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June 2011

Pork Loin Pas de Deux

Nothing—short of eating itself—makes me happier than cooking with Santa Maria. When it goes right, we are like ballet dancers leaping over each other on the stage of our kitchen. If music isn't playing on the stereo, it is in my heart.

Too often, though, we're tired. Or, we're worn out. Or, we're tired and we're worn out. Then, cooking together is out of the question. If, by chance, we both end up in the kitchen at the same time, there's no ballet. Mexican wrestling is more like it.

Tonight, though, we hit the sweet spot. She prepped the pine nuts, parmesan, and lemon juice for our Fly Sky High Kale Salad while I delved into the chiffonade of leaves. Then I threw two pork loins on the broiler, and dinner was ready in less than a half hour.

Roast Pork Tenderloin


  • Olive Oil
  • A bit of Garam Masala, about a teaspoon
  • A bit of mustard, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb

Turn on the oven’s broiler.
Mix the olive oil and the spices and the mustard in a bowl.
Lay the pork on a roasting sheet and coat with the mixture.
Put the meat under the broiler for about ten minutes a side, until it browns.
Cook it to an internal temperature of about 150 degrees, which will leave a little pink but be safe to eat.

Note: This makes great, low-fat sandwiches when put on bread with caramelized onions.

Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

Empty Cupboard = Quinoa Cereal for Breakfast

Yesterday, I didn't do the weekly shop. Santa Maria didn't get around to it either. The cupboard was becoming bare. That ever happen to you? I didn't panic, but I did think of W. B. Yeats's "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

In my case, the rough beast was a half-finished quinoa salad. I started it yesterday by cooking the quinoa, but we didn’t have any cilantro, and I couldn't finish it. What was I to do with two-cups of cold, cooked quinoa?

I had a bowl of it for breakfast. 101 Cookbooks has a much more elegant and healthy version (though quinoa on its own is very healthy). I heated it up in the microwave with a little milk, and added raisins, almonds, and cinnamon. It’s the same way I make my oatmeal, and it was tasty. I'll do the shop tomorrow, and make that salad.

Dad’s Secret Weapon: The Delicious, Hot Dessert! A Bread Pudding Recipe

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I’ve never been big on making desserts. It’s a bit of an Achilles' Heel for me, so I was excited last week to connect with a new reader of the site, Jim van Bergen. He found Stay at Stove Dad while after looking online for wines for an upcoming party and coming across my post about the 2008 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon. Jim is a committed oenophile, and I hope to talk more with him about wine, but in the meantime he was wiling to tell me about his secret weapon as a dad who cooks: The Delicious Hot Dessert.

I watched Michael DeVidts,from New Orleans School of Cooking, make his N.O.S.C. Bread Pudding at a demonstration. I was fascinated, and went home made it successfully, and was then fully fueled to adapt it to be my own: healthier, and family friendly. I replaced canned fruit and dry coconut with fresh apples (a family favorite), and the flavor-packed, highly nutritious blueberry. I reduced the sugars, cholesterol, calories and fat content, introduced raw and natural ingredients (it's great with almond milk, brown sugar and honey in place of cane sugar!) and radically changed his sauce directives.

The sauce to me is about decadence: great rich flavor, and not the alcohol. So I flame the sauce every time and burn off much of the alcohol, and caramelize some of the loose sugar left in the sauce, which is a nice touch. The version here is more public-friendly, as few people want a recipe with organic brown sugar, almond milk and agave. They want what is comfortable to them, and in their cupboards.

Bead pudding is a crowd-pleaser. It’s dense, full of great fruit flavor, and tastes wonderful either by itself, a la mode, and with or without the hard sauce. My neighbors adore the sauce on this bread pudding (even the non-drinkers) and I expect you will too.

It’s a lot of fun to make with your kids- they can tear the bread up, chop apples while supervised, mix the various elements, and stir the mixture using bare hands- just remember to wash hands with soap and warm water before and after cooking, ok dads? And don’t let the kids taste the hard sauce. They can have chocolate sauce or ice cream instead.

Bread pudding was originally a simple way to use up the old bread and aging fruit instead of throwing them out, so it’s easy to substitute other fruit. It works great with pineapple, banana, papaya, or raspberries. Experiment, or use what is at hand.

One of the great things about this recipe is the ease and flexibility it has while retaining the great qualities of a luxurious baked dessert. My younger daughter saw me combining the wet portion with the dry in the kitchen, and said, "Daddy, I like your bread pudding, but I'm not in much of a blueberry mood tonight. Can you maybe make it half and half?" Knowing she'd eat one portion of the 12 this would make, I did a half-and half on the fly, splitting the mix into two bowls to split the fruit up. It worked like a charm.

