Shrimp & Slaw

shrimpRecently I posed a question on the Facebook page asking what people wanted to see and one of the requests was “a meal that can be made in about 30 minutes, when I get home from work”.   I get it,  life is crazy busy and the last thing most people (most sane people) want to do after coming home from work is stand in front of a stove for any length of time.

This is a meal I made for a client of mine and it took well under 30 minutes to make, she loved it and requested I make it again.  I probably need to get in the habit of sharing what I cook for clients…

Continue reading


A few months ago, The Girl and I went to New Orleans for a little getaway.  As a properly organized food person, I had a list (a very long list) of places to eat.  That was pretty much my agenda.   Sure, there are tons of things to do in New Orleans and we did a few of them, but my main objective was food.  How could it not be?

NoLa 029

So, our itinerary pretty much looked like this Every Single Day (swapping out restaurants, of course):

  • breakfast : Café du Monde
  • lunch: Antoine’s
  • dinner: Pesche

Oh, did I mention it was restaurant week when we were there?!  Yeah, that’s like putting a fat kid in a candy store and telling him to only pick 3 things.  Not likely… 

We landed in the early afternoon, armed with our list and set off on our first place for lunch:  Po’ Boys in the French Quarter.  Thoroughly stuffed, yet always able to find room for a little sweet, we ducked into a little café to get out of the pouring rain.  It rained every single day, but we were in New Orleans and we didn’t really mind all that much… So, I had my first real beignet.  I wish I could report that it was a “mind-blowing, angels singing, sunshine flooding down from heaven, epiphany of culinary genius kind of moment” but it wasn’t.   It wasn’t Café du Monde and the next day, when I sat at a tiny little table with the Girl and a cup of café au lait, it was.   These little deep-fried pillows of sugar-dusted heaven were, for a doughnut lover like me, absolute perfection. 

Wandering around the streets is an adventure in itself.  There is always something to see or hear, like this guy:

New Orleans 2014 027

He was incredible, and so were the dozens of other musicians we heard.   There is no shortage of soul-lifting music floating through the air and it can find you at any given moment, even at Sunday brunch!

Sunday Brunch at Commander's Palace

Sunday Brunch at Commander’s Palace

NoLa 080 NoLa 081 NoLa 082 NoLa 083 NoLa 084

One of my favorite things that we did in New Orleans was a scavenger hunt.   Normally when I go on vacation,  I go out of my way to avoid the overly touristy things. This scavenger hunt took us to things that one might never know were there and I learned a lot about the history of New Orleans AND considering the amount of eating we were doing, it was probably a good idea to do a certain amount of walking!

New Orleans 2014 118 New Orleans 2014 142 NoLa Collage

I don’t want to be “that girl”, the one that sets of the projector and bores you to tears with hundreds of vacation photos (although I am very tempted), so I’ll just say that I have way too many photos of balconies, buildings, etc.   OK, just a few… I can’t help myself.

New Orleans 2014 060 New Orleans 2014 077 NoLa 047

New Orleans was an amazing trip! From the moment we landed, we wandered all over the city and I know that we barely scratched the surface of everything there is to discover.  We had incredible meals,  used a secret “front of the line card” to skip a 2 hour wait at Acme Oyster (thank you Missy!), had the best muffaletta sandwich, lots of laughs, made great memories,  and had one hell of a great time.    

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

NoLa 026

Lavender Scones…

So here we are smack in the middle of the holiday season and there are pumpkin, gingerbread & peppermint recipes coming out of people’s ears and what am I making?  Lavender scones.

I don’t mean to swim upstream, it just seems to happen…  I’ve been on a bit of a scone kick lately.  I will admit I’ve been making cranberry scones too and THOSE are holiday’ish, but I needed a break from the sea of cinnamon and nutmeg.

They are ridiculously easy  (especially the drop kind like these) and they take very little time, which is a blessing during this frenzied time of year when time and energy are in short supply.   

A friend of mine had given me a bit of lavender to play with and the first thing that popped into my head was lavender scones with a bit of lemon zest.   The flavor is so delicate and just barely floral,  it feels like a special treat.  


