Archives for posts with tag: recipe

…or is it hotdish? believe me there has been more than one conversation in my life about the difference in terms, and at one point i had myself convinced it was a ‘regional’ thing (minnesota hotdish/iowa casserole), but really i think it is ultimately a ‘you say poe-tay-toe, i say poe-tah-toe’ thing. just google it. it will make your head spin.

growing up in minnesota, we would make the trek down to see my grandma lucille in iowa during the holidays, and one time in particular she made us this dish. i specifically remember it being the first time i had ever eaten wild rice, and this crazy vegetable called asparagus. although i don’t remember my grandma’s cooking to be all that exceptional, and the dish was a concoction of campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, canned mushrooms and asparagus, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon and (msg laden?) bouillon cubes, so really not that healthy, but i absolutely loved it!

now in adulthood, i have adjusted some of the less healthy components for homemade and fresh versions, swapped sour cream for greek yogurt, and use bacon from peads + barnetts, who specialize in happy pigs. i’m guessing it was a bit harder to make a run to the closest market from your farm outside of dubuque, iowa back in the late 70s in the middle of winter, and probably even harder to find fresh asparagus, or maybe even mushrooms? granted i am fortunate enough to live in southern california where i am able to shop for organic, sustainable produce and meats at the hollywood farmers market, but you can find fresh organic mushrooms and asparagus year round, and some version of quality bacon at your local grocery stores.



  • 2 cups uncooked wild rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe (note: you will need 3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour, 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. stock, 1/2 c. mushrooms diced small, 1 tsp herbs de provence, s+p)
  • 8 oz greek yogurt
  • 8 oz cremini (brown or baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • .25 oz dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, chopped (reserve liquid)
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed (about 8 oz)
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 package (about 1 lb) quality bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
  • salt + pepper
  • garlic powder


rinse your wild rice, add to the water, and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer and let cook for 45-60 mins until done. you might have to strain any excess water.

OriginalPhoto-566793549.654439meanwhile, make the homemade cream of mushroom soup. in a small sauce pan, melt the butter, whisk in the flour on tbsp at a time, add herbs de provence, whisk in broth, whisk in milk, stir in mushrooms, add salt and pepper to taste. heat and stir until desired thickness. set aside.

OriginalPhoto-566790913.273679soak porcini mushrooms in hot water (just covered) until soft, about 15 minutes. chop up mushrooms, and reserve the liquid. meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter and sauté the garlic and mushrooms until golden brown.

OriginalPhoto-566790685.524911combine the cream of mushroom soup, greek yogurt, and all mushrooms in a bowl and stir. add reserved mushroom soaking water as needed to thin the mixture enough to be easily spreadable.

OriginalPhoto-566793413.501765fry bacon so it is crispy, and crumble. make sure to wash your hands after licking your fingers clean after crumbling.

OriginalPhoto-566792898.332573preheat the oven to 375 degrees. in a 10×15 glass pyrex baking dish layer the ingredients. start with the wild rice. sprinkle with a generous amount of salt, pepper and garlic powder. spread the mushroom yogurt sauce evenly over the top. snuggle the asparagus together however you see fit.

OriginalPhoto-566794761.476349season a little more with salt, pepper and garlic powder. evenly layer with grated cheese. top with crumbled bacon.

OriginalPhoto-566799515.510756bake for 35-40 mins until bubbly and cheese is melty.

OriginalPhoto-566801128.685684honestly, it is one of the best comfort meals i make. thanks to grandma lucille for bringing comfort into my life. here she is with my mom, back before i was even born.

LindaLucille66even though she was my mom’s stepmom, she was always just my grandma. fortunately, i know a few times over how comforting step parents (grand and otherwise) can be to a child. many thanks to dave, armella, matt, ann and lois for everything.

(i’m thinking my next post will be about grandpa matt’s amazing cereal parings. he loved sugared cereals, but armella would only allow them if he mixed them with a healthy one.)





my dad was a great cook. i have a lot of memories of him in the kitchen whistling while listening to music (emmylou harris, bob dylan, lucinda williams, et al.) while concocting whatever dish was to be placed in front of us. even though hot tomato jam wasn’t a meal, it is a component of one of my favorite food memories to date. this is definitely the family recipe i would like to see passed down, and along to as many other families as possible.


at one point he created a recipe book of favorites, and of course in danny dries fashion gifted us them for christmas one year. the first recipe listed under ‘appetizers & oddments’ was danny’s hot tomato jam. he was a writer, as well as an artist, but he did not mince words while creating a recipe, so the instructions were left up to your own interpretation. thankfully my sister kate did some R+D on this one with some edits prior to my attempt at making my first jam. i must say her choices were pretty spot on and (gasp!) might have even improved upon pops version.

let’s hope mine fairs well…


yield: 6 cups


  • 6 lbs tomatoes
  • 12 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced, rind slivered thinly
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 stick of cinnamon


bring a large pot of water to a boil, tall and wide enough for the amount of jars you will need. have an ice bath ready in a large bowl to cool the tomatoes in once blanched. cut Xs in the bottom of the tomatoes, and a circle around the stem hole.


