DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

DJ's Vindaloo Ragout

DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

The flavor knocks your socks off when you first cook it. The next day? Hold on to your skivvies!

This dish is a slow-cooked stew of chickpeas and potatoes, simmered for hours in a well-seasoned tomato sauce. You could make this dish using a crock pot or a stove top sauce pan; either works well as long as you have the lid or cover. You can make the vindaloo as spicy as you want, but don’t make it any less.  In India, they have two other versions much “hotter” than this. So we can’t really complain, can we? Besides, if you need a little zippity in your do-dah, this will do it for you!

Time required:  prep 15 minutes &  cooking 2 hours or more depending on size of diced potatoes and cooking temperature

Serves: 10 or so when accompanied with rice as a side dish. Naan or flatbread works well, too!

Ingredients- Part 1:

(1) 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies

(1) 6 oz. can tomato paste

(1) green bell pepper, cored and diced

(1/2) yellow onion, diced

(4) cloves garlic, minced

(1/2) cup water

(2) Tablespoons Sherry vinegar

(2) Tablespoons olive oil

(1) Tablespoon parsley flakes

(1) Tablespoon finely chopped, fresh ginger (if you don’t have fresh ginger, go get some. There is no subbing on this one!)

(1) Tablespoon crushed red pepper

(1) teaspoon curry

(1/2) teaspoon turmeric

(1/4) teaspoon cardamom

(1/4) teaspoon coriander

Ingredients – Part 2:

(2) cups cooked chickpeas

(2) cups diced raw potatoes

(1) cup water

(1/2) cup pineapple chunks. You know – chunks. Not too small, but not too big? Fits on your fork, and in your mouth for one bite? Yeah, that’s the size you want.


Mix the ‘part 1 ingredients’ in a large sauce pan for the stove top method, or slow-cooker / crock pot.

Using medium heat, warm the sauce, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. Note: if using a slow-cooker, just stir to mix the ingredients, then set on low heat and leave it alone.

For stove top pans, when the sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to low.

Now add the ‘part 2 ingredients’ and gently stir until the potatoes and chickpeas are covered by the sauce.

Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours using the stove top method, or 4 hours on low heat if using a slow-cooker.

Stir occasionally for both methods.

<tick tock tick tock – 2 or 4 hours later >

The Vindaloo Ragout is done!

Serve with white rice, couscous, or quinoa. Some sauteed fresh green beans, seasoned with garlic of course, makes the meal complete.

Except the wine. You need wine. Lemonade works, too. I prefer, well, you know.










Enter Potato Kale Casserole – Stage Right

Potato Kale Casserole

Potato Kale Casserole

Let us not call this a vegetarian dish. The V word scares too many people away. How about we just say this is a dang good bit of comfort food sans hoof and beak. The first time I made this casserole, the two of us ate the entire thing in one dinner, a breakfast and a small snack. There wasn’t time for photos. It was every fork for themselves.

So here’s to another try. I had the iPhone waiting this time. That, and I waited until no one else was home. Of course, later, once the nom nom nom-ing commenced, alas the dish was practically licked clean. Try it for yourself, if you dare. Based on a recipe from Jamie Deen – <spotlight on> Potato Kale Casserole – enter stage right. 3 – 2 – (1) Go! To the kitchen with thee.


7 – 8 medium-sized potatoes (red or Yukon work well,) peeled and cubed

3 cups of cauliflower, coarsely chopped

2 baby leeks, end trimmed off, white and light green parts sliced. No leaves. That’s just wrong.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

A bunch of fresh kale leaves ripped off the stems. If you have a pile that could completely cover your laptop, you’re good to go.

3/4 cup milk

Salt/Pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup sour cream

Butter, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the cubed potatoes and chopped cauliflower into a large pot of water. Add a bit of salt for good measure then turn on the heat until the water starts to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, such that the pot simmers for 20 minutes. Set the timer.

When the potatoes and cauliflower have ten minutes to go (see, the timer was an excellent idea, wasn’t it?) it is time to start “the rest.”

In a large sauce pan, saute the leeks in olive oil for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir.

Before the garlic has a chance to burn, add the kale leaves. Stir a bit to coat with the oil. They will wilt quickly, not to worry, in about 3 minutes.

Now add the milk, salt and pepper; turn up the heat just enough to bring the milk to a simmer.

Hey, don’t forget the potatoes and cauliflower – it’s time to drain them using a colander (once the timer is buzzing, of course.)  Put them back in the pot and mash them up a bit with a potato masher, fork or large rock. Just kidding. Don’t use a rock. (The lawyers made me say that. Be adventurous. But we take no responsibility.)