Dainty little scones, served with jam, cream or lemon curd as part of a Sunday brunch or when friends and family come to visit 

Last year when I was still trying to find my way here after leaving Brooklyn, I decided to work at a Farmer’s Market.  That’s how I met my friend Laurie.  She is the reason for these scones…  On my first day there, we just hit it off immediately!  We chatted all day long and soon we were trading goods.  I gave her food and she gave me spices.  A match made in (culinary) heaven! 

Every weekend was a treat to see what the other one had and at the end of the day, we always had new ideas, a ton of laughs and full bellies.

Lavender Scones
Easy Drop Scones
Write a review
  1. 5 c. AP flour
  2. 1 c. sugar
  3. 4 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), COLD, cut into small cubes or grated
  6. zest of 2 lemons
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 2 c. whole milk
  9. 1 1/2 TB. culinary lavender
  10. coarse sanding sugar for tops
  1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add butter, lavender and zest.
  2. Cut in with pastry blender or pulse a few times in food processor.
  3. Beat milk and eggs together, add to dry ingredients and stir with spatula until just combined.
  4. Scoop with a large cookie scoop, sprinkle sugar on top and bake for 18 - 20 minutes at 400 degrees
  1. If your oven tends to run cool, increase temperature to 425.
Pook's Pantry








Coffee Cookies

Do you love coffee?  Yeah, me too.  I don’t mean that in a casual  “yeah, I love coffee” kind of way;  I. Love. Coffee.  We’re hot & heavy.  It’s a torrid love affair that has no end in sight.  I once (foolishly) thought I should give up coffee…  Why, you ask?   Well, I thought I should get off caffeine, or rather it should get out of me.   Then, after 3 absolutely miserable weeks,  I had a revelation of sorts.   I don’t really drink (I’m usually a 2 drink max kind of girl), I’ve never had a cigarette in my entire life and I don’t do drugs.  Pretty boring, I know…   So, here’s where I decided that coffee and I are lifelong partners; I don’t do anything else!  Everyone has a vice and dammit, coffee was going to be mine! 

coffee butter cookie 3

When I heard about this book “Passion for Coffee” by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, I was intrigued.   If I could use one of my favorite things in all the world in a variety of ways:  I’m in.  I sat on the couch, obligatory cup of joe in hand, devouring these pages.  The author is so thoughtful about the use of coffee in so many applications;  from sweet to savory, drinks to desserts, hot and cold, etc… 

There are easily a dozen recipes in this book that I have marked to try, I’m sure you will find that many as well.  It is a wealth of knowledge and information on the topic of coffee and how best to utilize it.

The recipe I chose was a butter cookie with coffee.  Combining coffee and cookies sounded like a winning combination!  I made the recipe twice, the second time to test it out on friends.  Most of them liked it.  The texture is slightly less crumbly than a “sandy” type of cookie and it is very buttery with a subtle coffee flavor.   I thought they were a great treat to have with a cup of coffee.   The deciding factor in choosing this recipe was this:  it’s a handful of ingredients,  which most of us already have on hand.  This recipe is a great “go-to” when you want to whip up a little something sweet without making a special trip to the store.

So,  pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit down with a copy of this book and enjoy a cookie or two.


Coffee Butter Cookies
A light butter cookie flecked with coffee from the cookbook "Passion for Coffee"
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. 1/2 lb clarified butter
  2. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 2 tbsp. granulated instant coffee (or espresso)
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray 2 (or more) baking sheets with nonstick spray.
  2. (I used parchment paper instead)
  3. Beat the butter in an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Sift the powdered sugar into the mixer bowl, and continue to mix for 8-10 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix the flour and coffee. Reduce speed to low and add to the mixer bowl. Beat only to incorporate, no more than 1 minute. It will be a dry, textured dough.
  6. Scoop out 1 tablespoon portions, place on baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand.
  7. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool 5 - 10 minutes.
  8. Store in containers for up to a week.
  1. The only issue I had both times was the yield. According to the recipe, I should've had 80 cookies. I ended up with about 20.
  2. I used a slightly larger scoop than 1 tablespoon (the portion in recipe) and did not cut in half, which they did.
Adapted from Passion for Coffee
Adapted from Passion for Coffee
Pook's Pantry
coffee butter cookie