Jim van Bergen is a New York based sound designer, audio engineer, and production manager working in the entertainment industry, currently mixing "RAIN" on Broadway.  He lives and cooks in Queens with his wife and two "tweenage" daughters.


JvB’s Apple Blueberry Bread Pudding with Macallan 15 Sauce

        Suggested Cookware:

  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 9x12 (large) deep baking dish
  • 1 small sauce pan


        Dry ingredients:

  • 1 Loaf Day-Old French/Italian Bread, crumbled (or 6-8 Cups any type of bread broken in to 1” chunks)
  • 1  cup cane/white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar + approx 2 tsp (separately) to top pudding
  • 2 tbsp. Cinnamon + 1 tsp (separately) to top pudding
  • 1 tsp nutmeg


        Wet ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk or vanilla soy
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla



  • 2 cups (or handfuls) of blueberries
  • 2 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, & chopped into small pieces


Rip/tear/crumble bread into medium (approximately 1”) chunks.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Grease sides and bottom of baking dish by using the paper that the butter comes in. (Just rub it on the side and bottom of the pan.) Set baking dish aside.

Melt butter in sauce pan. Mix melted butter, eggs, vanilla and milk in 2nd bowl.

Slowly pour in wet mix over dry mix and mix well by hand. Add berries and chopped apple. Mixture should be very moist but not soupy. (If soupy, add/mix in more chunks of any other bread until consistency is correct and not soupy.)

Transfer mixture evenly into buttered 9 X 12 baking/casserole dish or larger.

Sprinkle brown sugar sparsely on top to help achieve golden crust.

Place into non-preheated oven. Bake at 350 deg. for approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serve warm with sauce drizzled on top.

Macallan 15 (Hard) Sauce

  • 8 tbsp. butter (1 stick)
  • 1& 1/2 cups blends of powdered sugar, (or substitute brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup Macallan 15 year-old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (or hard liquor of your choice)

Cream butter and sweeteners over medium heat until all butter is absorbed.

Pour in liquor gradually to your own taste, stirring constantly. Remove when well blended. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Spoon warm liquid over bread pudding as served. Some of my friends have told me they use a lot more liquor. I suggest you start with a tablespoon per serving, for flavor. You can also flame the mixture to burn off alcohol if you are comfortable with large open flame.


Two notes on the sauce:

1) Many recipes suggest you use whatever liquor is cheap and at hand, I disagree completely. Use what is delicious, smells enticing, and is flavorful. People prefer this with high end whisky: I’ve used Macallan 10 and 15, Oban, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, Woodford Reserve, and Maker’s 46.

2) When the pudding is in the oven, first clean up the kitchen, and then make the sauce. 


"Man with a Pan" Hits Best Seller List!

Earlier this week, I learned that "Man with a Pan" has hit the New York Times best-seller list, at #26. I want to thank all the readers who bought a copy of the book and who shared news of it with their friends and family.

One of my goals for the book is to get more men to cook, more often. The wider the readership of the book, the greater the chance of this happening. Being a man who cooks for his family is a radical thing, and I think this proves that doing so is gaining wider acceptance. If you are a Stay at Stove Dad, my hat goes off to you.

I haven't been cooking much over the past few days (I caught a slight case of food poisoning; no, it wasn't from anything I made!), but I did put together a guest post for the website MommyBeta. It talks about why I cook, and I encourage you to check it out. They titled it "For This Dad, Food = Love," and I think they got it right.

A Curious and Delicious Brew: Innis & Gunn's Oak-Aged Beer

I was out on Monday night at a couple of parties, including one for "Red Hot + Rio 2," the latest offering from the AIDs fighting group Red Hot. The album features Alice Smith, John Legend, Beck, David Byrne, and countless other contemporary artists interpreting classics from the Brazilian Tropicália movement of the late sixties.

Tropicália mixed blues, rock, psychedelia, folk, jazz, bossa nova, and samba into a revolutionary stew, and the new compilation is a tasty treat. But a strange brew they were serving at the party left a more lasting impression on me: Innis & Gunn's Rum Cask Finish Oak Aged Beer has the lightest, sweetest, most complex taste of any beer I've ever had.

The beer, which is aged in oak casks that have been used to make Navy rum, was an accidental discovery on the part of its producer a few years ago. A Scottish whisky distiller, William Grant & Sons, wanted to make an ale-finished liquor, so it commissioned a leading brewer to make a beer to season the casks that would be used for the whisky. The beer was supposed to be discarded, but some thirsty employee tasted it instead, and realized that they were on to something.