Spoon the mashed up potato / cauliflower glop into the sauce pan of milky kale. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add the Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Stir some more.

Here we go

Carefully put the whole thing into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and bake for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.

Get your plate ready.

Once the timer dings, use oven mitts to get the potato kale casserole out of the oven. Let it sit for ten minutes, then serve.

Hah! Did you fall for that one? Don’t let it sit. Dig in – now!

Stuffed Bell Peppers for Two


So,  you want to impress your date with some quality, home-cooking, but you normally judge a restaurant by the speed of its’ drive-thru? Well, not to worry, this recipe has what it takes to impress everyone, except maybe vegetarians (but more for you all later in the post!) Here’s the dish on this dish:

–  It has ingredients you either already have, or can easily get for not much money.

–  No special culinary skill required.

–  It looks and tastes awesome!

This actually is a derivation from a recipe from another great food blog, Simple Speedy Snacks.  She posted a tasty recipe for stuffed courgettes (zucchini) and I just subbed in the green bell peppers. Had to – the store was totally courgette-less. Oh, yes. For vegetarians, SSS has vegetable-stuffed courgette info on the same post.

My recipe serves two.   Three’s a crowd, remember?


2 good sized bell peppers. Try to use symmetrical ones with large internal cavities.

8 oz. ground sausage. I used regular pork sausage, but chorizo, beef or lamb would work, too.

4 oz. diced tomatoes. Remeber the can in the back of your pantry? The one you bought for that chili recipe you never made? Yeah, use that one! Just strain it first.

4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese.

That’s it. See?  Easy Peasy!!

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook your sausage in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Once fully cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a bowl, draining as much excess grease back into the pan as you do this.

Cut the lid off your bell peppers, but don’t throw them away.

Carefully remove the seed pod. Trim the white pulp, too, but please – do not cut a hole in the bell itself. You don’t want anything to leak!

Now the good part – the “fill up.”

Using a large spoon for the sausage and Feta, and a smaller spoon for the diced tomatoes, start layering the cheese, sausage and tomato into the hollowed out bell pepper as follows:

Cheese (2 spoonfulls)

Sausage (2)

Tomatoe (1)

Repeat until the pepper is full. Now matter where you are in the list, make Feta your topmost layer.

Put the stuffed peppers in a casserole dish or pan and recover with the lids you saved. You did save them, didn’t you? If not, that’s okay, but they do help the cooking process.

Add a half cup of water to the casserole dish, then cover with either the appropriate glass lid or aluminum foil. Steam the peppers in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

Uncover, check to make sure there is still a little water left in the dish (add a little bit if needed) then continue steaming, uncovered, for 20 more minutes.

Check the peppers to see if the skin has started to wrinkle. That’s the sign that the pepper is tender enough for dinner!

Plate them up and enjoy dinner! This works awesome with a side of cous cous and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Now as for any leftover cooked sausage or tomato? They make a great filler for an omelet. Top with a little Feta and some chopped spinach. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

Happy eating! And good luck on that date!




If at first you don’t succeed, eat it anyway!


Kentucky Benedictine on Carr's Water Crackers - Mmmmm!

Baconfest 2010 continues with another recipe from Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon. Today I tried an appetizer made famous in Louisville. Kentucky. Not really known outside of that region, save for Zingerman’s Deli and those who have read the book, Kentucky Benedictine is quick and easy to make and has nothing to do with alcoholic spirits or monastic orders. Those are a different type of benedictine! On with the story…

Disclaimer – I did not follow the recipe exactly.

Hindsight – I should have! But it tasted good anyway, so I’ll give you both versions:

Kentucky Benedictine

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated
2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated
10 oz. cream cheese
dash or two of pepper
one dash of salt
one dash of dill (my addition)

2 – 3 pieces of cooked bacon, cut into 1 inch sections

After peeling and seeding the cucumber (I used a spoon quite successfully,) grate the cucumber. Using a fine mesh sieve, drain the cucumber.

In a food processor, add the drained cucumber, the grated onion, the cream cheese and the other ingredients. Pulse one or two times, just until everything is mixed.

Done. See? That was easy!

Spoon some on top of a nice cracker and add a small piece of cooked bacon on top. Plan to serve three per person. Makes a bunch. This will easily make a tray’s worth. Good enough for the average cocktail party!

Where did I go wrong? I did not drain the grated cucumber so I ended up with a nice cucumber dressing. After a while in the cooler, it did set up enough for me to use effectively on the cracker. The tray-full of crackers were eaten quickly, so I still deem this a success, as well as a learning experience!

If a dad can do this, anyone can!