coffee butter cookie 2

Disclosure: I was sent a complementary copy of Patricia McCausland-Gallo’s Passion for Coffee to review. All links to purchase the book on Amazon are affiliate links.  Recipe reprinted with permission from Creative Culinary Works/Favorite Recipes Press.

Blueberry Mini Pies

blueberry mini pies3 I’m as patriotic as the next gal, but when Independence Day rolls around and you add the World Cup to that equation,  it seems everyone feels it to a near fever-pitch level of excitement…  (since I started this draft, I am sad to report the US team was knocked out by Belgium) Making good pie crust in Florida is no easy task.  I thought it was just my own shortcoming until  a friend’s sister was lamenting about the fact that she has tried on several occasions to make pie crust here and finds it impossible.    I must tell you, I exhaled a sigh of relief to end all sighs.  I was certain that it was me and that I had somehow lost my touch.   Hearing from  people who also grew up elsewhere that they find making pie crust in the steamy heat of Florida to be a nightmare…  well, that made me feel so much better.     blueberry mini pies2 The only time I will subject myself to that torture now is Thanksgiving.  That’s it.  Once a year is all I can handle.   Whenever I feel the urge for making pies, this is my go-to recipe.   It always turns out beautifully,  there are no wails of frustration or tears of disappointment.  Hooray!!! The 4th of July has become synonymous with barbeques, cook-outs, outdoor parties, etc.  These little pies are perfect for picnics and outdoor parties.  You can set a plate of them out for guests and enjoy your own party!

(Disclaimer:  I have yet to master this.  I am one of those people that is in the kitchen for most of it, making sure guests are happy, everyone is eating, everyone has a drink, etc.  I usually end up missing the majority of it because I’m so preoccupied with making sure everyone else has a good time.  If you are master of your own party:  feel free to email me tips on how I too, can actually be a guest at my own party…)

As for us:  We will be attending a potluck party with friends and happily munching on these hand held treats while playing a very competitive game of corn hole.    Happy 4th of July everyone!!!!    Have a wonderful and safe holiday  :)

blueberry mini pies

Blueberry Mini Pies
Hand Held Mini Blueberry Pies
Write a review
Prep Time
4 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
5 hr
Prep Time
4 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
5 hr
For the Filling
  1. 4 cups blueberries
  2. 1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 3 tbsp. water
  4. 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  5. 1 tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
  6. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  7. 1/4 tsp. salt
For the crust
  1. (crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen, just barely fussed with)
  2. 3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  6. 12 ounces unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
  7. 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
For the Egg Wash
  1. 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water.
  2. If you want to dust the top with sugar, you will also need sanding sugar or any coarse sugar.
  3. -prepare egg wash, get out the pastry brush & set aside.
Make the dough
  1. Whisk together flour, zest, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.
  3. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a bit of a mass forms, then knead it two or three times to form a ball.
  4. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. (I had to add all of the remaining 1/4 cup)
  5. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.
Make the filling
  1. Taste a few blueberries: If they are sweet, use closer to 1/2 cup sugar. If they are not, you may need up to 3/4 cup of sugar.
  2. Combine about a third of the blueberries with the sugar in a medium saucepot. Simmer on low heat until sugar has melted and berries begin to burst. Stir occasionally. This will take about 5 - 7 minutes.
  3. Combine cornstarch and water in a (very) small bowl. Once blueberries have begun to burst and sugar is melted, smash any remaining berries to a pulp and add the cornstarch mixture to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has thickened.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 30 - 45 seconds. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Assembly Line
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Generously flour the counter top, then unwrap one of your disks of dough. Gently begin rolling it out, starting from the center and pushing outward. The dough will be pretty firm when you begin, so be patient, but it will warm quickly... so not too patient!
  3. Keep rolling from the center out, turning the dough as you go, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. If the butter in the dough begins to get too warm and it starts to stick to the pin or gets goopy (it IS July, after all...), slide it onto a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up again.
  4. Once dough is rolled out, cut out with a 2 1/2 - 3 inch cutter (whatever shape you have) or use a knife and cut into squares.
  5. Lightly brush half of your circles or squares with the egg wash, taking care to get the edges, cut vents in the center of the other half of your circles/squares.
  6. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the egg washed halves and top with the vented pieces. (don't overfill!) Seal with your fingertips or press with a fork along the edges.
  7. Brush with the egg wash on top and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chill in refrigerator before baking if dough begins to get mushy. Repeat with remaining disk of dough, filling, etc.
  8. Place on baking sheet 1 - 2 inches apart and bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden and puffed.
  9. Eat. Repeat.
  1. Cook time includes 2 - 3 hours resting time for dough. Active time is approximately 45 - 60 minutes
Looking for a red, white & blue theme?
  1. You can make half with cherries here -
Pook's Pantry

