November 25, 2019

Dear friends,

What are you thankful for this year? We may have to dig deep to find a bright spot on Turkey Day 2019. The world seems to be in ugly mode lately.

I will not contribute to the din. I will simply supply the side dish, bright-green Brussels sprouts sautéed until tender and tumbled in a spicy-sweet glaze. Did I mention there’s bacon?

After I created the recipe, as I was writing this column, I heard Tony mutter, “The best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever eaten.” I looked over at his plate. He had sautéed tofu pillows in the leftover sauce and dumped everything, including the Brussels sprouts, over steamed rice.

So there you have it: Maybe the best Brussels sprouts. Maybe the best tofu stir fry. At any rate, we both wish you the best possible Thanksgiving.


1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. hot bean paste ( or sub Sriracha)
1 tbsp. Szechuan chile oil or less if delicate palates are involved
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 slices thick-cut bacon
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Trim and wash sprouts. Cut in halves through stem. Set aside.

In a small lidded jar, combine honey, hot bean paste, chile oil, soy sauce and vinegar. Mix well. Set aside.

In a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal), fry bacon until very crisp. Drain on paper towels. Add the vegetable oil to the drippings in the skillet. When hot, add Brussels sprouts, mostly cut sides down. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until cut sides are brown and sprouts are almost tender.

Stir the honey mixture again and add half to the skillet, reserving rest for another batch of sprouts. Crank heat to medium-high and stir fry until Brussels sprouts are tender and glazed with sauce, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Mound glazed sprouts on a serving plate or in a shallow bowl. Crumble bacon and sprinkle over top. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

After I wrote about aging beef at home last week, my friend, Martha, sent me a video of her “favorite wry cook, Chef John of” He covers dry aging in the You Tube video and concludes it’s not worth it. You can check it out here:

What really blew my mind, though, is that someone besides me has discovered Chef John. I love this guy and his cooking videos. He obviously is an old hand who has seen it all in the kitchen and narrates his recipes in a world-weary voice. His techniques are impeccable but what sets him apart are his monotone asides that poke fun at everything.

Chef John can be found at His home page says he is the most popular chef on You Tube. I don’t know about that, but he should be.

From Noreen S.:
For Thanksgiving dinner, I often will toss in a new recipe along with the standards. Last year I added a Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries. It added a nice contrast. For several years now I have added a corn pudding dish that has become a must-have. It’s comfort food to the extreme. It’s a simple toss-and-mix recipe. To cut down on the salt, I use frozen corn and light sour cream.

1 package (8 1/2 oz.) corn muffin mix
1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) softened butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained. (I use about 2 cups of thawed frozen corn)
1 can (14 oz.) creamed corn

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine corn muffin mix, butter, eggs, sour cream and milk. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Gently fold in canned corn and frozen (thawed) corn.

Pour into the baking dish and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until center is set.

Dear Noreen:
Corn pudding is a favorite of mine but, oddly, my family never serves it. Maybe it’s time to change that.

From Maryann B.:
For my hubby, a serious carnivore, all meat must be grilled. And all beef must be rare. A friend astonished him with a near-perfect steak cooked and held at rare temp using sous vide techniques…. and then finished on the grill. Santa will be bringing sous vide to our house soon.

Dear Maryann:
Thanks for weighing in. Your husband’s reaction makes me want to try it now.

November 20, 2019

Dear friends,
My fellow turkey and stuffing lovers, our day of celebration approaches. I am practically quivering at the thought of cornbread and sausage stuffing. Not to mention my niece’s bacon-wrapped roast turkey and my own smoke-infused turkey hot from the grill.

Again this year, Tony will begin a week-long hunting trip the day after Thanksgiving. Again this year, I’ll have almost our entire backup turkey to myself, after spending the feast day in Columbus with family. I can’t wait.

Most of you are seasoned cooks and already know what you will prepare. Over time I have developed a menu of the best turkey, the best stuffing, the best cranberry sauce and the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever tasted. I’ve printed the recipes many times, so I won’t bore you.

But it occurs to me that you probably have your own “best of” Thanksgiving recipes that I know nothing about, and it’s killing me that I may have missed the ultimate whatever. Do you have a fabulous Thanksgiving recipe I’ve missed all these years? Please enlighten me (and quick because the holiday approaches).

Meanwhile, I do have a new Thanksgiving recipe for you. I discovered it in an old (circa 2012) Cooking Light magazine. It’s for a different kind of pie dough (with baking powder!) you make in a food processor. Then you just press the crumbly mixture into the pan. It shouldn’t be so good, but it is.


