what they were.  If I'm eating beef, I want to taste beef, and what can truly impress me the most is when a chef takes the time to figure out a way to sauce, or season a dish so that the true nature of the food speaks first and foremost.  Complicated food can impress my taste buds for the first bite, but after two or three?  It's all silicone, fancy lighting, cheap perfume and loud music. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I can't believe I'm sharing this.  As my fingers tremble trepidatiously over the keyboard, my eyes twitch, sweat begins to pour from my chilled brow like summer rain glistening off a cold marble statue.  A feeling of loss begins to settle in the pit of my stomach, but also a feeling of relief, a kind of unburdening; almost as if I were holding onto a secret too big for me, something too important for the world, that was bigger than my own selfishness.  I can do this.  I can... share.  Elmo tells me that sharing is good for me, that I will get lots of new friends if I share what I have.  I have heard like comments from Big Bird, Ernie, The Count, Snuffleupugus, and even the gluttonous Cookie Monster.  My daughter is obsessed with Sesame Street.

In all seriousness, I have spent years perfecting this recipe.  How complicated could a freakin' meatball possibly be?  Well, for me it has been an obsession, a quest to find the sublime in the simple, and I think I have it.  Years ago in my fledgling period as a young cook, I tried a nice lean ground sirloin thinking that lean ground beef was good.  Big mistake, not enough fat to keep the meatballs flavorful, and they ended up dry and uninteresting.  Then I tried the quintessential Italian blend of ground veal, pork, and lamb.  I gotta say that I enjoyed these, but yet something seemed still to be missing.  The lamb I definitely liked, I liked the slight gaminess to the overall flavor, but the texture still didn't satisfy me.  After that I went to a full fat ground chuck.  Now this I really liked.  It had the fat content to keep the meatball nice and juicy, and had a nice bold and beefy flavor.  Some people say that there should be a delicate flavor to a good meatball.  I have to say, yes, and no to them.  A good meatball should have a delicate texture, but a bold taste.  It's a MEATball for heaven's sake.  It's made with meat, not fairy dust.  After trying many combinations I finally landed on one that I like.  The ratio is 3/4 pounds of ground chuck, and 1/4 pound ground lamb.  With the pork, it had too delicate a flavor for me.  Now don't get me wrong, I love all things porcine, but the ground pork did not work for me.  Perhaps I could get my pork a different way.  Hmmm....

Then came the other ingredients.  The fillers.  Cheese must go into a meatball, and I used the king for a long time.  Parmigiano Reggiano.  This cheese puts a smile on my face.  It is the best of the best, the greatest of the great.  It is also the most expensive of the expensive.  When I was using ground veal, pork, and lamb with the Parmigiano Reggiano I was spending upwards of $25 for all the ingredients to go into a MEATBALL.  The most peasant of foods, it just didn't seem right.  So I opted for my second favorite Italian cheese, the pecorino Romano.  This sheep's milk cheese has just the right flavor to compliment the lamb, and also the perfect salt content for the meat so we can avoid seasoning the meat itself with any salt.  Perfect.  I used dried pre-made canned bread crumbs for a while, but opted out of that for the sake of making my own, not from stale bread, but from fresh bread.  It gave the meat the softer texture I was looking for.

Finally the binders.  This you will say.  OK buddy, you lost me here.  You dropped the ball (pardon the pun) but trust me, I know what I'm talking about here.  For every pound of meat, I use four eggs, and a half cup of whole milk.  WHAT!!???  That's an awful lot of eggs isn't it?  No.  Basically we are making a soft custard inside of the meatballs that hold the ingredients together.  One egg alone makes a tough meatball, we don't want that.  We also don't want it to fall apart.  The breadcrumbs with the egg binders help guard against that.  SO lets go onto the last bit shall we?

The seasonings.  I have used oregano, rosemary, fennel, and every other Italian herb under the sun.  I've even used fresh mint to try and compliment the lamb.  No dice.  I want to taste the meat, but still have a nice herbaceous flavor as a compliment without overpowering.  The director's cut is...  Basil and parsley.  I add garlic and a slight bit of onion as well, but I like to keep it on the simpler side.  But the final secret ingredient is 1/4 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg.

