Wrap up an easy party dish, July 19-25, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

♦  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

  TIDBITS – grilling gone wild / off for the coffee, bound for the beer / flex your diet muscles    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – everyday ways to lose weight    FEATURED RECIPE – rock with rolls     TIP – hot & not    THE WEEK – go Med / egg bonanza / ps x 3 for all-in bread pudding

{There’s a new pic in my gallery showing how I tried to help mom, but she didn’t seem to appreciate it}

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Wow! “Featured this season are new grilling techniques such as smoking with smoldering straw, and grilling with ash, flaming planks, hot iron and smoky salt slabs.” What? “Steve Raichlen’s Project Fire – Season 2.” On PBS starting July 20. In my reference, says Saturdays at 2:30 p.

  Pack your bags for a vacation highlighted by . . . coffee? . . . or beer? Maybe so for for the biggest fans of these beverages. The Apartment Guide has you covered for coffee with a rundown on the best destinations for a cuppa. And Food & Wine picks up the ball – or glass – for beer. Btw, that F&W page also, for you folks in the former category, has a story on the best coffee in every state.

  Have you caught up with the term, “flexitarian.” It is sort of self-explanatory but more of the descriptions I found said those who follow this diet platform tend to be mostly vegetarian, but eat meat sometimes. Some forego red meat though, others stay with organic or sustainable or responsibly raised. There is a proprietary site out of the U.K. and of course Amazon is all over it.


Say neener neener to “food fat traps” with my Dieter’s Survival Guide kindles

Find a veritable buffet of easy and powerful ways to help you avoid weight gain, and still enjoy the Dieter's Survival Guide: Avoiding the Fat-Traps in Everyday Situationsdining experience, in life’s everyday situations – home alone, on the road, in a fast food outlet, at the office or a party, and more – plus shopping “survival style,” long, smart lists of snacks and substitutes, and short lists of “sneaky-The Busy Person's Diet Guide - The at-a-glance version of Dieter's Survival Guidecises” and wardrobe tips.

It treats you to a fast course in savvy decisions AND satisfying selections. And you “graduate” knowing just how to balance practicality and pleasure with the goal of forever lookin’ good and feelin’ good.

It can be your sole field manual or it can dovetail with a separate diet or exercise plan. Either way, you can just pick and choose what you want to use, or go for it all. Choose either the full Guide at $4.99 or the “Busy Person’s” version at $2.99.

“Dieter’s Survival Guide” “Busy Person’s Diet Guide”


Roll up an easy summer lunch with friends 

A Tasting Panel Selection

And this classic sandwich isn’t just easy. But tasty and pretty too. And great for get-togethers!

Start with flour tortillas spread fairly generously with mayo. Then just layer on all the components of a ham club, making sure the lettuce and tomatoes are as fresh as can be, the bacon is nice and crisp, lots of ham but sliced thin.

Have the ingredients stop just a little short of the far edge of the tortilla. Then just roll the whole thing up so that the mayo on the “naked” section of the tortilla glues it shut, and cut each roll into festive pinwheels.

As an alternative to the mayo you could also use cream cheese. Or, cream cheese mixed with a bit of ranch dressing. And of course, chicken or turkey versions or entirely different combos could be tucked in instead. Go for it, creative CS-ers.


Another favorite way to use tortillas

I love gyros and often indulge in a homemade version. One thing I’ve never figured out is how the restaurants manage to have the meat hot when the sandwich is served despite the chilled toppings.

So, came up with my own way. Two tortillas! Both warmed to make pliable, meat on one, another tortilla on top, tomato, onion, cuke sauce on that one, fold over and yum.

For other tips & technique in the kitchen, maybe take a look at my . . .

“50 Fun & Unexpected Prep, Presentation & Storage Tricks”

{what a hussy! again promoting her own books!}


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  Not planning to convert to a total Mediterranean diet any time soon, but given the continuing focus on its health benefits I’m thinking it’s probably a good idea to fold in some of those dishes now and then. Found this book “The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, has some darn good sounding stuff. Now what to try first, the Italian Breakfast Bruschetta, Spicy Shrimp Puttanesca, Honey-Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders, or Chilled Dark Chocolate Fruit Kebabs???

  Oh do I love having discovered this website. Well not so much the site itself, egglandsbest.com, but rather the beautiful array of recipes there. And not just breakfast and brunch but good stuff for appetizers, main dishes, side dishes and dessert. The one I tried relied on our old friend the sheet pan, oven-baked scrambles with turmeric and tasty toppings.

  I opted for the unstirred version. If you would want scrambled but don’t want to do the stirring step, you can bake it as a “cake” and then crumble it afterward as shown. {If you want to know my partnerships, just look in the Links section on my Let’s Chat page {btw – nuts! – not these folks}.

  So in the 07.05.19 Salon we talked in My Week about an all-in bread pudding. Should have ‘fessed up about the sauce which also pretty much resulted from a scavenger hunt. It was about equal parts store-bought whipped vanilla frosting and Cool Whip, thinned with just enough {really, just drops} of lemon lime soda to make a spoonable consistency. Since discovered it’s pretty good with syrup too. Also think any bread pudding I make from now on, whether classic or “fridge roulette,” will have some kind of chocolate as part of the mix.

So far next week: wait till you see! Mega fun in the kitchen, yes, yes, yes, play with your food – it’s the entire Salon!

