Monday, July 7, 2008

A Dry Spell

I have been working hard, office and roof deck garden.

my beans are climbing, the corn is still squalid and the dahlias are glorious but my tomatoes have all but banished.
In such wet season as this summer has been I would have expected them to do better but it seams like they have not hardened early enough due to the mild spring and cloudy summer.

I want tomatoes!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fun-do! fondue! fondant


Swiss...nah, nah nah, scratch that
French....Humm at least by name...
Scandinavian, Austrian... Japan?

Well actually all of the above claim a piece of the melting pot territory.
The basics are comparable to a love affair, innocent fruits, sweeties ,tarts or even beef cakes skewered and dunked into a hot and often thick situation.

Fondues are one of those culinary introductions made famous by the Swiss, and the "House beautiful" magazines of the fifties. Though as usual the Swiss got to officially name these dishes, claiming originality is a whole different ball game. Ever since mankind learned how to boil water, skewing and dunking has happened. Think of how convenient it is not to burn your hands.

Modern Fondues can be divided in two categories, sweet and savory.

The base of these dishes is a silky smooth sauce of a fatty ingredient (Cheese or Chocolate) emulsified, beaten and rendered into submission but not so much as to loose their natural ability to smother....then again just like a perfectly balanced love affair. A little alcohol to keep things flowing and some flour. These hot sauces are served preferably warmed up by a tealight or in a bath of hot water and have a tendency to required constant stirring to avoid forming a thick skin. Nontheless do not stirr too deep into the emotions in gathered in th epot or you may get the burned bitter bits to raise early to the surface. The Fondue is a communal dish, food orgy if you must compare. A race to the bottom were you may find the burned bits of your stirrings, bitter yet increadibly addictive. LIKE WITH ALL LOVE AFFAIRS TIMING IS OF UPMOST IMPORTANCE! Too long in the heating elements and the flavor can be ruined, not enough stirring around and a thick skin may form. A perfect balance of roughness in texture and smothness in flow. Fondue sauces may require a pinch of flour to maintain thickness or a bit of alcohol to keep all ingredients pefectly suspended in the richness of the sauce. But who are we kidding Fondues are just FUN to DO.

Set up a double boiler if you are serving a fondue that may be on the table for a while, or a Kettle Candle to keep warm if serving inmediatly.

Shamelss Plagerism fom Wikepedia:
Boy I love cut and paste!

A recipe for a sauce made from Pramnos wine, grated goat's cheese and white flour appears in Scroll 11 (lines 629-645) of Homer's Iliad and has been cited as the earliest record of a fondue. Swiss communal fondue arose many centuries ago as a result of food preservation methods. The Swiss food staples bread and raclette-like cheese made in summer and fall were meant to last throughout the winter months. The bread aged, dried out and became so tough it was sometimes chopped with an ax. The stored cheese also became very hard, but when mixed with wine and heated it softened into a thick sauce. During Switzerland's long, cold winters some families and extended groups would gather about a large pot of cheese set over the fire and dip wood-hard bits of bread which quickly became edible.

Modern fondue originated during the 18th century in the canton of Neuchatel. As Switzerland industrialized, wine and cheese producers encouraged the dish's popularity. By the 20th century many Swiss cantons and even towns had their own local varieties and recipes based on locally available cheeses, wines and other ingredients. During the 1950s a slowing cheese industry in Switzerland widely promoted fondue since one person could easily eat half a pound of melted cheese in one sitting. In 1955 the first pre-mixed "instant" fondue was brought to market. Fondue became very popular in the United States in the mid fifties during the 1960s after American tourists discovered it in Switzerland.


A full cheese fondue set in Switzerland. Apart from pieces of bread to dip into the melted cheese, there are side servings of kirsch, raw garlic, pickled gherkins and onions, and olives.
There are many kinds of fondue, each made with a different blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning, mostly depending on where it is made. The caquelon is first rubbed with a cut garlic clove, then wine and cheese slowly added until melted. A small amount of potato starch (or corn starch, cornflour or flour) is added to prevent separation and the fondue is almost always further diluted with either kirsch, beer, black tea, and/or white wine. The most common recipe calls for 1 dl (100 ml) of dry white wine per person and a 200 g mix of hard (such as Gruyère) and semi-hard (such as Emmental, Vacherin or raclette) cheeses: The mixture must be stirred continuously as it heats in the caquelon. Crusty bread is cut into cubes which are then speared on a fondue fork and dipped into the melted cheese.

Temperature and la religieuse

A cheese fondue mixture should be held at a temperature warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot as to allow any burning. If this temperature is held until the fondue is finished there will be a thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom of the caquelon. This is called la religieuse (French for the nun, more or less). It has the texture of a thin cracker and is almost always lifted out and eaten.


Neuchâteloise: Gruyère and emmental.
Moitié-moitié (or half 'n half): Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin.
Vaudoise: Gruyère.
Fribourgeoise: Fribourg vacherin wherein potatoes are often dipped instead of bread.
Fondue de Suisse centrale: Gruyère, Emmental and sbrinz.
Appenzeller: Appenzeller cheese with cream added.
Tomato: Gruyère, Emmental, crushed tomatoes and wine.
Spicy: Gruyère, red and green peppers, with chili.
Mushroom: Gruyère, Fribourg vacherin and mushrooms.

Meat fondues

A fondue bourguignonne: At top is a pot of hot oil for quickly cooking the meat, at middle a caquelon for a further cheese fondue and at bottom more sauces for dipping.
Bourguignonne: During the late middle ages as grapes ripened in the vineyards of Burgundy a quick harvest was needed and the noontime meal was often skipped. Johann du Putzxe was a monk who made a kind of fast food by dunking pieces of meat into hot oil. The Swiss later adapted this as a variety of fondue. The pot is filled with oil (or butter) and brought to simmer. Each person spears small cubes of beef or horse meat‎ with a long, narrow fondue fork and fries them in the pot. An assortment of sauces and sometimes a further cheese fondue are provided for dipping.
Bressane: Small cubes of chicken breast are dipped in cream, then in fine bread crumbs and at last deep fried, as with a bourguignonne.
Court Bouillon (or Chinoise): A Swiss traveling in China ate a dish called Chrysanthemum which was dunk-cooked in a pot of bouillon. Fondues based on this became popular when he returned to Switzerland. The diner dips rolled shaved meat (traditionally beef) into a simmering broth. As with a bourguignonne, dipping sauces are served. This dish is still somewhat like a Chinese hot pot (huoguo in Chinese, or steamboat, which is popular across Asia). At meal's end the much flavoured broth may be served to the participants, with or without sherry wine.

French alpine
Savoyarde: Comté savoyard, beaufort, and emmental.
Jurassienne: Mature or mild comté.

Italian alpine
Fonduta: Fontina, milk, eggs and truffles, known as Fonduta valdostana in the Aosta valley and Fonduta piemontese in Piedmont, both in northern Italy.

Refrigerated fondue blends are sold in some Swiss grocery stores and need little more than melting in the caquelon. Individual portions heatable in a microwave oven are also sold.

Dessert fondue recipes began appearing in the 1960s. Slices of fruit or pastry are dipped in a caquelon of melted chocolate. Other dessert fondues can include coconut, honey, caramel and marshmallow.

As with other communal dishes fondue has an etiquette which can be both helpful and fun. Most often, allowing one's tongue or lips to touch the dipping fork will be thought of as rude. With meat fondues one should use a dinner fork to take meat off the dipping fork. A "no double-dipping" rule also has sway: After a dipped morsel has been tasted it should never be returned to the pot. In longstanding Swiss tradition if a nugget of bread is lost in the cheese by a man he buys a bottle of wine and if such a thing happens to befall a woman she kisses the man on her left. Lately, rather more humorous twists on this have shown up in Switzerland such as young diners diving into the snow whilst clad only in underclothing.
Those who succeed in following the etiquette of fondue can share the cheese cracker-like la religieuse left at the bottom of the emptied caquelon.

Fondue Bourguignonne

by Nancy Gerlach

Fondue Bourguignonne refers to a fondue of meats or vegetables cooked in oil. It was created in the vineyards in Burgundy sometime during the middle ages. Here, when these grapes are ready to harvest, they have to be quickly picked, and the workers couldn't take time to leave the fields for a hot lunch. Some hungry soul (many credit a monk named Johann du Putzxe) came up with the idea of quickly cooking pieces of meat in pots of hot oil that were set-up in the vineyards. That way, workers could dunk and cook pieces of meat in spare moments without losing valuable harvesting time. This fondue is most often made with beef, but pork, game, poultry, seafood as well as vegetables can be cooked in this manner. I've fired up the traditional French side sauces with ones based on those found in the Spicy Food Lover's Bible by Dave DeWitt and me.
Assorted Sauces.

