I have made Gratin Potatoes, Potatoes au Gratin, Potatoes Dauphinois…whatever you want to call them…dozens of times. There are dozens of recipes and dozens of methods out there on how to make this. Not to be confused with Scalloped Potatoes, you know, the one your Aunt Sylvia brought to pot lucks that has onions and sometimes ham and other things In it?

Potatoes Dauphinois is a simple French dish originating in the Dauphine region of southeastern France. The potatoes, typically yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold, are sliced thin (4-5mmm about 1/8 inch), cooked in cream then baked, sometimes with a little Gruyere cheese, until golden brown (the “gratin” part). If you want to make it in the traditional old French style, you let it set at room temperature for an hour after cooking before serving so the cream will set up with the potatoes. Of course, you can simply scoop out a portion to a plate, or, using a food mold, cut out discs, then plate. Either way, Potatoes Dauphinois are a very flavorful, creamy, and elegant side dish for any entree.

There is a hint of garlic in this preparation (Infused into the cream) as there is a little Gruyere cheese…but definitely not garlic or cheese forward. It’s all about the potatoes and cream. The dish is buttered, but that’s it for the butter. A chef’s note and key to a successful Potatoes Gratin is slicing the potatoes consistently, ie, all the same thickness. If you are confident you can slice them evenly with a knife, go ahead. But, I highly recommend using a slicing attachment on a food processor, or, a mandolin like I used. The later is a dangerous, but essential kitchen tool that, if used properly and safely, will yield the best results. I always use a cutting glove or a guard. I ain’t slicing off the tips of my fingers for any recipe!


  • 3.3 pounds (about 1.5 kg of Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 20 ounces of cream
  • 4 ounces of whole milk
  • 1-2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (black pepper is OK)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • About 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere
  • Unsalted butter for the dish


  • Peel the potatoes and immediately place them in a bowl of cold water so they won’t discolor.
  • Place the cream, milk, salt, pepper, sliced garlic and nutmeg in a large pot.
  • Using a mandolin or a food processor, slice the potatoes 4-5mm thick (about 1/8 inch). Immediately place them in the cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, lower the heat to very low, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender but not mushy.
  • Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
  • Butter a large gratin or baking dish with the butter. Alternately, you can use smaller gratin dishes for individual servings.
  • Ladle most of the potatoes into the dish making sure they are spread out evenly. Sprinkle on the Gruyere then add the rest of the potatoes. Spoon as much cream as needed to almost cover the potatoes, but not swimming.
  • Place the dish on a sheet pan in case the cream cooks over. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit about 1 hour before serving so the cream will set. You then can serve to a plate (or use a food mold) and reheat in the microwave.
  • Optional, you can garnish with a little chopped parsley, but mostly French chefs do not.
  • These freeze very well, just make sure they are wrapped in plastic and place in a sealed container.


Who doesn’t love twice baked potatoes? O.K., maybe two or three of you. But most of us do. And when you stuff them with Chili Con Carne and slather it with sour cream, bacon, and chives….well, put the diet on hold for an evening!

Find big Russet potatoes and bake them for at least an hour at 400 degrees. Don’t wrap them in foil or rub with oil…you need the skins to have a little texture. However, do poke a few small holes in them so they don’t explode in the oven when baking (it’s happened!)

You can use canned chili con carne or make your own. Best to leave out the beans. Here we go…


  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp sour cream + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chili con carne without beans (home made or canned)
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cooked and diced small
  • Chopped chives


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. With a small knife, poke a few holes in them. Bake for at least 1 hour until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  • When the potatoes are cool enough, slice off the top 1/3 of each potato. Carefully scoop out the flesh. In to mixing bowl. Also scoop the flesh from the top slice.
  • To the potato flesh, add 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, 2 tbsp of sour cream, 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 2/ tbsp cooked diced bacon, Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Mash with a fork and mix all ingredients well.
  • Heat the chili con carne in a saucepan. Place about 1/4 cup of chili in each hollowed out potato. Add about 2 tbsp of shredded cheddar to the chili. Top with the potato mixture and shape into a dome. Using a fork, make some ridges to the top of the potato. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and brush on top of the potatoes. Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  • Sprinkle on some chopped bacon. Then some shredded cheddar cheese. Then some our cream topped with chopped chives.