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – books/amazon, all others/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


How to party-easy? Fill a phyllo! July 12-18, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

  TIDBITS – watermelon promoted / not just health foods, maybe healing foods / yeah, hangry is a thing    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – Shake Shack tells all {or most}    FEATURED RECIPE  – great fun with phyllo    TIP – make a Chicago dog  ♦  THE WEEK – best-est mistake? / wowsie rellenos / gems by you?       

{M – I fooled mom! She kept saying I wouldn’t like pasta & marinara and I kept giving her the “pleeeeze” look – she finally put some down for me and  – hah! – hoovered it!}

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Can’t wait till dessert to chomp into some juicy watermelon? Cooking Light to the rescue with its Shrimp & Watermelon Salad. Yowza there’s a lot of flavor going into this dish that invites in avocado, spinach, sesame oil, lime juice and more.

  In our 04.19.19 Salon we featured the “Anti-Anxiety Diet” book/cookbook that focused on calming foods, and while that also connects to physical well-being, I wondered if food could also play a role in healing the body. Googled it and found quite a few resources. You’ll want to do a bit more research before deciding which one{s} to trust to offer reliable information.

  On a sort of related note, if you’ve ever attributed a momentary lapse in the manners mama taught you to being “hangry,” turns out there’s scientific evidence that that’s a real thing. If that should happen again, cite at will from “Are You Really You When You’re Hungry?” which appeared on the American Psychological Association site.


Behind the scenes book gives up secret sauce

Sometimes “secret sauce” means a special hidden advantage. Here, it certainly is a special advantage, but no longer hidden – and it actually is a sauce.

If you’ve ever had a Shake Shake burger you know the sauce is almost as addictive as the burgerShake Shack: Recipes & Stories itself. Along with the crinkle cut fries, shakes, Chicago dogs {took some liberties with these but at least no ketchup – see below} and other fixins.

Now, woohoo, the “Shake Shack” cookbook takes us backstage in effect to see how this all came about and most important how to make authentic versions of their food in your own kitchen. One exception: they ‘fess up that while they include a prep for a good burger pattie, it is not exactly the same as their proprietary recipe.

So for that no-longer-secret sauce: 1/2 c Hellman’s {“Best” brand in the west}, 1 T Dijon mustard, 1 t Heinz ketchup, 1/2 t kosher dill pickle brine, pinch cayenne pepper. So good, and likely all stuff that’s in your fridge and pantry right now.

“Shake Shack, Recipes & Stories”


This makes party prep pure fun

So cute. So much versatility. So much good snacking. So little work!

Actually, how much work is involved is really up to you, because it’s all a matter of what you want to put into these adorable little phyllo cups, each about an 1 3/4″ across at the rim. Go simple or complex.

Shown here is eggs scrambled with sausage, onion, green pepper and cheese {a Tasting Panel selection}. And then a dessert version with a layer of caramel {from a store-bought tub} topped with a layer of ganache, though truth be told you could certainly just spoon on a thick hot fudge from the fridge, such as Mrs. Richardson’s.

And your choice as well, the fillings can be warm either from the oven with say a melty ham & swiss or just filled with warm goodies like baby burgers – or chilled such as tuna salad with an olive topper or smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. Food Network magazine did a nice slide show of ideas, which you can see at the link below.

I purchased my Athens Mini Phyllo Shells from Amazon, and though I was a little concerned about the delicate things surviving the trip, in fact all arrived just fine. This is really fun stuff that can supplement appetizers, entrees and dessert or serve as mini versions of all the courses for cocktail hour.

Phyllo cups at Amazon Food Network article


Want to make a real Chicago dog???

This is what you do. First and foremost, the hot dog should be Vienna. And the bun should be of the soft “Wonder Bread” kind, studded with poppy seeds, and lightly steamed. The dog goes in first, whole {I mention that only because some non-authentic-Chicago versions show the dog split and the toppings shoved in}.

Then a good squirt of mustard all along the dog, onions and bright green relish {yeah mine had to go a bit un-authentic, no neon green stuff} along the sides of the bun, a pickle atop one side of the dog, tomato slices on the other side, and sport peppers in between. Then a nice sprinkling of celery salt overall.

Some places add cuke slices too and that’s OK. Ketchup is NOT. {Excuse my Chicago origins bias 😊}


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  Is this in contention for the tastiest mistake ever??? In the John Thorne entry in “American Food Writing” {06.14.19 Salon}, I discovered that “In the year 1930, Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Wakefield MA, added chunks of semi-sweet chopped chocolate to a buttery drop-cookie batter, expecting them to melt. Mrs. Wakefield was making chocolate cookies but though she baked them well, the chocolate remained intact, creating little islands of molten goo. Ruth was surprised and embarrassed, but her customers couldn’t get enough of her mistake.” We love you Ruth!

  Chile rellenos go HOT. And wow are these good – pickled jalapeno rellenos. The extra perks: created by first class Mex chef Rick Bayless, just four ingredients, no cooking or baking. In fact as Bayless says, “”Scoop the mixture into the chiles and serve without hesitation.” As an additional bonus, when you follow the link to Rick’s recipe page, you can connect to a bunch of his primo Mex dishes.

♦  Take a chance. There’s a place for Mexican food, really a counter rather than a restaurant, that is in a convenience store that’s part of a complex that also includes a gas station, oil and lube garage, car wash, and smog hut. I’ve avoided it even though it’s right in my neighborhood, but eventually couldn’t resist, drawn in by the 5-star reviews. Oh my, every star so well deserved. You can believe I’m making up for lost time, though each visit is a tug or war between something new and the addictive chile rellenos and the loaded nachos served on french fries. What hidden gems might be in your burg?