1 1/2 pounds trimmed beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
Vegetable oil, peanut or canola preferred

Place the sauces in individual bowls and arrange around the fondue pot and have the beef at room temperature on a serving platter.
Pour the oil into a fondue cooker to no more than 1/3 to 1/2 the capacity or to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over a medium heat to a temperature of 370 degrees F and transfer the cooker to the fondue burner. The meat should bubble when put in hot oil; if it doesn't, return to the heat.
To serve, guests spear the meat with a fondue fork and cook in the hot oil to desired doneness 15 seconds for rare, and about a minute for well-done. Transfer the beef to a dinner fork, dip in a sauce, eat and enjoy.
I personally enjoy bittersweet chocolate fondues specially if you add some chily powder or ancho chile to the recipes. But the boring run of the mill fruit and cake assortment can ruin a great sauce.
Try decorating your cake with fondant (a dough-like sugar product used in wedding cakes)
You can buy it ready made for about 6$ a roll or make your own.
Cut your cake into small bite size cubes
Here is a link top a very simple recipe that creatively short cuts what french masters have been doing with great complcations for the last two centuries.
Buy some funky food coloring dyes and get creative.
Marzipan is also a good alternative, as are nugarts or turrones.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

One dinner too much.

I was out of commission for a little while. Between a back/shoulder injury and planning a dinner too many.
I just got done with a benefit dinner full of good intentions and personality clashes.
We set out to have a German-Puerto Rican Fare.
Diferent cuisines reflect exactly that: diferences.
But after all the work and frustrations there is nothing like looking back at what worked.
Also at what did not work and the reasons why.
I tend to concetrate on the what needed more work, and like an investigator look for the reasons why it did not work.

Pastelillos de Guayava y Chorizo:

10 Goya small (Hojaldre) dough disc
(These are ready made puff pastry dough shells of aproximately 6 inches diameter)
Chop Chorizo sausage (2)
String Cheese (Oaxaca Mexican Mozzarella)
Guava Paste cut in to 2 inch squares
One Poblano Pepper Roasted and cut into strips.

Place a mix of all the ingredients in the center of the disc
about two table spoons
Fold the disc and seal the edges by pinching and crincling the edge.
Do not crincle to much or pinch dough edges too thinly.
They can be baked but they are better fried.
Serve imediatly.

Meat Roladen with Bread Fruit Nuts Stuffing

One large flank steak (strip cut)

List A:
One can of Bread fruit Nuts (Goya)
4 Whole eggs
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1/8 Cup of Golden raisins

1 cup of Beef Stock
All beef drippings
1/2 Stick Butter
1 Beef Buillon
1/2 Cup Red Wine
One spring of Majoram

MIx all the Ingredients on list A.
You should have a thick paste

Tenderize the Flank Steak using a tenderizing hammer
I use the dough roll or a Pestel
Sandwich the steak between heavy gauge wax paper or Plastic Wrap
Gently hammer the meat and roll it at the edges
until you roughly double the steak size and trim
Evenly distribute the Mixture on the flatened steak
Using the plastic wrap slowly roll the meat starting at the widest side.
Keep meat wrapped in the fridge overnight.
Roast slowly 3 hrs at 200 degrees.

Serve in one inch cuts over sauce.
may accompany with Rye bread cream cheese rolls.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lobster Dinner Mess!

I was presented with the challenge of fresh lobster dinner as a New England staple to satisfy the curiosity of two lovely German tourist visiting my boyfriend. We walked the whole extend of Faneul Hall and Hay market to make it to the famed Union Oyster House of course that in it self is no challenge. Finding good creative Lobster Dinners for cheap was, further more finding that in the middle of the St Patrick's day we are talking impossible. So the ever resourceful kitchen jock I decided that we could do our own. So I ventured out in to the cold found a supermarket that carried lived lobsters and set out to prove to this Germans that we in America can be generous host. (Trying of course to make for what terrible guest we are abroad) (Uhhnmm on second thought so are the Germans "
Terrible Tourist that is") Well this ones as I mentioned were very grateful and gracious. They were even cute, mind you I am dating a Kraut as well but they are not know for being warm, cute and cuddly. (Achtung!)This two were newly wed and still linked telepathically by a series of "humms" and "hamms" that a various rhythms and pitches made complete sentences of surprising complexity and candor. Writing about this secret yet totally understandable language is quite impossible but one can only equate it to an early developmental quirk in the language acquisition phase of an infant. And perhaps this series of hums and semi-breathless squirms is what we can all trace back to the ancestry of all languages. Interesting as a theory nonetheless way to cute for my jaded self to muster. Lets call this two adorable care-bears A and C.

For C and A here is the fabled recipe of your New England Lobster Chowder and all the yummy peripherals. Hope your baby is healthy and that your cravings stop at lobster. Wouldn't want to run the city for you looking for pickles.

1 kilo of Bacon
4 Medium Size Lobsters
Salt both to taste
One Whole onion diced
One Leek Stem Cleaned and diced
1/2 Litter of Cream
Pinch of White Flour to thicken the Broth
1 Cube of Chicken Broth Concentrate
1 Glass of White Rhine Wine
1 Glass of Gin
Gin Berries (Juniper Berries) if available (8)
1/4 Kilo of Butter
One whole corn ear
One Whole Potato

Keep your lobsters in freezing cold tap water this will put them in a trance like state making them easy to handle. cut the rubber bands on the claws.

In a large and deep pot boil the lobsters in scalding hot water. Once they have turned completely red drain 1/2 the water and add to the pot the Gin and the Juniper Berries. Steam them lid closed for several minutes. They should be lightly flavored by the Gin.Save the remaining lobster water and Gin broth.
Set aside your lobsters and let cool.
Cut the corn in several chunks, save for last.
Dice the Onion, Leek and the Potato.
Fry the bacon in the bottom of the large empty pot do not fry to a crisp or burn.
Add the vegetables and sweat in the bacon grease add half the butter.
Separate the legs and torso of the lobster keep the coral (Bright orange pink substance) aside. Break open the thin legs, save all the shells. Set aside the claws and the tails.
Chop the torso.
Add to the pot of mixed vegetables and bacon; the chunks of shelled lobster and the legs, avoid small shell pieces.
Add the broth and a cube of the chicken concentrate to the mix.
Let simmer in low heat for an hour or more.
Add the Cream and corn.
Season with salt and pepper.
Thicken with a rue of flour and butter.
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and the claws.
Save the tails for later dishes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


So I am ready to give you all more.
Hate me because I am beautiful but do not hate me because I had to take a vacation, short but boy was it good!
But I am back sort of in the groove of things.
I am ready to face the world again!
Went to Puerto Rico as a tourist rather than as a "resident" and guess what: I had a blast!
I discovered a lot about my food culture again.
Coconut Cachapas with Bacalao (Cod)
Bacalaitos(Cod fritters)
We fry a lot of stuff, one such treats are the now popular Empanadas.
Yes we make them out of everything and anything you can imagine from Pizza to Dessert. Nonetheless we tend to stuff them with something rateher savory.
Here is my own version of them.

Empanandas de Piquito

Buy at the store "Plantillas"
(Ready made turnover dough sheets available frozen in any supermarket with a latin food section, you may try substituting them with Wonton Sheets or any such sheet of dough that is thin, wheat and not self rising)

Not available? Well make your own it may be more fun, though I can not guarantee the results!

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 Stick of Vegetable shortening or butter
1/3 cup of room temperature water
teaspoon of oil.

Make the Dough dry and plastic, play with the water but retain the oil/butter ratio
roll flat on a flour dusted flat surface and wort to a desired thickness with a roller. Cut in circles with a large cookie cutter pattern.
Keep them dusted on both sides.


Cut bell peppers red and green in small cubes very small.
Cut onions in small pieces
Chop one clove garlic
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Apple Vinegar
One ripe Banana
1/8 cup of chopped walnuts and chopped parsley Mixture.
Minced(Ground Beef) or Dry Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)
In a large pan fry in olive oil all the vegetables until soft.
Add salt to taste
Strain remaining oil from vegetables on a paper towel
Use the same pan to cook the Minced Beef keep loose by constantly straining extra liquid and cutting lumps with the spatula.
Mix all the vegetables and meat stirring to keep mix loose, add Vinegar, Walnuts, parsley and the banana keep stirring.
Set aside leave in the refrigerator for one hour to marinade.

Fill the Empanadas as follow:

Lay the dough sheets flat on a waxed paper
Spoon (Table spoon no more) the filler in the center.
Fold the circle in two matching all the edges
With a fork gently press the edges together to seal the filler.
Pressing too hard will break the edges and prevent them form sealing the contents.
Pass a wet finger on the edge and keep on the waxed paper until ready to fry.
You may freeze them at this stage for later use.
Deep fry them or use a large pan to fry each side carefully turning them over after about one minute in the hot oil if fresh or two minutes if frozen.

Ideally they should blister and turn golden yellow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


How to cook duck great little link: Duck served with a thick layer of fatty rubbery skin YUMMM...? I often call it to the faces of the so called great chef/restauranteurs of Boston: -"Darling your Shoe a la Orange was devine I will run the next marathon using your resecipe pal".

I like this link finally someone got the one , two , three approach to Dcuk berast and did something about it.

