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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Favorite French Pot Roast

OK, so here is one of my staples. I make this recipe (or a variation) at least once a month.

French inspired Pot Roast. (pics coming soon)
Serves 7-8

Chuck Roast (biggest you can fit in your pan)
Potatoes (I use the variety bag of small potatoes, otherwise small red or fingerling) 1 lb
Onions 2 large Vidalia or yellow
Tomatoes (5 or 6 ripe and juicy)
Carrots 1 lb bag
Shrooms (button or baby bella) 2 small containers or 1 Large
Tomato Paste (2tbsp)
Fresh Thyme ½ bunch
Fresh Rosemary 2 6 inch sprigs
Red wine (cheap burgundy is fine)
1 Crusty Bagutte
Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

OK so this is a fairly time consuming recipe so I usually spend a Saturday afternoon fixing it. If you want to eat it for dinner at 7, you need to get started around 4:00.

So Heat a couple tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan on high heat till it gets super hot (just beginning to smoke) and drop your unseasoned meat in. Hissss. Make sure your hood vent on because we’re basically trying to lightly burn the meat. Leave it down for 3-4 minutes till you get a nice golden to dark brown crust. Try to avoid lifting the meat too often. Also it would be a good thing if you had a splatter guard to keep the oil from jumping all over your kitchen. Flip and repeat the process. If possible you can try and get the sides of the meat too.

At this point I like to add 1/2 of a chopped onion into the oil with the meat for about 30 seconds or until it begins to caramelize. It just adds to the flavor later on. After that, pour in a bottle of wine. Yup, a bottle. Drunk meat. When that comes back to a boil you can lower the temperature to medium low (#4) and slap a top on it. The Idea is to simmer for a while so if it’s going nuts turn it down and if it’s not bubbling turn it up, duh.

Tie up your rosemary and thyme in a little bundle with some string. No don’t use your shoe laces if you have nothing else find some white thread or just get some cooking string it comes in handy for all sorts of projects around the house. Now drop it in. This won’t come out till the very end and will make everything super delicious.

OK now you have 2 hours to peel, chop, munch on all of your veggies that are going into the pot later on. Big cuts on everything here 1-2 inches I go for the rustic (easier to cut) feel. For the shrooms you can quarter them or slice them thick like 4 per shroom for a big shroom. This allows them to stay together later on, otherwise you’ll end up disintegrating them and as cool as that sounds you won’t be able to find any later on L

So your 2 hours are up. See if you can fit all the veggies except the tomatoes into the pot on top of the meat. That’s it, go ahead and shove the stuff down into the liquid. Put the top back on and let it keep simmering for 40 minutes. Put your crusty baguette in the oven at 350 and put the tomatoes on top of everything else. In 10 minutes you have everything almost ready.

Now take the meat out of the pot and slice it into manageable pieces. Careful here the stuff may just decide to fall apart on you mmmmm. Also remove the flavor bundle that’s swimming around in there somewhere. Add your tomato paste to the liquid vegetable mix and stir it in. Taste it… needs salt, so add some! Anyway cut up the meat and put some chunks in a bowl, ladle the veggies and juice over the meat and serve. You likka the juice? The juice is good eh? Serve with hot crusty baguette for the bestest comfort food I know how to make.

You’re welcome.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention this recipe makes a ton but it freezes great and it comes out to about $3.50-4.50 a (generous) serving. Not bad eh?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Amazing Lentil Stew from Yemen

One of my favorite cook books is called From the land of Figs and Olives. It is all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine that despite all of the proliferation of food styles you see in America today, is still rather rare. I've also had some people ask me independently for this recipe so I figured it would be a good one to share.

My favorite dish from that particular book is a Yemeni Lentil Stew.

Serves 10-12

1 Bag Lentils (Rinsed) (12oz)
1 Lb Lamb (Cut into small pieces)
1 Cup Cilantro (Chopped)
4 Medium onions (Chopped)
4 Large Ripe tomatoes (Chopped)
1 tsp Allspice (ground)
1 tsp Cayanne (poweder or 2tsp fresh)
1-2 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Pepper
Olive oil

So I doubled the recipe. What are you going to do about it. I really like this stuff and it freezes really well so I can eat it all the time. I guess you can 1/2 it to get back to the original.

So the best thing to do is to get everything prepped before you start this because once we get rolling there is enough stuff to keep you busy for a while without having to chop a whole bunch of veggies.

So, Put 12 cups water in a pot and boil, then add the lentils (cook 20 minutes). 12 cups you see that? You're going to need a bigger pot.

While those are going add some olive oil to a big fat cast iron skillet on HIGH heat. Again you're gonna need a bigger pan. Add the lamb once the oil starts to smoke and stir it around until you start to get a nice brown.
Then you add the onions garlic and cilantro until They start to brown 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your pan is. After that add your tomatoes and go for about 2-4 more minutes

Now you're basically home free. Add the spices and the contents of your skillet to the pot with the cooked lentils. Cook everything an additional 20 minutes and taste. Add Cayenne for more heat, Allspice for more body, and salt if you need it.