This is one of the soups I have struggled with getting just right. Just right meaning: like Panera’s version. I took a couple steps back…started over…and used An NYT recipe. It worked this time.

With every so-called “successful” recipe, there is always the variable of seasoning. Add the right amount of salt and pepper, especially, is essential. So, it’s usually “Kosher alt and black (or white) pepper to taste”.

Add more broccoli or more cheese according to your taste. The only thing I would suggest different is something to add heat if you like that sort of thing…probably some red pepper flakes. However, I usually like to give a couple dashes of Tabasco or Cholula when I eat it.


  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded + more for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • Croutons if desired


  • Trim the stems off the florets and cut into small pieces, set aside. Cut the floret into 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Place the stems in a small saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes, until tender. Drain.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Add the onions and garlic and saute, stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Season with Kosher salt and lemon pepper. Sprinklw with 2 tbsp flour, stir, and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add the blanched stems, florets, and stock. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Add the cream, nutmeg, and shredded cheddar.and cook on low until the cheese has melted. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Add croutons if desired.


A traditional Portuguese soup, Caldo Verde literally means “green soup”. Sometimes just called Portuguese Sausage and Potato Soup, it is similar to Zuppa Tocana, but a little lighter as it normally does not have any cream or milk in it.

The classic version sausage of choice is Linguica (Portuguese sausage), but some people used chorizo or some other slightly spicy sausage. Also, classically, it has kale, but other recipes call for collared greens or chicory. I tried to stick with a classic version here.

As with any popular, well-known ethnic dish, there are many versions. This is just my way of making it.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 11 ounces (2 links) of linguica, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup of yellow onions, rough chop
  • 1 cup leeks, white and light green part only, rough chop
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, quartered, 1/4 inch slice
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, 1/4 inch slice, (potatoes should total about 1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1/4 tsp crush red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 4 packed cups of chopped kale (I used curly kale here)


  • Add a tsp of olive oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the sliced linguica and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the slices start to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Place the onions, leeks, and garlic in a small food processor and process until minced.
  • Add another 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan then add the onions, leeks, and garlic mince. Cook, stirring, for about 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the potatoes, then the sherry and the stock. then add the kale. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer, pushing the kale down. It will wilt as it cooks. After it begins to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Tate and reseason if necessary.
  • Optionally, you can mash the potatoes a bit with a masher or spoon. Or, as I did here, choose to leave the potatoes in tact. They will be cook very tender. It give the soup a cleaner, cleared appearance.
  • Add the browned linguica to the pan and stir in. Cover and cook another 15 minutes.
  • Serve in a large bowl with toasted baguette slices. Drizzle a little olive oil and hot sauce if desired, I also added some grated parmesan cheese.


One of the 5 Mother Sauces in French cooking is red sauce, tomato sauce…marinara sauce. The basic difference between a classic tomato sauce and a marinara sauce is simplicity. Classic tomato sauce recipes use onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, beef stock, a few spices and several hours of cooking. A simple marinara, like this one, comes together in less than an hour with only a few ingredients.

This marinara sauce works so well with any pasta or as the sauce in a lasagna or baked ziti.

It uses whole canned San Marzano tomatoes, though fresh ripe tomatoes works as well.

Don’t forget: season in layers…taste…then season again. Finishing with a couple pats of cold unsalted butter makes this sauce silky smooth.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 4 small garlic cloves, thin sliced – about 2 tbsp of garlic
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil and leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar (opt.)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of cold, unsalted butter


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the diced onions and saute, stirring, abut 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Add the tomatoes paste, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, basil sprig, and sugar.
  • Bring sauce to a simmer, lower the heat to low, and place the cover askew. Simmer for 45 minutes, checking and stirring once in a while.
  • Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the cold butter and stir until melted.


I posted a version of this back in September, but this recipe is slightly different. It uses lean ground pork (instead of ground veal) and ground beef for the meatballs. Also, I chose to poach the meatballs in the stock instead of browning and baking them. I found this leads to a more tender meatball and is much easier in the long run.