The whole secret is to cook the breast slowly on its skin so that the fat has a chance to render, or melt out of the skin. Once the skin has lost much of its fat, it will not only shrink in size, but will then become crispy. Patience is indeed a virtue.

Medium / High
Salt and pepper skin
Skin side down
-approximately 12 - 14 minutes
Drain off excess fat as desired, until skin is crisp and rendering stops.
Option A or B:

A. Grill
Grill 1 Minute Skin Side
Grill 1 Minute Meat Side
(or as desired)

B. Pan
Cook Meat Side Down
- 45 Seconds for Medium
- 60 Seconds for Well Done

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And the hard days keep coming.

Days get warmer and the economy gets harder.
The pollen starts dusting the window sills
and the sinus infections begin.
All the entire greatness of nature awakens and so do the cabin-fever sleepy heads; hungry and anxious.
So is no surprise that my patients have been coming with ever increasing problems. Problems that were put aside through the colder months. Now those problems also wake up and therefore here I am going crazy trying to solve them.
What to cook and what to eat no time for kitchen and no time to even sit down to eat.

Never underestimate the power of readiness, in a time of portion controls, diets and home delivered meal plans.
Having a little something available to eat, carry and pack ahead of a long and arduous day.

Peanuts, Almonds, Raisins, beans all Protein packed and easy to cook with or carry.

Easy pack meals can be frozen ahead and keept for later lunches.

Here is one:

Chicken (Not quite) Piccata

Brown your chicken breast or Thighs on a skillet until each side is golden brown.
Use a smaller lid to weight the chicken pieces and reatin heat evenly cooking the centers but not overdrying them(About 5 min each side at med high heat)

In a separate skillet clarify two tablespoons of butter in a dash of olive oil.
Carfull not to brown the butter and to skim the solids.
Add the juice of two lemons, dash of sugar, pepper and capers
Let simmer a bit 2 min low heat, add a can of white beans with the water of the can. (Any brand)
Chopped fresh parsley and little garlic.
Continue to simmer and use a slothed spoon to press some of the beans against the skillet so to make a sauce.

Dump the chicken in it and serve. taste for acidity iof too acid add some pinches of sugar.

Serve hot or separate into portions and frezze.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Restaurant Week in Boston



Edible Flowers
Common Name Botanical Name Comments
Angelica Angelica archangelica May be skin allergen to some individuals. Good with fish and the stems are especially popular candied. Tastes like: celery-flavored. More info here.
Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Tastes like: sweet, anise-like, licorice
Apple Malus species Eat in moderation; may contain cyanide precursors. Tastes like: delicate floral flavor
Arugula Eruca vesicaria Tastes like: nutty, spicy, peppery flavor
Basil Ocimum basilicum Tastes like: different varieties have different milder flavors of the corresponding leaves. Tastes like: lemon, mint. More info here.
Bee Balm Monarda species Used in place of bergamot to make a tea with a flavor similar to Earl Grey Tea. More info here.
Borage Borago officinalis Taste like: light cucumber flavor. More info here.
Burnet Sanguisorba minor Tastes like: faint cucumber flavor, very mild. More info here.
Calendula* Calendula officinalis Tastes like: poor man's saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods
Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus) Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like
Chamomile* Chamaemelum nobile Tastes like: faint apple flavor, good as a tea
Chicory* Cichorium intybus Buds can be pickled.
Chives: Garden Allium schoenoprasum Tastes like: mild onion flavor. More info here.
Chives: Garlic Allium tuberosum Tastes like: garlicky flavor
Chrysanthemum: Garland* Chrysanthemum coronarium Tastes like: slight to bitter flavor, pungent
Citrus: Lemon Citrus limon Tastes like: waxy, pronounced flavor, use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters
Clover Trifolium species Raw flowerheads can be difficult to digest.
Coriander Coriander sativum Pungent. A prime ingredient in salsa and many Latino and Oriental dishes. Tastes like: Some palates detect a disagreeable soapy flavor while others adore it. More info here.
Cornflower* Centaurea cynaus (aka Bachelor's Buttons) Tastes like: sweet to spicy, clove-like
Dandelion* Taraxacum officinalis Tastes like: very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.
Day Lily Hemerocallis species Many Lilies (Lillium species) contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Daylillies may act as a laxative. Tastes like: sweet, crunchy, like a crisp lettuce leaf, faintly like chestnuts or beans
Dill Anthum graveolens More info here.
English Daisy* Bellis perennis Tastes like: tangy, leafy
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Tastes like: sweet, licorice flavor. More info here.
Fuchsia Fuchsia X hybrida Tastes like: slightly acidic
Gardenia Gardenia jasminoides Tastes like: light, sweet flavor
Gladiolus* Gladiolus spp Tastes like: similar to lettuce
Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Tastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage
Hollyhock Alcea rosea Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor
Honeysuckle: Japanese Lonicera japonica Berries are highly poisonous. Do not eat them!
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis Should be avoided by pregnant women and by those with hypertension and epilepsy.
Impatiens Impatiens wallerana Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor
Jasmine: Arabian Jasminum sambac Tastes like: delicate sweet flavor, used for teas.
Johnny-Jump-Up Viola tricolor Contains saponins and may be toxic in large amounts. Tastes like: sweet to bland flavor
Lavender Lavendula species Lavender oil may be poisenous. More Info. Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumey flavor
Lemon Verbena Aloysia triphylla Tastes like: lemony flavor, usually steeped for tea
Lilac Syringa vulgaris Tastes like: lemony, floral, pungent
Mallow: Common Malva sylrestris Tastes like: sweet, delicate flavor
Marigold: Signet Tagetes tenuifolia (aka T. signata) Tastes like: spicy to bitter
Marjoram Origanum majorana More info here.
Mint Mentha species More info here.
Mustard Brassica species Eating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches. More info here.
Nasturium Tropaeolum majus Buds are often pickled and used like capers. Tastes like: sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor
Okra Abelmoschus aesculentus
(Hibiscus esculentus) Tastes like: similar to squash blossoms
Pansy Viola X wittrockiana Tastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor
Pea Pisum species Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.
Pineapple Guava Feijoa sellowiana Tastes like: similar to the ripe fruit of the plant, flavorful
Primrose Primula vulgaris Birdseye Primrose (P. farinosa) causes contact dermatitis. Tastes like: bland to sweet flavor
Radish Raphanus sativus Tastes like: milder, sweeter version of the more familiar radish heat
Redbud Cercis canadensis Tastes like: mildly sweet
Rose Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis Tastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible (see Rose Hips Recipes).
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Tastes like: pine-like, sweet, savory. More info here
Runner Bean Phaseolus coccineus Tastes like: nectar, bean-like
Safflower* Carthamus tinctorius Another "poor man's saffron" without the pungent aroma or strong flavor of the real thing
Sage Salvia officinalis Sage should not be eaten in large amounts over a long period of time. Tastes like: varies by type. More info here.
Savory: Summer Satureja hortensis More info here.
Scented Geranium Pelargonium species Citronella variety may not be edible. Tastes like: varies with differing varieties from lemon to mint. More info here.
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus Tastes like: bland to bitter flavor
Society Garlic Tulbaghia violacea Tastes like: a very mild garlic flavor
Squash Blossom Cucurbita pepo species (aka Zucchini Blossom) Tastes like: sweet, nectar flavor. More info here.
Sunflower* Helianthus annus Tastes like: leafy, slightly bitter. Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.
Thyme Thymus vulgaris Tastes like: lemon, adds a nice light scent. More info here.
Tuberous Begonia Begonia X tuberosa ONLY HYBRIDs are edible. The flowers and stems contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidneystones, or rheumatism. Further, the flower should be eaten in strick moderation. Tastes like: crisp, sour, lemony
Violet Viola species Tastes like: sweet, nectar
Yucca Yucca species Only the petals are edible. Other parts contain saponin, which is poisonous. Large amounts may be harmful. Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor
Disclaimer: The author and Home Cooking Guide have thoroughly researched all the aforementioned edible flowers. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. Neither the authors or Home Cooking can be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trial and error...

I just got done with part of the kitchen remodeling. Finally! And eventhough I have no running water yet, I decided it is time to have my friends over for dinner. What an error, lets say that after several failed attempts at hosting a dinner I gave up. Good thing it is restaurant week here in Boston. I did have one almost sucessfull dinner party. (Thank you R+E for not throwing back at me the cold soup and warm salad) Actually even cocktails have been a somewhat frustrating event, given that after that dinner party and camping out at a friends house. I came back to an overflowed 4 days old busted and fully loaded dishwasher.(Thank you B+C for not noticing that I had to do an emergency cleanup of all my china in the bathtub) I swear I do clean them individually in the bath sink as I use them.

