Guest Posts

Don’t Whine about Thanksgiving, Get Some Advice about Thanksgiving Wine

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Longtime readers (oh, the faithful, I thank you) may notice a change to the layout of Stay at Stove Dad. I’ve freshened the design and made it mobile friendly, so I hope it’s easier to use. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is an awareness of my limits as a father. My darlings Nina and Pinta remind me every day! So when it came to picking wines for the big Thanksgiving holiday, I knew enough to ask around. I checked with my friend W. R. Tish, a father of two and a certified wine expert, for some advice this year. Here’s what he has to share. I found it very reassuring. Happy drinking!

Here’s to Thanksgiving, Our National Wine Holiday

With Turkey Day fast approaching, a chorus of call-outs can be found all over the Web, and in stores, on TV… for wines that belong on the Thanksgiving table. Lucky for us: It’s all pretty good. 

Yes. Most all of the heapin’ helpings of T-giving wine recommendations bobbing to the surface of the Great Wine Sea are in fact excellent. 

Without fancy 90-point numbers, with critics and consumers alike recognize that the Thanksgiving spread, whether classic or modern, is an exercise in controlled food chaos (stuffing and yams and cranberries — oh my!). And for the most part, wine advice has followed suit. Merchants and writers are promoting flexible strategies and relative abandon. 

Perhaps more ironically than ever in this politically haywire year, the unifying force behind Thanksgiving wine is… Diversity.

You’ve got your bubblies and rosés and Rieslings. You can pick a Pinot or three—Noir, Gris, even Grigio. Chenin? Sure. Chinon. Double-sure.

Then there’s Bojo (as in Beaujolais, Nouveau or Cru) and Chardo (as in Chardonnay—steely or oaky okay).

And Gee-whats-her-name-er. Yes, Thanksgiving is the holiday where if you bring Gewürztraminer, someone will cheer.

Plus reds galore to be poured without fear: Zin, Syrah, Shiraz, Grenache, Tempranillo…heck, you can even unscrew a Merlot without flinching.

I do believe we’ve reached a tipping point. People get it: Thanksgiving is open season, a solid green light to drink whatever you want—and/or to experiment. Think about it: what really does not go with Thanksgiving’s peaceful riot of flavors? 

Actually, there are some red-wine flags. You can leave your trophy Napa Cabs in the cellar, I’d say. And heavy Italian reds.  What else doesn’t fit… wines from Turkey? Butterball Vineyards? If it’s grape-based and fermented, there’s probably room for it at the Thanksgiving table circa 2016.

All things considered, I think the time has come to declare Thanksgiving America’s wine holiday. Time to put the Fruit of the Vine right up there with turkeys and pumpkins and pigskins. Let’s make it an annual cork-popping celebration of good taste, of course, but even more importantly, of Diversity.

Tish’s 2009 T-giving Top 10

Here are some perennial greatest hits from T-giving at my house, where we have had anywhere from 12 to 20 guests:

            ◦           Beaujolais Cru. Bojo Nouveau is feeling sooooo 20th century. Go for the real deal. Morgan, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Ven

            ◦           Off-dry Riesling. A fruity foil to sweet and tart and gamey flavors alike; and pleases Aunt Tillie from the get-go.

            ◦           Rosé. Because everyone’s drinking it. And it does flatter turkey.

            ◦           Pinot Noir. This is the one wine that is splurge-worthy.

            ◦           Bordeaux. Humble Bordeaux, that is. Nothin’ fancy.

            ◦           Rioja Reserva. Like BDX, a quiet crowd-pleaser, and worth stepping up to the Reserva level.

            ◦           Buttery Chardonnay. Never fails to keep someone happy.

            ◦           P-X. Nothing says hola! to pecan/pumpkin pies like Pedro-Ximenez.

  1. W. R. Tish is the Managing Editor of Beverage Media, and develops wine tastings via his website Follow him on twitter @tishwine

How Did I Get Here?: The Metaphysics of the Lemon Reamer


Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. I just finished “How Did I Get Here?” by Jesse Browner, and if you’ve ever asked yourself the question its title poses, you’ll be well rewarded by reading it. Browner, a talented novelist and translator, as well as family man and home cook, writes with humor and insight about the tension between responsibilities and aspirations. Speaking of the latter, I have mentioned before that I’m going to include more of my own illustrations on this blog, and I’m starting a new project, where I draw kitchen tools and implements. I had the great good fortune of making Browner’s recent acquaintance, and he offered to write about a favorite of his. Enjoy!