For the meatballs:

  • 12 ounces of lean ground beef
  • 4 ounces of lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, torn in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 egg

For the soup:

  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Acini pasta (or Orzo)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach, stems removed
  • Grated parmesan for garnish


  • Place the bread crumbs and cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for 1 minute. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix on low for 3 minutes.
  • Form the mix into 1/2 ounce meatballs, about the size of a large marble, and place on a large plate. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and saute for about 4-5 minutes until the vegetable begin to soften. Season lightly with salt and white pepper (black pepper is O.K.).
  • Add the dry sherry and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp of white pepper, and 1 tsp dry dill. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs to the soup, cover, and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  • Add the acini pasta to the soup, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer for 1 minutes, making sure the spinach is covered. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
  • Note: Cool the soup immediately if not serving right away or for leftovers. If not cooled, the pasta will absorb too much of the soup.


O.K., so you did the rotisserie chicken thing last night. Please tell me you didn’t throw away all those incredible roasted bones! Assuming, you did not, let’s make a quick, easy chicken stock. Also, I suggest you try to reserve all the other bones as well after all the meat has been dispensed with.

You also will need about 1 cup of the cooked chicken meat, preferably breast meat, for the soup. I also used some leftover cooked white rice, but you can add egg noodles or other pasta like orzo, or nothing.

What you put in your stock is open to interpretation. I used onions, celery, a carrot, and, since I had one in the fridge I needed to use for something. Also, turnips and turnips work well for stock. Keep in mind this is a very small batch of stock, you’ll get about 4 cups, you adjust the amount of ingredients for more than one chicken.

What’s so great about making your own stock? You control everything, especially the sodium content. It will need seasoning when it’s done.


For the stock:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass and bones
  • 1 medium carrot, rough chop
  • 1 celery rib, rough chop
  • 1/2 onion, peeled, rough chop
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, rough chop
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 2-3 sprigs of parsley
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 whole pepper corns

For the chicken soup:

  • 3-4 cups of stock
  • 1/2 cup onions, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup carrots, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup celery, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 inch piece off fresh ginger, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • Kosher salt and white or black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast meat, diced
  • 1 cup cooked white rice or cooked pasta of choice
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tbsp sliced green onions


  • Place all the bones in a large pot. Add the rough chop carrot, onion, celery, leek, garlic, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cover with cold water by about 1 inch, about 8 cups. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Do not add salt at this point. Using a ladle, skim some of the foam if desired, it just makes for a more refined stock.
  • When done cooking, strain the stock through a fine metal sieve. You should get about 4 cups. Transfer the stock to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the diced onions, carrots, celery, thyme, ginger, and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the ginger and the thyme. Season to taste with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Add the cooked chicken and cooked rice and heat through for about 2 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary. Serve with chopped cilantro and sliced green onions. I added a few drop of sesame oil and cholula or Tabasco.


We love Beef Stroganoff. But every once in a while we like to go meatless…and make Mushroom Leek Stroganoff. This will have the same savory, creamy stroganoff taste just without the meat. The cremini mushrooms give this dish a similar meaty texture. I substitute half the onions with leeks, and that elevates it even further.

Keep in mind that it is essential for deep flavor development to take your time with the onions, leeks, and mushrooms. In other words, cook them on low with unsalted butter for at least 15 minutes to get them near caramelized, lightly browned.

You can use your favorite pasta, but large egg noodles really are the go-to choice with stroganoff. Serve with a fresh garlic garlic bread (recipe below).


  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned, quartered, 1/8 inch slice
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, halved, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved, 1/4 inch slice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp demi-glace
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces large egg noodles
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley


  • Clean and dry the mushrooms. Cut them in half them slice 1/4 inch, leaving the stems.
  • Use the white and light green part of the leek. Cut in half and remove any dirt and sand then cut in quarters. Slice 1/8 inch.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, leeks, and onions and season with salt and pepper. Let them cook, stirring, for at least 15 minutes until the mushrooms have lost all their liquid and are beginning to brown slightly. Add the thyme and garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook another 1 minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the brandy or sherry and bring to a simmer for a minute or so to cook off the alcohol. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the Demi place and let cook in for 1 minute, stirring.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire and the Dijon. Add the sour cream and heat through, stirring. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if necessary, especially pepper. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to low, and let cook about 10 minutes while you cook the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta, do not rinse, and return to the pasta saucepan. Toss with a little olive oil.
  • When ready to serve, plate some pasta and spoon over the mushroom sauce. Season with more fresh cracked pepper if desired and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with garlic bread.