Yum. Yemeni Lentil Stew.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peaches and Cherries

So I made myself some dessert the other day and it was friggin amazing. Anyway this recipe calls for the food processor again so again if you don't have one. Go now my young grasshopper.

1 (1/2) cup Frozen Peaches (it's best if you freeze the good ones yourself)
1/2 cup Frozen Cherries (these on the other hand work better store bought)
2 tbsp Refrigerated Honey (or more if you like)

Get your metal chopping blade in that food processor (cusineart) and crank it up. Add the frozen peaches and the frozen cherries a few at a time. After they are all pulverized, it'll look like fruit powder, add the honey. Leave on for a minute then stop a few times and scrape down the sides of the food processor until everything gets nice and creamy looking but don't over do it.

Now the cool thing I found about this recipe is that since the honey is cold it forms into little pockets of congealed honey within the fruit so... when you take a bite you get a caramel texture from it. Talk about melt in your mouth.

Great for summer too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mediterannian Style Stuff

Hey there!
So I made the most amazing meatballs ever last night! The sides I prepared weren’t too bad either so I give you a whole meal here. I hope it's not too much...

First I put together a Huge thing of summer veggies.

Roasted Summer Vegetables
Serves 6-8
2 Large Squash
2 Large Zucchini
1 Lb. Carrots (washed peeled)
2 Large Onions (Vidalia if you can find em)
2 Sweet Potatoes (or Small Red if you prefer)
2 Bell Peppers (or any kind of peppers really I used Anaheim chilies)
1 Whole Bulb Garlic
2 Tbsp fresh finely chopped tarragon
2 Tbsp Thyme Leaves
2 Tbsp Cracked Black pepper
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ cup olive oil

See? I told you I had a bunch of veggies. And that’s not the half of them. Dang.

OK so I like to do a large chop on all these veggies so make everything at least an inch thick if not thicker to give it a nice rustic feel. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to get the veggies in your mouth all at once. By the time they come out they will be fork tender.

Start by prepping the pile of veggies. Wash, peel if they need it, cut into pieces except for the garlic, peel it but leave the cloves whole.

You can preheat the oven somewhere in here to 400 degrees.

Next, with all that out of the way I had to toss my veggies with the oil and spices in batches b/c there were so many. After I tossed them all and coated everything evenly with oil and spices I put them in a 11X9 Glass baking dish and covered with foil.

Cook in the oven for about an hour and check. If the veggies are not tender let them go for another 20 minutes and check again. If after an hour and twenty they still aren’t tender check and see if your oven is on. ☺

These are some pretty awesome veggies so be prepared to over eat. Some other tips… you can take some of these cooked veggies and when you’re making hummus just throw em in along all the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice for roasted vegetable hummus. Yum

Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs
Modified from
1 pound lamb (or beef)
2 green chilis, finely chopped (I used Jalapenos and Tabascos but whatever is fresh is ok, You can pick your heat level.)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala (I Love this stuff. I got it at the farmers market a whole container was 43 cents or something ridiculous like that and added to anything it makes it taste perfectly curried.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground almonds (these really make the recipe)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 egg
Olive oil for the pan

Combine everything above in order (or out it doesn’t really matter) and mix well. I put my hands right in and squish it around. Of course I keep a handy supply of latex gloves around for just these sorts of occasions.

Make into balls. Whatever size you feel comfortable with. About 1.5 inch balls will cook in 10 minutes at 400 degrees. You can also thread them on skewers too if you want and cook them on the grill. These might even make killer burger patties if you want to do that.

Anyway check the balls after 10 minutes and make sure they are cooked through. Then pop one in your mouth and enjoy the experience.

They are supposed to go with a yogurt sauce but they were so damn good I didn’t want to add anything else.

Organic red quinoa with spinach lemon and garlic

1 Cup Quinoa (red or white is fine)
2 Handfuls Spinach
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
2 Cloves Garlic Finely Chopped

Rinse Quinoa

Add to pan with 2 cups water or veggie stock is even better and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes with out a top until almost all the moisture has evaporated.

Add the garlic and lemon Zest and Stir for 1 more minute. Then add spinach one handful at a time and stir until it is wilted.

I promise... Awsome pictures to make you hungry coming tonight. Also pay attention because I might just have to write about the concert part of this evening! The Apostles (my band) are playing a four hour set at the Tin Roof.
You can find more information at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Too Many Mangoes

Hi all,
OK, I'm almost done with the case of mangoes that I got from the Dekalb Farmers market (9 for $5) After this I'll cook something without mangoes. I promise. I wonder how many times I can write the word mango in this post. mango mango mango. Man what a great word (and fruit).
Aside from hot sauce and pies I took all that delicious ripe mango and cut it all up and froze it. Now what can you do with a freezer full of mangoes? A Lot

Mango Smoothies

1 cup Mangoes (Frozen, cubed)
2 heaping spoonfuls non fat yogurt
2 spoonfuls honey
1/4 cup Juice (I made mine with guava juice mmmm)
(any other fruit you may have laying around)
(optional Crushed Ice 1/2 cup)

Step 1 Blend
Step 2 Drink

You really can put whatever fruit you want to in this recipe if you'd like to. I heard it was good with cherries. But really, what isn't?