Falafel… or “Fal-Awful”

Fal-awful is much more appropriate for what I had at a restaurant not too long ago.  It can only be described as the worst falafel I have ever been served.   It was greasy and burnt to a crisp.  Against my better judgment,  I tried a tiny bite and not so graciously spit it into my napkin.

When the waiter came to clear plates and saw the entire order still sitting there he said to me
“They were burnt, I know”  
So, here is where I wanted to ask him:  If you knew they were burnt, why in the world did you ever let them leave the kitchen?!
But I was his customer, not his boss.   I was dumbfounded and could not think of a response that wouldn’t bring him to tears, so I said nothing…  I just looked at him.  

If you have ever worked in a restaurant, whether you were a server, hostess, line cook, or the head honcho:  Would you ever bring something that looked like this to the table?



Hint:  the correct answer is no.

(the photo makes them look MUCH more palatable than they actually were)

Ok, I’m done venting…   That being said, I felt the need to make some to remove this taste memory from the index.

It had been quite some time since I had made falafel at home, so I was just a bit apprehensive that they might not turn out perfect.   I was right,  the first batch disintegrated in the oil.    So, with a touch more flour and another few hours resting in the fridge, the second batch happily held together & fried up beautifully.

beansEverything tossed into the processor…


mixed up

Whiz it all up…



Scoop it into little balls and let it rest in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours…


falafelPPFry until golden brown delicious…  and there you have it!  Falafel!


Yields 14
Write a review
Prep Time
2 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
2 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
  1. 1lb dried chickpeas
  2. 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, rough chop, stems discarded
  3. 1/2 bunch cilantro, rough chop, stems discarded
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  6. 2 tsp ground coriander
  7. 1 tsp ground cumin
  8. 2 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  10. 2 tbsp. flour
  11. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  12. zest of half a lemon + 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  13. pinch of cayenne (optional)
  1. Cover chickpeas in cold water, with at least 2 inches of water above them. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain beans and rinse with cold water. Add all ingredients except the oil to food processor and pulse until incorporated but not fully pureed.
  3. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to help ingredients come together but be careful not to make dough too wet because it will fall apart in the oil.
  4. Pinch off a little bit of the dough to make a small patty and fry it in a pan to taste for seasoning. If it needs more salt, pepper, cumin, etc... now is the time to add it.
  5. Scoop into balls and roll with your hands to form them, place them on a sheet pan and let them rest in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  6. Heat a few inches of oil in a pot over medium high heat and carefully lower falafel into the oil.
  7. If it sinks to the bottom and doesn't "bubble", oil is not hot enough... remove them and wait a few minutes until oil is hotter.
  8. Fry a few at a time (do not overcrowd the pot) until golden brown.
  9. 4 - 5 minutes for falafel slightly smaller than a golf ball.
  1. try substituting half of the dried chickpeas with dried fava beans
Pook's Pantry