The Wooden Oxo Lemon Reamer, by Jesse Browner: 

            I estimate that I have had to replace my wooden Oxo lemon reamer at least four or five times in the past few years. I find this trend disturbing, as I am not otherwise given to carelessness. What happens to the lost reamers? I don’t know. Is there something about them that makes them especially easy to mistake for objects that need to be thrown in the garbage? I don’t know. Is it me, or my wife, or my children, or guests helping to clean up after dinner, or the cleaning lady who throws them away? I don’t know. Is it possible that they have not actually been thrown away at all, but that they have the ability to wink in and out of existence, like quarks? I don’t know, but I am beginning to suspect that very thing.

            The wooden Oxo lemon reamer is not an exotic accessory. When one goes missing, I am able to walk three blocks from my home and find its replacement, which is indistinguishable from the original, which itself was once a replacement. They all look exactly the same, down to the tiny, laser-cut alien logo on the handle. Once it is nestled in its niche of the utensil drawer, it is impossible to know whether this is the new reamer or the one that had gone missing, now re-embodied. Searching the drawer for the other won’t help, because the new one may just as easily have disembodied simultaneously. If you do find two, it is just as likely that they are one and the same reamer existing in two places at the same time, like a tachyon. It is this quantum personality of the lemon reamer that encourages me to believe that it is endowed with certain mystical capacities not possessed by any of my other utensils.

            But its probabilistic behavior is not the only quality that lends my reamer its metaphysical ambiguity. You may have noticed that you do not have many kitchen utensils in your arsenal that are made of wood. Spoons, salad tongs, chopping boards – most likely very little else. If you are me, you also have a wooden lemon reamer, which – unless you are an accomplished woodworker – is almost certainly the only object in your kitchen that you could even remotely imagine having made yourself, with a whittling knife and a little chunk of beechwood.

Go now, since you are at your computer, and type “lemon reamer” into the search bar. The results will show you reamers made of stainless steel, aluminum, glass, plastic transparent and colored, and wood. Now look just at the wooden ones -- among the Norpros, the Naturally Meds and the Holy Land Markets, the Oxo seems pared down to the most basic, essential quiddity of the lemon reamer. No ornament, no design flourishes, no excess of any kind. Less than simply modern and functional, it looks positively primitive. And that is precisely how it feels in the hand, for reasons I can’t entirely explain. When you hold a wooden Oxo lemon reamer, it feels as it might have felt to hold a neolithic tool – say a knife or a scraper that you yourself had fashioned out of a flake of flint 10,000 years ago at the mouth of your family cave. It fits just so into the palm of your hand, you angle it just so to attack the target flesh, you thrust it upwards and twist with a similarly brutish, venereal force, then withdraw it just so, dripping and pendant with glistening, shredded fiber.

This is why I suspect my wooden Oxo lemon reamer to be something a little more than a utilitarian hand tool. In addition to being an anomaly of quantum continuum mechanics, it is also a time machine capable of transporting the user to the very dawn of culinary history, not to mention to a distant, inchoate future when perhaps all food will be prepped and cooked by the power of focused imagination. Just as you cannot confidently locate the reamer in mechanical space, you cannot pin it with any certainty to one fixed moment on the temporal spectrum. Just as it exists everywhere and nowhere, it exists at all times and outside of time. Some might call such ambition in a utensil a design flaw, but as for me, the reamer is the one artefact I turn to when I wish to resurrect the Dream Time, when all cooking was an act of transcendent faith in the benevolence of the universe. 

Mint Lemonade

  • 1 cup of mint simple syrup
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice (from approx. eight lemons)
  • 1 quart of water
  • a handful of spearmint or peppermint leaves

Make the simple syrup by combining 1 cup each of water, sugar and tightly packed spearmint or peppermint leaves. Heat to boiling until all the sugar has dissolved, allow to cool, strain and discard mint.

Combine all the remaining ingredients in a jug with ½ to ¾ cup of simple syrup, to taste. Reserve leftover syrup for the next batch of lemonade.

Family Paella: A Guest Post by Thomas Rayfiel


I have been fortunate to get to know, slightly, the writer Thomas Rayfiel, who, as it turns out, has long been the chief cook in his household. My good fortune was recently multiplied when he agreed to share a bit of his culinary experience—and a recipe—with me for this blog. Before I get to that, though, let me more properly introduce him. Or rather, I’ll leave the honor to The New Yorker’s Mark Singer, who wrote a charming Talk of the Town story about him three years ago, when his novel “In Pinelight” came out: 

Thomas Rayfiel [is] a quietly industrious Park Sloper who describes his imaginative methodology as ”getting as far away from what I know as possible.” The narrator of “Colony Girl,” Rayfiel’s second and best-known book, is a fifteen-year-old aching to escape from a religious cult in rural Iowa. “In Pinelight” presents the monologue of an elderly retired deliveryman in upstate New York, a soul-shriving stream of consciousness that flows the length of a book punctuated by periods, question marks, and line breaks but not a single comma.