Crema Rusa(Creamy Borsh)

Prepare a base of beef (Veal) stock 4 cups
Add sliced beets about two large tubers(1 cup)
Save some fresh slices for later
1 pakage of cream cheese
1 Whole onion
several springs of Majoram
Dash of white pepper
Boil the beets and onion in the stock until very tender add salt, pepper and the majoram
Let simmer in low heat for 15 min remove the springs of majoram, no need to strain all the leafs. Add the remaining fresh beets to brighten the color. let simmer for 5 min and add the cream cheese. Carefully transfer to a blender or use a handblender to liquify. Serve with a dolop of sour cream and black caviar. Do not add salt as the caviar will be salty. No better way to have caviar. I like adding a sliver of Roasted Poblano and a cutting of the Majoram to the presentation. And like to follow it with pickled garlics and other pickled preserves with a very cold shot of good Vodka.

Scallops in Saffron (Vieras en Azafran)
Two Sticks of butter
1 lb jumbo Bay Scallops
Dash White pepper
Pinch salt and sugar
1 oz Saffron
1/4 cup Chardonnay Wine
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 Kaffir lime Leaves or Zest of an Orange 1/2 teaspoon

Prepare a Rue of butter and flour set aside.
Braise the jumbo scallops in hot butter and a drop of oil to avoid burning the butter, about a minute each side.
Deglase the skillet with Chardonay and the lime leafs, meantime on a small skillet toast your Saffron.
To the saffron add a 1/2 cup of cream and let simmer in the remaining heat turn the bruner off. Once deglassed the pan separate the liquid and stirr the Rue, add the Saffron Cream and wisk continiously. (Add a pinch of salt and sugar)

Serve the sauce in a flat plate, add bitter herbs like Dandelion Greens or better yet Water cress (Berros), place your scallops over the sauce and the greens on top or by the side.

Ensalada de Granos

Any grain pre cooked and strained
(Wild rice may be too strong flavored for this)
Any white beans
Fava Beans
Butter Beans
lemon juice
Olive oil
Rose water
Mix all serve cold with some green grapes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I see GREEN!

Dr. Seuss was very fond of his green, (green ham and eggs and so on) but being originally from this area of New England it was no surprise he saw green sprouting through the dark soil or just the Leprechauns and green beer flow for St. Pat's day. I see green people and green every were and wonder about my irish experience here in Boston.
I like the Irish, curse aside, but disliked Irish-American Cuisine.
Here is a brief review of the Irish fare in and around Boston.

Best Corn Beef Harsh: Geoffrey's cafe in Roslindale. Yes, the old Back Bay and South End eatery that relocated several years ago much to my the way they also have the best Farina (Cream of Wheat) custard just skim the Apricot Jelly off the top and pour some cream or milk over it.
Best Boiled Dinner: ??Whata hek?? Is there any flavor leaft to discern any diference?
Cabbage, Potatoes and Corned Beef...
That was a very short review!

The People from Ireland do have a very long and rich cooking tradition and unbeknownst to us here in America they have been harvesting and using Seaweed as a vegetable for many thousands of years. So here are some of their recipes, none are mine to claim but have tried most. Finding the seaweed now a days is not that dificult anymore. Below each recipe there is a link to find ingredients and other recipes.

Thank you to the people of the Irish Seaweed Centre in the University of Ireland, Galway. Very informative folks.

Here is are some Irish Dishes that could knock your green striped socks off:

Irish Fish Chowder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
Fresh summer savory or thyme (2 tablespoon)
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled diced
5 cups Fish Stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds skinless haddock or cod thick chunks,bones removed
1/2 pound of a Fatty Fish Cut or the Sins
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)
3 oz Carrageen (or Irish Lettuce Seaweed)


In Low heat braise the skins to render their fat, later increase heat to medium and cook until crisp golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cracklings to a small ovenproof dish, leaving the fat in the pot, and reserve until later. Not a lot of fat comes out so add butter too.
Add the butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes and stock (just enough to cover them taters). Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. Add the Carrageen and smash a few of the potato slices against the side of the pot, cook for a minute to thicken the broth. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind you have to still add the fish so make it a bit saltier than you like. Add the fish fillets and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).
Stir in the cream and maybe some salt and pepper again, let it cool a bit, but avoid refrigeration as the collagen and seaweed will turn into a very thick jelly, that may not look very appetizing.

Serve reheated is the best way as this allows the flavors to stew overnight.
This one is my recipe, share it and have fun.
I like it with chives and chopped Savory

Brown Soda Bread with Dillisk

226g White Flour
226g Coarse ground wholemeal Flour
113g Margarine
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
400mls Buttermilk
14g dried Dillisk , chop finely and soak in water for 5 mins

Sieve the white flour, soda and salt into a bowl. Rub in margarine. Add wholemaeal flour and finely chopped dillisk, pour in buttermilk mixing continually (this mixture is very moist). Pour into an oiled lined 2lb loaf tin. Bake at 200ºC for 30-45 mins. Cover if getting too brown.

(Dillisk) Broth (Also known as Nori Broth)

4 litres of water
25g of lentils
3 medium chopped onions
2 stalks chopped celery
3 medium sized potatoes
15g of shredded dried dillisk or roasted nori (one cupfull)
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1tsp mix herbs

Chop the onions, celery, dillisk or nori and sautée in light oil for 4-5 minutes. For a better taste use seaweed oil. Mix the sauted vegetables with chopped potatoes, lentils, herbs and cayenne pepper in 4 litres of water and cook for twenty minutes.
Two thirds of the broth can be removed temporarily, put in a blender, and returned to improve the smooth texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Source: AdLib, the definitive guide to dining in Ireland
From: Chef Jerry O'Sullivan, The Tankard
Kilfenora Fenit Tralee Co. Kerry, Ireland

Plain Flour
Fish stock
Cream (Pouring)
Diced Seafood
Bay Leaf
Clarified Butter
White Wine
Fresh Dill

Finely diced onion and bulb fennel sweated in butter, add flour to take up moisture.

Add white wine and fish stock and simmer the ingredients for 15 minutes or until flour has been cooked out.

Add bay leaf and freshly ground aniseed, cream and a dash of Noilly Pratt or Pernod. Add chopped fresh dill and selection of seafood - diced salmon, cod, monkfish, prawns and mussels. It is important not to use smoked fish as this will overpower the other fish used. Originally this recipe did not ask for any other thickener but adding 0.25 oz. Carrageen sea weed makes a rich and thick broth beyond the use of the Flour Rue.

Serve piping hot with whipped cream.


This recipe was found in 8 oz. the Book of Seaweed (Alan Major) and was originally provided by the Irish Embassy, London.

8 oz. Flour
0.5 tsp. salt
4 oz. Lard or lard/margerine mix
1 egg
Cold water
1 lb. Blackberries
4 oz. Brown sugar
Whipped cream
0.25 oz. Carrageen
3 cups milk
3 tbs.. Sugar

Rub the fat into the flour, and mix with the yolk of an egg and enough water to make a firm paste. Roll out and use to line a 7 inch flan tin.

Bake at 400 deg. F. for about 20 mins and allow to cool

Stew the Blackberries with the brown sugar until tender, in just enough water to cover the fruit. Keep some berries for decoration and put the rest in a sieve.

Have Carrageen steeping for 10 mins. Drain, add milk with salt and boil quickly for 15 mins. Add sugar, strain and stir in the blackberry puree, mixing well. Pour into the pastry case and spread smooth.

Whip the egg white very stiffly with a little fine sugar and fold into the whipped cream. Pipe this on top of the flan and decorate with whole

Smells like roses... Taste like rice.

Wild Rice Medley salad.

1/2 Cup Chopped Onions Saute in Butter
1/2 Cup Wild rice or Pecan rice Cooked
1/4 Cup White beans
1/4 Cup Butter Beans
1/4 Cup Fava Beans
1/4 cup Peeled and Quartered White Grapes
1/2 Lemon
1/8 cup Xtra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 Cup of Rose Water
1/8 Cup of Chopped parsley.
Pinch of Salt
Mix, Stir and Serve 10 People.

The word rice has an Indo-Iranian origin : (vrihi) itself is borrowed from a Dravidian variation term for rice. The Tamil name ar-risi may have produced the Arabic ar-ruzz, from which the Portuguese and Spanish word arroz originated. The word Rice came to English from Greek óryza, via Latin oriza, Italian riso and finally Old French ris (the same as present day French riz).
Geneticists traced the domestification, origin and evolution of rice to several areas simiultaneously. But most researchers agree on its origin to the tropical areas of the Asian and East African land masses. A genetic mutation that long ago led to the creation of a type of rice known as glutinous was favored in the easternmost regions of Asia and is known as Sticky Rice. Native species on the American Continent may have separate but parallel evolutions (Wild Rice). Wild Rice is an aquatic cereal grain that grows "wild" in isolated lake and river bed areas located primarily within the continent of North America. It is also native to ecologically similar regions located on the continent of Asia. This evolutionarily ancient grain has been found in layers of the earth dating back some 12,000 years. In addition to its role as an important food staple for ancestral peoples, it has provided a unique habitat for fish and waterfowl for thousands of years..
Rice is the largest staple crop for human consumption, supplying 20 percent of caloric content for the world.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Peas! I just pea my pants!

