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What "typical American Foods" would you serve to foreigners?

Well, I am going to be hosting a British friend of mine in about three week's time. He has asked for me to have a BBQ with my charcoal Weber grill. We will be having rib eye steaks grilled over lump charcoal, grilled corn on the cob, three bean salad and a peach cobbler for dessert.

Aug 27, 2014
mwk in General Topics

Worst Cooking show Buzzwords

The one that is starting to annoy me is "Turn up the Volume" as in:

"I'm making a traditional Macaroni and Cheese, but with the volume turned way up", because the chef is adding some chopped jalapeno's or something to it.

Aug 25, 2014
mwk in Food Media & News

Looking for light and upbeat or soothing conversational cooking shows

Currently, my three favorite cooking shows are:

On Cooking Channel:

"My Grandmother's Ravioli" with Mo Rocca. His show is wonderful and entertaining. The grandmothers he meets are universally fascinating and he spends as much time getting to know them and their history, as he does cooking food with them. It's a great mix of personal interest and food.

"Extra Virgin" with Debi Mazar and her husband Gabriele Corcos. They are a lot of fun to watch and they obviously really care about each other. The food is mostly very simple as is most really good Italian food (it's about the ingredients first).

On Food Network, Other than Barefoot Contessa(which has always been a longtime favorite), I love watching Trisha Yearwood's Southern Cooking show. Most of her recipes I probably won't make myself, because it's not really the kind of food I like to eat, but I love watching her and listening to her stories too. If you like desserts, though, her baking looks great. She made a banana pudding cake on her season premiere last weekend, that looked really yummy.

Aug 25, 2014
mwk in Food Media & News

Looking for light and upbeat or soothing conversational cooking shows

I have Marcia Adams' cookbook from that series, and I still use it regularly to this day. The Oven Fried chicken is to die for, and I love her "Funeral Pie" recipe and the Sauerkraut soup too.

Aug 25, 2014
mwk in Food Media & News

Shaw's > Star

I live near the Quincy Star market. When it was built originally, it was a "Star Market PLUS", which I guess was their upscale version. It was never rebranded to Shaw's. Since I've been living in Quincy, that store has been on a long, depressing downhill slide. I think it hit bottom two years ago, just about the time that BJ's opened down the street.

Even though I can walk to that Star from my house, I'd drive by and go to Roche Bros or Hannaford in North Quincy to do my shopping. I've noticed that since Cerberus bought it and started the changes, it has gotten somewhat better and the selection is a bit better. But, they still have the garbage self checkout scanners, their fresh herb selection is not great (went in there yesterday for fresh Sage, didn't have any...). They FINALLY carry organic cage free eggs, which is nice, and some organic grass fed hamburg.

I haven't really compared prices, but over all it's not as hideous as it was a year ago. Would I LOVE to see them sell it to Wegman's, or to Market Basket (if MB ever rises from the dead), absolutely. It's still fourth out of my four choices to shop.

Aug 18, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area


Many years ago, my mom found a recipe in a cookbook for a "Mexican Gazpacho" which I love.

Basically it's a standard gazpacho recipe (tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, onion), throw in a food processor/blender, and then add a couple of teaspoons of cumin, a couple of teaspoons of chili powder, and a cup of greek yogurt (or sour cream if you want more richness).

There is an actual recipe with specifics, but I just make it now and add what amounts I like to it. You get the general idea.

Aug 13, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

Alternative to Market Basket for cheap lobsters

I just bought a great 5 pounder at my local Star Market last week, for $6.99/lb. I needed a claw hammer to crack the claws, though :)

Aug 01, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

Going away drinks and apps in Downtown Crossing Area

I second Marliave. Another option would be Kingston Station.

Aug 01, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

My imagination, or is Stop&Shop getting good again?

I live within walking distance of the Quincy Star Market. I've wished many times that they would sell the location to Market Basket, especially in the last couple of years when Supervalu was running the place into the ground. Since the BJ's has opened down the street, I only go into Star on occasion when I need a few quick staples.

However, over the past few months since Cerberus bought Shaw's and decided to make the Star Market their "premium" brand, I've noticed a lot of welcome changes to the Quincy Star. Much better quality produce, a much improved cheese and deli selection and better quality fresh fish as well. Prices seem to be a bit better and they got rid of that hated "loyalty card".