Rayfiel is a singular talent. I encourage you to read his books. He’s currently at work on his seventh novel, “Genius,” which he says is “the story of a philosophy prodigy whose studies at Columbia are derailed when she is diagnosed with cancer and must return to live with her mother and brother in the small town of Witch's Falls, Arkansas.” It’s due in the spring of 2016. 

In the meantime, he had the following bit of wisdom to share about cooking for his family. I like it because it reinforces my thinking that every hungry family is alike—and all well-fed families are well-fed in their own way. Enjoy:

Your blog made me reflect on my own experiences cooking for the family, though I more often felt like Man Who Got Panned, as I zigged and zagged my way through the minefield of two children's evolving, often irrational preferences. I finally realized that a dish from which they themselves could make choices, a medley of main courses, sides, and rice, all heaped together on one central platter, would give them the illusion of free will, allowing them to craft individual helpings and transform the usual chorus of complaint to, "This is great, Dad!" 

After much trial and error, I came up with what we now call Family Paella, though people who have actually been to Spain (everyone but myself, apparently) assure me it bears only a distant relation to the real thing. It is more a sort of pilaf, I suppose. But it does the trick, and now that we are all older comes with an additional flavor, that most haunting of all spices: culinary nostalgia. 

Rayfiel Family Paella

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian or chorizo sausage
  • 4 cups fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 dozen Little Neck clams
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 colored pepper (I like orange) sliced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp. saffron
  • ¼ tsp. dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • handful of fresh or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup Manzanilla olives
  • ½ lb. shrimp (peeled)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, cut in half (crinkle cut, if you're feeling artistic)

In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat half of the olive oil (2T) over medium heat. Prick sausage and brown on all sides (about five minutes).

Remove sausage, let cool, slice.

Warm fish stock.

Rinse clams (soak first, if you like) and put in a smaller pot along with ¼ cup white wine.

Heat remaining olive oil (2T) in the large pot used for the sausage, over medium-high heat.

Add onions, garlic, pepper, and sausage, sauté about seven minutes.

Add rice and spices, stir two minutes more.

Pour in the remaining white wine. Boil until wine evaporates.

Add the capers, olives, and peas, followed by the stock or clam juice, bring to boil, cover, and let cook until rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time, turn heat under clams and wine to high and cover.

After a few minutes, wine will boil and clams will begin to open.

(By now the rice should be done.)

As each clam opens, remove it with slotted spoon and put in with the rice mixture. (Removing the clams immediately prevents overcooking.) Cover the clam pot each time to maintain pressure.

When all the clams have opened, pour remaining clam juice and wine over the rice mixture. Add shrimp and stir. The heat of the paella should turn them pink and cook them in a minute or so.

Turn paella out onto a large platter.

Spread evenly and stud the surface with hard boiled egg halves.

Put in the center of the table with large serving spoons and have each family member create his or her own portion.

Pour yourself a drink. You've earned it.

2014, and 'Ove is in the Air: A Guest Post


I had a great Christmas at the stove. We hosted fifteen family members on the big day, and I made a standing rib roast. I was getting ready to tell you all about it when two things happened. First, I was hit by the flu, and my legs feel like I've run twenty miles without stretching or sipping water, and my fever is up there in bad-defense basketeball territory. The second is that my blogging friend Paul Kidwell, a Man with a Pan who has contributed to this blog before , dropped me a line and offered me a guest post. I took him up on it right away, then I reached for the Advil and rolled over (BTW, the above image, courtesy of Pinta, represents how my innards feel).

Enjoy Paul's guest post:

Christmas and New Year is my favorite time of year and my mother's DNA that I inherited makes me built for the holidays. She taught her three boys to "never return a dish empty" and through her influence, I was blessed with the Santa gene in extremis. In my world, giving is receiving and despite the cliche, I find great pleasure in giving presents - be they store bought or kitchen made - during the holidays. of course, if you want to return the favor and give me something; good luck. I have lived long enough to accumulate a wealth of everything. 

I am not a gadget guy, nor do I get weak in the knees in anticipation of the newest version of the iPhone, iPad, or anything that begins with the letter "i." I have earlier versions of each and am quite content with their performance. Also, I have enough sweaters to keep a small village warm and the entire Brooks Brothers bow tie collection hangs peacefully in my closet, so adding to either or both, will not move me one iota. Although, if Diane Lane were to mention that her one regret was not taking me seriously as a young suitor, or the PA announcer at Yankee Stadium were to announce, "now pitching in relief for the Yankees, Paul Kidwell;" well I suspect I would be touched. 