Salchichoc (Chocolate “Sausage”)


Disclaimer:  I received a pdf version of “Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain” .  Any links to book are affiliate links.

choc sausage


Chocolate Sausage?  No, it isn’t a recipe for actual sausage made with chocolate,  it is a dessert fashioned to look like sausage and it is made out of chocolate.   Kinda brilliant…  but then again, I do love Spain, Spaniards and their whimsical sense of humor :)

Charcutería: The Soul of Spain is an in depth look at Spanish charcuterie, unfortunately most of which is completely unavailable to us here in the United States.   This book covers every facet of it and is peppered with anecdotes from the author’s experiences in Spain, which also make it a fun and engaging read as it connects to recipes in the book.  The writing and explanations are descriptive and never feel like the author is talking “at” you instead of “with” you.

If you have ever wanted to know anything at all about the art of making charcuterie, this is the book.  It gives a wealth of information about the topic, the ingredients, the methods, etc.   It is not for the faint of heart, be forewarned…  It is an arrestingly honest approach to the subject, but one that reminds us all to honor the animal that gave it’s life. 

So, in saying all of that, why did I chose to do a dessert?!  To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have access to a meat grinder and didn’t want to do a mediocre job on something and have to show my work.   I used to (help) make charcuterie at the very first restaurant I worked in after culinary school.   I loved it.  I was fascinated by the process, but I also saw what happens when you don’t do something correctly.   I’ll give you a hint:  it’s BAD.    Charcuterie is very much akin to baking, in that you can not “mess with” the ingredients or the method.   If it says “X” amount of salt, that’s exactly what it means! 

This book is  incredibly informative, but not really a “beginner” book.   The photographs and writing are beautiful,  I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the art of charcuterie.   My dad may very well be the recipient of this very book for Father’s Day this year… maybe we’ll make some non-chocolate sausage.


Charcutería: The Soul of Spain


Salchichoc (Chocolate "Sausage")
a fun chocolate dessert made to look like a cured sausage!
Write a review
  1. 9 ounces (250 g) dark chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
  2. 3½ ounces (100 g) unsalted butter
  3. ¼ cup (50 mL) Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry
  4. 10½ ounces (300 g) shortbread or vanilla wafer cookies, crushed to a powder
  5. 5¼ ounces (150 g) finely chopped and skinless almonds, walnuts or cashews
  6. 2½ ounces (75 g) golden raisins
  7. 2 teaspoons (10 g) pure vanilla extract
  8. 1 ounce (25 g) confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Place a double boiler containing 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water (in the bottom pan) over medium heat. Bring the water to a boil. Break up the chocolate into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces and place the pieces, along with the butter, in the upper pan of the double boiler.
  2. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can just microwave the chocolate and butter on low for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring the mix every 2 minutes, until melted.)
  3. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt together and then transfer the mixture to a room-temperature large mixing bowl. Stir well and add the PX sherry.
  4. Add the cookies, nuts, raisins, and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture and stir well, making a dough.
  5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour to overnight.
  6. (The cookies will absorb all the liquid.)
  7. Place a large piece of parchment paper on your counter. Place ½ of the dough on the paper and reserve the other ½ in the refrigerator.
  8. Spread the dough out across the paper. Using the paper to help you roll, shape the dough into a compact “sausage” shape.
  9. Repeat the process with the other ½ of the dough and set both rolls of dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour to harden.
  10. Place a fresh sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Pour the confectioners’ sugar on it.
  11. Roll the “sausages” in the confectioners’ sugar until completely coated.
  12. Slice the “sausages” on the bias into 1-inch to 2-inch rounds.
  13. Transfer to a platter and serve chilled.
  1. NOTE: These are especially good with a little flaky sea salt on top.
  2. Also, I substituted dried cranberries for the golden raisins and I added white chocolate chips to mimic the little chunks of beautiful white fat in sausages.
  3. Aside from the above substitutions, I followed the recipe to the letter and my chocolate sausage came out a bit crumbly and dry. If I were to make it again, I would reduce the cookie crumbs by a few tablespoons and hopefully that would make it easier to get a clean slice that held together.
Pook's Pantry

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon


 Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of “Grill to Perfection” courtesy of  Page Street Publishing.  Any links to book are affiliate links.