The amber brew is delicate and sophisticated, with hints of vanilla and, of course, oak. There's no trace of bitterness at all. The brewer’s website suggests pairing it with food, like a fine wine, but I disagree.

I was so enthusiastic about the beer that I bought some last night at Bierkraft, and had it with my quick chicken curry. The food overwhelmed the beer, though, and rendered its delicate flavor closer to water than anything as delightful as I had downed the night before. Next time, I'm having it strictly as an aperitif. It deserves a moment of its own.

We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You a New Way to Listen to Music

This is is a cooking blog, but what is a kitchen without music? While I can revel in the sound of sizzling onions and crackling bacon, there are others who need a bit more melody. I just discovered, a new social-media way to listen to music on the Internet. I don't fully understand how to use it, but it seems pretty straightforward. And the following video explains all.

One note: It's in its beta form, and you need a Facebook friend to access it. Feel free to send me a friend request, and I'll connect you. Here's the video. Have fun!


Father's Day Follow Up: A Fantastic Find

I had a great Father's Day—I got to sleep until 9:30 a. m. The last time that happened I was sick with a 103.5 degree fever, so you can imagine how good it felt. Santa Maria cooked a Dutch Baby for breakfast, and we spent the day at Governors Island, riding a bicycle built for four.

When we returned home, I threw together a quick summer dinner of flounder, broccoli, and bread, but what I really want to tell you about is something that I found last week. On Thursday, I came across a great reminiscence, on Leite’s Culinaria, by Rick Casner, a cooking dad whose children are grown. If I hadn’t had my friend Anne’s look back at her dad, I would have run it on Friday. I enjoyed Casner’s piece so much though, I still wanted to share it. He starts:

At one point in my life I actually believed that having a dog might be good preparation for having kids. I was wrong about this. I now know that taking care of a dog has absolutely nothing to do with taking care of kids, no more so than having a coffee table might be good preparation for having a dog simply because they both have four legs.

Somehow, though, my first wife and I bought a coffee table and then we got a dog and then we had a couple of kids, as if we were players in a frothy 1930s musical believing we could simply dance over the realities of our own limitations. Then the marriage fell apart, and I began to realize just how poundingly stupid I could be about these kinds of things. Sitting in the car one day, staring out of the windshield with my two young sons asleep in their car seats, it sank in. It wasn’t all about me anymore. It was about me and those two boys. I was now responsible for something bigger. It also struck me that my own father hadn’t been much of a role model, and that I’d have to somehow invent for myself—and for them—what being a dad was. I can still remember where I was parked. That’s the day I became a father.

The rest of the post is here, but I'll leave you with the photo that accompanied it. If this doesn't convey how sweet it is, I don't know what could.


Father’s Day Guest Post: An Appreciation

Sometimes, I wonder what Nina and Pinta, who are still very young, will remember of my cooking after they have grown up. I hope they have something of the perspective of my friend Anne, who wrote to me recently about the cooking her dad did (and does for her).

My dad is a doctor (pulmonary), and has been putting in twenty-hour shifts at the hospital with some regularity for most of my life.  He’s nonetheless managed to devote a good bit of time to kitchen life with my mother and sister and me and, now that we’re grown, my husband and my sister’s partner. He’s always thought of cooking as a pleasure, and likes to have company with him while he works, chatting and listening to music and sous-cheffing.

My sister and I were given easy jobs as children – setting the table, stirring risottos, making the biscuits and salad dressings – while he and my mother put dinner together. He liked to insist that Beth and I had the best palates in the household, and took our opinions on whether a sauce required more oregano or a pinch of sugar very, very seriously. We got to have sips of the good wines, too, and tell him what we could taste in them.

Among the most memorable dinners were hushpuppies and fried mullet, which we caught by wading out in Pensacola Bay with my dad, him tossing a cast net, my sister and I following with pillowcases to keep the fish alive and underwater until we got them home.

Another favorite was mounds of boiled shrimp and crabs, with several kinds of sauce, eaten on a table covered in newspapers, with ice-cold beers and cokes all around. On cold days, there was lentil soup cut with balsamic vinegar. For a crowd of my and my sister’s friends (who quickly became my parents’ friends, too), he’d make vats of plain tomato and puttanesca sauce, a skillet full of fennelly sausage, spaghetti and garlic bread and a salad so big it had to go in a plastic tub.

