Chicken Soup with Black Rice

Chicken Soup with Black Rice

Friday was coming to a close and the coughs that had been spreading through the office had found me. The boss started this and like in any great organization the rest of us had followed our leader. I was getting ready to leave and he was coming down the hall he heard me cough, stuck his head in my door and asked if I got it too. With a humorous jester I shock my fist in his direction and coughed. By Saturday afternoon I was in rough shape and I was ready for that all time cure Jewish Penicillin, Chicken Soup. I had to use what I had on hand, there was no way I was going out it had been switching from sunny and bright to near white out conditions all day. So I stuck my head in the cupboards and freezer to see what I had.


  • I frozen chicken breast bone in.
  • 3 carrots cut into bite size pieces.
  • ½ larger sweet onion roughly chopped.
  • 3-4 sprigs of celery cut into bite size pieces.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • A little bit of bell seasons. Looked like maybe ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Couple of good pinches dried of oregano maybe 1 Tbsp.
  • Couple of good pinches of dried cilantro maybe 1 Tbsp.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 6 cups of water ( I had no broth, what kind of house do I keep).
  • Good couple of pinches of red hot pepper flakes I wanted something to clear the sinuses.
  •  I cup black rice
  • 1 ¾ cup water


Heat the oil in large pot and add onions, carrots and celery sauté about 5 minutes add garlic and the pinch of bell seasoning stir for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. When the chicken appears to be cooked remove to a cutting board, peel chicken off bone cut into bite size pieces return chicken and bone to pot and continue to simmer. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Cook the rice according to directions and always store outside of soup. A word about the rice I was using what I had on hand. I had used the rest of my wild rice for a batch 2 weeks ago for Lyn after her operation. So the type of rice is your choice but the package said forbidden rice how could I resist?

BTW I feel so much better now!

What did I just eat?

What did I just eat?

Last night Lyn and I had an appointment around dinner time. On our way back we had to make a pit stop and there it was McDonald’s staring me in the face. Although I had eaten a sandwich earlier and I was not really hungry in the back of my mind there were voices from the distant past. Niece Lauren’s quote “..they make very fine food there” toddler Mike’s voice and smile “happy meal!”, even my former road warrior days self “boy that hit the spot”. Maybe it was the blinding bright lights or the sort of happy faces of those waiting in line, I am not sure but I gave in, I was weak. So was Lyn she got a Shamrock shake minus the whipped cream.

What I thought I got

What I thought I got

There we were back in the car and it was dark, thank you very much, safely on our way and I took my first bite. What did I just eat? All I tasted was air-filled white bread, pickle, extra sweet ketchup, onions and something else not quite sure it must have been meat. Fine food? Happy Meal? Satisfying? No, not one bit. BTW the shake was nothing but a vanilla shake with green food coloring. “They used to taste like mint” Lyn kept saying.

Probably closer to what I got

Probably closer to what I got

The trash can in the garage was our first stop and then for me some Tums just to play it safe.

I guess over the years my tastes have changed along with the quality of food that my palate expects but that for sure has cured me of any fast food cravings for a long long time.

Oh forgot to mention one thing remained consistent the after taste of what I can only closely associate with soap. What you never got your mouth washed out?

To those of you who still love this food more power to you and I have no less respect for you I was once there but I have changed. It’s me not you…….

Reality check

Reality check

I am trying to see how I am doing, so far just a few comments not that I expected hundreds this early on or ever, and I am just overwhelmed that I have 67 followers between Facebook and my blog I could not imagine when I began that anyone would be interested in what I cook or write about.

I am learning things everyday about writing recipes, taking pictures, cropping pictures the list goes on….

I need your help.

What I am looking for is how am I doing, any suggestions, what might you like to see, what improvements would you suggests, what should I stop doing? I have so many recipes that I don’t prepare any more but they were/are good, should I share those? I could go on but I won’t….

I am asking is that if possible, would you could you make the comments on the blog site not Facebook, I know it’s an extra click and wait but hey it’s for a friend right. Use the comment section at bottom of recipe and let me know what you think. Exchange ideas to try. Rate the dish if you tried it, there is the “Rate this” section below the Title then others might think to try.

But most importantly I encourage you to enjoy cooking and eating and watching for that smile on someone’s face when they take the first bite and shake their head.

Thanks so much!

Fried Chicken Szechwan Style

This is a dish that I usually cook on bachelor night since Lyn feels there might be too much oil. Steam some broccoli or asparagus for a side dish and you are good to go. Fairly easy and uncomplicated and for me…. I just like it.


  • 1 lbs. of boneless chicken breast or thighs


  • 2 Tbsp. corn flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ teaspoon five spice powder


  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsps. chinese wine or dry sherry
  • Extra ¼ tsp. five spice powder
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper


  • 2 tsps. Corn flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cold water


  • ½ cup peanut or other oil for frying. You could use less oil if you wanted that keeps my wife happy.


  • 15 dried red chilies, seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tsps. Finely chopped fresh ginger.  Fresh is best but I always have some whole ginger in the freezer
  • 3 scallions, cut into 2 inch long pieces (white and greens).


Cut chicken into bite size pieces (sometimes partially freezing make the cutting easier)

In a plastic bag mix together the corn flour, salt, and five spice powder. Shake to mix. Add chicken and shake to coat.  Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess corn flour mixture and place chicken aside. This can be done in a glass bowl instead of a plastic bag that keeps my wife happy.

In another bowl mix together chicken stock, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, wine, ¼ tsp. five spice and pepper together.

In another small bowl mix the corn flour and cold water.

Heat the oil in a wok and when VERY hot add chicken pieces, in 3 batches and fry on high heat tossing to brown all over.  Batches allow the chicken to cook rather than steam if oil gets to cool. Allow the oil to heat up again between batches. Place each batch on absorbent paper towel that are on a dish or tray so counter does not get all oily, ok ok I learned a lesson way back when.  When all the chicken has been fried pour off all but about 2 Tbsp. of the oil.

With the exhaust vent on add the chilies, garlic and ginger and fry until the garlic and ginger are golden and the chilies turn dark. Does not take long.

Add the scallions and toss a few seconds then add the stock mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the corn flour mixture again to mix smoothly and add to the pan, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens. Add the chicken and toss to coat and heat through.

Serve immediately with steam brown or white rice.

Twist that I have done over the years

  • Added fresh red or mix color peppers or substitute just peppers for chilies, a milder dish
  • Left the chilies seeds in for a spicier dish
  • Add unsalted peanuts or raw cashews

Eggs, does size matter?

I always wonder if I was right or wrong and I guess my instincts were correct. What is he talking about ?? you’re saying just about now? Well eggs of course, I look at recipes that call for 5 large eggs but I have jumbo or medium no large to be found do I just use 5 eggs or do I make a judgment call and increase or decrease.



Don’t get me going on sizes that’s a whole other story what they call large eggs nowadays I tell you….Anyway thanks to Cooks Illustrated I have been vindicated I was right to make adjustments see their chart below. See 5 large eggs would be 4 Jumbo or 4 ½  Extra- Large. Does it make a difference in the end probably not at least not enough to ruin a dish. But then there is baking and you know I really don’t bake because it is too exact you have to measure everything out so is that the catch 22 baking and measuring eggs who knows? I know sometimes I just like to over think things keeps the mind boggled and sharp.  So checks out the chart, officially eggs are really measured by weight not size.

Egg Sizes and Weights

Size Weight
Medium 1.75   ounces
Large 2.00   ounces
Extra-Large 2.25   ounces
Jumbo 2.50   ounces

Chart is from Cooks Illustrated

Potato, Canadian bacon, and Spinach Frittata

Eggs for dinner are great and I don’t mean scrambled you got to make a meal of it something that will fill you up. We had been running around all day first time in about 2 weeks that we could spend time on us and we got home from restocking our wine cellar, actually it’s a shelf. I looked at Lyn and she looked at me and she said do you think you could make something like this as she fluttered her eyes, I’m just a sucker for those eyes. I took a look, thought about what I had on hand and soon after we had Potato, Canadian bacon, and Spinach Frittata

Took about 15 minutes prep time and 15 minutes cooking.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil split 2 for cooking 1 for dressing
  • 2 small russet potatoes (about 3/4 pound), peeled and thinly sliced
  • The whites and some greens of 6-8 scullions sliced thin
  • 9 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • About 10-ounce frozen chopped spinach (you could thaw and drain of excess water but I did not I was hungry)
  • 4 ounces white Cheddar, grated ( about 1 cup)
  • 6 -8 slices of Canadian bacon cut in quarters or eights.