So shall we make meatballs?

You can feel free to double or triple this recipe if you like.  The cooked meatballs freeze well for a couple of months, but really they don't last that long in my house.

3/4 Lb ground chuck
1/4 Lb ground lamb
4 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup freshly grated french bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup minced or grated sweet yellow onion
5 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1/3 cup minced fresh flat leafed Italian parsley
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
several generous turns of fresh cracked black pepper

Option.  Sometimes when I feel like I need a little pork in my meatballs I add 1/8 lbs of prosciutto that I have diced and crisped in a frying pan.  YUM!

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Form into golf ball sized balls and place on a lightly oiled jelly roll pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.   Let them rest in marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti.  

I'm having a hard time hitting the "publish post" button.  My hand is quivering again.  Maybe I won't share.  Maybe I'll keep it.  Yes...  It came to me, my precious...  The ring is mine!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Caesar Salad Dressing

There has to be a good dressing for me to eat salad.  I'm sorry, but the green leafy stuff just doesn't interest me.  You can say that I'm an osmosis vegetarian.  I eat everything that eats vegetables, and hope that I can get some level of the nutrition that I need through eating our herbivore friends.  I do, however, get very exited about this Caesar dressing.  Now there are lots of stories about it's origin, but divining real fact from the fiction is difficult, so I'll leave that to you.  You can go on Wikipedia and read all about it.  However I can almost guarantee that Caesar himself did not eat this dressing.  

1 tsp. salt 
3 eggs 
1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard 
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese 
1-2 cloves crushed garlic 
6 tsp. wine vinegar 
1/2 cup neutral flavored salad oil (canola or safflower)
6 drops Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil   
2-3 anchovy filets Op.

Submerge your eggs into gently boiling water for 60 seconds.  This will make them a little safer to eat raw, or use pasteurized eggs.  Use as eggs as fresh as you can find.  Add all ingredients except for the oils to your blender jar.  Start to blend on medium speed.  Remove the feed cap from your blender jar, and slowly drizzle the oils in while the blender is running.  Refrigerate what you don't use for up to 2 days.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pita Bread

Did you really think I was going to post a recipe for Gyro without another one for Pita?  My partner Jeremy came up with this recipe out of his big black book of secrets that he guards with his life.  Inside are all of his favorite recipes including a cheesecake that is to die for.  We will never post that recipe, however he would be happy to make one for you should you want one.  This pita recipe however we will divulge since it's basically a white, yeast bread dough, and all of these are pretty much the same with just a few variations.  People are scared to death of making homemade bread, and I don't know why.  Just a few decades ago, it was a skill most everyone had, because for one, it's really easy, and two...  It's just plain cheaper.  Flour, water, and yeast.  That's all you need.  It takes about $.50 to make a loaf of bread, and only about 15 minutes of time.  Granted, this pita recipe takes a little longer, simply because you have to bake them individually.  I will tell you that when I put the Gyro into this pita, and bit into this soft but somewhat chewy warm bread, my eyes did roll back into my head for a couple of seconds.  There is a huge difference in flavor and texture between this homemade pita and the crappy pita pockets you buy in the store.  After making these, you will never buy pre-made pita again.

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar

Ya know the temperature of your bath water after you've been in it for about 20 minutes, and you are so relaxed, but ready to get out because it's no longer hot enough to continue relaxing you?  That's the temperature you need this water.  Slightly warmer than lukewarm, but not hot enough to give you that initial skin scald when you get into the bath.  If you use water that is too warm for this recipe, your dough will overproof, and will not be as good.  Put all of this into the bowl of your stand mixer, or into the bottom of a stainless steel bowl.  Whisk well to combine, and let sit for 10 minutes until it is a beautiful frothy, yeasty goodness.  

