February 15, 2019

Homemade New Jersey Style Sloppy Joes



14 oz bagged coleslaw mix (cabbage and shredded cabbage mix)
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
white pepper

Russian dressing:

3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chili sauce (like Heinz)
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
white pepper

1/3-1/2 lb good quality roasted turkey breast deli meat (I like Boar's Head*)
1/3/-1/2 lb turkey pastrami
1/4 lb imported (if possible) Swiss cheese
6 slices seeded rye or marble rye**
3-4 tablespoons room temperature, unsalted butter


The night before you want to make the sandwiches:

Make the coleslaw: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, and spices. In a large bowl, toss together slaw mix and carrot. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss to evenly distribute. Cover and refrigerate

Make the dressing: whisk together the dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

When you want to make the sandwiches:

Squeeze out any extra liquid from the cole slaw. (This recipe makes a ton of slaw so feel free to only squeeze out half of it and use the rest in something else; we had it on hot dogs the night I made it) Set aside.

Butter one side of two slices of bread; set aside.

Top two slices of bread with an even layer of turkey pastrami. Evenly cover with coleslaw, then spoon on the dressing and smooth it out. Top with 1-2 slices Swiss to cover. Top each with a slice of bread.

On the second layer, place an even layer of roasted turkey, then coleslaw, then dressing, then Swiss. Top with the buttered bread (butter side down). Cut a triangle shape out of the middle  (leaving two half-moon shaped ends) and serve.

Yield: 2 sandwiches, can be doubled. You will probably have some dressing leftover. Use it to make a Cloak and Dagger or a Reuben along with the rest of your rye and Swiss. Or make the most of your leftovers and make a Rachel with turkey or pastrami, coleslaw, rye, and Russian dressing.

*If you are in Baltimore, somehow the turkey at Mastellone's tastes better than the Boar's Head turkey anywhere else. My secret theory is that it is from being stored in the deli case with all those yummy Italian meats but I have no scientific research to back this up.

**Traditionally this is made with a Pullman loaf of rye sliced horizontally into long slices. Good luck finding that. You can make your own but that's a lot. Other delis sell it on regular sliced rye cut in the distinctive triangle middle, half-moon sides way I did here. I like marble rye best. Just use the middle slices so they are large if using bread from a round loaf.

My thoughts:
I have always wanted to make a New Jersey style Sloppy Joe ever since I first saw one which, oddly was in a Shop Rite ad for party sandwiches. Now I do love the other kind of Sloppy Joe but this is no saucy, ground beef laden sandwich. This is it's equally messy deli long lost cousin. The origin is a bit murky (the same bar, Sloppy Joe's, may have inspired both sandwiches?) and outlined a bit here in this article but unlike with superheros, its origin story doesn't really matter.

Originally made with tongue (which can be tricky to find and I was unable to figure out if it was fresh tongue or corned) most versions use corned beef or pastrami and roasted turkey. To make it a little lighter, I used turkey pastrami but feel free to use the real thing. I thought the turkey pastrami worked really well here because there are so many other flavors going on. I made the coleslaw and dressing from scratch but took a few shortcuts--I used dill pickle relish instead of chopping up pickles and used bagged coleslaw mix instead of chopping up the vegetables myself--to speed up the process. I find that it is really important flavorwise to make your own dressing and coleslaw for the best flavor but it doesn't need to take all day.

The end result is a super tasty, not quite as messy as expected thanks to careful assembly, sandwich. Super flavorful and a lot more fun to eat than a basic deli sandwich. The coleslaw adds some crunch, the dressing somehow helps hold it all together and it just really melds together with the rye and the meat. A little more work than the average sandwich but not difficult at all.

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February 12, 2019

Rainbow Chard, Meyer Lemon and Dill Orzo


1 cup orzo
15 oz (canned) cannellini beans, drained
1 large bunch of rainbow chard or Swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped (separate the stems and leaves)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, cut into half-moon sliced
1/4 cup chopped dill
3/4 (loose) cup Italian or curly parsley*, chopped
juice and zest of 2 Meyer lemons
freshly ground black pepper


Prepare orzo according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, covered to keep warm.

In a large pan, saute the chard stems, onion, and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add in the leaves, dill, and parsley and saute until the greens start to wilt. Add the lemon juice, beans, salt and pepper. Saute until the greens are tender. Stir in orzo, cook 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: I made this as a side dish, then served the leftovers I reheated in a skillet as lunch the next day topped with a fried egg. It was quite good as a vegetarian main.

*I prefer Italian (flat-leaf) parsley but this was a grocery delivery order and was subbed curly instead. It was fine.