So, what does one buy the world's most satisfied man for Christmas? Well, you should ask my son who seems to have a clear path into my psyche and knowledge of me in book-like proportions. This year, he gave me an "Ove Glove" and nothing more. Yes, the glove of late-night TV fame and everyone's choice for their gag, Secret Santa or Yankee Swap present. It's the gift that nobody wants and I suspect has been re-gifted countless times during those occasions. 

Until now. I suspect my son heard me complaining too many times about the paper-thin, and ill-cast oven mitts that would allow the heat to seep through to my hands about mid-way between the kitchen and our dining room. Wrestling molten-hot dishes and pans that have spent an hour or two in a 400 degree oven is always a perilous exercise and resembles a curler hurling a heavy curling stone down the slick ice. Never once did I imagine a solution to this problem and was resigned to the fact that I would have to suffer for my cooking. Well, my son had a better idea, apparently.

Late night TV and public ridicule be damned. Move over Billy Mays; my son bought me  an Ove Glove for Christmas. And just like that, my days of sparring with hot roasting pans and baking dishes are over. We are now an Ove household and over the holidays I had plenty of opportunity to break in my new gift. 

Roasts, stews, soups, casseroles and the like traveled from kitchen to dining room courtesy of the greatest invention known to man; well, at least this man who relishes his role as chief cook for the family and now has another weapon in his arsenal to help him with this task. 

Despite all the preparation around nightly dinners and holiday meals, my favorite meal when we are together as a family is Sunday breakfast, where omelets, pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon and freshly-baked cinnamon or sticky buns replaces the normal work week, get-me-out-the-door quickly instant oatmeal or bowl of Mini Wheats. This past New Year's Day I made pancakes from a boxed mix from Bisquick. The only thing I added was a couple cups of chopped mangoes, whose freshness gave the meal a summer and helped offset the frigid temperatures outside my Boston home. Of course, the most important ingredient was what I add to every meal that I prepare for my family. Love. And, of course, Ove carried the love to the table so we could all eat. 

Happy New Year to everyone; especially my fellow pan-men.

And here is Paul and his son, and their gloves:


Cochinita Pibil (Roasted Pork with Achiote sauce)

Recently, I received sad news about an old friend, someone roughly my age, who I had spent much of my college years with, having fun and getting bounced around with on the ropes of life. He was diagnosed with a disease that has left him somewhat incapacitated. I want to respect his privacy, so I’m leaving out the details, but the one thing to know, and this always sounds cliché until it is too late, is that every moment matters.

I little before I learned this news, we had been invited by our friends Rob and Olga to a party celebrating Mexican Independence Day. Olga is from Mexico, and she did the cooking. They served many things, including roasted pork tacos, and those were so delicious (and my kids loved them), so I asked Olga for the recipe. She agreed to share it, and after hearing about my friend, and hearing from Olga about how important it was to record the recipe, I realized that the smallest thing can have the biggest impact.

“I am grateful you asked for the recipe,” Olga said, “because, believe it or not, this is the first time it's ever been written. I learned to make it from my mom and she in turn from her mother. I don't think anybody in the family has it on a piece of paper anywhere. That's how most of our family dishes are - from memory. Thus, the measurements are approximate but I felt funny writing ‘about 1/4 cup of this and about 1/2 cup of that.’ I just kind of eye it when I cook.” She continued:

Food is such an important part of Mexican culture and I am always trying to ‘feed people,’ as Rob would say. Everything that is important always happens at the dinner table. We serve this dish on special occasions like baptisms, anniversaries, holidays etc. It is from the Yucatan peninsula, with Mayan origins and there are many variations to it but this is the one we have been cooking for as long as I remember.

It is called Cochinita Pibil. Cochinita means baby pork or suckling pig and Pibil is the Mayan word for buried. The original dish was wrapped in banana leaves buried in a pit.  Here’s a version you can make in an oven  (or a slow cooker). It is served with warm tortillas, pickled onions, and habanero sauce.

Cochinita Pibil (Roasted Pork with Achiote sauce)

Makes 8-10 servings

  • 6 pounds of pork shoulder, bone in
  • 1 package of achiote paste*
  • ½ -¾  cup of orange juice (freshly squeezed, about two oranges worth)**
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste. Not too much salt because of the marinade. Just a bit. You can always add more salt once the pork is cooked. Mix the olive oil, orange juice and lime juice. Add the achiote paste and dissolve it in the liquid mixture. Put the pork in a large class or ceramic bowl and pour the achiote mixture over it and rub it in. Cover it and marinate overnight in the fridge.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line either a Dutch oven or baking dish with banana leaves. You can find frozen ones from Goya in most supermarkets in the frozen foods aisle. The banana leaves are not essential but they add a bit to the taste. The dish you had last week did not cook with the leaves and I thought it was still pretty good! Put the pork in the baking dish with the marinade and cover it. Toss in the garlic. Cook in the oven about 3-4 hours. Check it for tenderness and decide how it looks. It doesn’t have to be falling off the bone but you do want it completely cooked. Remove from oven and let stand and cool. Pull the meat off the bone and shred it. I always use disposable gloves because the achiote will stain and you might have red bloody looking fingers for a day or two.