So far next week: iconic Waters, easy pretty party sammies, tasty ps to “all-in” bread pudding, coffee ho

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – book/Amazon, all others/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Chocolate/Peanut Butter No-Bake, a two-fer, June 14-20, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

  TIDBITS – kitchen beauty / artsy dumpling demo / chef-ing    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – spectacular book for any foodster    FEATURED RECIPE – neener neener to the oven . . . twice    TIP – love your beef tender    THE WEEK – turkey tale {M – beef, turkey, any of this coming my way?} / seeking corn pudding / recipe notes

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  I’m not personally familiar with Furniture.com, but I can tell you they are most generous with design tips for the whole house, including of course the kitchen. In “How to Decorate a Kitchen, for example, you’ll find creative, budget-friendly, time-sparing ways to take the room “from utilitarian to dazzling” with both decorative and practical additions. Once you’re on the site, you can tap into the full spectrum by clicking Tips and then browsing through both of the selections in the drop-down menu.

  If you are on LinkedIn, look up Antony Mzee and I’m hoping you can tap into his video on dumplings – which he deftly turns into any number of delicate sculptures. Though Mzee has a global resume, thinking at some point he was either in the U.S. or became a long distance fan because the musical accompaniment is distinctly country & western.

  Three ways to see how the top chefs do it. Go to their restaurants, especially the newest ones where likely their most current thinking is at work – as two examples, Bobby Flay has opened Shark featuring Latin seafood at the Palms in Las Vegas. And looking ahead, Emeril’s Bistro 1396 will debut summer 2020 on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras ship with a Creole menu. Or you can crib right from their cookbooks. Flay, Emeril, and lots of others are a click away from Amazon right here on CS, Fine Chefs Book & Gift Shop.


Awesome – American food writing from the 1600s to present day

What we have here is a phenomenal labor of love and we are the beneficiaries. Author Mollie O’Neill has deftly mined nuggets from, as she notes in her intro, “every phase of American history: journals, letters, novels, poems, travel accounts, autobiographies, histories, ethnographic studies.”

It all adds up to 727 pages of ultra rich content. You might want to read it cover to cover, or alternatively American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes: A Library of America Special Publicationpick it up at random as an ongoing treat.

Open it up to any page and you may find yourself face to virtual face with, e.g., Jefferson, Brillat-Savarin, Claiborne, Thoreau, Dickinson, MFK Fisher, Bracken, Beard, Child, Trillin, Waters, Bourdain, or Reichl, over 150 in all.

Also in the intro, O’Neill is quite philosophical about the subject which has some interesting points, but most of the writings are not, at least to that extent. You’ll discover humor, you-are-there tales, ingredient tributes, reviews, opinions, anecdotes, techniques, recipes, the full spectrum.

This spectacular compilation would be dear to the heart of cooks, bakers, food-o-philes, food bloggers, food critics, and on. It’s 4 stars on Amazon, discounted, Prime eligible – click and/or scroll down for other buying choices, formats, and other anthologies.

“American Food Writing”


Not sorry 

That was sort of a natural, given how closely related this stuff is to a Reese’s peanut butter cup. And like Reese’s, no apologies for bringing you this indulgence.

We have the “Sweet Tooth VP” at Kraft to thank for the first delight, “Chocolate Peanut Butter Eclair.” Yikes, layers of graham crackers and a peanut butter pudding topped off with a buttery chocolate frosting.

Then I started to play. Made the chocolate/butter combo and poured that into a graham cracker crust . . . made the pb layer with banana pudding and without the Cool Whip, and doubled the peanut butter {to stand up to the banana flavor}, and spooned that atop the chocolate . . . and then smoothed the Cool Whip over that.

Pretty darn good. Btw, I did keep this pie refrigerated, but set it out a little while before serving. This also helps in cutting through the chocolate which is quite sturdy – next time {and if you make it} would add some cream, or skip the butter and make an actual ganache. See other notes in “Week” below.

If you make either, only one question remains – could this be too good for guests??? {not sorry}

Eclair recipe

♦  TIP  

You 1, Beef 0

Some cuts of beef just are not team players. You want it tender, and it in effect says, uh, no.

Well now those days can be over, thanks to our ol’ friend MyRecipes and the secrets they share for tenderizing any cut of beef. You’ll find five steps that can take you from raw and challenging to melt in your mouth goodness.

Rest assured none of this will require pro skills or equipment, though good steak knives are part of the plan. Marinating is also in the mix, with suggestions and actual recipes. Among the recommendations is yogurt and you  may recall one of the Tidbits in our 04.26.19 Salon linked to a story that went into nice detail on this technique.

“How to Tenderize Any Cut of Beef”


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  In the thoroughly enjoyable Brillat-Savarin entry in our Spotlight book above, philosophy indeed takes a back seat to culinary passion. After a day of wild turkey hunting, capped by his host’s long dissertation on life in America, the Brit native left “plunged in profound thought.” About his host’s deep parting speech? Nope. “I was considering how best I should cook my turkey . . . I feared that in Hartford I might not find all the ingredients I would need.” Love his priorities!

  One of the early entries in that Spotlight book is Joel Barlow’s 1793 poem “Hasty Pudding,” a tribute to a pioneering version of this corn concoction, which reminded me that I wanted to see if I could track down Cleo Johns’ southern corn pudding, mentioned in “Hotbox” {05.24.19 Salon} where legendary food critic Mimi Sheraton confessed she loved this so much she traded Mrs Johns three cookbooks for her recipe.

