Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Athens - Monastiraki: Thanasis SouvlakiImage by wallyg via Flickr


You might say the Greeks invented take-out. Long before “wraps” became popular, souvlaki was the most convenient on-the-go meal to be had. And what could be easier than marinated meat, a few garnishes and yogurt wrapped in a pita?


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry red wine such as Burgundy, Chianti, Cabernet or Merlot

3 cloves of minced garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon dried mint, crushed by rubbing through your palms

3 pounds of lean lamb or pork cut into 1-inch-square cubes

12 loaves of pita bread, brushed lightly with oil and quickly heated on grill (heating the bread maximizes the flavor)


purple onion or sweet onion sliced thinly

ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly

plain Greek yogurt

Using a large bowl, mix oil, wine, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and mint together. Add cubes of meat, and marinate 4 hours or overnight, mixing a couple of times during the marinating process.

Place cubes of meat on metal skewers or wooden skewers that have been soaked previously. Grill or broil turning once, until tender (but still pink on the inside.)

Serve 3 cubes of meat in a heated pita with onion and tomato, and topped with a spoonful of yogurt on top!

Makes 12 sandwiches.

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"What's cookin'? You name it!" Read all about Gina in the Danbury News-Times.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The 70s What's Hot? / What's Not?

What's Hot? / What's Not?

Hamburger Helper / Swedish meatballs

People Magazine / Life Magazine

hot rollers / sponge rollers

Pink Floyd / Pink Panther

hibachi / deep fryer

lava lamps / lavalieres

Sesame Street / Romper Room

guacamole / fondue

Color Me Beautiful / at-home hair color

Bill Crosby / Bing Crosby

cake mix / red dye #2

Ms. magazine / Ladies Home Journal

coffee shop / soda fountain

Toyota / Cadillac

Annie Hall / That Girl

Hair traumas

Tell us about all that apply

__your teen’s Mohawk

__over-processed perm

__over-tweezed/shaved brows

__high school yearbook hair

__bikini wax

__too-short haircut

__at-home hair-color experiment

__Buster Brown bangs

__ my hair on humid days

__allergic reaction to hair color

__thinning hair

__bald spot

__baldness due to chemo

The 70s

Disco Stew

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. The mantra of the 70s.

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson via last.fm

And flaunt it we did, in so many ways. Consumer index was up, double-digit inflation ran wild and aerobic activity was in. We Americans discovered minivans and camcorders and shopped till we dropped. We got serious about takeout, got silly over Michael Jackson’s moon walk and hit the road to Disney World where we promptly forgot about aerobics and hogged down on chili dogs, Coke and southern fried anything.

It was the era of Olympic gold-medalist Dorothy Hamill. She captured our hearts with her soaring salchow, fabulous lutz, and the wedge cut to her hair that lifted like a sleek cap of silken feathers as she leaped over the ice, but then settled back obediently as she landed.

Farrah Fawcett Poster (Charlie's Angels)Image by Hobo! via Flickr

Around us, government stumbled on the leavings of a hated war and then faulted in near disarray. Terrorists took us hostage and hostile takeovers haunted the halls of business. There was the criminal rise of polyester, millions of leisure suits of the wretched stuff. Wallpaper patterns were big and so were flared pants, their bottoms so hugely belled you had to wear four-inch platforms to keep them from dragging like wedding trains over the floor. In fact, just about everything was big, back then. Especially hair. Specifically, Farrah Fawcett’s hair, which went outrageously untamed in sexy posters on nearly every teenage boy’s bedroom wall.

If you were around in the 70s, you were part of the developing culture of discovery … which is to say, you had mastered discovering things you couldn’t live without. Designer jeans, People magazine, hair dryers, guacamole, fondue, quiche. Plus you were entertaining. Coiffed in a full but smooth flip, moving about the kitchen in your hostess caftan and bare feet, you were putting together party dishes your mother never heard of, and doing them in record time with the help of pre-mixed, pre-marinated, pre-cooked everything.

But through all of this, all along your journey, you were learning the nuts and bolts of food. How things went together and met the palate; how they blended or collided to the nose and how they looked on the plate –– all of this was sinking in. Even that there was value to food that went beyond the appetite to impact health (something your mother had known and tried to stress) was beginning to sink in.

Antipasto Platter - Yarra Glen Cafe and Store ...Image by avlxyz via Flickr

Beautiful you. You were becoming a cook.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

The 70s, Pasta Fagioli

For a printable version click here

Pasta Fagioli

Cooking can lead to job security.

Soon after she began working at a medical office, New Milford Medical Group, Gina brought a pan of her lasagna to the office for a staff lunch. Everyone was impressed.

"Now this is what I call job security," one of her administrators remarked.

Later one of her employers, Dr. Michael Levine, had this to say about Gina's pasta fagioli.

"I have made pasta fagioli myself and I've ordered it in many restaurants throughout the world but this is --head and shoulders-- above any I've had. You've ruined me for any other!!


1 lb small dried white beans (cannelini, navy, etc.)
1 ham bone with some meat or 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks
6-7 cups chicken stock
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 large carrot unpeeled, washed and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 shallot chopped
3 or 4 peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 heaping tablespoon pesto sauce
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
8 ounces small pasta or elbow macaroni
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Pick over the beans, wash thoroughly and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight, or bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, and allow to sit covered off the heat for 1 or 2 hours before proceeding. (Quick soak method)

Drain the beans and discard the cooking water.

Add chicken stock to cover beans, ham bone or hocks, bay leaves, carrot, celery, and thyme, Bring to a boil and simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and discard.

Pick meat off bones and add to beans. Crush or mash a portion of the beans and return to pot.

While beans are cooking, fry bacon till crisp and set aside (will be added to soup at the end.)

Fry the onion in the bacon grease, and add to the beans while cooking.

Heat the oil in a small pan and saute the garlic and shallot in it. Add tomatoes, 1-cup stock, parsley, and pesto, bring to a boil and pour into cooked beans.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions, Reserving a couple cups of pasta water. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to stop cooking, drain and add to cooked beans.

Stir in cooked bacon; adjust consistency with reserved pasta water (if soup is too thick) or mash more beans (if soup is too thin.)

Adjust final seasoning with salt, pepper and grated cheese.

Servings 8-10