Notes: I like to cook it a day in advance, shred it and let it sit in the fridge for that extra night. It makes it taste so much better but you don’t always have the time or fridge space to do so. If you want to use the slow cooker,  I guess about 8-10hours in low or medium setting.

*Regarding the achiote paste: You can get it in Mexican stores or online. I prefer this brand which I buy on Amazon and I get a dozen packs (they last a long time).

**About the orange juice: in Mexico you can buy what are called “bitter or Seville oranges” and we just use that juice. I have never found them here so I use juice oranges and add lime to make it sour.


Pickled Onions

  • 2 red onions thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup Red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried Oregano leaves
  • Water as needed
  • Olive oil

Sautee the onions in the olive oil until soft, add the red wine vinegar, salt and a bit of pepper and let the vinegar begin to boil. Add the oregano leaves and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Taste the onions and if it’s too sour add some water (use your judgment; it depends on how sweet the onions are and how bitter the vinegar tastes). Adjust your seasoning, water, vinegar as needed. It really is up to your taste and let it cook a few minutes. You don’t want to cook it too much so that the onions are still a bit crunchy.

Habanero sauce

  • ½ cup white onions diced
  • 1 or 2 habanero peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Lime juice about 2 limes worth but you might need more depending on the spiciness of the habaneros
  • Salt to taste

Char the habanero chilies on the stove’s flame and put them in a plastic bag. Wait for them to “sweat” it out and then peel them. You most definitely want gloves for this or your fingers, face, eyes etc will burn for days (and everything you touch for that matter). Puree them in the blender or if you want to be true to form use a molcajete and mush them up there. In a separate bowl, mix the onions with the lime juice and add the habanero and salt to taste. Add a bit of chile at a time and taste it. They are very very spicy chiles and you want to be careful.

To eat it, make tacos with the pork and the pickled onions. The habanero sauce is a up to each person. My mom used to make just the onions with the lime and salt without chiles for the kids and we loved adding it to our own tacos. You drink beer with this dish (or tequila or margaritas). I don't think wine would work but I could be wrong.

Also, if you are mildly interested in the Mexican Independence day celebration here is a link to what we call “El Grito” which is traditionally done on September 15th around 11pm when the Mexican independence war from Spain began. Every year, the sitting President recreates the ceremony. 

The Eggs Stay In the Picture: An Oscars Guest Post

The Oscars are coming up on Sunday, and while I wish I had something interesting to say about them, the truth is that I get to the movies about twice a year. I can tell you that the latest James Bond film was actually very good, but I don’t think it’s up for an award.

Fortunately, I heard this week from my Boston-based friend in the kitchen Paul Kidwell (who has contributed to this blog before; his most recent post was particularly poignant), and it turns out that he is a big movie buff. He offered the following guest post. Enjoy!

For many who follow movies, this coming Sunday is their Super Bowl as Hollywood's best and brightest are honored at the film industry's annual Oscar ceremony. Movies used to be one of my passions, but growing out of Hollywood's target demographic means two things. You come head on with the demands of home and family that keep you away from the local art house or cineplex, and reach a certain age where you realize that movies are made for your kids and not for you. It has been a while since I paid attention to the movies, although I remember that as a young graduate student in Boston I used to steal away to the old Harvard Square Theatre with my brother to watch double features like "Last Detail" and "Chinatown," or "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas." There was a time when I could almost recite the entire dialogue in "Chinatown" which I have seen more than 50 times.

Movies have been replaced by cooking in my life and, of course, it makes me wonder about food's place in many of the movies I have seen in years past or the current crop of films that I will never watch. Some of my favorite food scenes include “The Godfather,” where Michael Corleone stakes his claim in the family business by killing Virgil (The Turk) Sollozzo in a little Italian joint after they order dinner. "Try the veal, it's the best in the city," says Sollozzo. Then, BLAM!! An other favorite scene is a very young Jack Nicholson in "The Last Detail" talking about the virtue of Heineken Beer. "It's only the best God-damn beer in the world. President Kennedy drank Heineken." Plus, the movies like "Dinner Rush," "Tortilla Soup," or "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman," all of which have food at center stage. But, my all-time favorite movie food scene, and one that deserves Oscar consideration as best food scene ever is the final kitchen scene in "Big Night."