  Nuts, no luck, but did find a five star take at AllRecipes, Grandma Swallow’s Corn Pudding. Meanwhile think for now I’ll stick with the prep from my precious stepdaughter Colleen, always a hit: combine 15 oz can kernel corn, 14 oz can creamed corn, 8 oz pkg corn muffin mix, 1 c sour cream, and 1 stick melted butter – pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 min or till golden – top with 1 1/2 c cheddar cheese & bake another 5-10 till cheese is melty. Let stand 5 min. Btw, one time a guest said, really don’t even need the cheese – ummm, speak for yourself {!}

  Some notes about our pie recipe above. I did use a store-bought crust. Also, I let the pudding chill in the fridge and the chocolate cool and then go into the fridge for a while before assembling the pie. Also, once the chocolate is pretty much  melted, might want to finish whisking it off the heat to make sure it doesn’t burn. And for whatever reason, better the next day.

So far next week: cheers-ing with ice cream {!}, PBS dining guide for outside, one of the coolest ways to fun-up your picnics and parties, Star Wars bacon {& more}, doggie chic

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – book/Amazon, eclair/KraftHeinz site, steak/Jon Sullivan. others/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Marcela’s Sandwich Cake, June 7-13, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

  TIDBITS –  best brunching / pub in the yard! / mousse on the loose   CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – cookbooks just for dad    FEATURED RECIPE – ole every day / savory cake    TIP –  lemon hack    THE WEEK – carb cuts / risotto vs. soubise / fiesta beverage

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

Lots of brunch opps right around the corner, so thanks to Food & Wine for this timely – and extensive – roundup of “Best Brunch Recipes.” Among the tasty suggestions: brioche with prosciutto/gruyere/egg, butterscotch sticky buns {with actual scotch! – also wondering if you couldn’t use the decadent glaze on store-bought buns or muffins}, potato pancakes with smoked salmon/caviar/dill cream, open-face eggs and griddled ham breakfast sandwiches. Beverages too, including the “Hellfire Club Bloody Mary.”

  Oh, how much fun would this be??? Right now just in Boston but if I understand a linkNewPhotoImg1-min correctly on their site, other cities could offer it at some point. What is “it”? An inflatable Irish pub!

. . .  that can come with traditional Irish food, drinks and entertainment . . . and says, Ask about our Irish Wolfhounds. What? Rent-a-Wolfie?

So if you do live in Boston, guess the only question is, how big is your backyard? Or, how big is a party-prone friend’s backyard? Plan ahead, Halfway to St. Pat’s Day is just a few months away!

Should we thank Food 52 or not??? For . . . a two ingredient chocolate peanut butter mousse. Nothing like making indulgence in easy reach, even easier with the demo. In the interest of full disclosure there is water too, plus optional flaky salt, and the whisking {“like your life depends on it”}. I’m going to have to try this just because I’ve always thought that water makes chocolate seize up. Just research, you understand.


For dads that cook, dads that would like to cook

Short Order Dad: One Guy?s Guide to Making Food Fun and Hassle-FreeHow nice to see Amazon has all kinds of cookbooks for dad. As always, many ways to customize your search.

Just on the first page I found “making food fun and hassle-free,” “everything your mother never taught you,” plus healthy food, slow cooker recipes, dishes for the single dad, so much more.

Most of those are well rated and reasonably priced, available in various formats. Also many are Prime eligible.

Cookbooks for Dad


Make any day, every day if you want, a Fiesta

Two brief glimpses tell us just about everything we need to know about Food Network host/cookbook author Marcela Valladolid’s brand new release, “Fiestas.” First, her three chapters make abundantly clear her must-haves for such celebrations: Drinks, Nibbles, Sweets.Fiestas: Tidbits, Margaritas & More

Second is the attitude she’s evolved toward hosting these get-togethers. After earlier years of feeling that everything had to be perfect {“God forbid I burned a tortilla chip”}, she now says, “My focus is simply on corralling the people I love and feeding them.” Hooray for that!

Our featured recipe is a beauty, looks like a fiesta all on one plate. The tuna/ham/cheese/pepper creation, a “sandwichon,” actually comes from her beloved mom who, btw, used olives halves instead of flowers, and in fact the garnishes aren’t even listed in the ingredients but rather as suggestions in the directions – really, a matter of your own artistic choice.

Some others of interest – sweet potato chipotle hummus, white chocolate and apricot oatmeal cookies, dulce de leche cream puffs, mint chocolate coffee cocktail. And Marcela’s also a garnish-o-phile with beverages, variously splashing in, e.g., cucumber curls, blood orange slices, serrano disks, coffee ice cream, flowers and flower flavored ice pops.

Sandwich recipe    Marcela’s “Fiesta” cookbook   Her other books


It works!

This is one of those things you sort of have to try to believe. It has to do with the times you need just a bit of lemon juice. You cut, use the half or whatever, store the rest, find it in the fridge weeks, months {?} later. But . . .

What if you could use fresh lemon in a way that’s sort of comparable to the lemon juice from concentrates sold in lemon-looking containers. This Food52 food hacker found the way.

Btw since the gimmicked lemon looks like the others, I keep it separate in a little dish. One thing, probably want to use it in a few days as it does tend to dry out.



Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  The Anti-Anxiety Diet book featured in our 04.19.19 Salon emphasized more proteins and fats, few carbs. Now personally I prefer a balance, but was thinking maybe fewer carbs would achieve more balance. The start – open face sandwiches, veggie-based pasta, more sweet potatoes, fewer white potatoes. Not always, of course. Just in case you might be thinking along the same lines.