Garlic Bread recipe

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix together 2 cloves of minced garlic, 4 tbsp unsalted room temperature butter, 1 tbsp chopped parsley and a pinch of Kosher salt.
  • Use your favorite French or sourdough bread. Spread cut sides liberally with the garlic butter. Sprinkle on some grated parmesan and place on a sheet pan. Bake until the bread is toasty and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes.


We love Capellini Pomodoro. We have it quite often as a vegetarian break from heavier meat dishes. It’s so simple…Capellini (angel hair) pasta, diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh sliced basil leaves (chiffonade). Every once in a while, we throw in the garlic sautéed shrimp…and there you have it!

It takes a little prep, but comes together really quickly after that.

First, the tomatoes. I have seen recipes that call for canned, diced tomatoes. Now, I love and cook with canned tomatoes all the time, especially San Marzano tomatoes. However…canned tomatoes need to be cooked or they will have a metallic taste. Pomodoro does not involve actually cooking the tomatoes, but just quickly heating them up in a saute. So…I prefer, and advise you to use, fresh, tomatoes…specifically, fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes. Take the time to skin the tomatoes (directions below), it makes for a much more refined result. You will be happy you did. This dish also requires fresh basil leaves, dried basil will not cut it. Sorry, but this is as fresh a pasta dish as you can get. Also, remember…capellini pasta cooks in about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. It is extremely thin and only works with a short cook time.

This recipe serves 2-3 people.


  • About 3 ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 8-10 ounces (8-10) extra large (U-15) shrimp
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (rolled up like a cigar and thin sliced)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 6-7 ounces of capellini (angel hair) pasta


  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Cut a small X in the small end of the Roma tomatoes. With a small paring knife, remove the core from the tomatoes. Fill a mixing bowl with ice cubes and water. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for no more than 30 seconds or you will stew them. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into the ice water. Let cool for a few seconds. Use you paring knife and peel the skin off starting at the X you placed in the ends. Then half them lengthwise then in half again then slice into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
  • Make sure your shrimp is shelled and cleaned of the digestive tract.
  • Cook your capellini in salted boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes. Drain and return to the saucepan. Toss with a little olive oil so it won’t stick together, cover, and keep warm.
  • Place a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp to the skillet and spread evenly. Season lightly with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Let cook for 45 seconds then turn and let cook another 30 seconds. Throw in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Toss a few more times for about 45 seconds. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese and toss.
  • Place the cooked capellini in a large mixing bowl and add the shrimp and tomatoes. Add the fresh basil chiffonade and toss well. Serve immediately in large pasta bowls with more grated Parmesan.


New Years Eve has always been a quiet time for us over the years. Few parties, staying home (especially this year), and making a few appetizers is about it. Even when I was growing up, that’s why my parents did…laying out an assortment of tasty apps to munch on through the evening. This is one of our favorite items, though most of the time we stuffed the mushrooms with a combination of ground sausage, cheese, and herbs. We kept it vegetarian this time with these tangy cream cheese and green chile stuffed mushrooms.


  • About 8-12 medium to large white mushrooms, stems removed
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup mild diced green chiles
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp minced chives or green onions
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs, toasted
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly oil a baking dish or small sheet pan.
  • Stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, green chiles, chives, and salt. Whip it fluffy with fork.
  • To a small skillet, add the butter over medium low heat then add the panko crumbs. Toss and lightly brown. Add the chopped parsley. Remove to a small bowl and add the parmesan cheese, mix well.
  • Use a small piping bag or a plastic sandwich bag. Add the cream cheese mixture to the bag. Snip off one corner if using the sandwich bag.
  • Pipe the mixture into each mushroom cap, smoothing and rounding the tops with a small spoon. Carefully dip and press the top of the mushrooms into the panko mixture to coat. Place the mushrooms in the oiled baking dish or sheet pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and hot. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving, they will be hot.