3 cups bread flour 
1 1/4 tsp fine grained sea salt

1 cup warm water

Sift together flour and salt into a separate bowl and combine with the yeast mixture and an additional cup of warm water.  Turn your stand mixer on low speed and let the water yeast and flour mix for about 7 minutes.  The dough will be loose, that's OK.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Flour your hands as well, and begin to knead.  The dough will be sticky at first, but just add flour a Tbsp at a time until the dough is still soft, but no longer sticky.  From this point, knead an additional 5 minutes.  Imagine the face of that red haired, freckled kid at school that used to make fun of you, rub dirt into your hair, and punch you in the arm.   That's it, now you're really kneading, be aggressive, you can't hurt the dough.  After the dough is Kneaded, put into a stainless steel bowl with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Turn the dough over and over in the oil until it is completely covered.  Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place in your kitchen for an hour.  

After an hour, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board.  Roll it with your hands into a log shape, and cut in half.  Cut each half in half again, and then each quarter into three equal pieces.  Roll each into a ball and leave on the board covered with a towel for another 15 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Put your pizza stone onto the middle shelf of your oven.  What?  No pizza stone?  That's OK, do you have a stoneware baking dish, or pyrex?  You can use that, just turn it upside down and use the underside to bake on.   Otherwise, go to home depot or Lowes, go to the tile section, and ask for an unglazed, untreated, large floor tile.  They can be up to 16" in width.  MAKE SURE IT'S UNGLAZED, and UNTREATED.  You don't want to be poisoned.  Also the unglazed saucer of a large terra cotta pot makes a great pizza stone.  Using a rolling pin, flour your workspace and pin and roll your dough balls out into 8" disk, or to about 1/8 inch thickness,  and place on the hot pizza stone in the oven.  These go so quickly it's best to do one at a time.  (make sure that stone sits in that 500 degree oven for at least 10 minutes before you cook your pita.)  They should only take about 60 seconds to cook the first side.  (in making these last night, I would actually put one pita into the oven, and then immediately begin rolling out my next one, by the time I was done rolling the next one, the first one was ready to flip.)  When air pockets start to form in the center of the bread, flip the pita over using a pair of kitchen tongs.  Let cook another 45 seconds to a minute, and they are done.  Stack them on a tea towel.   enjoy!

By the way, the pita stays soft the next day too, and a great breakfast is pita and Nutella with sliced banana, YUM!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Döner kebab, Suflaqe, Shwarama, Churrasco, Danar, or Gyro

Döner kebab, Suflaqe, Shwarama, Churrasco, Danar,  or Gyro...   So what’s with all the names?  This dish is made in many countries, and is called many different things. You can find variations of this dish in Greece, Iran, Turkey, Albania, Germany, France, Belgium, Afghanistan, Spain, Italy, and even Mexico city as a popular street chow.   The recipe varies slightly from region to region, and country to country, but it is essentially the same amazing sandwich. Although this takes a little time to prepare, this will provide you with several lunches.  This meatloaf is wonderful cold as well.  If you use quality ingredients and don't eat this with fries or other high fat sides, this sandwich is actually good for you.  Lots of veggies, good protein.  You can eat this relatively free of guilt.  This is not an original recipe but a conglomeration of a couple of different recipes.  

1 medium onion, finely chopped 
1 pound ground lamb 
1 pound ground beef 
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic 
1 Tbsp dried marjoram 
1 1/2  Tbsp rosemary 
1 Tbsp fresh mint 
2 tsp kosher salt 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Put the onion into your food processor and pulse it about 10 times.  Pour the onions into a tea towel, gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice, or drink it if you REALLY, REALLY want to. Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, mint, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a bain marie or water bath (a water bath will help the loaf cook more evenly and gently) and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat.  Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped red onion, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese. 

Tzatziki Sauce 

16 ounces plain yogurt or Greek labneh 
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, finely minced 
Pinch kosher salt 
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
2 Tbsp lemon juice 
6 mint leaves, finely minced   

Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Or you can use a colander lined with cheese cloth.  If you can find the real greek yogurt, it has already thickened and you don't need to do this step.  Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. You can store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stuffed French Toast

Pain perdu or French toast may not have come from France.  The origin of this dish is not known, however a recipe for it can be traced back to a fourth century Roman cookbook.  This is the first known printed documentation for this dish.  Pain perdu is just another great recipe borne out of necessity.  What to do with stale bread?  Huh.  Let’s soak it in milk and eggs and fry it, that aught to work.  Here is a variation on the classic recipe.   