My thoughts:
I had a weird craving for orzo recently. I don't think I've had orzo in years except maybe at the Greek Festival we go to each year. Now I feel like I've been missing out! It's still winter unfortunately and not much is in season. Leafy greens can be quite good this time of year so I try to incorporate them into our meals as much as I can. Rainbow chard is one of my favorites because it is so colorful, something I really need in February.

I originally made this dish as a side to some halibut but it makes a lot for two people and I had plenty of leftovers. As I said in the note, I heated it up in a skillet and topped it with a lacy egg and I might have liked that even more than it in its original incarnation. The orzo got slightly crispy and chewy in a pleasant way. I encourage you to make it as a main if you are so inclined, the beans add some heft and protein and there is a ton of flavor from the fresh dill and parsley. Without the egg topper, it is totally vegan!

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February 08, 2019

Pulled Pork Haluski


2 tablespoons butter

1 small cabbage, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
10 oz wide egg noodles
2 cups pulled pork (I suggest using a slightly sweet pulled pork like this apple pulled pork)
freshly ground black pepper


Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions, cabbage, salt, pepper and saute until the onions and cabbage are quite soft and just starting to brown. Add the pulled pork and continue to saute until heated through.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and add to the pork mixture. Stir and saute 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Halušky is an Eastern European dumpling somewhat similar to spaetzle but in the US, haluski (or haluska) is a cabbage and buttered noodle dish that is sometimes made with kielbasa or bacon. I always like to get at the Polish festival but never made it at home. I had a bag of egg noodles I got for free with a coupon and a cabbage so I thought today is the day! I love cabbage so much it sounded like the perfect dish. I didn't have any bacon or sausage but I did have some leftover pulled pork so why not use that? I'm always looking for a way to repurpose leftovers! This was a fun way to use the pulled pork without making hash (which I do love) or just having another sandwich. It was filling enough to have as its own meal yet didn't seem like I was eating the same thing I did the night before. Totally worth moving into the rotation.

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February 05, 2019

Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes

1 1/4 lb 90% ground beef
6 oz chili sauce (like Heinz)
3/4 cup water or beef stock
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

to serve:
hamburger dill pickle slices
rolls (I like mini sub rolls)
shredded cheddar

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add beef and saute until brown, stirring to break up the meat. Add the remaining ingredients. Saute, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until thickened. Serve on rolls with cheese and pickles.

My thoughts:
I can't help it! I really do enjoy a good sloppy joe. We didn't have them a ton growing up, my father was a super picky eater so we only had them when he wasn't there and we used a jar of "Not So Sloppy Joe" which was fine but when I was an adult I realized I would make them from scratch however I wanted. I've made several versions over the 15(!) years I've had this blog but this one is perhaps the most family friendly and crowd-pleasing. They really do taste like cheeseburgers! Super classic and I think even easier than making hamburgers because you are just cooking the ground meat thoroughly and not worrying about how well done it is or keeping an eye on it. Just simmer and serve.

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January 31, 2019

Ultimate Hot Baltimore Crab Dip with Soft Pretzel Sticks

for the dip:


1 cup blue crab claw meat
1 cup lump blue crab meat
1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup sour cream
1⁄4 cup Frank’s® RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 1⁄2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1⁄2 tablespoons Chesapeake Bay seasoning (Old Bay)
1⁄2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
3⁄4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together both crab meat, cream cheese, sour cream, Frank’s® RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, mayonnaise, Chesapeake Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, and shallot until smooth.

Spread the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the cheese in an even layer. Bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and the dip is warmed through, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with crackers, chips, bread, or Soft Pretzel Sticks.

Makes about 18 servings

for the pretzel sticks:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1⁄2 teaspoons sugar
1 1⁄3 cups lukewarm water
4 1⁄3 cups flour
3⁄4 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons pretzel salt (or sesame seeds)
canola oil for greasing bowl


In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water; let stand 3 minutes. Add the flour; mix with a stand or electric mixer with a dough hook attachment until the dough forms a smooth, elastic ball. Grease a large bowl with canola oil; place the dough in a bowl. Place in a cold oven for 50 minutes or until doubled in size.

 Remove the bowl from the oven. Preheat oven to 425°F.

Gently push your fist into the dough to deflate; divide the dough into 12 pieces. Using your hands, on a floured surface, roll each piece of dough into 1-inch-thick, 10-inch-long ropes.

Pour baking soda into a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or stockpot; fill it with water to within 3 inches of the top. Stir with a whisk until the baking soda is dissolved. Heat to boiling.

Line a large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Using tongs, dip each rope into the boiling baking soda–water mixture for 30 seconds. Place on the cookie sheet. Brush the dough with egg; sprinkle with salt (or sesame seeds). Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Yield: about 12 sticks.

Make It Even More Awesome

In Baltimore, there is a popular appetizer called the crab pretzel. It is a huge soft pretzel heaped with crab dip and tons of oozing cheese. To make it at home, make the Ultimate Hot Baltimore Crab Dip omitting the cheese topping. Then make the pretzel dough, but instead of making it into sticks, form it into one giant pretzel. Bake as called for, then remove from the oven and spread the crab dip liberally over the top of the pretzel. Sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve immediately. (I also have another version of crab pretzels here)

My thoughts:
I hear there is a big game this weekend and it reminded me that I never posted this version of crab dip here! It appears in my cookbook, Cooking with Frank's RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce: Delicious Recipes That Bring the Heat along with more recipes using hot sauce than you'd know what to do with! It's a spicy version of the classic Baltimore crab dip that you find at every party here. The pretzels are really good with it but you can also just serve it with crackers,  bread, crudités or sturdy chips if pretzels are more of a commitment you're interested in making.

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January 28, 2019

Lamb Merguez with Roasted Vegetable Couscous


2 cups golden couscous
2 eggplants, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 12-oz jar piquillo peppers, drained and chopped
10 oz lamb merguez sausages (I used these)
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet (or two if needed) with foil. Arrange the zucchini and eggplant in a single layer on the sheet(s). Drizzle with canola oil, the sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ras el hanout. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, pan saute the sausages until fully cooked.

Prepare couscous according to package instructions (I used this couscous and 2 1/2 cups chicken stock). Place in a large bowl, toss with vegetables, thyme, and peppers. Divide into bowls, top with sausage.

My thoughts:
I almost didn't post this but it was so tasty and easy, I thought I would. I love merguez sausage but I never know what to do with them at home. Perhaps I'm not the only one?

Part of the beauty of sausage is that it is so quick to cook so I designed the rest of the meal to be done in 30 minutes or less too. The peppers are a little spicier than regular jarred peppers and add a ton of flavor. The ras el hanout ties the vegetables to the sausage flavor-wise and brings the whole dish together. Perfect for a weeknight when you are short on time.

The leftovers reheat well in a skillet as well.
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January 23, 2019

Steak and Smoked Oyster Pie


3/4 cup caramelized onions*
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
8 oz crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tins (3.75 oz, each) smoked oysters, drained
2 1/2 lb stew meat
superfine flour (like Wondra)
2 cups beef stock
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (defrosted according to package instructions)
1 egg, beaten
freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat a small amount of oil. Saute the caramelized onions, celery, carrots and parsnips until the carrots and parsnips are softened.

Toss the meat in the flour. Add to the pan and saute to lightly brown on each side. Add the spices, thyme, and stock (the stock should totally or nearly completely cover the mixture). Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer about 40 minutes (I defrosted my puff pastry at this point) or until the liquid has reduced, the meat is tender and it looks like a thick stew. Stir in the oysters.

Preheat oven to 375.

Pour into a deep dish pie plate.

Cover with a sheet of puff pastry. Brush with egg. Vent with the tip of a knife. It is okay if the pastry does not totally cover the top of the pie plate.

Bake 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the pie is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes prior to serving.

*I made another batch of slow cooker caramelized onions for this. Alternately, you can caramelize 2 medium onions in the pan prior to adding the rest of the ingredients.

My thoughts:
I had come across a reference to steak and smoked oyster pie in a book I read last year. It was too warm for meat pies then but now that we are in the dead of winter, I thought I'd revisit the idea. I looked at a ton of recipes and they were all a little different. some called for puff pastry, some for jam(?), some for shortcrust pastry, some for dark beer, some for mushrooms,  some for no vegetables at all. The only thing that most could agree on was that the pie was popular in pubs and that the oysters were probably added (either smoked or fresh) to stretch the meat because they were so plentiful.

I finally decided to just come up with my own recipe using my favorite stew and meat pie ingredients with the addition of the smoked oysters. I don't think I had ever had smoked oysters (I found them near tuna in the supermarket) before but they were quite good! Very savory. I added them at the end of the filling cooking time to make sure they didn't get tough like regular oysters would have been after an hour plus of cooking.

I loved the result. It had a light smoky flavor from the oysters, was rich and hearty from the caramelized onions, mushrooms, vegetables and meat and the pastry top made it seem festive and special.

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