Ok so I have been busier than a dog at the meat market.
My record of postings has been less than stellar but after all it does take time to try out this recipes. Many are my own inventions and many are adaptations of traditional dishes from places I have lived in or visited.
This ones are a mix of both though they are all made from the same Pea.
I did promise to post about that elusive and mysterious Pigeon Pea.
First a little lecture, shall we!

A brown (if dried) to earthy green if fresh, legume (basically meaning it grows in a pot) that oddly enough grows on bush and not in a vine like other legumes. It belongs to the family of Fabaceae (sounds like Fava beans???) It is thought to originate in Asia, probably the Indian subcontinent and traveled to Africa perhaps some 3000 years ago. Seemingly brought to the the Caribbean during the slave trade, "Gandules" as they are often named have reverberate with flavors of the plantations, while they also share a secret parallel life in the Asian countries. Pigeon peas have had many medicinal uses as anti inflammatory remedies for aliments of internal organs, they are also used in the cultivation of Lac an insect product that is eventually turned in to Shellac varnish. Lac is mostly found as lacquer in fine instruments like violins, and mind you some of the varnishes of this instruments may make the difference between hundreds and millions of dollars...Ask Stradivarius the secrets of his varnishes are still to be deciphered by modern science. Also known as the gunga (Congo) pea and the pois d’Angole (Angola pea). This pea is packed with proteins and iron imparting it a very nutty, earthy flavor, the pigeon pea is consumed in all forms of stews and mainly is served with rice

Sold fresh, canned, or frozen, in the Latin foods aisle at the supermarket. They’re more readily available than you would think. You can also buy online at or

Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rico)

1 lb. fresh green pigeon peas
2 qt. water
4 tsp. salt
1/2 oz. fat back or salt pork, diced
1 oz. ham, hock, diced
1 onion medium size, diced
1 sweet pepper
1 fresh green pepper
1 tomato med. size
2 fresh cilantro leaves
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 green olives
1/2 tsp. capers
1/4 c. tomato sauce
Saffron or Sazon Goya (One envelope) or Achiote in Oil (6 Tablespoons)
2 1/4 c. rice Medium Grain or Canilla.
3 c. of the water used to boil fresh green pigeons, if canned pigeons use then 3
3 cups of water
Cook fresh pigeons in the 2 qt. of water on high temperature bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt and cook for 15 minutes more. Drain and save 3 cups of this water.
Meanwhile in another pot, fry the bacon. Remove and fry the ham. Add fat back or salt pork, ham hock, onion, sweet pepper, green pepper, tomato and cilantro leaves, Culantro (Recao), Scotch Bonnets Peppers and stir fry. Add vegetable oil, green olives, capers, tomato sauce and Sazon or Achiote Oil and mix. Wash rice, drain and add mixing well. Add pigeon peas and stir fry for a few minutes.

Add the 3 cups of water and cook in medium high heat until dry. Stir rice, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes in low heat at half time stir and cover again until rice is cooked.

Pigeon Pea Stew (Trinidad)

1/2 Lb Pigeon Peas fresh or Frozen (2 Cans)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb. fresh beef or chicken, cubed
1 bunch of Bouquet garni (Parsley, Cilantro, Oregano)
1/4 lb. pumpkin (Sweet Yellow Squash may do)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. tomato puree
1 tsp. sugar
2 onions, sliced
1 med. carrot, cut into rounds
1 clove garlic
1 Ripe Plantain, cut into rounds.
1 egg

Wash pigeon peas and put into boiling water or stock to cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently until flavors are developed and beef is cooled. Serve immediately.

Bollitos (Cuba)

2 Green Bananas peeled and boiled
1 small green plantain boiled
1/2 Lb Fresh Pigeon Peas
Boil save water
8 cloves of garlic (to taste)
1 tablepoon of salt
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 spoon tip of baking powder

Grind all drained ingredients
Press in a colander lined with cheese cloth or paper towel
Make little dumplings out of the dough with the egg, garlic, baking powder and oil.
Make little balls
Oh yea I forgot and use some of the reserved water to boil the dumplings.
Or Deep fry them.

Serve them as an add on to your soups or stews.
Or as an appetizer if fried
with Tamarind Sauce.

Gadnules en Escabeche

A dish I came across in Puerto Rico, though not a typical dish,
this interpretation of two traditional dishes dating several hundreds of years.
Escabeche (of Spanish origin or from Persian sikbag; "acid food") It can be found with similar names in many areas, including North Africa (scabetche), Jamaica (escovitch), France, Belgium, Italy (escabecio or scavece).

I am very fond of this dishes of Escabeche loved them with Chicken Gizzards,
with Sword Fish and with Green Bananas (Guineitos). But finding this Pigeon Pea
Appetizer at a party of a fellow Puerto Rican made my taste buds sing.

2 pounds Frozen Pigeon Peas
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 medium head garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
salt to taste

Place peas in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Simmer over low heat until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
While peas are simmering, mix together the thinly chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic. Add vinegar, oil, bay leaves, olives, and peppercorns in a large bowl. When ready, drain peas and mix into bowl. Season with salt to taste and marinate at least an hour in refrigerator.
Serve cold over saltines


1 can Peas
Olive Oil

Pure all the ingredients in the quantities that you find most appealing to your taste buds
save the liquid from the can to thin the paste if needed.
I serve with a skin of Olive oil and chopped Basil and wedges of toasted bread.

Guandules con Coco (Dominican republic)

2 cans of peas
1 ham hock
1 chunk pork belly
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 lb greated unsweetened coconut
Bell Pepper
half an onion
1 Clove of spice
3 Cloves garlic
1 bay leave
dash of sugar

Fry the ham hock and belly on low heat to avoid burning and sweat some of the fat.
Fry the garlic, clove, bell pepper, onion and bay leave in the fat
add the peas with one can of liquid and save the liquid from one can.
Let stew for 10 min in low heat
add salt, and sugar to taste
add the coconut milk
simmer for 20 min to thicken
add Coconut flakes
let stew for another 10 min.

Serve over white rice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pigeon Peas

A caribbean staple that does wonders.
Steamed, in rice, in stew, with coconut, "a la vinagreta", in fritters or in hummus.
I just had a huge meal at a Dominican restaurant (El Merengue)160 Blue Hill Ave. Roxbury MA.
Celebrated with a friend the independence of his country from Haiti.
I am so stuffed I can not sit down and write for long but I promise the recipes will follow.
BTW... They are easy to find in almost all supermarkets under the Goya Products.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sweet no more... Savory Dumplings.

1 cup
Sifted Chick Pea Flour
1 teaspoon
Baking Powder
1/4 Cup
Boiled Pumpkin
4 Whole eggs
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
or Paprika (Less Heat)
Dash of salt
1/4 Cup of Boiled Cauliflower
1/8 Cup of Tarragon, Chives and Cilantro Chopped.
4 oz. of Luke warm water.
4 Tablespoon of oil or Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Make two batters
1. Runny Batter:
One egg White and 3 yolks
1/4 Cup of Flour
Let sit aside on a bowl

2. Solid Batter:
One Whole Egg
and the remaining egg Whites Beaten to soft peaks
Mix in a Bowl Dry Ingredients
Herbs, Flour, Salt, Paprika, Baking Powder
Add the Ghee and the whole egg
Fold the egg whites
Drain the Pumpkin and the Cauliflower and squeeze dry
Fold in the vegetables
You should have a batter that can be rolled into little balls.
If too wet add flour if too dry add some Ghee.

In a deep pan heat corn oil enough to float your dumplings
After rolling all the batter into balls (Do not make them too thick)
Let them rest for one hour under a damp cloth at room temperature.
Dip in the runny batter
and drop to fry in the pan.
Balls that are too thick may not cook through.
Balls that are too small will separate.

Enjoy with tamarind Sauce or Yogurt.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Say Cheese!

Ah! Cheese cake
Childhood memories of happier times.

Silvia's Cheesecake

3 packages of Cream Cheese
4 eggs
3 Half pint Containers of Sour Cream
Graham Crackers (or Maria Crackers)
1.5 Tablespoons of Butter
1 cup Sugar
Vanilla Extract

Separate eggs
Beat in low speed the cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar
add one yolk at the time
add 1.5 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extarct and continue to beat.

Prepare a mold spring or otherwise by covering the inside with butter
Layer a crust of crumbled cookies and butter on the bottom.

Beat the egg whites to a Merengue (Soft peaks)
Fold these egg whites whipping the first wet mixture,
incorporating the merengue gradually as you fold the batter.
DO NOT beat or you will loose the air and end with a flat dense cake.
Pre heat oven 350º
bake 20 min keep checking for firmess

Beat Sour Cream, Remaining Sugar and Vanilla
pour over top of the cake and return to oven
5 min.
take out and let cool.
Serve refrigerated.

I like to serve it with Dark Chocolate Covered Lemon Leafs as a garnish.

