It’s Labor Day Weekend Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

This time of year, the front meadow is a sea of goldenrod.

This time of year, the front meadow is a sea of goldenrod.

I always use Labor Day weekend as the benchmark for the end of summer. Kids are back at school, the days are getting shorter and cooler, and the local apple orchard is now open. So this weekend is a perfect time to say goodbye to the season and to invite some friends over for some a delicious meal! I’ve scoured MVK’s archives for some recipes that would be perfect for this time of year. I hope whatever you do this coming weekend, it is filled with good food!


Deviled Eggs
Who doesn’t like deviled eggs? Take this to a party and they will be gone in the blink of an eye!

Baked Artichoke Dip
While this is a little fussy, it is well worth the effort.

Homemade Hummus
Know the ingredients in your hummus by making a batch of your own!

Mediterranean Kebabs
You don’t even need to know how to cook to make this tasty appetizer!


Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs
Get the grill going for this flavorful chicken dish.

Linguine with Clam Sauce
If you can find fresh clams, this dish will be phenomenal, but canned work just as well.

Mystic Pizza
Impress your guests by grilling this pizza!

Marinated London Broil

Brazilian Fish Stew
This stew tastes like a professional made it. Show off your skills!

Salads and Such

Potato Salad
I made this over Fourth of July weekend and am still thinking about it!

Kale Salad
Instead of a usual green salad try using kale instead!

Quick Pickles
Because I love these!

And you can never go wrong with a platter of sliced fresh tomatoes with basil and a little drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Warm Roasted Peaches with Cream
Pick up some Amish peaches if you’re in the Northeast and roast them with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. You won’t be sorry!

You’ll make a friend for life if you make a couple batches of these incredible brownies.

Crumbly Peach Pie
A summer isn’t complete without making my grandmother’s peach pie.


Mad Men Manhattan



sunday dinner

(Photo Steve Cavalier/Alamy/Alamy)

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Should Sunday Roast Dinners Still be on the Menu?
One of the things I was most excited about when I was in London last year was going out for Sunday Roast, which is basically a full dinner at lunchtime. I have a version of that in my own home almost every Sunday because there is more time to cook; a really nice meal, usually a roast of some sort, to end the weekend and to have a nice start to the work week. Sunday just feels odd if I’m throwing together a stir fry.

So I really enjoyed this pro and con op-ed piece out of The Guardian last week for Sunday roast dinners.  Of course I’m in the “pro” camp; they truly are a comfort blanket meal. You can read the article in its entirety here.

Sizzling Skirt Steak with Asparagus and Red Peppers Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Isn't this farm stand adorable? I stopped on my way home from the lake and picked up some beets, broccoli, tomatoes, and an onion!

Isn’t this farm stand adorable? I stopped on my way home from the lake and picked up some beets, broccoli, tomatoes, and an onion!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been making more and more vegetarian meals. Summer is so easy to fix up some veggies you’ve picked from the garden, the farmer’s market, or tiny farm stands like the one above. August is the month all veggies shine; they are their peak of ripeness and deliciousness, it’s easy to just have a plate filled with some beans, tomatoes, and an ear of corn and be happy. But there are some evenings that I’m dragging, tired, and I know it’s because my iron is low, so I decide to fix a nice steak. When that happens, pull this recipe out! You can let the steak marinate during cocktail hour (or when you run out for an errand, like I did), and with just a few ingredients, it takes hardly any time at all to put dinner on the table!

Remember the Caesar salad and Brussels sprouts recipes I gave you a few months back that called for fish sauce? Still have the bottle? Here is another recipe where you can use it! Fish sauce has something that experts refer to as umami, the “fifth taste”; like sweet, sour, etc., the combined ingredients make foods flavorful. Like MSG without the chemicals. Just a little bit adds a load of flavor–and it’s not fishy at all. The grated onion marinade is perfectly suited for flavoring the meat and the additional sauce with the vegetables adds a nice touch. 

I have never seen skirt steak in Vermont despite many searches, so I’ve substituted both flank steak and sirloin for this recipe. I’ve let the marinade sit longer than 30 minutes with no ill effect, it just made for a more intense onion flavor, which I love. And this would be fabulous if you put it on the grill! And you can substitute some fresh green beans instead of asparagus if you like!

steakSizzling Skirt Steak with Asparagus and Red Pepper

This recipe originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Serves 4.