Two brother restaurateurs, played by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub, put all their resources into creating a night that would finally put their struggling Italian restaurant on the map by preparing a feast for then-famous bandleader Louis Prima. When Prima pulls a "no-show," the brothers are crest-fallen and we assume the restaurant's days are numbered. A visibly forlorn Tucci enters the kitchen and whips up some eggs for his equally depressed brother and waiter (played by Mark Anthony). Few words are spoken, yet the elegance in how he prepares and cooks these eggs, and shares with the other two men is beautiful. Food at its simplest and most captivating, as it nourishes a broken heart and tortured soul. As a pre-Oscar dinner, why not try a frittata with a side salad; and maybe a hot bowl of tomato soup. It’s still winter after all. The envelope please.

Paul Kidwell's Oscar Night Frittata

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup liquid, such as milk, tomato juice, broth
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme leaves OR herb of your choice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup filling, which could include leftover meat, chicken, seafood or a couple of handfuls of cheese like Gruyere.
  • 2 tsp. butter OR vegetable oil

BEAT eggs, liquid, herb and salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. ADD filling; mix well.

HEAT butter in 6 to 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat until melted.

POUR IN egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes. 

REMOVE from heat.

COVER and LET STAND until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains, 5 to 10 minutes.

CUT into wedges.

Chinese New Year Guest Post: If You Build it They Will Come

For whatever reason, I’ve never really taken to Chinese food, and therefore I don’t cook it around the house. I have friends at work who rave about stinky tofu in Queens and other friends who go crazy for Dim Sum in downtown Manhattan, so I know it has its virtues. My friend Mark Satlof, a music and entertainment publicist and father of two boys, is so obsessed with Chinese food that he built a wok in his kitchen of his house. When he offered to write a guest post about cooking Chinese food for the family, I eagerly took him up on it. As it turns out, he has a recipe for what was a staple around the house when I was a kid (though my mom never made with such flair, I’m sure). And if you read to the end of his post, you’ll learn an insider's tip for watching the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown, which is coming up in a week or so. Mark is on Twitter at @msatlof, and without further ado, 
here's his guest post:

I dreamed I would cook Chinese food a couple times a week -- at least, but probably more -- when I sketched out our new kitchen in 2001. I wanted to make it to semi-pro wok slinger, like those guys you see behind the counter at the fast food take out Chinese joints in our neighborhood in Central Harlem (but with better recipes), cooking in a whirlwind of dipping, frying, throwing, tossing and in just a few minutes, done. I put a corner in the kitchen with a built in counter top wok burner -- 15,000 Btus -- a larder for Asian ingredients and drawers and cabinets for chopsticks, pots, platters, strainers, steamers and spatulas. That October, our first son, Leo, was born. I wasn’t stir frying every night, but I got to the “wok corner” many weekends and during the week here and there. 

I began collecting Chinese cookbooks, studying them, as I was heading towards fifty or so, for the recipes I’d cook  -- regional styles, multiple methods, a panoply of exotic ingredients. For a while, I kept it up, a bit, stopping in Manhattan’s Chinatown on my way to work in Brooklyn for groceries; slicing meat and vegetables before leaving in the morning; getting home in time to get the rice going and the meal made.

Eli, our second son and last child, was born in 2004.  Dads, Moms, you can guess what happened next. Two little kids suck up your time and energy and my Chinese chef fantasy took a hit. Then, all of a sudden, the boys were growing, developing their own culinary tastes and food quirks. Not the way I’d want it, though. They are picky eaters (one of them eats no bread). Each has a minimalist roster of a few dozen foods they will eat. The overlap is minimal (plain pasta, hot dogs, carrots, chicken nuggets and fries. And, luckily, for the Chinese chef, plain white rice and soy sauce). Neither eats much with flavor or sauces (no ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, gravy) or mixed foods like stews or even rice or pasta with other ingredients. This makes Chinese stir fries losers in multiple ways.

The kids’ food habits do not encourage the Dream. But following a half dozen years of trial and error, I’ve developed one Chinese menu that will get everyone at the table something they will eat. My wife, Dana, and I will eat it all. Eli will wolf down as many potstickers, bought frozen at Prosperity Dumpling, on Eldridge Street, as I cook. Leo will be happy with the one green vegetable he eats in quantity, string beans, dry fried in oil with garlic and a sprinkle of salt.  They both will eat the beef part of Beef and Peppers.

The wok stays cold for long stretches and most of the cookbooks are in storage now. One that is still on the shelf and is dirty, wrinkled and soy sauce stained from use, is Ken Hom’s "Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood." Our fail-safe Traditional Pepper Beef is adapted from Hom, upping the proportion of soy and oyster sauce to provide a deeper, if saltier, flavor.