 Zucchini Salad PP

It’s summertime and everyone is in their backyard.  Grills are lit and the smell of lightly charred meat and veggies fill the street.   You are out walking the dog and you can smell a steak on the grill somewhere…  You had dinner planned already, but that just went right out the window.  Now, you’re  on your way to buy a nice, fat steak or a basket full of veggies to throw on the grill.    It’s the smell…  it gets you every. single. time.

First, let me say that I love grilling.   I LOOOOVE IT.    I stand in front of my grill, tongs in hand, listening to the sizzle as meat or veggies hit the grates.  It’s one of the best sounds in the world!  I feel like puffing out my chest and grunting “fire”, but the urge passes and I’m back to reality.   Then…  the smell wafts up and smacks me right across the face with the intensity of an angry mistress in a soap opera.    I just breathe deep and inhale until my lungs are full.   

Before we get to the recipe;  let’s talk about the book! 

The intro to the book gives some great info about grills, tools, technique, etc.   Anyone can learn something from this bit of information.   I suggest reading it, even if you have been grilling for decades.

Each chapter offers a specific grilling technique and recipes to go with it…  here are a few of the recipes from each of the chapters:

Sear It: Hot Direct Grilling

  • Tamari-Glazed Steak with Sweet & Spicy Rice
  • Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub
  • Curried Chicken Tenderloins with Coconut and Papaya Salad
  • Lamb T-Bones and Mint Pistou
  • Molasses-Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Roasting for Flavor: Medium Direct Grilling

  • Grilled King Salmon with English Peas and Mint
  • Molly’s Tofu Tacos
  • Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt & Lemon Zest
  • Honey-Grilled Hot Pepper Jelly

Avoid The Burn: Low Direct Grilling

  • Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce
  • Grilled Trout Stuffed with Fresh Herb Salad
  • Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

Grilling Two Ways: Hybrid Two-Zone Grilling

  • Backyard Clambake on Your Grill
  • Grilled Club Steak with House Butter
  • Grilled Swordfish with Warm Bacon Lobster Salad
  • Grilled Striper Fillet with Summer Corn Succotash
  • Lacquered Pork Belly with Dijon and Soy

Grill It Low and Slow: Two-Zone Grilling

  • Slow-Grilled Beef Brisket
  • Jerk Ribs with Guava Glaze and Grilled Bananas
  • Pumpkin Bread in a Can with Chocolate Sea Salt Butter
  • Peach Mint Juleps


Nearly every recipe has an accompanying photograph to go with it, which I really liked.  I’m a very visual person and being able to see the finished recipe is great; even if I decide to execute it slightly differently, it’s nice to see a picture.    There are certain recipes that call for a slightly advanced technique and there are a series of step by step photos to walk you through the process.  Beginners; fear not!  There is a description and picture for every step!

I can guarantee that my grill will be getting a serious workout very soon!  I would happily make the majority of the recipes in this book and considering there is a certain Texan that I cook for, I’m glad I have an ace up my sleeve…

The original recipe of the zucchini salad calls for the zucchini to be cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ thick slices.  I chose to do ribbons instead, just because I think it’s prettier on a plate.  I swapped out regular lemon for Meyer lemon because I had them and I love Meyer lemons…  other than that, the recipe below is the exact recipe from the book:

grill to perfection
     Grill to Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters’ Recipes and Techniques for Unforgettable Backyard Grilling


Zucchini Salad 253

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
Serves 4
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  2. 2 medium-sized zucchini, ends removed, sliced into ribbons on a mandolin
  3. Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  4. Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
  5. 2 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
  6. 2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  7. 5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  8. 4 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  9. 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  10. Coarse sea salt, for serving
  1. Build a medium direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney halfway with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged-you should see flames peeking over the top-pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to medium.
  2. Lightly oil the zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  3. When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 5 to 8 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the zucchini on the grill and cook for 30 seconds (2 minutes if doing 1/2" slices), flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds, until golden brown. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the zucchini and toss very gently to combine. Sprinkle sea salt over the salad and serve immediately or set aside at room temperature until serving time.
Pook's Pantry