♦  I’ve never had a risotto anywhere that could rival my husband’s ambrosial version. Intimidated me enough that I’ve never even tried to make it. But aha, enter soubise. While it’s basically an onion sauce enriched with cheese, some preps also mix in rice. And instead of stirring the stuff until your arm’s ready to fall off as with risotto, with soubise you do a bit of prelim cooking and then the oven does the rest. Here are some descriptions and recipes on google, and as you’ll see there are various add-ins. I’m ginning up {not literally . . . yet} to give this a try. Will sure let you know.

♦  Guess this is a week of “gonnas” because something else I want to try is mezcal. That was prompted by a Food Wine story that revealed the difference between the mezcal and tequila. A helpful gent from our local Lee’s described it as smokier than tequila because the first destination for the raw agave hearts is literally a smoke pit. Think next time I’m there just going to go for it. Could be nice next to a plate of something from the cookbook in our Featured Recipe section above.

So far next week: corn pudding, kitchen decor tips, “Glorious Food,” chocolate peanut butter pie, tenderizing any cut of beef


Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits: pub/pub site, MD gifts & book/Amazon, Marcella’s cake/chefmarcela.com, lemon & soubise/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you



Mex makes salads exciting, May 31-June 6, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon 

  TIDBITS – cake plate trick / spicin’ / pubtime for pups {M – uh huh, and for kitties???}    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – behind the “Beard”    FEATURED RECIPE – s.o.b salads & free book  ♦  TIP – sammie upgrade    THE WEEK – Beard-ism / saucy discovery / fridge smarts

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Elevate your desserts. Literally. The secret behind “The $0 Trick for Bakery Style Desserts” is . . . bowls. Even before you click through, be aware that we’re talking here about presentation, not recipes. But intriguing nonetheless.

  Want to spice up your life in some new ways? Discard that first thought and have a look at “13 Next Level Spices and Seasonings.” Truth be told, it’s quite likely some of these will be familiar to CS-ers, and probably already in the pantry. But the good news is there are recipes links for each of these flavor boosters – e.g., stuffed roasted pumpkin, blackberry cardamom mulled wine, pecan breaded pork chops with beer sauce, dark chocolate ice cream with Sichuan peanut brittele, lots more.

  When you’re serving ice cold brews on a hot summer day – don’t forget the dog. Yep, Rover can join right in with the quaffing thanks to “Good Boy Dog Beer.” It’s brewed like people beer but not fermented, and thus non-alcoholic. Just to be good parents, may want to get your vet’s take on the beverage before sliding one down the bar to your good boy or good girl.


Inside the mind of a culinary legend

The behind-the-catering-scene book “Hotbox” featured in our 05.24.19 Salon opens with a guest chef dinner at the James Beard Foundation, which made me realize how little I knew about this iconic chef, widely regarded at the First Foodie, though I now know that title may more appropriately belong to his mom. I learned that fact and so many other revelatory details in the PBS film, “James Beard.”American Masters: James Beard DVD

What a fascinating story his life tells, from childhood travails, to mom’s influence, to cooking in exchange for invites, to his founding role in The Four Seasons restaurant and its pioneering devotion to seasonal cuisine, to his personal and professional relationships, to his authorship of about a dozen cookbooks, to his ascent to legendary status, to his post-mortem inspiration for the James Beard Foundation and Awards.

The tale is vastly enriched by lots of perspectives from those who knew him best. The DVD is about an hour long, part of PBS American Master Series, four stars on Amazon, Prime Eligible, just under $10.

“James Beard” DVD    James Beard cookbooks    CS Fine Chefs shop


Color, texture, flavor, ole! {s.o.b. – south of the border}

In our 07.06.18 Salon, we featured Irish salad with cheese. Although it was a fine dish with its shaved Dubliner, it wasn’t really a match for what I’d thoroughly enjoyed in a totally authentic Irish pub, crisp cool veggies topped with warm melty cheese. Onward. Decided to apply the idea to a Mex mix. The lettuces, green onion, black olives and serrano were cold from the fridge. Tomatoes room temp. And then melted cheddar, sour cream and lime wedges.

And making that one immediately gave me a taste for Mexican Tuna Dip, which I first discovered in Cabo San Lucas, and subsequently found right in one of my fave local restaurants. As the name implies, the lively mix of cilantro, onion, tomato, jalapeno, mayo is intended as a dip but is actually quite a treat on toast or lettuce.

It also occurred to me that the melty salad could be an entree with the addition of a bit of rotisserie chicken, and then avocado making it even more substantial. Btw, with cheese pretty much all over this one, it’s a bit more like that Irish salad that started the ball of fun rolling.

Meanwhile found this Kindle book on Amazon, covering Mexican side dish and main dish salads. It doesn’t have any reviews yet but we may not care – it’s free! Yay!

“Mexican Salads”

♦  TIP  

Sammie glamour

In one of the demos in the Beard DVD there was such an easy way to turn a humble sandwich into a pretty picture. It was his signature combo of onions and homemade mayo on bread that in some versions is cut into rounds, but here it was triangles.

Then the magic. More mayo was spread on the outside and then the sandwich edges were rolled in freshly chopped parsley. Depending on the filling, thinking this could also be dill, basil, oregano, etc.

In my take – pastrami, Swiss, lettuce and tomatoes, with parsley – as you can see I left one side ungarnished to contrast with the layers of filling. For you creative CS-ers, the variations are endless.


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  I just loved that James Beard DVD, felt like just about anyone interested in food could comfortably have a nice chat with him despite his fame. One of the quotes in the film is especially endearing to us CS-ers who love freshness and flavor and hate wasting food and money: “It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available. Use them carefully and wisely and you will have less waste than if you searched for bargains and end up with a full garbage pail.”