Mango Sorbet

2 cups frozen mango

Step 1 Put it in your Cuisinart (if you don't have one, go and get one. You need one)
Step 2 Blend with the chopping blade until smooth.
Step 3 Scarf. Om-nom-nom

Works great with frozen peaches too.

Mango lassi
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup mango mango mango
2 tablespoons honey or just a big squirt

Step 1 Blend
Step 2 Drink

The frozen mango may take a bit of extra time to break up but at the same time it'll make your lassi nice and cold.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Habanero Mango Hot Sauce

So I don't usually share my recipes for hot sauce with people but this was just me tinkering around in the kitchen with some beautiful habaneros that I happened by at the farmers market the other day. Remember these amounts are not too specific as I usually just throw things together.

Prep time 30 min
Cook time 1.3 Hours
Yields 3-4 5oz bottles

Two large handfuls Pretty Habaneros
1/2 Mango
4tbs honey
1-2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic

First if you really want to do it right you want to smoke the peppers and onions for 10 minutes. If you cant do that then just bake them at 400 for those same 10 minutes. This gives a chance for some of the heat to mellow and trust me, you want the heat to mellow even if you LOVE hot stuff. It also brings out some of the sweetness in the onions.

Next, de-stem the peppers (with gloves on) and put em in a pot with the onions and garlic (peeled) and enough vinegar to cover the mixture. Boil for about an hour with a tight fitting lid to retain moisture.

Next add the 1/2 a mango (cubed) and the honey. Let that cook for another 10 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat. Stir it up a little and check the level of the vinegar, if you don't have much now would be a good time to add some, more for a thinner sauce and less for a nice thick sauce (the way I like it) Wait for it to cool 20-30 minutes.

While you're letting it cool think about how great it's going to be when you finally get that vinegar smell out of your kitchen and how awesome a giant hood vents are. You can even cry over the pepper juice that got in your nose when you picked it and has been burning for the last 30 minutes. I hope I made my point here. This is a smelly slightly dangerous recipe here and can cause chemical burns if you don't protect yourself.

OK, Last step is to blend and bottle the volatile substance. I use an immersion blender that is easier to deal with than a stand up blender. The sauce should still be warm when you blend it so that when you transfer it to the bottles it will create a seal with the negative pressure of the cooling air in the bottle. All you scientist people out there can correct me if I'm wrong.

Next, you need to put it on something and eat it.
If your really adventurous try mixing 1/2 and 1/2 with butter for a mango habanero buffalo sauce for wings. I bet you cant eat more than 5.

P.S. Pictures will be forthcoming as I learn how to use this web-site.

Strawberry Mango Pie

Strawberry Mango Pie

Originally from and then much improved upon here. So much so that I hope to avoid any copyright infringement.

  • 2 mangos - peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1/8 cup apple juice (I juiced my own (pink ladies) and strained it)
  • 20 fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon Corn Starch Mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place a mixing bowl in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Place the mangoes and apple juice in a sauce pan; simmer over medium-low heat. After 4 minutes, stir 1/4 cup honey into the mangoes. Add the strawberries and the corn starch/water mixture. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until fruit softens and the sauce thickens about an additional 3 minutes. If you cook it too long the fruit will lose a lot of it's fresh appeal.
  3. Place the butter into the chilled mixing bowl, and cut into small pieces. Combine butter with the remaining 1/4 cup white sugar, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Use your fingers or two forks to mix the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture becomes coarse textured and crumbly. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Pour the mango mixture into the prepared pie crust. Spread the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the fruit.If the Mixture has too much moisture it will make it difficult to eat so scoop some of the liquid out of the pot with the fruit.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Now that last step is probably the most difficult step of all, the wait... ... ... ...
And all the adjustments are what I am going to try next time since when I cook something new I tend to follow the recipe fairly closely. All that said and done this pie was friggin amazing. I mean like WOW. So while the fruit is fresh go out and get you some and turn it into a pie.

I still have some in my fridge but I guarantee it will disappear soon. Like as soon as I get home.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Blog Page

OK, the theme for this blog is fairly simple. As a matter of fact the title pretty much says it all. dinner and a concert.

Cooking and Music are probably about my two favorite things and a I feel that many people would appreciate me cooking for them more often. I won't be able to afford any more groceries but I'll be happy to share what I cook with everyone and how it turns out. I'll let you know where I got the recipe and what I did to modify it. I don't think I've found a recipe that I couldn't change to make a little better or at least more to my taste. And when I cook, like when you do, the end result is all about how it tastes to you.

As far as the music goes I guess I can write about some of the crazy things that happen on a regular basis in the world of playing gigs in Atlanta. Otherwise I have plenty of other ways to get the musical message to you. Just let me know when you want me to add you to the e-mail list and you will get a monthly overview of what we will be doing. Which reminds me, I have to write an e-mail. gar.