Strawberry Key Lime Jam…

Strawberry Key Lime Jam

I was spending my birthday weekend in the Clearwater area and it just so happened to coincide with the Strawberry Festival in Plant City.    I was ecstatic because I happen to know that A LOT of strawberries come out of that area and are shipped all over the east coast.

When I was still cheffing (yes, that’s now a verb) in NYC,  all of the strawberry flats were from Plant City so I knew there were good berries to be had.    Slathered in sunscreen for a day of walking around in the blistering sunshine, we got in the car and drove an hour to have our fill of strawberry everything…  or so we thought.

Perhaps it was my own fault, I envisioned strawberry pies, strawberry jams & jellies, strawberry malts, strawberry pastries, strawberries in every way imaginable and I was practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation.    I was looking forward to the creativity of locals, presenting strawberries in ways I had never thought of, I was so ready to have my mind and taste buds blown!  One would assume if it’s a “Strawberry Festival”, that’s exactly what you’d find, no?   The short answer:  no.  

There were 2 places to get strawberry shortcake, each with a line at least 100 deep and a handful of other booths were strawberry items could be purchased.   It was quite a let down, but there is a BIG silver lining!  

Local farms were set up in tents, like a farmer’s market, along the streets leading into the festival.  I scored an entire flat (that’s about 12 pounds) of the most gorgeous, bright ruby red strawberries you’ve ever laid your eyes on for…  wait for it….  seven dollars!    Seven.  Dollars.      I was over the moon!  I happily lugged that box all the way back to the car.   I also had a glazed doughnut roughly the size of a baby’s head fresh from the oil, so it wasn’t a total loss ;)

Would I go to that festival again?  Probably not.  Would I drive the hour to buy 12 pounds of perfect strawberries for $7.00?   You bet.

Strawberry Key Lime Jam
Yields 8
Basic Strawberry Jam recipe, slightly tweaked with a South Florida flair
Write a review
  1. 2 quarts strawberries, washed, hulled and roughly chopped
  2. 1 1.75 oz pkg + 2 tbsp. powdered pectin
  3. 1/4 cup fresh key lime juice
  4. 3 tbsp. key lime zest
  5. 7 cups sugar
  1. Place 9 half pint (8 oz) mason jars in a very large stock pot/lobster pot/canning pot. Add enough water to cover the jars and bring to simmer. Place the lids into a small saucepan and simmer those in a bit of water as well. No need to warm the rings, just the lids. Make sure you are using new lids every time. It's best not to reuse them.
  2. That being said, I have reused them when in a pinch, but it's not standard practice.
  3. Combine strawberries, pectin, lime juice and zest in a large stock pot. (You'll want plenty of room at the top when the mixture starts boiling)
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then add sugar all at once and stir until completely dissolved. Return to a rolling boil and let it boil HARD for 60 - 90 seconds, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and skim off as much foam as you can without taking too much of the jam.
  6. Using canning tongs (or regular tongs with a dish towel wrapped around them) remove one of the jars from the water, pour the water out and set a wide mouth funnel inside the jar. Using a measuring cup, scoop jam and pour into warm jar leaving 1/4" of space at the top. Repeat until all the jars are filled, then wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel, making sure the thread of the jar is clean.
  7. Remove the lids from the simmering water, screw on the rings but do not tighten all the way. Enough to secure the lid, but not completely tightened. Repeat with remaining jars.
  8. Place jars into a canning rack if you have one and lower into water in canning/lobster pot. If not, use tongs and lower the jars one by one (fairly quickly) into the water. Make sure water covers the jars by at least an inch, two if possible. Bring water to a full boil. Boil for 10 - 12 minutes, let jars "rest" in the water for a couple of minutes, then remove from water. I always place my hot jars on top of a dishtowel on the counter so nothing slides around.
  9. Leave jars for 24 hours, you will hopefully hear that beautiful "PING" sound fairly soon after they've come out of the water, but it may take a little while. After 24 hours, tighten the rings all the way and check to make sure they have all sealed. Press on the lid. If it has ANY give whatsoever, that guy gets to live in the fridge. Otherwise, your jam is good to go!
  1. I don't remember where I learned this trick, but a pat of butter help keep the foam to a minimum. If you are so inclined, drop a pat of butter into your strawberry mixture while it's cooking to keep the foam under control.
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Pook's Pantry
My Love 054 My Love 057 My Love 060