Make Dark bitter chocolate Ganache melting it very slowly in water bath.
Carefully as not to incorporate any of the water it will ruin the whole Ganache.
Use fresh lemon leaves when and were available. May use Bay leaves but cover them first in a thin layer of Lemon Essence and Butter. Lemon leaves naturally release their oils and essence as the warm chocolate covers them molding to each vein and creating a copy of the leave in the process. Once cooled separate the leaves and use the chocolate leafs as decorations.

You can also choose to do a sweeter milk chocolate ganache and cover the whole cake, drawing patterns by drippings of white chocolate!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bored of Koolaid then TEPACHE...

I am not insulting you, I swear!
Tepache is a fermented mexican drink based on Pineapple remains.

Is simple but it may take several days to accomplish.

Here it is:
One large Pineapple (NO Cans)
Cut and save the rinds and core of your Pineapple.
Use the Flesh for any other recipe.
Place in a large Pitcher full of cold water
Add a cup of sugar
Leave outside at room temperature overnight.
Next morning you should see tiny bubbles appear.
Stir and place in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation
Keep for 4 days
At end of 4th day or so add more sugar
remove all vegetable matter and stir
Skim the top foam.
Add fresh water and enjoy very cold
This is a pro-biotic food
It's Alive!
This Pineapple Cider is great in the summer as it is very refreshing.
You may speed things along by adding some beer.
Traditionally Mexicans use Piloncillo (Brown Sugar) and Cinnamon.
It is commonly made in Taquerias and Puestos, even in jail houses as an alternative to alcohol...
And yes it does contain traces of alcohol, after all it is fermented.
Perfect to settle upset stomachs and perfect with a spring of mint.
Photos from:

Made for TV... Tv Dinner

Making my lunch bags for the rest of the week has turned into quite an adventure as of lately.
Roumaging through my refrigerator to find out what is left to cook or what is left to refurbish.

I decided that, "since cooking has become a chore and less and less time can be dedicated to it", I have to go Industrial.
Looking through the refrigerator to figure out what packs and freezes well enough to create my six to seven ready to eat meals for the work week.

Fried food is not good when it comes to microwaves, green vegetables are a must and protein (in my case from two sources animal and vegetable) and last but not least taste.

What freezing, thawing, cooking, microwaving and transporting can do to your food is a science on its own. But for a small kitchen guy discovering the what's and how's of making your own "TV Dinners" is proving to be daunting.

So even though this post has no recipes to share in my part.
I can share one thing and that is the principles of TV Dinners
1. Separate: Trays have covers and compartments to allow the cooking of either wet items from spilling over to your cherry cobbler or/and to create separate cooking environments as hits items may cook or need to be served at different temperatures.
2. Cover: Plastic sheets, films and or lids create the means to control your foods future cooking mainly by trapping it's own steam. Never mind the fact that they keep your office microwave and lunch bag clean.
3. Food: Food items should be considered for their qualities to freeze, thaw and reconstitute. It is ideal that you consider slightly undercooking your food items as they will be microwaved turning a once tender roast into a rubber ball. Foods that contain gluten or wheat in a dough form do not microwave very well, again turning into rubber as they cool and into brick once they are served. Bread items are not a good idea, sandwiches turn soggy and loose their crust, crunch and to me even flavor.
4. Steam: Vegetables that are high in water contents are better left just blanched and very raw. Freezing will break down their cellular structure and many times more water will be released from them once they are microwaved. Blanching them in scalding hot water and inmediatly in a cold ice water bath releases and reseals the nutrients with in the veggie allowing them t remain there until you microwave.
5. Transportation: Select your container carefully, melting styrofoam and other polysterines can release dangerous chemicals, and though they are marketed as insulating that does not mean heat resistant.
6. Temperature: The higher the sugar and fat contents of a food the greater amount of heat it releases when cooked. (The principles behind that famous dieter's measurement (THE CALORIES).
7. Flavor: Most if not all TV dinner items have a sauce involved in it. Again sauces are a way to retain the flavor, to protect certain items from freeze burn and to distribute heat. Meats cooked in a sauce retain moisture and tenderness. Pastas on the other hand can be doomed if cooked in their sauce, therefore what would have been an "Al Dente" pasta can turn into sauce and glue. Remember the food items will continue to cook so time your pasta to be undercooked so that the sauce can take over once in the microwave.
8. Fresh: Salads are a fresh as it gets right? Well not if you transport them with a dressing on. Separate dressings and treat vegetables and fruits that turn brown before packaging. Bananas, Avocados, Apples, Pears and Peaches can turn black, mushy and unappetizing in many instances as with the avocado changing the flavor to a slight bitterness. Wash with lemon or lime juice all cut fruits. If they are turned into dips or sauces skim the surface oxygen by pouring a thin even layer of olive oil.
That is part of the reasons behind the syrup in those colorful and tasteless fruit cocktails.

Check this story about the origins of TV Dinners:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

But baby it is cold outside!

Stay at Home Chicken Soup

Water lots
2 lb. Dark meat chicken cuts w bones
Bunch of Cilantro (Coriander)
3 leaves of Culantro (Long Leaf Coriander)
2 large onions chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic
Salt to taste
Two Bullion Cubes

Boil it all until reduced by half.
May add Ginger and Lemon Grass
and serve with Thai Basil, Bean Sprouts and Lime wedges
(Basic Vietnamese Pho)

You can find all the ingredients fresh in a Chinese supermarket...just stay clear of the fish and live els section.
or go online see the resources column.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy V.D.

V.D. Valentines day/V.D. Venereal Disease...Humm Coincidence?
Well while we ponder that thought. Here is a love potion.

Love Potion #3

Passion Fruit Sorbet,
Pineapple Mint Granizo
and Rose Ice Cream

Use the juice of a passion fruit strained (Powerfull stuff)
Use only 16 onz to make a 2 pints of Sorbet
Egg Whites(9 eggs)

Mix egg whites and froth almost to Merengue
add Passion fruit Juice (As you continue to fold)
add sugar and a pinch of salt (very little)
Spread on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
Freeze for 2 hours
Take frozen mix and churn.

Repeat process use a very riped pineapple otherwise it will be sour
Blend with mint leaves
repeat process with the egg white but use less of them
you may also use unflavored gelatin
place a thicker layer on a cookie sheet with wax paper
mix with shaved ice or freeze in a block and shave it.
Frozen juices can be shaved with a knife be careful though

For the third you need an ice cream maker

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups loosely packed, very fragrant old rose petals, washed and spun dry

1) Prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes in a large, flat-bottomed container that will hold the bowl where the ice cream will be chilled.

2) Place the sugar and the rose petals in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and make paste.

3) Place the heavy cream, milk and sugar paste in a medium sized saucepan and place on medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and turn off heat.

4) Place the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Whisk yolks until light; add the hot liquid slowly, while whisking until the mixture is homogenized. Return liquid to saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F. on a candy thermometer or it coats the back of the spoon. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean container and place in the ice bath. Once completely chilled, freeze in ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions.


Use the egg yolks remaining from the Sorbet
Boil the cream 2 pints with rose escense or water
about 16 onz. and a small strawberry for color.
reduce the liquid
add sugar
let cool and refrigerate.
Using and ice cream maker
let the mixture churn, add the eggs portions at a time
pinch of salt. You may add pink rose petal
Mind you some ice cream makers require salt in the ice.
But salt in a very small quantity can brighten up a sweet dish.

Serve all three in small scoops, with dry Pistachios or Cardamon sprinkled wafers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ughhh what a day

Today was a long and draw out day...But I had a wonderful end to it.
I got to work on a client whom we all love and adore,
to bad he is taken and too bad he is a client and too bad he is the ex of an ex.
Can not wait to finish your case so we can concentrate in our friendship.
I also ended up at an opera recital with the now ex of an ex.
Hum! Recurrent theme here.

Thank you both for a wonderful end to a very hard day.
For you both S and Z : a quick and healthy salad.

Mexican Slaw

Julienne JICAMA (Mexican root vegetable very available in the supermarkets now)
Only the white flesh
Cut pineapple in small chunks
Mince cilantro
Mince Onions (very few and very small)
Julienne Apples
Julienne carrots
Mince Serrano peppers very fine chop no seeds no stems
(Add as much or little as you can take)
Remember hot in hotter out!
2 limes
One small container (4 oz) plain yogurt (Greek preferred)

Cut thin spears of the root vegetables and apples
Soak in the lime juice
Shred the Cilantro leaves and cut the sweet onions
Add the measured amount of cut Serrano pepper ( Smoky but with a great tanginess)
Mince all none root vegetables in a food processor
Add the pineapple chunks and lower the speed of the food processor
Mix with the marinating root vegetables
Add the yogurt to thinly coat not drown the fruits
add a bit of salt

Great stuff after a workout or after a run.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lasagne, Lasagna...layers to be dough out.

Contrary to many a believe Italian food did not originate with Tomato sauce, as a matter of fact that addition came much later as the trade routes of the Orient and the America's became viable. Actually pasta was also an invention taken from legendary exotic lands. So without tomatoes and pasta, what was Italian food? Roman cuisine was infamous for being the first true fusion cuisine. But their humble beginnings did not differ much from the middle eastern and other such mediterranean cuisines. The recreation of once lost recipes and investigation of gastronomical tendencies of the past is not a dedicated science or history branch. (YET) Lets call it "Archeogastronomy"

Given the historical importance of a trade, invasion and all such events is rare to see the lack of attention given to the role of food in history.