put tomatoes into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. remove and place into the ice bath to stop them from cooking. peel the tomato skins off, and remove the stem tops. crush them with your hands into a large pot. cover with the sugar, add the pepper flakes, cinnamon, lemon, vinegar, and grated ginger. mix well.


let stand in the fridge for 8-10 hrs, or overnight.

stir well and separate the juice from the pulp through at strainer.


bring the juice to a boil, reduce to a decent simmer until it thickens and cooks down by about half, for about an hour. (NOTE: kate let hers reduce by half, but i only reduced by maybe 1/4, so i might have been at too slow of a simmer? she ended up only yielding 6 cups, and i ended up with 12 cups, and after opening a jar, mine was so thick it was almost un-spreadable…like an adhesive you could bond metal objects for years.)


add the pulp, and simmer until the jam begins to pearl and thicken. continue to stir frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. this can take 2-3 hours, but don’t overcook. (NOTE: i think this is where i went wrong. since i didn’t initially reduce down the juice, it may have taken longer to reduce the pulp and whatever happens when sugar cooks too long happened and became cement.)


while cooking prepare the jars and lids. (kate used the technique in the serious eats jam recipe and slightly edited here):

place jars (on a rack, if you have one. if not, mine were fine without) in a large pot. cover the jars with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. let boil for 10 minutes, and then turn off the heat. let the jars rest in the hot water. meanwhile, put the bands and tops in a saucepan and cover with water. bring to a simmer, and remove the pan from the heat until ready to use.

once the jam is ready, ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch space at the top. warning: this can be messy, and hot, so use caution. wipe the rims and jars clean with clean paper towels or dishrags. cover with lids and screw on bands until just barely tight. (you will fully tighten them later.)

place jars back in the pot covered in water. cover pot, and bring to a boil over high heat for 15 minutes. turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest undisturbed on cooling racks for at least 6 hrs or overnight. when they have cooled completely, seal them tight.


my dad died in 2010. shortly there after, i came to his loft in nyc after a cross country flight, little sleep, and very hungry. my sister kate was there. she made me a grilled cheese sandwich in his toaster oven, and spread his hot tomato jam on it. it was the best tasting thing i could imagine…still is.


photo by rafiel chait

vito is not my uncle, but i think everybody wants an uncle like him. i did have the pleasure of meeting him prior to the wedding of his nephew (don) and his soon to be bride (lauren), who are two dear friends of mine, late last year. he made a huge batch of his meatballs for the occasion, and did a demonstration on how to make them to a few lucky bastards who were out at the house my friends were to be married at earlier in the week. of course, i wanted to be there for that, but sadly, i was stuck at work. thankfully, my friend the groom made a video of it, and i am forever grateful.

this video is not only helpful to see how the meatballs are created, but adds a touch of the innuendo that runs in the family, and also shows uncle vito making the meatballs in a manner that i truly believe is the way to cook…by feel, by taste, by smell, by love, and most importantly, by your family and friends.

dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.

-julia child


the sauce:

  • splash of wine
  • 1 can of crushed red tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (14 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cans of water (using the crushed tomato can)
  • 1 tsp of parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, + more to fry the tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cans of tomato paste (6 oz each)

in a large pot combine add all the ingredients in order, except the tomato paste. put on medium-high heat, stir and bring to a decent simmer.


meanwhile start the meatballs. once you have mixed the meat for the balls, fry the tomato paste in some olive oil for a couple of minutes until the oil is incorporated into the paste.

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add it to the sauce and stir, plus a little more sugar if needed, but i found the sauce pretty sweet as is. reduce to a slow simmer while you make, roll and fry the balls.

the meatballs:

  • 5 pounds of ground beef (80/20)
  • 7 eggs
  • splash of olive oil + more to fry balls in
  • 2 pounds of italian sausage, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, + more for adding
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs, + more for adding
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder, + more for adding
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil, + more for adding

start with half of the ground beef and crumble into a large pot. add the rest of the ingredients. then crumble the remaining ground beef as well. add another big dash of parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil and garlic powder.

then dig in with both hands. add a splash of olive oil to grease the wheels. ‘pound it, push it down, keep mixing it well…from the bottom, and then push it.’ do this til firm, but not wet. if it feels too wet, add breadcrumbs…i ended up adding about 1/4 cup more.


squeeze ice cream scoop sized balls (about 2 inches?) 10 times by hand, and then roll in your palms. i ended up with just a little tad bit more than 40 balls, so i used the remaining into a smaller tester ‘veet ball’.


add a good layer of olive oil to a large fry pan, add meatballs (8-10 per pan, they can be snug), and over medium-high heat brown and turn. careful not to cook them too quickly. let them brown nicely, then add to the sauce. you can continue to use the same pan for the next batch. i found i didn’t need to add additional oil, since the fat and juices of the previous balls worked fine to fry the remaining balls.


on this particular night i made linguini and veetballs, but i got some nice italian baguette to make meatball sandos for lunch the next day as well:


i found this will make about 35-45 balls, depending on size, plus of course one tester veet ball.

• on a sad note, we lost uncle vito this past week. i didn’t know he was sick, and only found out when my friend posted his wonderful video of his uncle vito making his amazing meatballs. i feel so fortunate that i was able to meet him, and now pass his recipe on to you, so we can all enjoy. RIP UNCLE VITO!
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