1 pound skirt steak, halved crosswise
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
2 medium red onions, divided
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine steak and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in a shallow dish. Cut 1 onion in half lengthwise. Grate half of the onion. Add onion pulp to steak; toss to coat. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Cut remaining 1 1/2 onions into 1/4-inch-thick vertical slices. Cut each asparagus spear diagonally into 3 pieces. Combine sliced onion, asparagus, bell pepper, and oil; toss to coat. Heat a large wok or stainless steel skillet over high heat. Add vegetables to pan; stir-fry 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce to pan; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove vegetable mixture from pan; keep warm.

3. Scrape onion pulp off of steak. Return wok to high heat. Add steak to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board; let stand at least 5 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into slices. Serve with vegetables.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: “The Kitchen of Ambrosia”

Last week I told you about my small screen debut and now its ready for the big reveal! A little peek at Vermont in August and blueberry season! Click on the movie poster to enjoy “The Kitchen of Ambrosia!”


movie poster

The Last Supper: Marinated London Broil

Look how green everything has gotten! It's an emerald sea!

Look how green everything has gotten. It’s an emerald sea!

I sometimes play this game with myself when I’m bored and think about what I would like to eat for my last supper. Of course, I create a fictional story and I’ve been told I can have whatever I would like for my last supper. So 1. I can order whatever I would like to eat or drink with no worry about future calories; and 2. Someone else is doing the cooking. I always start and end with the same things, an extra dry extra big vodka martini and a slice of homemade pie, but the middle dishes of the meal always changes. Sometimes lobster, roast chicken, pasta, beef, sometimes all three. But I have to admit, this week’s recipe might be the one I would request!

Rarely do I buy beef but when I do, I tend to buy a less expensive cut and marinate it to tenderize it. This marinade, with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, has just the right amount of salt and sweetness and the added lemon juice lends the sour. Shallots have become my new favorite onion; they have a distinct flavor that to me is a cross between a mild red onion and leeks. Instead of fresh thyme, I just added ½ teaspoon of dried.

Everyone always says to let your meat rest at least 10 minutes before cutting it and that is wise advise. The juices in the meat redistribute and finish cooking internally, and when you slice against the grain, it comes out perfectly. And this would be terrific on the grill!

steak2Marinated London Broil

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

This recipe first appeared in the May 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-pound) boneless top round steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Pierce steak with a fork. Add steak to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade. Scrape shallots and garlic from steak; discard shallots and garlic. Place steak on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Broil 4 inches from heat for 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Washing and Storing Summer Berries
BerriesWPNow that it’s berry season, I read this article with interest. I try to wash my berries when I get home from the store and place in containers for easy eating. But I always find, regardless how quickly they get eaten, a few berries here and there get moldy. This article had great information on how to prevent that (with raspberries, rinse when you’re about to eat) and other tips! You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Flank Steak With Tarragon Green Beans

I love all the different colors of radishes this time of year.

I love all the different colors of radishes this time of year.

For seven years, I lived my life as a vegetarian. That said, it wasn’t until I grew old enough to listen to my body after a life-threatening illness that I realized that I really need to eat meat. (So apologies in advance to my vegetarian and vegan readers.) While I still have a mostly vegetarian diet, there are a couple of nights a week that meat is the main dish. Like the other evening.

When I was creating my grocery list and week’s menu of what I was going to make, I handed the June 2014 issue of Cooking Light to the Eater of the House and said, “Here, pick out your dinner.” I noticed he stopped at a couple of pages of “me” recipes, a bean dish, a farro salad, roasted halibut, and then he found it. “This,” he said, pointing to the picture of flank steak. “That’s what I want.”

I normally don’t cook beef that much outside of the occasional meatloaf and pot roast, and since we don’t have a grill at the moment, it would have to be broiled in the oven. No matter, the recipe looked delicious and I crossed my fingers for a successful meal.

This meal was beyond successful! Sometimes things in the kitchen just seem to come together like magic. After a long day, I made an easy rub for the meat and popped it under the broiler, trimmed the green beans and tossed them into boiling water, and made a nice salad with the above radishes and avocado. This definitely could be a Week Night Dinner, as there is very little prep and cooking involved and what takes the longest is waiting for the steak to finish cooking.

A few notes, the original recipe also had tomato bruschetta served alongside, which I included if you want to make. For the beans, hopefully your market carries the small containers of herbs, so you can buy a little amount, since you need a teaspoon or so. Also, I omitted the celery seed, I really don’t like that flavor. I couldn’t find Creole seasoning, so I used Cajun, which added a little kick. I thought since both were Louisiana-bred, wouldn’t it be the same?