Jul 21, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

Garlic Dill Pickles

So I made these for the first time last week. I used the miniature greenhouse/persian cucumbers. I waited 4 days to try one. They were just so salty that they were inedible. They did have a very slightly sour, "jewish pickle" taste to them, but I ended up throwing them all out. I don't know how anyone could eat these, given how horribly salty they were. I measured everything and used Morton Kosher salt. I may try the other recipe linked to here, or cut the salt down to 1/8 cup and try again.

Jul 14, 2014
mwk in Recipes

Retirement party for 50 near Government Center

If the North End is OK, what about Mamma Maria? They have a private room that does seat 50+ people.

Jul 11, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

NanaP [Jewish deli in Boston?]

Exactly. It's not a KOSHER Deli. Katz's isn't Kosher either, I don't think. Putting cheese on their pastrami sandwiches (as they do at Moodys) is a dead giveaway. But, from what I've seen from reviews of the place, it's not a Jewish Deli, it's more of an Eclectic Deli with many different cured meat options from all cultures. As such, I doubt they'd be expected to have a classic Katz's like sandwich and shouldn't be compared to that.

Jul 11, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

July 2014 Farmers' Markets, Farm Stands, CSA updates

I get my CSA through Brookwood Farm in the Blue Hills. This week's box will be:

Summer Squash
Cabbage choice
Herb choice

I also participate in their egg share from Brambly Farms and their Fruit Share. So far, the fruit has been all strawberries. I imagine we will be seeing blueberries soon. They also mentioned getting cherries and local stone fruits as well.

Jul 09, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

June 2014 Farmers' Markets, Farm Stands, CSA updates

I also have a CSA through Brookwood. Got some delicious frisee, Daikon Radish, sugar peas, green garlic, romaine lettuce, cilantro, tatsoi and black kale. I also get the eggs they sell from Brambly Farms.

This coming week, they start the fruit share and I hear it's Strawberries to start.

Jun 19, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

It's Strawberry Season Again! Anyone seen the local ones yet?

I've subscribed to the "Fruit Share" at my CSA, Brookwood Community Farm in Canton. This week is the first week and they are offering Strawberries. I'll pick mine up on Saturday.

Jun 19, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

Can I buy pastries today and keep them until Sunday?

If the pastries do not contain any cream or custard, you could by them, wrap them very well and put them in the freezer. Take them out the morning of Fathers Day and put them on paper towels to defrost for a couple of hours and they should be fine.

As mentioned, this does not apply to anything fried, crispy, or with cream or custard.

Jun 13, 2014
mwk in General Topics

When you are hosting a dinner party, do you ask guests whether they have dietary restrictions, or preview the menu for them?

I didn't hate having dinner parties. I hated having to deal with the people that I invited to said parties. :)

With my group of friends now, food has become a completely joyless experience. One is Paleo, one is Gluten Free, one only eats raw food and organics, one is on a low sodium diet, one is Kosher. By the time they are through analyzing and picking apart everything that might possibly end up in their mouths, I'd rather just invite them for cocktails, or in some cases, bottled water.

Jun 03, 2014
mwk in Not About Food

I scream, You scream... What are you pet peeves about ice cream?

If I wanted a dish of ice cream, I'd ask for a dish of ice cream. When I ask for an ice cream sundae, it means a specific thing. If I ask for an ice cream soda, do I need to tell them to put soda water in it?

Jun 03, 2014
mwk in General Topics

"odd lot" stores??

Ocean State rocks. I have bought fantastic organic, unfiltered, EVOO from Italy for $5.99 a liter. They also have all the Bob's Red Mill products cheap.

I was just there yesterday, and I found this wonderful Pomegranite and Sour Cherry juice for $1.99 a liter bottle. They also had DOP San Marzano whole canned tomatoes from Italy for $2.99 a 28oz can. I love going in there to see what goodies I can find.

Jun 02, 2014
mwk in General Topics

I scream, You scream... What are you pet peeves about ice cream?

My BIGGEST peeve is counter staff who do not know how to make a freaking Ice cream Sundae.

We went to a well known local ice cream chain recently and ordered two hot fudge sundaes with "Moose Tracks" ice cream. What we got was scoops of ice cream with hot fudge on them. No whipped cream...no nuts...no cherry. We had to ask for all that. This has happened again and again at other places. I've taken to saying when I order, "please put everything on the sundae, nuts, whipped cream, cherry, everything"

If I ask for an ice cream sundae, shouldn't it be understood what the ingredients are?

Best Male Food Bloggers

My favorite is Macheesmo.


Jun 02, 2014
mwk in Food Media & News

When you are hosting a dinner party, do you ask guests whether they have dietary restrictions, or preview the menu for them?