For the last several years, we’ve made it to Manhattan’s Chinatown for the Chinese New Year parade. This year it is scheduled for Sunday, February 17th. I have never found a map of the parade route but here is a secret: Eldridge Street between Division and Canal is prime viewing and not too crowded. You can pop up a block to buy dumplings from Prosperity, find a stand in the neighborhood for green beans and peppers, and then at home try this for your picky kids.

Traditional Pepper Beef

Adapted from Ken Hom's "Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood: 150 Delicious Chinese Dishes for Today's American Table."

For the marinade:

  • ¾ lb flank steak
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tsp Asian sesame oil
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

For the main dish:

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs fermented black beans (optional, don’t sweat if you don’t have any. If you don’t use black beans add some salt in its place, ½ tsp)
  • 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow pepper seeded and cut into 1” pieces. (or whatever combination of peppers you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-salt chicken broth or water
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp asian sesame oil
  • cooking oil

Cut steak into thin slices 2 inches wide by ¼ inch thick. Mix with marinade ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag. Let sit for 20 minutes or longer.

Heat wok or deep pan, add two or three tbs peanut or other cooking oil, stir-fry beef until pink is just gone. Turn heat off, remove beef and drain then blot with paper towel. Leave about a tbs of oil in wok.

Reheat the wok, toss in the garlic, onions and fermented black beans (if you are using). Cook a couple of minutes until onions soften. Add peppers, cook for a minute, then add chicken stock (or water), rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and black pepper and cook for two minutes. Pour in oyster sauce, mix well. Add beef, toss around for a minute. Add a little more stock or water if the dish looks too dry. Add sesame oil, turn out on a platter and serve hot.

Note: Swap out the vegetables in any combination, for variety.

Guest Post: The Take Away

I threw a small dinner party on Saturday night, and it threw me for a loop. It's not the drinking that gets me anymore (given that a couple of glasses of wine is my max), it's doing the dishes at 12:45 a.m. So I was tired this afternoon, and when I opened my email to find a guest post from my Boston-based friend in the kitchen Paul Kidwell (who has contributed to this blog before), I was very grateful. Then I read it, and I knew that I had to post it right away. I found it very moving.

This past Friday was the final day of our son's semester break and that evening we drove him to the airport where he boarded a plane to London, where he will begin the second phase of his studies at the London School of Economics. It was splendid having him home for three weeks and he and I shared and cooked some great meals together; including a Cioppino, lasagna, and baked ham at Christmas, and a lobster-fest on New Year's Eve. Interspersed were some of his favorites like Paella, beef stew, bolognese, scampi, risotto, and some tasty omelettes, croissants and pancakes at breakfast, plus savory soups for lunch.

Cooking with him has been a joy and he is definitely turning into a rising man with a pan. More proud I could not be. Of course, the time spent sharing those meals with he and his mother are time capsule moments that I continue to store in my memory as it serves as emotional sustenance when he is away. Which, unfortunately he will continue to be more of as the years pass.

Next month he will turn 21 and my wife and I recognize that we will see less of him; more and more. If we do our jobs as parents, each lesson we teach to our children prepares them for independence and takes them one step closer to leaving us. It's the natural order of things and from the day he was born, his mother and I began to instill in him knowledge that would lead to his self-sufficiency, self-motivation and self-awareness. And when we do this, it leaves us happy and proud; albeit more than a little bit heartbroken. I lose a sous chef, but give to the world a gifted young man who is thoughtful, smart, polite (courtesy is the only thing I expect from him, the rest is negotiable) and knows his way around the kitchen. We do our job well as parents if these are the types of kids we raise and the efforts of our labor are so splendidly displayed.

I thought about what to make for his final lunch - our last meal together until June - as I pondered the fact that from now on he will miss my cooking more than he eats it. It would have to be something nourishing, comforting and simple; not to mention distinctly American. My desire is to feed him, make it memorable and wanting more. If he comes home only to eat, I am comfortable with that. Whatever it takes.

So I decide on chili, which I make with a touch of cinnamon. It's the perfect meal for this slate grey January day and balm for my soul which feels a little less of him today. We have come to that odd point in our lives where he needs to be set free and I want him near me more than ever. 

Paul Kidwell's Chili Recipe


  • 1.5 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 cup dry wine (can also substitute beer)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 14-oz can tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in stock pot and when shimmering add beef; cooking for 5 minutes.

Dump everything else in, bring to a simmer and cover for 30-45 minutes

Serve in a bowl and cover with cheese.