The Eater of the House can be given full credit for this amazing dinner. In fact, I think he was patting himself on the back when he went back for thirds! He has declared it the best steak he’s EVER eaten! What cook could complain after a compliment like that?

Flank Steak with Tomato Bruschetta
This recipe originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 3 ounces steak and 1 bruschetta)

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 small shallot, chopped
4 (1-ounce) slices whole-wheat French bread baguette
1 garlic clove, halved

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine canola oil, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Creole seasoning in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over steak. Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices. Thread tomatoes evenly onto 4 skewers; grill 5 minutes, turning once after 3 minutes. Remove tomatoes from grill.

3. Remove tomatoes from skewers; coarsely chop. Place tomatoes, 2 teaspoons olive oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, and shallot in a small bowl, stirring to combine.

4. Drizzle bread slices evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Grill 30 seconds on each side or until toasted. Rub cut sides of garlic over one side of bread slices; top evenly with tomato mixture.

Tarragon Green Beans
1 pound trimmed green beans
2 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Add green beans to boiling water; cook 4 minutes. Drain. Stir in butter, tarragon, vinegar, celery seeds, kosher salt, and pepper.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week

world cupIt’s World Cup time, when country after country compete for the top prize in soccer. I am the farthest thing from a sports junkie; I pay attention to whether the Yankees are beating the Red Sox, I watch college basketball in the winter when I’m knitting, and I watch the Super Bowl for the half-time show and that’s about it. I even had to ask my friends how often the World Cup comes around? (One year? Two years? The answer is every four.) So when it comes to sports, I’m all about the food. I love being invite to or hosting a Super Bowl or Final Four party because that means lots of delicious snacks and food! And look what I found to celebrate the World Cup, a bracket of food per country!

Will Switzerland’s fondue beat out Ecuador’s Chulpichochos? Will England’s Yorkshire Pudding smoke out Italy’s Pasta Pomodoro? You’ll have to check in to find out!

The World Cup of Food

Feeding the Soul

I spent more than seven years as a vegetarian, with nary a bite of meat (except for bacon!) during those years. That was a long time ago, but following that time, I discovered my body craves, and needs, meat. Forget chicken or pork, beef is it.

When it’s chilly outside is a great time to make a big pot roast because it warms the house and makes several meals. You can even freeze leftovers and it will still taste good. And the best part, aside from a few minutes on the stove, you just pop it in the oven and let it braise for hours while you go off and read a book or watch a movie.

I tend to look for chuck roast for this dish, although there are several pieces of beef you can find in the supermarket that advertise that they are great for pot roast. Pot roast tends to be a fattier cut of meat, so I always select one that has less visible fat.

In terms of how long to cook it, generally it’s between two to three hours, but if you have a dense piece, it might take longer. I don’t tend to take the temperature, my gauge to tell whether it’s done is if the meat is “fall off the bone” tender, if there was a bone; it’s so tender it breaks apart with a fork when you test it.

This is what I mean by fall off the bone tender.

This is what I mean by fall off the bone tender.

For sides, mashed potatoes are usually what I make to accompany this dish, but mashed cauliflower would be just as good. For a nice sauce to go with the beef, just mix together some sour cream and horseradish.

The light outside is definitely telling us spring is coming, as did Puxatawny Phil. So this probably will be the last time I make this dish this winter; I’ll tuck this recipe away until next December. But if you have a cold evening in the near future, make this dish, and you’ll too will be feeding your soul.

Pot Roast

Make sure your Dutch oven is oven-proof before starting this recipe. If you’re not sure, take the name of the company and the model, if you have it, and type it into Google and ask the question. Yes, I’ve done this before!

3-4 pound piece of beef, chuck roast is preferred
2 cups beef broth
About 1 cup red table wine
1 onion, cut into quarters
2-3 carrots, chopped into fourths
2-3 celery stalks, chopped into fourths
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme or sage (or if dried, about a teaspoon)
Salt and pepper to taste (watch out with the salt, as the broth can be salty)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat warm 2 teaspoons olive oil.
3. Add the beef and brown on both sides. Watch carefully so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
4. Add the remaining ingredients (broth through thyme).
5. Cook in the oven until it is tender to a fork, generally 2-3 hours.
6. Make a sauce made up of a mixture of sour cream and horseradish sauce to accompany the beef if you like.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.

January 2012 Cooking Challenge: Dijon Stew with Cognac

I admit, this stew wasn’t so much of a cooking challenge, meaning the techniques weren’t at all difficult. But it was the preface to the recipe that caught my eye. “Long before there were antidepressants, there was stew.”