8 eggs
2 cups milk 
3 Tbsp sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 
½ tsp grated nutmeg 
½ tsp cinnamon 
16 slices stale French bread (if you wanted to do this as a brunch item, you could use a baguette and make many 2 or 3 bite sized servings as well.) 
1 jar of your favorite preserves 
1 8oz package softened cream cheese 
1/8 cup powdered sugar 
½ tsp vanilla 
1 cup sliced almonds 
2 Tbsp melted butter 
2 Tbsp granulated sugar   

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Whisk together vigorously or put into a blender.  Butter the botton of a 9 by 13” baking dish.  Pour half the batter into the baking dish.  In another bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and half tsp of vanilla.  Beat to cream everything together.  Take 8 slices of the French toast and on each slice put a liberal amount of cream cheese and preserves.  Place the slices jelly side up into the casserole and move them around until all of the batter has been absorbed.  Pour the remaining batter into a bowl, and soak the remaining bread slices in the batter.  Place the soaked pieces on top of the jelly and cream cheese topped slices.  Sprinkle the top with the almonds, brush the tops with melted butter, sprinkle the top with the granulated sugar, and bake for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and delicious. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fillet Mignon with Sauce Madiera

If you are going to make demi glace, you should know a few applications of the mother sauce, so we're going to make sauce Madiera today.  The true beauty of being a french saucier is how easy the sauces are to make after you've gone to the trouble of making your mother sauces.  The recipes from that point on have only a handful of ingredients and take shockingly little time to prepare.  This is great when you plan on entertaining, as you probably want to spend time with your guests, and not in the kitchen.  This is why that two day process of making demi glace is worth your time.  With this recipe especially I suggest you use a good Madiera wine, and not the seven dollar bottle available at your mega mart.  You will actually taste a difference.  

4 1 1/2 inch thick fillet steaks
4 long strips of high quality lightly smoked bacon (like applewood)(4 toothpicks)
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
2 Tbsp softened butter
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 cups wild mushrooms (crimini, hen of the woods, oyster, etc.)
1/2 cup Madiera wine
1 cup demi glace
2 Tbsp softened butter

Wrap your steaks around the edge with the bacon so that they are completely encircled.  Secure with toothpicks.  Rub your steaks with the softened butter, and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside and let the steaks come to room temperature.  Don't worry, your steaks will not rot sitting out for a half an hour.  If the steaks are at refrigerator temperature it will be much harder to get a perfect medium rare, and the center of the steak would still be cold.  Not good.  

Get a stainless steel skillet and place over medium high heat.  Let the skillet come to temperature.  A small droplet of water will dance across it when the temperature is right.  Place the steaks onto the pan and cook each side for 3 minutes.  Remove the steaks from the skillet and set aside.  Add the finely chopped shallots and saute for around 3 minutes or until they begin to caramelize.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms reduce in volume and give up some of their moisture.  Deglaze the pan with the Madiera, taking a moment to scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula.  When all the burnt yummies (or fond) is up off the bottom of the pan add the demi glace and reduce till the sauce coats the back of a spoon which is called a "nape".  Take the sauce off the burner and stir in the second two Tbsp of softened butter.  Spoon sauce over the steaks and enjoy.

Veal Marsala

What?  Another veal dish?  I promise this is the last for a while, but since we just did picatta, Marsala seemed like the most logical progression.  Most everyone likes this dish.  What's not to like.  Now you have a good amount of that veal stock you made in your freezer right?  HA!  this recipe calls for it, so I suggest you get about a cup of it out and start defrosting.  I will give 2 versions of this recipe, one with the veal stock, and the other with a low salt dark chicken stock.  One is going to be noticeably better than the other, but both are outstanding.

8 veal cutlets pounded thin
5 Tbsp seasoned flour for dredging (1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper)
4 Tbsp olive oil 
2 finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 1/2 cup sliced assorted wild mushrooms (criminis, baby portabellas, oysters, etc. I don't like shitakes for this recipe)
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup reduced veal stock
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 sprig rosemary

Dredge your veal cutlets in the seasoned flour and shake to remove the excess.  You will not use all the flour.  Place your stainless steel skillet pan on medium high heat and bring it to temperature.  (please do not use non stick cookware!  The only thing your Teflon is good for is frying an egg, and only for a couple of months before the coating starts coming off into your food.) When pan is hot quickly add oil, and veal cutlets.  Cook for about a minute and a half on both sides or until golden brown.  Remove the veal, and lower the temperature to medium. Add the mushrooms, and saute for about 3 minutes allowing the mushrooms to release a lot of their liquid.  Add your shallot and saute for about one minute, then add your garlic.  Saute another 30 seconds then pour in your Marsala.  Using your spatula scrape up all the burnt goodness from the bottom of your pan.  Add the veal stock and rosemary. Reduce the sauce until it holds to the back of a spoon.  take your pan off the heat and add the butter, stirring constantly to incorporate.  The butter will mellow the sauce and add a nice sheen.  Add the veal back in and serve with a side of buttered noodles just like the picatta.  Enjoy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Veal or Chicken Piccata

Tradition, tradition, tradition...  Sometimes it's good to be creative in the kitchen and come up with your own unique ideas.  Sometimes you just need to shut up and cook the damn thing the way it was intended.  For instance.  Can you improve Nessun dorma, the greatest tenor aria of all time by putting a rock beat to it, or will you ruin a good thing?  You obviously know my opinion.  If you happen to be a musician running to your staff paper to recompose a perfect aria, you probably won't like this recipe either.  This is the basic, unscrewed around with, and I must say perfect the way it was intended original.  Now I happen to be a true veal lover, and I think making this dish with chicken is an outrage, but I know some of you have a real problem with veal, and I do respect that.  I truly do.  If I had to be the one raising, and then dispatching an infant cow for the sake of someone else's "sophisticated" palatte, I don't think I could do it.  They have such pretty eyes, and hell, it's a baby!  However, if someone else is willing to burden their soul by committing the deed, I'm willing to burden mine by eating it.  This dish needs nothing but some lightly buttered tagliatelle served alongside it.  I like to toss the pasta with just a little parsley, and that's it.  Now you will notice that there is no garlic in this dish.  Contrary to popular American beliefs, Italians do not like big chunks of garlic in their food.  For one thing, it can kill a dish when it's supposed to merely inhance it, and isn't Italy the land of love?  How much num nums can an Italian get from their significant other when they have garlic oil oozing out of their lungs and pores?  Over garlicasizing (to create my own word like a nameless former president might have) is American, and American only.  As more Italian dishes begin to appear on this blog (hello, my last name is Bono) you will see a shockingly reduced amount of garlic in them.  In my opinion, garlic and veal are not great bedfellows for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost, veal is a very delicate meat and buttery in flavor, and I think it needs to be the star of the show.  You will find that my Marsala recipe that will follow later only has a small amount of garlic in it as well.  However, this particular dish does not traditionally include garlic.

2 bacon slices, chopped (or if you can find a good Pancetta by all means use it!)
6 ounces veal or chicken scallops (about 6 scallops), pounded very thin
All purpose flour (for dredging)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon drained capers (optional, but very disappointing if you don't use them.)
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Fresh or deep fried sage leaves (optional)

Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.  Transfer to bowl using slotted spoon.  Season veal with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour; shake off excess.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan drippings in skillet and melt over medium-high heat.  Add veal and sauté until just cooked through, about 1 minute per side.  Divide veal between 2 plates; tent with foil to keep warm. Add wine to same skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.  Boil until liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.  Whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter.  Mix in pine nuts, capers, minced sage and bacon.  Season with pepper.   Spoon sauce over veal. Garnish with sage leaves if desired and serve.  A cool garnishing idea it to take your sage leaves and drop them into a fryer for about 10 seconds.  They retain their beautiful color, but become crispy.  At some of the restaurants I used to work, we would have deep fried sage and basil leaves as garnishes all the time, they look really neat.