Better Cooking Through Technology: A Guest Post

Paul Kidwell, a Boston-based reader of this blog and a cooking father, wrote to me recently offering to contribute a guest post. I always enjoy hearing from Paul. He has previously written here about Mushroom Bruschetta and Christmas, as well as about a Father’s Day meal his son once made for him. This time, he has a tale of how technology helps him help his son, who is living abroad, in the kitchen. Here it is:

Like most fathers I tried to do my best in preparing my son for the rigors of the world, especially when he left for college. In between admonitions and advice on courtesy, relationships, honesty, and "not doing as I say, but rather as I do," I helped him develop an interest in my raison d'etre; cooking. Happy to say that he mostly listened to me and my wife, as we shaped this kid into a young man and turned out to be someone in whom we take great pride. He's a good kid and we are quite happy with the outcome. Personally, I am extremely pleased that he has taken after me when it comes to cooking and being around food. As much as it's terribly important to be kind, courteous, and respectful of others; I also feel that every young boy should know a few of the basics around food and its preparatio—particularly if he wants to impress a young girl, which is a story for another time.

When I introduced him to the fine art of making a marinara sauce, roasting a chicken, smashing garlic, and testing the "doneness" of a steak or pork tenderloin with his finger ("when it's undercooked, the downer I push, the upper it goes"), little did I know he would have an opportunity to put to use my teachings so soon. This was a life skill and I thought at the very earliest it would be a post-college activity. But this year he finds himself in London for a year of economics study at a school that has not embraced the concept of the U.S. college dining hall. Students are expected to fend for themselves in the daily provision of sustenance, which in his case means shopping for food and turning those purchases into meals, by himself or with a gaggle of his fellow classmates. Through the marvels of technology, though, I am not altogether absent in this process, and I help him shop for groceries and triage his meals as he cooks them, in real time.

One of the best cooking tools for us has become the iPhone's Face Time and Skype. Through these tools—though I am thousands of miles away—I help my son pick out produce at the market and navigate his cooking. Typicaly, I do this from the comfort of my office. I’m not sure if the manufacturers of these advanced technologies ever envisioned this novel use, but it certainly provides a "I am there" immediacy that I would otherwise miss. Also, he might not be feasting as good as he is. A recent meal of his was one of our family's favorite and a quick fix for when we would get home late from work and school during his younger years when there was always a PTA meeting, violin/swim practice, etc. to waylay me and take me out of the kitchen. The recipe below (my son called it "books of chicken" because the butterflied chicken breast resembled an open book) has now become a staple of his London cooking repertoire and, I must say, what I saw recently, stacks up favorably to anything I make back at home.

Paul Kidwell's Books of Chicken

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1.5 cups of Swiss cheese shredded
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 lb. baby Bella mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butterfly chicken breasts and place in baking dish, book side up

Sauté asparagus and mushrooms together about 4-5 minutes

Salt and pepper inside of chicken breasts, and spread cheese, followed by asparagus and mushrooms inside one side of each chicken breast.

Fold over other side of breasts to cover the other; like closing a book. Stick 2 toothpicks into top of each breast.

Slather olive oil onto each breast, and salt and pepper.

Bake for about 30 minutes.

While chicken is baking make a couple of cups and rice. Serve rice covered with leftover asparagus and mushrooms. Don't forget to take the toothpicks out of the chicken breasts before eating.

Mouthwatering New Cookbook

I’ve had a rewarding but exhausting weekend (compounded somewhat by multiple margaritas at a dear friend’s fiftieth birthday party on Saturday night) and Santa Maria kindly volunteered to write the lastest post, about a little brunch we threw on Sunday, a great new cookbook, and a stellar salad. I hope you enjoy it.

Stay at Stove Dad recently met the lovely author of the forthcoming cookbook “Small Plates and Sweet Treats," the gluten-free chef par excellence Aran Goyoaga, and for our pleasure cooked one of her superb salads today:

 “Warm Roasted Brussels Sprout, Black Quinoa, Pear and Crispy Chorizo Salad.” 

The occasion for the salad: Over a year ago, friends invited us over for a brunch the morning after our move into the neighborhood, correctly surmising that we would be exhausted and have a bare larder.

In their honor, SASD created a brunch to appeal to both carnivorous and vegetarian palates:  scrambled eggs with fresh dill; fresh Brooklyn bagels and cream cheese; and Aran’s yummy salad. It may have taken a while for us to get around to hosting the brunch, but, perhaps, this salad made up for it.

What is so amazing about the salad:  it’s ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS (granted, I’ve spent many years addicted to his other quinoa salad preparations). It has a point/counterpoint marriage of sweet (pear) and salty (chorizo), crunchy (quinoa) and tender (roasted Brussels sprouts) and the slightly bitter vegetal surprise of arugula.  Plus, it’s high protein, gluten-free (if that is important to you), eye-catching, and incredibly nourishing. Quinoa, a staple of ancient Incas and modern Brooklynites alike, has the highest protein of any grain. It is known as the “Mother Grain.”

I’m going to check with my friend Aran about posting the recipe. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you order a copy of her book. It’s a remarkable cookbook, and I’ll have more to say about it shortly, I'm certain.