Italian sausage

I love to have homemade Italian sausage in the freezer. We add it to spaghetti, meatballs, meatloaf, and many other things. If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, the meat grinder attachment works great for this type of thing. Additionally, the sausage doesn’t have to be stuffed into the casings, you can also just make ‘bulk’ sausage for use in other recipes. I would suggest that you zip lock them in 1 lb increments to be compatible with other recipes that call for Italian sausage.

Mom’s rosy pickled eggs

I love pickled and briny stuff. This recipe may be the reason why. My mom has been making these for years and I truly enjoy them. The pickling liquid imparts a great flavor and the beets make for some curious coloring. Growing up, it was always difficult to explain to friends how these eggs could be good. As an adult, I have learned that they go great with beer and other drinks. You just have to try them! You need a one gallon container with a lid, preferably glass for this recipe. You’ll also need a ton of eggs, but they keep a long time in the briny vinegar.

Lamb lollipops

My friend Holly makes the most delectable little lamb chops, or “lollipops”as we like to refer to them.  There’s something about this dish which brings memories of warm summer evenings with friends. A little time in the marinade  and a short stint on the grill and you have heaven on a stick. When choosing your rack of lamb, plan for at least a couple bones per person. Here’s how she does it:


While I realize that I have placed this in the ‘appetizer’ section, we have been known to make an entire meal of these Japanese style potstickers. In fact, we are known to plan entire parties and get-togethers around this simple food. Over time, we have established quite an efficient system for cranking out hundreds of gyozas. We plan a time to get together, divide up the ingredients and show up at our designated gyoza production home. Part of the fun is making them in a group setting. Usually, we’ll have a table dedicated to creating the potstickers with a bowl of the meat mixture in the center, several small bowls of water distributed around the table along with the wonton wrappers. Someone else will be at the stove frying the little critters as they come off of the assembly line. Additionally, through strict scientific examination and clinical trials, we have discovered that sparkling wine pairs exceptionally well with fried gyozas.

We like to dip them in various asian sauces we either create for the gyoza party or simply grab at the store.
The recipe below makes enough gyozas for about 10 hungry adults who make an entire meal of them.

Chipotle hummus

We used to make this one in the restaurant a lot. Easy, spicy, good! Serve with pita chips or other chips.

House Vinaigrette

This is by far the most common vinaigrette we use around here, and we use it a lot. Simple to throw together at a moment’s notice and everyone always enjoys it. Fantastic with mixed greens, tomatoes, and croutons.

Basil pesto

When basil is plentiful in the summer, I like to make gobs of this stuff. It freezes well too. There’s nothing better than whipping out some fresh basil pesto in January!

Mustard BBQ Sauce


Boeuf à la Bourguignonne

Boeuf à la Bourguignonne, Beef Bourguignon, beef burgundy, or just beef in wine sauce. For me, few dishes invoke thoughts of cool weather, friends and hearty meals like beef Bourguignon. Many credit Julia Child with bringing this dish to the forefront. As a result, Americans often envision this dish when they think of French cuisine. Several years ago, Jill and I had the opportunity to travel to France. Beginning in Paris, then on to Champagne, we further travelled South to Burgundy. We visited several chateaus and wineries in the famous region. Burgundy wines are highly regarded in the world of wine. With well known regions such as Chablis, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, and Beaujolais, the wines are very high quality and can be quite expensive. It is not unusual for some Burgundies to sell for hundreds of dollars per bottle. The primary red grape of Burgundy is the very well respected and not very forgiving Pinot Noir. One night, after a tough day of site seeing and winery hopping, we went to a Burgundian restaurant which was well known for their Boeuf à la Bourguignonne. It didn’t disappoint! Rich wine sauce, well seasoned, tender beef, and tasty vegetables. They served it in it’s own crock with a lid, very old school and very awesome.

This is an image of Jill and I in a cellar in Chambolle-Musigny:


While I have made Beef Bourguignon using Pinot Noir (usually from California), I also like to experiment and use other red wines as well. The only basic rule of thumb is to use a wine which you would enjoy drinking. Northern California has tons of good wines, but one of my favorites is Zinfandel. In my opinion, it lends itself well to this dish. I also like to try and pair the same wine I use in making the meal to go along with it.

Below is my version of this classic stew. There are a multitude of ways to put this together and I have seen several and I enjoy them all. For mine, I do not use any stock, water or demi-glace, as I like to rely solely on the wine in combination with the beef for the rich sauce.

Bánh mì

Banh mi

Otherwise known as the Vietnamese sandwich. According to Wikipedia, the term “Bánh mì” actually refers to the bread. It is important to use a good french bread here with a crust that is not too hard. A little crispness is a good thing.

The Bánh mì is, unfortunately, a bit scarce in my local area here in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A local restaurant, “La Bou” in El Dorado hills, used to have one on their menu which was tasty. That  might even be how I got hooked. I still make it a point to order it every time I go in there so they can explain to me how they removed it from the menu at only this one location and they can look at the disappointment on my face. Of course, in the bay area, these sandwiches are quite popular and very good.

There’s something about the pickled vegetables, spiciness, and caramelized meat which just comes together in a magical way. There’s really no trickery here, but there is a little time investment involved in prepping and marinating veggies, but it is well worth it and most things can be done ahead. Also, these sandwiches are often made with various types of pork lunchmeat which often contains bits of pork ear which adds to the texture. But I like the barbecued, caramelized pork versions the best. As luck would have it, our local supermarket carries some of the thinnest pork loin chops which are nearly useless, until now…