Wednesday, March 30, 2011

in a pinch? try a pinch!

With a few basic ingredients you can create a homemade seasoned salt mixture that tastes wonderful on everything from grilled meats to steamed veggies; shake it on rice or pasta, scrambled eggs, French fries, almost anything. And, no MSG! Simply combine 3 tablespoons fine sea salt, 1 tablespoon good-quality sweet paprika (for something really interesting, try substituting smoked paprika), 1 tablespoon celery salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander.

Easily increase these measurements to make a larger amount to have on-hand for the upcoming grilling season, or anytime you want to add a dash of flavor.

The chicken (above) was sprinkled with this delicious seasoned salt mixture and grilled to perfection; later this summer during sweet corn season I plan to mix up a large batch of the salt, adding some to melted butter for drizzling all over those golden ears of summer sweetness, maybe with some grilled Texas toast on the side. Oh yeah.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

what the heck is haluski?!

Can't take another cod fillet during
meatless Lent Fridays?
Try hearty Polish Haluski!
Before I worked for a newspaper that serves a city with a large central European population, I had never heard of haluski. Ever.
A little snooping around revealed to me that this traditional Polish-Slovakian cabbage dish was very similar to something my mother used to make and I decided to give it a try.
The dish makes a great vegetarian main dish (perfect for Lent) or you can sneak in a bit of bacon on your carnivorous days (as shown in the photo). Using homemade egg noodles makes all the difference in the world but if you're short on time, use good-quality store-bought noodles (like I did). And, if you want to add more protein to this dish, try what others do: stir in some cottage cheese.
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, cored and either shredded or cut into strips
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (you may need more)
  • 8 ounces cooked egg noodles, either homemade or store-bought
  • salt and pepper to taste
Begin by heating butter in a large saute pan or large deep skillet until lightly browned; this is one of the tasty tricks of cooking haluski. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add shredded cabbage and saute for 5 more minutes, tossing thoroughly with the browned butter-onion mixture. Cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes then add the cooked noodles. Combine everything thoroughly, add a bit more butter if the mixture seems "dry" and cook over low heat, stirring, until noodles are heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Another tasty addition to haluski is caraway seeds; add them just before covering and cooking the cabbage-onion mixture.
Some people substitute rinsed sauerkraut for the shredded cabbage; I have not tried this version but I think I could learn to love it.
Can't get enough cabbage? Check out:

Friday, March 11, 2011


Meatless Fridays ~
A great time to try something new!
Although the Lonesome Road doesn't observe Lenten practices, the customs and rituals of others always inspires me to try (and share) new recipes. This is one that really has become a tried-and-true favorite. Simple, inexpensive, healthy and so delicious, the Middle Eastern dish Mujadara is easily made with lentils, rice and lots and lots of caramelized onion slices. This is truly a great choice for meatless Fridays during Lent but don't be surprised if you incorporate this dish into your rotation.

Start out by sauteeing in a large, deep skillet:
2 medium onions, sliced
in 6 tablespoons of olive oil.
Cook onions until they are deeply brown and caramelized, even a bit "crunchy." Remove the onions to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add 1 cup of long-grain rice (I love to use jasmine rice) and 1 cup of lentils to the skillet. Quickly saute the rice and lentils in the caramelized onion oil, adding
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add 3 cups of water to the rice-lentil mixture and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet very tightly then cook over low heat for at least 25 to 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.

To serve, top with the crispy browned onions.
Serves 4.
(Although lentils typically do not require soaking in water, I've found that a 1 or 2 hour soaking before preparing this dish helps the lentils cook in exactly the same amount of time as the rice, without becoming mushy.)
Can't get enough bean recipes for meatless Lent Fridays?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

it's called "fat tuesday" for a reason

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!
Time for the feasting before the fasting - Mardi Gras!
Since the Lonesome Road's favorite place to get authentic Cajun chow is woefully small and will be a mob scene tonight (especially with Dennis Stroughmatt of Creole Stomp performing)
I'm just going to throw on some beads and whip up a little of my own jambalaya tonight!
(Looks like this guy's had enough Mardi Gras already!)

I seldom really make jambalaya the same way twice, at least not consciously. But even though it's a great dish for improvisation, and for using up some leftovers like cooked chicken, don't just indiscriminately throw things in a big pot with some rice - "hey, I found a leftover hot dog in the back of the fridge, let's throw that in!" The recipe that follows is a general guideline to the way jambalaya is prepared on the Lonesome Road; there is room for customization but remember not to stray too far from the heart and soul of the dish.
For example, I love using andouille sausage in jambalaya. This chicken andouille from Trader Joe's is one of my favorites and combines perfectly with the other flavors of the dish but if you prefer kicking it old school and using a traditional Cajun French-style pork andouille sausage - go for it!
Another must is to use the Cajun "Holy Trinity" of seasonings - bell peppers, onions and celery - in the preparation of jambalaya. And last, include black, red and white pepper in most all Cajun concoctions, the theory being that each one of these pepper varieties produces their sensation on different areas of the tongue.
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1/2 pound smoked spicy sausage, like andouille, sliced
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
In a large Dutch oven, cook the sausage in the olive oil until browned; add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and saute until onion is golden and transparent.
Add the uncooked rice and cook, stirring briskly, until rice just turns golden. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce, stirring to combine with the rice-sausage-vegetables mixture.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and add cooked chicken, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and the three peppers. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid, or cook longer, if you need to.
When rice is tender, add shrimp, cover and cook for 10 minutes or so, or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
Season to taste with salt and more pepper if you wish.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Variations: Add some leftover chopped pork if you like. I also like to include crabmeat once in a while. And of course - use crawfish if you can get it!


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