  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (6 cups)


Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large oven proof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and scallions and cook, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the spinach, Cheddar, and ham. (Make sure you break up the spinach so no chunks)

Add the egg mixture to the skillet, shake the pan to settle, and transfer the skillet to oven. Cook until the eggs are set, 12 to 15 minutes.

While that is cooking make your vinaigrette in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the lettuce and toss to coat. Serve with the frittata. If you want to make it spicy try Trader Joe’s Dijon mustard makes Chinese mustard seem mild.

       whoops forgot to take picture in pan  

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

Nothing better than a pulled pork sandwich with your son. Say no more!!



  •  3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 5-pound pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt
  • 12 hamburger buns or 24 slider size rolls, for serving we prefer whole wheat.


Mix the spices and salt together in a small bowl, then rub the spice blend over the pork, cover with plastic wrap overnight in the refrigerator. IF you are in a hurry at least let stand for 1 hour

Prepare the sauce see below.

Preheat the oven to 300 ◦. Put the pork in a roasting pan and bake, covered, until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees, about 6-7 hours. Keep in mind the pot you are using my heavy cast iron pan I do 250◦ Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a large platter and let rest for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle (warm), use two forks to shred the pork. Put the shredded pork in a bowl, add barbecue sauce, and mix well to coat. To serve, place several ounces of pork on a hamburger bun and top with Spicy Slaw (below).



Barbecue sauce

  •  2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small saucepan, stir the brown sugar into the hot water until completely dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat for approximately 5 minutes.

OK I like to make double the sauce ½ for pouring over the pulled pork and the other on the side. But I know some don’t like a vinegar sauce so I always have a bottle on the side.  Maybe, don’t do the vinegar sauce and just use the bottle. You know you and or your guest.

Serve with coleslaw, chips, oven fired fies.


Five Spice Chicken in Lettuce wraps

Five Spice Chicken in Lettuce wraps

A long time ago when my sister was managing the new Joyce Chen’s Restaurant in the Transportation Building in the theatre district downtown Boston I was served minced chicken or pork in lettuce wraps it was out of this world. Years later in San Jose my boss took me to a friend’s restaurant and he gave me what he called Chinese tacos, essentially the same tastes and style. Ever since I have grabbed a bottle of hoisin sauce now and then, minced chicken or pork and came up with something like this, always slightly different always depending what I have lying around.


Remember I eyeball most times but I have been eyeballing into spoons and cups for the blog, at least for now.

  • 1 Tbsp. Peanut Oil.
  •  About 1 ½ chicken diced 1/2 “or smaller this time I used breast was on hand but is better with thigh (dark). (If you have partially frozen chicken it makes the dicing much easier).
  • 1 small onion 1 diced about 1/3 “or smaller.
  • 1 carrot diced small.
  • 1 stalk celery strings removed and diced small.
  • ¾ tsp. Chinese Five Spice.
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped water chestnuts.
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken broth (water is fine if you don’t have).
  • 2 ½ to 3 tsps. Hoisin sauce.
  •  About 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh cilantro (could fresh basil).
  • 2 scallions white and greens sliced thin.
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil (use light colored not dark)
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Boston bib Lettuce romaine or iceberg would work in a pinch


IN large skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and stir fry over high heat until just cook through about 5 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove the chicken and put aside.

Add the onion, carrot and celery to the skillet cook over medium or slightly lower heat until soften about 4 minutes. Add the 5 spice and stir cook about 20-30 seconds you will smell it. Stir in the chestnuts, chicken stock and Hoisin sauce. Return the chicken to pan stirring to coat evenly about 1 minute.  Hint, you may have to remove pan from heat if it is too hot so it does not thicken up too much. YA YA I had the heat to high so be quiet! Now remove from heat add the Cilantro, scallions and Sesame seed oil and mix thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into lettuce leaves for wrapping.