How about taking a trip in time to find out when, how and were did our lives take a turn for the tasty or for dyspepsia.

Lasangna di tuti

1/8 pound of each of the following cheeses in slices
Mozzarella (Shredded)
Smoked Gouda
Assiago (Shredded)
Parmesan (Shaved)
Romano (Grated)

Sauce 2 cups
Stewed tomatoes
garlic one clove
Tomato paste
Basil (fresh)
2 Cloves (Spice)
1 once club soda
1/4 onion diced
2 ounces olive oil.
6 oz White wine
1/4 lb of ground veal

Saute the onions and garlic until they become transparent (do not brown)
Take dry herbs (Cloves and Oregano) Grind them in a mortar or using the bottom of a cup against a bowl.
Chop Basil finely.
Mix all herbs and grounded veal, saute with the onions
In the skillet pour the tomatoes and the tomato paste
Let simmer with the onions, garlic, veal and oil
add salt to taste ( watch it though the cheeses are salty enough)
as the sauce reduces keep stirring and add wine to taste
to reduce the acidity add bits of the club soda as it reduces.

Boil your pasta sheets in a large pot follow the pasta water instructions.
(bay leaves , olive oil and salt)
take sheets out as they become pliable "AL Dente"note that any more cooking than this will turn them from "" to play dough.

Start with a deep oven mold (about 4 inches deep)
first layer should be pasta
second should be a little sauce and a binder cheese (Suisse, Provolone or Mozzarella)
Follow each layer with enough sauce to taste it not to bathe it and two cheeses usually it works best if it is one sliced and another of the shredded, grated or runny ones
Because Mozzarella and Suisse cheese are glue like when melted they are good binders.
Provolone is less adhesive but it make for a good pasta substitute in thin layers or gaps
Finally the mixer cheeses that grated or shaved make a great salty addition (Parmesan and Manchego)
balance them with some Cottage Cheese mixed in.
Gouda and Assiago make strong flavored layers and are perfect for the last layer they also brown nicely
I save the bay leaves from the pasta water and use them as a tasty garnish covering them with a bit of any cheese specially the ones that broil nicely and broil them at the top of my lasagna to eat the crisp cheese skin right off the leaves that though not edible in their dry state they do transfer a wonderful taste to the broiled cheeses.

bake at 325 degrees for half hour =give or take. broil for the last 2-5 min depending on your oven.
serve and go to town in your own archeological dig, and ponder the question were did this all came from.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Layers, layers.

Layering dishes...I had a conversation in the office the other day about the different dishes that use layering. We are a very international staff group so the talk became very interesting very soon. Lasagna, Pasticchio, Pionos, Enchiladas Suizas, Pastelon , Moussaka and Sheepard's Pie.

Principles of layering, and what you put in between, came a bout; from Eggplant to plantains any vegetable can become a slice of savory cake.

I am too tired to write all the recipes tonight but I promise to have them up soon.

Basics are binders, frameworks and toppings keep that in mind as they are engineering fits of the common "culinaria".

Check out my buddy's site :

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Can't even boil water!

Water abundant yet scarce, common yet precious and vital yet destructive.
Basic skills require that boiling be a must do in the kitchen.
So lets review this basic skill.

Water fact sheet:

Boils at a 100 degrees C
Freezes at 0 degrees C
Anything in between is... well water
Boiling depends not on the water but on what is in the water.

Pasta water (Add oil, salt and bay leaves)
Better to bring it to a boil first then add the pasta.
do not boil the hell out of it, take the pasta out while it is still a little hard
but the shape of the pasta is flexible enough to bounce back when scooped up.
Save the pasta for later at this stage you can dip in same water boiling just before serving.
Water is a good heat conductor and infiltrates the pasta therefore it continues to cook after removed from the pot.

The incredible edible egg.
Boiled Soft or hard...
Eggs have a gas chamber inside letting escape small amounts of sulfur from the yolk (hence the egg smell).
You can prick a pin hole at either end of the egg and drop in the water.
Unlike pasta is better to drop the egg while the water is still cool. As it boils and the temperature raises the gas will escape the egg leaving a better tasting soft boil and a perfectly yellow non smelly hard boil. I use a thumb tack for that.
If you drop the egg into already boiling water the rapid cooking of the outer layer of Albumin (Egg White Protein) will harden before the rest and again trap the stinky gas in the remainder egg white. Never mind the fact that Murphy's law's apply...If you are going to drop an egg into boiling water chances are you will end up with a cracked leaky egg...(Aka Egg Drop Soup)
Water again becomes very useful as a dip in cold water before peeling the shell of the egg allows for shrinkage ( We guys know all about it) That shrinkage allows the layer of shell and membrane beneath it to separate allowing you to crack the egg top to spoon a soft boil or the whole shell to peel the hard boil ones. cant time your eggs...Well if it spins without wabbling (the egg that is not your head) then the center is solid...If it is still uncooked and semi liquid the egg will wabble as it spins since the center of gravity will move with the swiching soft center.

Water for tea:

One word (BREW)
Boil water and pour into a cup that alreday has the tea bag
(Tea Bag Hahaha Beavers and ButtHead)
A tea bag that becomes wet as it sits in the cup is less likely to trap air and float up.
Tea in a stariner...ughhhh fancy well let it steep
Tanins will overwhealm your flavors and release too many acids leaving the brew well like toilet bowl cleaner ready to strip your stomach lyning.

Weak herbal teas on the contrary should be boiled close to the time of serving. As steeping may not get enough goodness out of it. Highly volatile or aromatic herbal teas are better off steeping in bags inside your cup (Lemon verbena or Thai Lemon grass)

Sun tea brewed over time left on a window sill...Well hippy chicky do rose buds and hibiscus works better for this. Mild iced tea mixes as brisk, black tea and jasmine tea work best.

Water for soup...Easy....Dump ingredients, turn dial and let your inner Irish Maiden boil the shit out of the whole thing.
Potatoes, Cabbage, Sprouts and CauliFlower same boil until soft (tender soft not disintegrate soft)
Potatoes and root vegetables...until a fork can pierce them
Cabage..depending...By the way this is another stinker...boil the water with a little will take longer to boil but is well worth it.
Broccoli well just drop onto the already boiling water and take out as they turn bright green place in ice water inmediatly and the green should become even brighter.
Boiling Cauliflower...depending on the use: soft to use as ingredient and slightly harder as a side dish.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Now children there comes a time in any business or life endeavor when we need to "grow up"...AKA Eat Dudu and swallow. And believe me as a proud member of a profession with the highest reported suicide rate I feel somewhat entitled to rant and lecture about stress. I have as sunny a disposition as I can muster and many times the big assimilating machine of grown up society punishes me for being ...well, different.
For all or you public service professionals (government clerks) and customer services representatives; for all of you auditors, solicitors and collectors. Lets have a bite of the "chill pie" shall we.
Photo from

Chill Pie
Aka: Poor Man's Charlotte
1 cup Water
1/4 lb Linden tea (Or collect the clean flowers off the many trees that line Boston quaint streets)(4 tea bags)
Three or four (Hibiscus) Jamaica Flower Buds (Dry)(Two Tea bags)
You may use the equivalent in tea bags as is more readily available.
Boil do not brew this tea (dark) as it will be used for a sauce.
Couple of Teaspoons of Rose Water (Syrian Stores)(Save for last)
Strain and Reduce the liquid to 1/2 cup
Sugar Refined one table spoon
Add Sugar and keep reducing to 1/4 Cup
(Adult Cool Aid)
1 package of Kosher Gelatin (Unflavored)
Graham Crackers Ready Crust
OR Make your own with Crumble Graham Crackers and cold "Marje-uan" Butter -(follow the lead of the South Park Social Worker) For extra soothing effect (Unless you get drug tested at work... same as poppy seeds dear, stay clear of them)

Bake crust using a double mold, line the first mold with the butter including the sides and line the bottom of the second mold with butter or non stick spray, weight the second mold with a brick place the bottom of the weighted mold over the crust "Nesting the two molds. Bake for 4 minutes at 350 degrees (watch it if it browns it means is just time it) and let cool off completely before separating. Darn just buy the crust!
1/4 Lb Sliced Strawberries
1 large tub of Ready Whip (Cool Whip)or Whipped Cream (Cream Chantilly)
1 Cup of Yogurt (Strawberry)(I prefer Greek Strained Yogurt with macerated strawberries for consistency)(Any commercial yogurt can do too0
Add the Rose water slowly and check for consistency.
Different yogurts and using Whipped cream
can significantly make your filler very runny.
Mix in a bowl to a fluff while cold.
Pour into the cooled crust.