♦  Just like some headlines can draw in the food-inclined, so for sure can some recipe names. Would you agree that “Comeback Sauce” might fall smack into that category? I first came across this reference in Food & Wine where it was served with grilled shrimp, and then in short order in the “Comfort Food Shortcuts” cookbook {02.22.19 Salon} where it teamed up with mashed potato crusted flounder. Not too surprisingly, google is all over it. Since as I’ve learned it’s a southern tradition, I made the really good one from “Southern Living.” Great on wings!

  So this is a good idea. In a recent episode, Ree Drummond not only cleaned out her refrigerator, but then, aha, moved the items with the closest expiration dates to the front of the shelves. I had recently washed my fridge from stem to stern and now, thanks Ree, added step two. Another way to help minimize waste!

So far next week: brunch bounty, chocolate peanut butter mousse, chocolate cookbook, make a sandwich cake, chocolate tip {sensing a theme here}, anti-anxiety foods, hello Mezcal, the ol’ pub in the yard trick

Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – dvd/Amazon, all others/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Ultimate Coconut Cake, “the coconut-tiest,” May 17-23, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

  TIDBITS – F&W IDs best stews / new roles for bacon {M – OK, let’s get started!} / shopping secret    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – steak guru    FEATURED RECIPE – coconut to the nth degree    TIP – coconut perks  ♦  THE WEEK – sammy fun / super side dish found  ♦  PLUS – new Amazon direct link

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


News, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

There just may be enough cool evenings left to enjoy a good stew. Especially when we can find ones that somewhat transition into spring with say a bounty of seafood in a light broth, or freshening with lemon and dill, or the addition of spring greens into the mix. Depth of flavor brings all the dishes in Food & Wines best ever one- pot dishes into one big tasty family.

♦  Any quarrels aside with the headline {I have faith CS friends certainly may have already thought of some of these}, any “meat candy” fan may want to take a look at “10 Ways You’ve Never Thought to Use Bacon” also courtesy of F&W. Here you’ll find not just breakfast ideas but as well snacks and seasoning, sandwiches and entrees, even a meetup with Almond Joy. Demo for one of them too.

Who would like to go shopping at one of the bulk stores? Who can’t because they don’t have a membership?? Who can now say, gonna shop there anyway??? Folks who read “The Simple Little Hack That Lets You Shop Costco and Other Wholesale Clubs Without a Membership”  from Real Simple – that’s who. Note I have not tried this, but think it certainly may be worth a look.


Like a PhD in Steak

In the “Franklin Barbecue” book, featured in our 03.16.18 Salon, Aaron Franklin schooled us on Q from A to Z. Now the iconic pitmaster, known and revered for his eponymous Austin TX restaurant and PBS show, is taking us by the hand through what may be America’s favorite entree in “Franklin Steak.”

The very moment you open the book you’ll know you’re in for a treasure trove of steakery. On the inside cover and facing page is a flow chart of all the steaks, guiding you through bone v boneless, cooking indoors or out, thickness, aging, on down the chart to exactly how to cook the particular cut.Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef.

And that’s just the beginning. He goes on to in effect walk with you during the buying process, covering grading, marbling, sources, and designations. While that purchase could occur at a farm or ranch or even online, the book recognizes that for most of us that’s going to be at the grocery store or butcher shop and here Franklin goes into good detail on what to look for.

There’s so much more, the jargon, aging, storage, testing for doneness, and of course the actual cuts and, elaborating on that opening chart for the “best way to cook”each. While the chart and other chat focuses on grill-cooking, chapter three gives us a cheat sheet for pan cooking, with even more on this subject in chapter five.

And then as well, recipes for side dishes and sauces plus beverage recommendations, The book is four stars on Amazon, hardcover {pretty good discount} and Kindle, Prime eligible.

Details on –  “Franklin Steak”    “Franklin Barbecue” {5 stars} 


A cake for all seasons 

Coconut cake is one of those dessert delights that is just sweet and substantial enough to be satisfying in cool and cold weather, tropical enough to be welcome in warm and hot seasons. But think we all know this confection can fall anywhere on a spectrum from dry and chew-challenging to moist and flavorful.

Leave it to MyRecipes, one of my favorite sites, to deliver the epitome of the latter to us. The claim is in the name – “Ultimate Coconut Cake,” calling it the “coconut-tiest cake you can make.”

And the recipe makes good on that promise, big time my friends, with coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut extract, coconut flour, coconut milk, coconut cream, and flaked coconut.

As they say here, “For when you’re really, really serious about coconut.” By way, if you have trouble finding some of the less familiar items in your market, it’s good ol’ Amazon to the rescue, links below.

Recipe    coconut sugar    coconut flour    coconut cream


Super food?

With a little stretch, turns out the cake in our Featured Recipe could actually be good for you {!} It seems more and more we’re finding out how coconut in its many forms has any number of health benefits.

Fortunately this is a “health food” that tastes good. And so versatile besides. Tap into this link for more about the nutritional aspects of coconut and ways to incorporate it into your own cuisine.

Coconut Board


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  One of the Tidbits in our 03.22.19 Salon revealed odd eating choices among various food editors. And that prompted one of my own. Theirs often dated back to childhood, while this one is actually a recent discovery.

Two experiences collided to create a sweet and savory take on a classic sammie. And you know what, it is sooooooooo good.

Some years ago I read in an MFK Fisher book that one should never eat chocolate without bread. Coincidentally enough at a media event shortly thereafter one of the food rooms solely featured platters of large cubes of crusty bread and good chunk chocolate.