In the summer there’d be pan-fried trout with never-refrigerated sliced farmstand tomatoes and corn cooked in its husks on the grill. I particularly loved linguini with crab and a sherry-cream sauce; my sister adored eggplant and tomato and parmesan layered in a pyrex dish and baked, with baguette from the French bakery downtown.

Things rarely went far awry, though I do recall the flaming rum babas (coconut macaroons sautéed in butter, plus hot rum and a match) that scorched the ceiling, and the chicken cooked in a salt crust that did not fall open with the tap of a butter knife like Jacques Pepin had said it would. Daddy eventually went down to the basement to retrieve a hammer and chisel; somehow salt ended up on the ceiling of our dining room, and it stayed there for years after.

What else?  He eats the worst lunches possible (hot dogs and crackers when he’s at the hospital, cans of Vienna sausages and packets of saltines when he’s hiking or fishing, sometimes a pickled egg), and skips breakfast more often than not.  It’s like he’s saving his taste buds up for one meal. When we’re all together, the topic of conversation is always What Are We Going to Eat Tonight/Tomorrow/Every Night This Week. You’d think it’d get boring, but it never does.

The following is a family favorite of my dad’s recipes, something he put together after conversations with a couple of Greek patients. It’s not too hard to assemble and get in the oven (particularly if you parcel out the job of peeling and cleaning the shrimp), giving everyone a nice, unhurried cocktail hour. Serve with good crusty bread for soaking up the juices, and maybe a salad.

Jim’s Shrimp-Tomato-Feta Dish

Preheat the oven to 400. Put some olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish, and add a layer (about an inch, maybe an inch-and-a-half) of coarsely-chopped tomatoes. Cook this in the oven for ten or twelve minutes, until it starts to get a bit sludgy, then take it out and smooth out the tomato layer with the back of a spoon. Add a layer of medium-size peeled shrimp, grind some black pepper over them, then crumble feta cheese over the top.  Put back in the oven and cook for about ten minutes more, until the shrimp are pink.

You can dress it up with garlic, basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, an extra drizzle of olive oil at the end – but it’s plenty delicious plain.

Corn Grits Experiment Pays Off: A Crunchy Pork Chop Recipe

The other night I wanted pork chops for dinner, but I couldn't follow my usual recipe, at least not to the letter. That very successful stove top method calls for cornmeal, and I didn't have any at home. All I had on hand was an bag of Bob's Red Mill organic Corn Grits, a.k.a. polenta.

I've never cracked the riddle of polenta, and I wasn't about to start trying. I wanted dinner ready right away. Could I use the corn grits instead of the corn meal? Why not, I figured. I found a bit of tarragon in the fridge, combined it with the grits, and I had dinner on the table in under twenty minutes.

The result was more crunchy than usual, and I liked that. A very successful experiment, indeed.

Super Crunchy Tarragon Pork Chops

  • Corn grits
  • fresh tarragon, chopped, to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-3 boneless pork chops, depending on their size (to serve two)
On a plate, combine the corn grits with salt and pepper, and dredge the meat in the mixture until it is coated on each side.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan and add a bit of olive or other vegetable oil.
Fry the meat on one side, with the pan covered until it is brown, about three or four minutes.
Flip the meat, cover, and turn the heat down low.
Watch the meat and cook until it is at least 145 degrees inside.
Take the cover off, turn up the heat and brown to your liking.
Let rest a few minutes before serving.



Andy Borowitz Interview from my Visit to The Leonard Lopate Show Plus An Inspiring TED Talk By My Friend Janet Echelman

This evening I made a late dinner using some old pasta, basil, ham, and an egg. I wasn't using a recipe, but if I had been, it would have come from the "Dr. Seuss Cookbook." I was tired after a long day of radio appearances to promote "Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers who Cook for Their Families," and it was all I could muster.

As I mentioned over the weekend, I was interviewed by the humor writer Andy Borowitz who was guest hosting "The Leonard Lopate Show." He said he never uses recipes, so I felt emboldened as I grabbed what I could find from the refrigerator. In case you missed the broadcast, WNYC has posted the interview here.

And if you did listen to the interview, and you are new to this blog, I have something for you. It's not food related, but it does speak to my mission here, which is about inspiring other dads to take up the spatula and start cooking.

My friend Janet Echelman is a sculptor, and she recently gave a TED Talk about the importance of taking imagination seriously. If you want to be a good cook, that's good advice. As it turned out, my last-minute dinner went surprisingly well. I'll write more about it shortly, and in the meantime I would like to hear about your too-tired-to-cook, success stories, if you have any. Until then, Janet's video can be found here: