Slightly Wild Mushroom Barley Soup

Porcini mushrooms grow in the wild, and despite many attempts to grow them under controlled conditions they remain resistant to domestication. Fortunately, they are extremely prolific and grow all over the globe. Most dried porcini available in the Northeastern United States are imported from Eastern Europe or Asia. These dried mushrooms are available in several grades, and also as powdered mushrooms. They add a tremendous amount of mushroom flavor to any dish. In this soup, they join three varieties of fresh mushrooms available in most food markets, and so the combination is slightly wild. Continue reading

Homemade Egg Noodles

Homemade noodles are easier to make than you think. Once you try them you will discover how delicious they are, and how many different ways you’ll want to use them. Add them to soups, with saucy toppings, tossed with butter and sprinkled with toasted walnuts and grated cheese, sprinkled with fresh herbs, mixed with cream and goat cheese; the variations are endless. Egg noodles can be a side dish or the foundation for a main course. Continue reading

Savory Mozzarella Bread Pudding

Serve this savory side dish for brunch or paired with spicy grilled chicken for a famous supper. Strings of melted mozzarella follow your fork as you eat it. The flavors suggest those found in a mellow pizza of sliced tomatoes, oregano, Parmesan, olive oil and Mozzarella—served up in a soft custard studded with cubes of crusty Italian bread. This is pure comfort food. Continue reading

Lasagna with Three Cheeses, Two Meats and Homemade Pasta

Lasagna is one of the ultimate comfort foods. When made with homemade pasta it is light as can be, even if it has an extra layer. If you live in an urban area you probably know a store where you can purchase sheets of fresh pasta. If you live in the last fort on the edge of the frontier, you’ll have to break out the hand-cranked pasta machine. Either way, there just isn’t any comparison between tender fresh pasta and boxed supermarket pasta. Continue reading

Grilled Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella, Served with Mushroom Risotto and Brocollini

Grilled Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella howtofood

Oven roasting concentrates the flavor of fresh garden tomatoes and gives them a caramelized flavor. They need a concentrated flavor to play off the earthy zing of Maplebrook Farm cherry-wood smoked mozzarella. When you unwrap this remarkable cheese you’ll smell what I’m talking about before you even taste it. The pork chops are soaked in a brine before grilling to make them retain juices, and to absorb the flavors of garlic, brown sugar and summer savory. The mushroom risotto flows onto the plate and the pork chops are served on top and is both sauce for the meat and starch for the meal. Crisp brocollini provides a textural counterpart to the other elements. Serve with Viognier or an oaky Chardonnay, if you prefer beer try a frosty, well-hopped IPA. Continue reading

Grilled Shrimp with Cheddar-Jalapeño Polenta, Chipotle Sauce, and Scallions


A good friend of ours stayed for a few days, and for her last dinner I wanted to make something special and a little different. I also didn’t want to make anything that required time away, or a lot of preparation. It had to be cooked and served quickly. Nobody wants to be the galley slave while everyone else is at the party. Except for stirring the polenta occasionally for 15 minutes, the total cooking time for the grilled shrimp is no more than 2 minutes. The marinade, sauce, and putting the shrimp on skewers can all be done well in advance—the few ingredients are quickly prepared, but nobody knows that except for you.

The shrimp combined with spicy flavors of jalapeño and smoky chipotle pair well with a slightly sweet Reisling Spätlese. A good beer pairing would be a malty, copper-colored Altbier.

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