Get Your Game Face On…

Break out the fat pants… It’s Super Bowl Party time.   Oh, don’t give me that face!  You know as well as I do that no matter what, you and I will be eating more than we should.    I love football parties;  a gathering of friends, yelling at the television in unison, eating, drinking and being merry… until of course there is a fumble or an interception.  Then the merriment seems to dissipate.

This year, I will have my very first Super Bowl Party.   I love throwing parties and I will use any excuse to have friends over and feed them.  The fact that there will be a football game on is a bonus!    The smile that creeps across their lips as they taste something heavenly (or sinful)… that’s the stuff I live for.  Seriously.

Here are some of the things that will be on our Super Bowl party menu:

photo courtesy of Cravings of a Lunatic

photo courtesy of Cravings of a Lunatic

She had me at bacon…  Dang.   You know those (GASP) frozen jalapeno poppers that people seem to be a fan of?!   Make these and they will NEVER think those are a good idea, ever again.  These little babies pack a punch and leave you reaching for more!


Who doesn't love a corndog?!

Who doesn’t love a corndog?!

This is serious.  I don’t recommend eating these often, but once in a while… You need a corndog.  Especially if they are mini size!   These are so much fun!  They are a taste of childhood for me.  It was a special treat that we used to get and that sweet corn batter, deep-fried to  golden brown delicious makes me smile every single time.    A tray of these will make your friends very happy.


photo by: Alex Farnum coutesy of: Leite's Culinaria

photo by: Alex Farnum
coutesy of: Leite’s Culinaria

These little gems are on my menu.  I love a soft pretzel more than any reasonable person really should…   If I am somewhere that has them, I’m not walking out without one.   I’m making a BIG batch of these and stashing some for those nights when the craving strikes.    These are absolute snack perfection.


photo courtesy of: Pastry Chef Online

photo courtesy of: Pastry Chef Online

Tell me your brain isn’t thinking “how do I get some of that?!”  After all the snacks have been devoured, your guests are going to need something sweet.   Jenni has come up with something that fits the bill quite nicely. 


photo courtesy of: Pass the Sushi

photo courtesy of: Pass the Sushi

If these don’t scream “SUPER BOWL PARTY”, I don’t know what does…  Check them out & tweet with #captainstable to help donate a buck to ending hunger!    Chicken wrapped in bacon… that is all kinds of right.


photo courtesy of: Foodie with Family

photo courtesy of: Foodie with Family

Is there ANYONE on the planet who doesn’t love fries?  These are not just ordinary fries… Look at that cheesy, herb-laden goodness.   These would be good for a party, movie night, dinner, a random Tuesday…  You get my point.


Sweet Corn Fritters & a Cold Beer= Perfection

Sweet Corn Fritters & a Cold Beer= Perfection

Sweet Corn Fritters.  What else is there to say?  A plate of these & a cold beer and all is right with the world.   There are so many ways to dress these up.  You can leave them plain, as I did here, or mix in some bacon or crab.  Wanna keep it vegetarian?  Roasted red peppers, chipotle in adobo for a little kick or scallions would be nice.  


Thanks to all of my generous friends who allowed me to use their images & links!  Please check them out…  And a big THANK YOU to all of you who take a few moments to read this blog!


#SuperBowl  #GameDay  #Food