Even longer ago I was on a road trip in the Midwest with friend Peggy that included a stop at Stuckey’s. Back in the car first I was already munching on chocolate fudge blended with cheddar cheese. When Peggy got back to the car she asked what it was and when I told her, her face went all eww-y.

Just try one I said. Next I know the car door opened and slammed, followed in short order by friend returning with two boxes of her own, face now all smiley.

Guessing most CS friends can see what’s coming. Yep. Toasted cheese and chocolate, sauteed in a bit of butter till both are all melty. Oh my.

♦  It was a “crapples” moment when I realized that one of the cookbooks I’d donated to a local cause had my favorite red cabbage recipe. An extensive online search did not produce anything like the prep I remembered. And now, Eureka. Found this one thank you Food & Wine that, while tucking in a different ingredient or two, yields the same hearty flavor profile as the one that went away. Think you might like it too.

So far next week: food lab, new celeb blog, behind the black curtain, chicken parmesan dip, Martha’s wisdom, comeback sauce


Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at bjnosek@gmail.com

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – coconut cake/Greg Dupree on the MyRecipes site, Franklin book/Amazon, sandwich/mine

All pages ©2019 CooksSalon.com

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


10 Favorite CS Recipes from 2018, Jan 4-10, 2019

From celeb chefs, awesome cookbooks, foodie newsletters, food boards

{some links take you directly to the recipe, others to the relevant salon}

In no particular order – we love them all!

Giada’s Raspberry-Cherry Chocolate “Pop” Tarts recipe

For an extra kick, she uses pop rocks as part of the filling! More happy news – the sweet treat is made almost entirely of ganache, easy ganache, the topper adds a festive splash of color, and they’re already individual servings – no carving required.

Charlie Palmers Acorn Squash with Vegetable Chili

Craving something hearty and warming? One chef that sure can make good on that kind of promise is big guy Charlie Palmer, a celeb chef whose repertoire ranges from high style to downright down-home. Here, he combines two winter faves, a sweet and tender squash serving as a receptacle for a gently spiced garden-full chili. Though of course you are welcome to turn up the heat with more cayenne or other incendiary ingredients. A tasty dish for the family, a showy dish for guests.

Forget those stingy little individual chocolate lava cakes. Go big or  . . . no, just go big. And this panful is just the way to do it. Thanks to this boffo foodie newsletter for an easy and rewarding way to send the sweet tooth into decadent overload. Also called a Brownie Pudding Cake, every spoonful delivers a generous eruption of melty chocolate. Grab a big utensil, tell everyone else to stand clear, and have at it.

Franklin BBQ’s Cole Slaw

This was one of our most accessed recipes all year. It’s from the book “Franklin Barbecue,” a master course in q – with chapters on the smoker, wood, fire, smoke, and most of all the meat – and a few recipes from one of the top pitmasters in the U.S, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, also known for his PBS show.

Valerie Bertinelli’s Breakfast Biscuit Sammies

This is like a whole array of flavorful cravings all in one dish, a Bertinelli signature by the way, and a great way to start the day. It’s from her cookbook, “Valerie’s Home Cooking,” featuring personal notes that intro each section and each recipe. This particular prep combines sausage, cheese, maple syrup, hot sauce, eggs, cheese, and bacon, some in the baking mix, some sandwiched between the halves of the homemade biscuits.

Ree Drummond’s Cap’n Crunch Chicken Strips

Ree Drummond’s “Come and Get It” cookbook has to be one of the most helpful ever because for every single recipe she shows step by steps with photos. This simple and satisfying dish from the book is also shown on her site and that’s what we’ve linked. And guess what – it also shows the step the step process too, even though this is an extremely easy prep.

Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Crusted Cheesecake with Raspberries

You know when she’s in the kitchen, a polished result will be coming out of the kitchen and this elegant dessert is no exception. A buttery chocolate wafer crush, rich cream cheese/whipped cream filling, and pureed raspberry topping = mmm mmm. And, yay, all no bake! A real show stopper! And in addition to a link for the printed recipe, the page also includes a demo so you can see her at work.

Les Kincaid’s Perfect Prime Rib

Image result for prime rib picturesWorking with an expensive cut of meat can be quite scary, but you can cook a prime rib with confidence, thanks to this detailed recipe from chef/cookbook author/cooking instructor/syndicated wine show radio host Les Kincaid. Even better, he also shares a jus prep and extra cooking tips. {Science of Cooking picture}

Eggs Rockefeller from the Egg Board

And who would know eggs better??? In this clever take on the oyster dish, these beautifully poached eggs sit atop a rich mix of bacon, spinach, heavy cream, parm, a touch of spirits if you wish and more, right down to the bread crumb topping. And may I add one thing – I’d replace that fork with a spoon to scoop up every last bit of goodness.

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars {go to 11.09.18}

This is from the ever so helpful “What Can I Bring?” cookbook, filled cover to cover with satisfying dishes that are for the most part make-ahead, multiple-serving, and fairly easy to transport. It features the made-in-heaven pairing of chocolate and peanut butter, and wait till you see an additional flavorful ingredient – two choices actually, theirs and mine. Either would be good, mine was a matter of what was handy.