I've solved the problem by no longer having dinner parties :)

How would I make dairy-free Poutine?

In short, you wouldn't. Poutine has cheese curds in it, regardless of what other flavoring it uses. If you want to make french fries with gravy, then do that. Just leave out the curds.

May 30, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

Indian cooking/frying paneer without non stick pan

If you use a good layer of oil on the pan, you should be OK.

One other option might be to brush the paneer with oil and broil it to get the browning.

May 30, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

Help! Gluten-free dish to make for new neighbors.

This is a dish from Lidia Bastianich. I don't remember which cook book specifically. It's basically lasagna but instead of pasta, you layer it with polenta. It's so delicious. This particular recipe uses a mushroom ragu, but you could easily go with your usual meat sauce to layer it.


Just be sure that any ingredients like the tomato paste are gluten free (I imagine most of them are).

May 30, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

summer beet salad ideas?

I'm eating a beet salad for lunch right now. It's got shredded raw beets, shredded raw carrots, finely chopped ginger root, a little turmeric, a little cinnamon, some golden raisins, a little honey and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Very tasty.

Another beet dish I love, is this one from the NYTimes:

Finally there's this cold borscht recipe from Ina Garten which I will be making all summer:

May 30, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

May 2014 Openings and Closings

I used to work in the Transportation building when it first opened. Indeed there was a Fuddrucker's there for many years. There was an entrance from the street as well as the Food Court.

May 30, 2014
mwk in Greater Boston Area

Your Mashed Cauliflower recipe?

I'll boil the cauliflower and mash it and then, in addition to salt and pepper, I'll add any of the following:

Butter and Nutmeg
Olive Oil and Pecorino Romano
Boursin Cheese (just drop it on the hot veggies and mix it in while you mash it)
Cumin and diced Jalapenos

Of course, if you are looking to reduce the calories, some of these are better than other options. But I will say I do love the Boursin cheese.

May 29, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

Pasta Salad recipes

I have three "go to" versions that I make. All have been requested at one time or the other by friends and family when I go to BBQ's.

The first is just a pasta-based tabbouleh. I'll use small rotini, elbows or shells and mix with a very generous amount of chopped parsley, chopped mint, tomatoes,chopped vidalia onion and a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. I usually also sprinkle some Zaatar over it to add to the flavor.

The second is a mexican style orzo salad that my friends love:

1 lb of whole wheat or regular orzo, cooked
1 can of sliced black olives
2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 green onions, chopped (I use the entire onion)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Cilantro
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
Salt/Pepper to taste
For the dressing, Juice of two limes, 1/4 cup of good olive oil, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Mix the dressing well and pour over the salad, tossing to coat.

All the proportions can be tweaked to taste. Sometimes, i'll add some cubes of cheddar cheese, sometimes I'll use a bit more or less cilantro or leave it out if people are squeamish.

The final recipe I got from my Mom. It's a traditional Mayo-based pasta salad and it's not health food by any means, but it's very comforting for me, and I can easily eat bowls of it if I'm not careful. I also get asked to make it all through the summer. I've made a couple of tweaks to my mother's version.

1 pound of any shape small pasta
1 bag of either Broccoli Slaw or Cole Slaw mix (found in the produce aisle of the supermarket)

Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and add to a large bowl. Mix in the raw Broccoli or Cole slaw mix.

There is a general dressing recipe that I usually don't measure carefully, I just go for taste. It should have quite a nice vinegary tang to it and the pasta be well coated. Tweak it as you like for your own tastes.

2 cups Hellman's mayo (if you use Miracle Whip, I can't be held responsible)
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 packets of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (or any brand you like)

Mix dressing ingredients well. It should have a good consistency of ranch dressing. Taste for seasoning. If it's too sour for your tastes, add a bit more mayo. Don't forget it's supposed to be a strong concentrated flavor so when it dresses all the pasta and veggies, it will still have some kick. That's why I love this version so much; it's not bland like most mayo-based salads.

Reserve 1/4 cup of dressing and toss the salad with the rest. Chill in the refrigerator. If it needs more dressing, toss with the reserved dressing just before serving.

May 29, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking

Muhammara / Roasted Bell Pepper and Walnut Dip

I started making this two summers ago. I'm not not allowed to bring anything else to pot luck parties or BBQ's. It is delicious. I use the pomegranate molasses and Aleppo Pepper for the heat. It's really good.

May 12, 2014
mwk in Home Cooking