Refrigerate pie for several hours until firm.
Cover the filler top and decorate with a layer of sliced strawberries

MEAN WHILE BACK AT THE FAT FARM..I mean at the stove
(Hum Flash Back)
Make a syrup ...oh you already did..ha is it not wonderful!
Well that tea thing should be a little thicker by now as it cooled down and thickened into a syrup..not there well boil away dear..boil away.
Mix the gelatin as instructed in the package
(I get always confused with the hot and the cold liquids thing)
So just dump it in the saucer and stir away the lumps.
(Ah quite a life metaphor)
You should have a Cherry Pie looking clear red syrup.
Let cool a little and pour over Strawberries layer chilled pie
Return to Cooler (NOT FRIDGE)Unless it still somewhat runny and your guess are pulling at your apron!
Serve cold

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Flatulence Fair

Famous last word at dinner...
Bean, Bean the musical fruit
the more you eat'
the more you toot!

Beans are very, very versatile and besides their noisy reputation, they are the main source of protein to many parts of the world. Mind, though, somehow those parts of the world are less given to the explicit musicality expressed by the developed countries, we fool ourselves into thinking we are no longer a bean society. One way or another, in the natural selection of our evolution we have developed an aversion to the mythical legume. While our ever increasing drive for consumerism drove us away from the humble rumble of the farm staple, the bean remains a corner stone of nutrition. Fancied as processed food, filler, protein source, cattle food, disguised in pseudonyms or exotic cuisines; the bean remains the bean. Re-fried, blended, pressed, sprinkled, "chillied", ice creamed or just turned into a dip. Today it can be found blatantly in your face in fast food, gourmet foods and even candy. But only when we hear of it as the main ingredient do we pale and flush all at once in the need to mention how unsuited our bodies are to handle the little Charro.

Crema Toscana
Canelli Bean Soup
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups of Canelli Beans
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 lb butter
1/8 cup olive oil

Spring of parsley
I may add a ham hock to salt it too
Salt to taste.

"@ Your freaking taste men..." just keep in mind all three spices are pungent.
Lemon few drops to balance pungency.

or Chiabatta thick Crust toast
dip thick slices in olive oil and balsamic
cover with Assiago cheese and broil

Chop all ingredients
After a quick saute in the oil and butter add Beans
Add Chicken Stock
Boil the hell out of all ingredients ( In low heat)
Add Cream
Use a hand blender and puree the soup
Serve and dress with the lemon drops,
some olive oil drops and parsley
and the tasty toast on the side.

Picture borrowed from

How to Re-fry beans a lo mexicano:

1 lb of any bean (Red Kidney or Black are best)
Sofetened in luke warm water overnight or Boiled or just canned
I like boiling them with Onions, Garlic, Epasote and a Ham hock

Puree the beans and boiling buddies. Aka Onions and such
Remove the Ham.
Use some of the water to maintain a soft consistency.
Adding the water to blender prevents paste from being flung around as dough.
Save remaining water as a thickener for soups.
In a cast iron flat skillet or a non-stick skillet pour a little oil, lard is the traditional thing or even tastier bacon grease.
Let the paste simmer a little in the skillet until steam bubbles break through the paste surface. Start folding (not stirring) the paste and allow for the steam to escape. Perfect refried beans fold to a paste like a fluffed dough ready to roll. Slide to the serving plate and sprinkle with Cotija Cheese.

You can save for a good three weeks refrigerated and use as spread.
Dip base if thinned a little.

Refried beans are used as "glue" that holds your Tacos and other Mexican delights from becoming undone and keeps the ingredients or stuffings from sliding onto your lap.
I love them in "Sopes" Half sliced "Teleras" a mexican fat short baggette of crusty bread.
Smeared with the refried beans and "Oaxaca" cheese (Aged Mexican Mozarella) broiled in the oven
or with their counterpart sweet Sopes smeared with Butter and Sugar and yes I do add the beans too.

Find Epasote and other products online at:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kitty litter gossip colum

I think is time for me to bite the bullet and get a puppy. I have considered this for the last few years and I ceritanly miss having my pets. Cats and I get along from a distance and thou I like to pet them i can not stand the smell of their urine. I have several cat lover friends and reluctant owners who dearly love their cats but do anything under the sun to control that smell. Hiding the litter box in anyway they can. Opening wall holes for their cats private entrances to secluded sand boxes in the balconies or creating aerial walkways in the eves for their feline meanderings. I am personally inclined to get a dog but the condo association has not made their mind on pets issues. I would like a non shedding, short haired, medium small, non yapping, obedient, no odor and cuddly doggie.
Am I asking for too much?

Any recommendations?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Long time no see you!

Picture borrowed from

Kumar and Harold make it to White Castle
Is there a White Castle in Boston?

I have had many clients in the health field that suffer from several life threatening and chronic deceases.
They often use medically prescribed Marijuana, in many forms and have come to trust in me as a friend.
they remain my clients nonetheless we share the joy of cooking and talk often about their health and
their tricks for pain control and appetite stimulation. By the way The Melting Pott has two "TT" thanks
to a name registration glitch with my host.

I see many HIV clients and Cancer patients after and during Chemotherapy or Radiation Treatments.
Use medically prescribed Marijuana intended for this purpose and always consult with your medical provider
about the laws governing your state and any dietary changes you plan to implement.

Hemp Butter Cookies:

Melt 1lb of Butter on a Crock Pot
for about one hour. skim the solids and clarify butter.
Using a colander, strainer or large tea bag brew your Hemp,
dipp your Hemp (about two table spoons per 1/4 lb of butter) for two hours more.
Lowest setting of your Crock Pot
(Note you may need to find your correct dosage and retain that measurement)
Once it has been cooled to room temperature
let the clarified butter reconstitute as a solid in the refrigerator.
Dry Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cup sifted flour all purpose (Oat Flour ok)
1/2 table spoon of lavender flowers
1/4 vanilla bean
1/8 cup dried chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
Teaspoon Salt
Teaspoon baking Powder

Wet ingredients
1/8 cup of water (Luke Warm)
2 eggs separated
1/4 lb Butter (room temp)
8 oz milk whole (Soy ok!)

Boil the milk and vanilla bean scrapings set aside
Beat egg whites set aside
Beat the egg yolks set aside
Place remainder dry ingredients in a bowl and mix
Add butter to bowl of dried ingredients and hand mix
Using a cake spatula scrape mixture and add vanilla milk
Adding water as you mix means drops at a time to get the dough right.
Buttery crumbling balls is the right consistency (Hum like the sound of that)
Fold the egg whites

Pre heat oven to 275 degrees.
Place Wax paper on Cookie Sheet and Butter surface.
Place spoon size dollops of dough keeping spaces for the cookie to spread.
Brush the cookie tops with the yolks for glace.

Cook 20 min or until centers raise and crack
Set aside to cool and set on a rack transfer the paper by the corners.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy Pie

I have a new friend (Lets call him "D") well I am uncertain of his friendship since we live far apart and our lives are very different. Nonetheless I like him and though we have not had the occasion to truly learn about each other I do not dismiss the possibility of developing a friendship.
The issue is that we are all going trough some life and career changes. This cross roads are not easy but to quote another friend "R" {life is good as long as it continues to change}. D has been sending sad messages and seems a little moody. Too bad since I am in such festive mood but I do understand him and certainly know the feeling. Another friend "M" had to go into his monthly hospital stay for infussion therapy, he has had a rough couple of years lately but his dispossition is a sunny as the skies here in Miami. "R" is working his ass off to keep up with the mortgages. D, R and M are letting go of a "former life" that defined them for whom they thought they were, and me...well...contemplating future life chages.
D, M and R lets dedicate a pie to you:

Vidalia Onion Happy Pie

1 large onion Vidalia Sweet (Thinnest slices you can cut)
1 Table Spoon of Vanilla (Or more...)
1 table Spoon of Flour (Wonder Mix)
2 Pie crust ( Pre-made is fine)
1 pint of heavy cream
2 eggs Separate yolk and Whites
1/2 cup of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Cream Cheese (Room temp)

Blend 1/2 pint Cream, Vanilla, yolks, and 1/4 Cup of sugar
Add more Cream if needed depending on your mix consistency.
Cook half the onions in sugary water( Let cool)
Add to blender and liquefy.
Lay the raw half of your onions in pie crust dust with Flour
Layer the slices with the custard mixture and repeat layers
Dusting with flour "MAY" keep your onion slices from sinking to a thick bottom layer.
Dust with Sugar also.
Yeah you are basically making a sweet Quiche
Cook at 250 degrees for half hour or until you can insert
a toothpick and pull it clean.
In a separate bowl mix the egg whites to soft peaks. ("Merengue")
Fold in the Cheese and remainder sugar (Except a teaspoon)
Take your cooked pies out of oven and let cool a little.
Decorate pie with small dollops of the Cheese mix and form small Peaks like ice cream swirls.
Dust with the sugar and return to oven to broil (Or use a Brulee Torch)
But only for a few seconds until the tips of the dollops brown.

Serve warm or cold with Ice Cream or Chevre Cheese.

"D, R and M" you seem to make sweet out of pungent few people can!