This recipe appeared in the pages of the New York Times a couple of weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and I remember reading the article and recipe. Everyone was still sort of in shock, daily home chores were set aside, but getting back to the kitchen was something that was necessary, to feed both the body and soul. I remembered reading the article, which you can find here. So on a weekend of sub-zero temperatures, beef stew was on the menu.

A few notes . . .

• You might want to have your butcher select the two pounds of boneless beef chuck; I pulled a nice looking package out the fridge, only to find when I opened it, the back side had inches of fat, which subsequently was cut away. I lost at least half a pound if not more of actual weight of meat.

• I was unable to find Pommery mustard locally, so I bought a reasonably priced whole grain mustard (which has turned out to be fantastic with a little bit of mayo on a turkey sandwich!).

• The first step is to render salt pork or bacon, but you don’t keep the meat. I used bacon, and I think instead of wasting a couple of slices of bacon (well, of course, it’s bacon, they weren’t wasted!), you could use a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease. But then, maybe I’m the only one who has a jar of bacon grease from past cookings in the back of the fridge?

• The cooking time. You cook the stew for nearly 2 hours, but what I didn’t factor in when looking at this is the prep time before hand, count on 30-60 minutes. Dinner was a little late that night!

All in all, while a bit on the expensive side (I spent way more than I  normally would for dinner, but this would make a special meal for company) this was delicious, homey, and the mustard just zings through the dish. Served over buttered egg noodles with some green peas on the side, it was the perfect dish for a cold winter’s night. And I tucked a container in the freezer for when we get another cold snap!

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
Serves 4 to 6

From The Essential New York Times Cook Book, Classic Recipes for a New Century, by Amanda Hesser, 2010.

¼ pound salt pork or bacon, diced (I used bacon)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 shallots, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, or as needed
2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Cognac or other brandy 
2 cups beef broth
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup Pommery or whole-grain mustard
4 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into half-moons
½ pound white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
¼ cup dry red wine (I used a Merlot)

1. Place the salt pork in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-low heat and cook until the fat is rendered. Remove the solid pieces with a slotted spoon and discard. Raise the heat, add the onion and shallots, and cook until softened but not brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.

2. If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot to augment the fat and increase the heat to medium-high. Dust the beef cubes with the flour and season with salt and pepper. Shake off any excess flour and place half the cubes in the pot. Cook until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to the bowl with the onions. Repeat with the remaining beef.

3. Add the Cognac to pot, and cook, stirring until the bottom is deglazed and the crust comes loose. Add the broth, Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon Pommery mustard and whisk to blend, then return the meat and onion mixture to the pot. Lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer gently until the meat is very tender, about 1 ½ hours.

4. Add the carrots and continue simmering for 30 minutes, or until tender.

5. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the mushrooms until browned and tender.

6. Stir the mushrooms into the stew, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons Pommery mustard and the red wine. Simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Get Well Chili

After illness at 1193 Bristol Road extended for more than week, I decided I needed to bring out the big guns: garlic, beef, beans, and spices. Chili! I’ve felt yucky for a week, and I think the cold that was passed to me, has since been passed back! So what better way to rid the beast than garlic, beef, beans, and spices? I discovered as I was making this I didn’t have nearly as much chili powder as I normally use, but felt like I doctored the dish enough to make it tasty. Definitely use more if desired. The real ingredients are the garlic, beef, and beans, protein and garlic can make anyone well, yes? I hope so! I served this atop homemade corn bread, but served with any grain, sauteed or roasted vegetables, or on its own will be delicious.

You may find when you get started it’s a bit on the soupy side, but cooking for about 30 minutes or so allows the chili to absorb some of the water and make it more flavorful.

Get Well Chili
1 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 medium onion, diced
5-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 pound beef
1 28 ounce diced tomatoes
1 15.5 ounce can beans, rinsed (I used pintos, but any bean will taste delicious)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons chili powder
A couple dashes of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Chopped scallions  and low-fat sour cream (if desired)

1. In a dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil. When warm, add the peppers, garlic, and onion. Add a dash of salt, cook until wilted. When finished cooking, set aside in a separate bowl.
2. Add beef to the dutch oven, cook until done. Place into a colander to drain any excess juices. Place back in the pan and add the vegetables. Stir. Add tomatoes, chili powder, and cayenne and stir at low heat. Add beans, tomato paste and mix through.
3. Cook until heated through, about 30 minutes or so. Place in serving bowl and add scallions and sour cream, if desired.