Next week so far: Appetizers, Mexican salad, butternut squash pasta sauce


Breakfast {oh my} by Valerie Bertinelli, for April 20-26, 2018

  In the Salon this week  

Valerie’s wow wow wow Breakfast Biscuit Sammies   Stephanie Izard interview link    Test your oven temp    Cocktail hour reading    Book takes  you way behind the scenes with a rock star, Michelin-starred chef    Can you hear the eggs?    My week in food & more 


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Well not sure why the Daily Beast is getting into food again, but no argument from me, especially when they bring us insights into the creative processes of super Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. You may have seen her recently, among other places, on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef Gauntlet” where she made it through the grueling {no pun intended} path to earn the coveted title of Iron Chef.  Interview

  Maybe you can try this at home, especially if you’re a “handyperson,” or have access to one. A recent edition of the Hometalk newsletter shows how to check and if necessary correct your oven temp. Btw anyone who’s into DYI will find a bonanza in this free online publication.   Oven step by step   Hometalk

  For some folks nothing says 5 o’clock like an icy cold martini. Now how about some verbal buzz as well for cocktail hour? The Daily Beast at your service with an irreverent look at the classic cocktail’s “tipsy march through time,” beginning in 1882. Along with the history, tales of the ingredients including the two meanings of “dry,” and some recipes too. Drink it in

CS Marketplace Spotlight

Go deep behind the scenes in Marco Pierre White’s kitchen-centric memoir

This might be one of the best glimpses ever of the backstage drama in Michelin-starred restaurants, the passion, the pressure, and yeah the hi-jinks too. And White was a catalyst for all three. England’s original The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chefrock star chef takes us into the kitchens for most of the book  {and sometimes into the dining room to make nice with some, or make sure others never come back} and then after hanging up his apron in 1999, into the world of building a restaurant empire.

“His story is genius, his voice is his own, and the tale retold is just as much fun as it was watching the whole chaotic conundrum evolve the first time around” – Mario Batali

“. . . in all his haggard, debauched-looking, obsessively driven glory – we dreamed of nothing more than to be just like him” – Anthony Bourdain

4 1/2 stars on Amazon, Kindle, Paperback {discounted}, Audio

“The Devil in the Kitchen” White’s cookbook, “White Heat”   CS Marketplace 

Featured Recipe  

Start the day right with decadence on a plate

If you watch Valerie Bertinelli’s Food Network show, you already know that she has a talent for combining flavorful ingredients into the stuff of cravings. And all of that passionate goodness is front and center in her new cookbook, “Valerie’s Home Cooking,” while her friendly self seems to step right out of the pages with the personal notes that intro each section and each recipe.

The one we’re featuring here sure does capture all of the above, starting with her remembrance of a dish her mom used to serve to her dad’s poker buddies, reserving some for Valerie to have the next day for breakfast. That breakfast, with the addition of a few more ingredients, evolved into this breakfast, an attractive stack-up that is so hearty, so satisfying, so full of tasty stuff.

Breakfast Biscuit Sammies

From Valerie Bertinelli’s “Valerie’s Home Cooking”

3 c all-purpose baking mix

1 lb ground spicy pork sausage

4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese {about 16 oz}

1 T pure maple syrup, plus more for serving

1 T hot sauce, plus more for serving

2 t olive oil

8 large eggs

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t black pepper

8 pepper jack cheese slices

8 bacon slices, cooked

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Combine the baking mix, sausage, cheese, syrup, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Shape into 16 {1 1/4″} balls and, with wet hands, flatten each slightly into a disk. Place the disks about 1″ apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and cooked though, about 15 minutes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-hi. Add the eggs, reduce the heat to med-lo, cover, and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are soft, about 2 min, or to the desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with the 1/4 t each of salt and pepper.

Place one slice of the cheese on the bottom half of each sausage biscuit. Top with the eggs and bacon. Top with the remaining sausage biscuit halves. Serve with more hot sauce or maple syrup, if desired.

Notes: Valerie says you can make these the night before to grab on-the-go in the morning . . . also, that you might try different cheeses, e.g., cheddar or regular jack in place of the pepper jack. Watch for more to come from this book: her Bloody Mary Tea Sandwiches, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Shrimp with Cherry Cola Sauce, Spicy Shrimp Soup.

“Valerie’s Home Cooking”

4 stars on Amazon, Kindle, Hardcover {discounted}, Prime eligible

  Valerie’s other books    Valerie’s movies, TV, workout  DVDs


One of the bonuses of reading Marco Pierre White’s fascinating book is that along the way we pick up a cooking tip here and there from White himself or one of his accomplished peers. Valerie’s recipe reminds me of one that came from right from White: when you’re frying eggs, if you can hear them cooking, you know the heat is too high.

A Peek at My Week

  Gosh, I remember chiffon cakes from when I was kid {censored} years ago, almost always on the table for a special celebration. So it brought back some pretty happy memories when I came across this demo from the pros at CIA. Have a look  {Even if your browser doesnt support the video, you’ll still have access to their recipe}

  One of my fave ways to get that five-a-day is a sandwich filled with a produce stand worth of good stuff. But, and especially if you’re not a vegetarian, it can seem like something’s missing – and there is – meat and cheese! So here’s what I did recently kick it up – whisked together about equal parts of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, added some herbs, freshly ground pepper, finishing salt – and then dipped away. This one happened to be tahini, cucumber, shaved carrots, onion, cilantro and mayo. Napkins at the ready!

  I guess this qualifies because it starts out with a kitchen item, but then colors outside the lines of the salon a bit, because I re-purposed it for the bath. Have a counter-top wine rack you no longer use? Oh, is it great for storing shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, mousse, body wash in all those openings. So neat!

  Posted  Mystic River  on Nice Life Books – Thursdays

  Posted  ThunderShirt & Thunder Ease on DoggieShirtz – Thursdays

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you