5.6 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 cup plus 2 tbsp., but a scale is more accurate)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. ice water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse twice or until combined. combine oil and ice water in a measuring cup. With processor running, slowly add liquid through feed tube and process until dough is crumbly.

Coat a 9-inch pie plate with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle dough into the pie plate and evenly press into the bottom and up sides. Crimp edges or leave as is for a rustic look. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add pumpkin filling and continue according to your pumpkin pie recipe.

(Note: Although this recipe calls for briefly pre-baking the crust before adding the filling, I always briefly pre-bake any crust for a filled pie that will be baked further, in order to prevent a soggy bottom crust. For extra assurance, brush the raw crust with beaten egg white before pre-baking.

What I cooked last week:
Scrambled eggs and feta cheese on toast; sausage, white bean and kale soup; Dutch baby pancakes and eggs over easy; rotisserie chicken and Southwestern chopped salad; roast kabocha squash; spaghetti sauce with ground venison; pan-grilled strip steak finished in the oven, sliced carrots sizzled in wine and butter, dark cherries in syrup over ricotta cheese; frizzled ham and fried egg on toast with ketchup.

What I ate out:
Al pastor burrito bowl at Casa del Rio in Fairlawn; tapenade, pate, Caesar salad, cioppino and bananas foster at my friend Joan’s; ham and cheese sub from Subway; salmon roe, tamago, shrimp sashimi, ramen and Asahi beer at Sushi Katsu in Akron; half of a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese icing at my friend, James’s, birthday party; a fried dumpling, shao mai, steamed pork bun, crispy duck in a steamed pancake, a custard tart and tea at dim sum at Li Wah in Cleveland.

From Anne K.:
Have you read Toni Tipton-Martin’s new cookbook, “Jubilee”? I am just finishing it. It is fascinating and wonderful. It is worth starting at the beginning and reading it again.

Dear Anne:
That book is on my short list. I’ll get to it soon. It is already garnering major buzz and I feel another James Beard Award for Toni is in the offing. Toni, a former food editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, won the award for her first book, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks.” The subtitle of her new book is “Recipes From Two Centuries of African-American Cooking,” which gives you an idea of the content.

Here’s how my friend, Kathleen Purvis, sums up “Jubilee” in the September issue of Garden & Gun magazine: “Lushly photographed and richly researched, Jubilee builds on Jemima Code’s foundation by highlighting more than one hundred recipes that capture the complex roots of African American cooking, from celebrations and parties to everyday family suppers.” For each recipe in the book, Tony runs the original as it was written, and her tested adaptation of it for the modern kitchen.

From Carol Button:
Jane, what’s all this stuff I’m seeing online lately about sous vide? Thanks for your info.

Dear Carol:
Sous vide is cooking food at a low, steady temperature in water. The food is sealed in plastic. You set the temperature and walk away. You can cook food in advance and reheat it to the exact temperature without overcooking, making it a boon for caterers and chefs. I wrote about it many, many years ago but didn’t think it would catch on. I was wrong.

The sous vide cooking process ensures that the food is perfectly cooked — no guessing about medium-rare or al dente. Vitamins and minerals are locked in. The process is more healthful than most other methods of cooking because it requires no added fat. The flavor and texture are said to be enhanced.

If you want to try it (I haven’t), you’ll need some sous vide equipment and the counter space to use it. The equipment varies but at its simplest includes a vacuum sealer and an immersion wand-like gizmo that is positioned in a pan of water and plugged in. The immersion gizmos are not inexpensive — generally $100 to $200. Or you could go all out and buy a sous vide “water oven” for $350 to $500.

I’m curious whether anyone reading this has used sous vide. Do you like it? Is it worth the hassle?

From Joyce D.:
The Farmer’s Rail on Cleveland-Massillon Road in Bath sells a variety of dry-aged meats. They also have a dry-aged compartment that displays their meats.

Dear Joyce:
Thanks for the info. By the way, I updated my knowledge of at-home dry aging by reading articles on the subject by the incomparable Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. He rigorously tested various cuts and methods and points out that you cannot successfully age individual steaks (you need large primal cuts for aging), and just flopping the meat on a rack in the fridge for five days, as I did, will do absolutely nothing for the meat. Aging for 20 days or more is necessary for changes in texture and flavor.

That said, if you are willing to free up fridge space for a whole prime rib for three weeks, you can age it on a wire rack, unwrapped and open to air circulation top and bottom. The addition of a little fan will help but is not essential, he says. Keeping the fridge temp at 40 degrees is necessary. He uses a mini fridge but says your regular home fridge will work. After aging, cut away the outer crusty and/or moldy stuff before cooking and eating the meat.

November 13, 2019

Dear friends,

The November sumo tournament in Kyushu, Japan started Sunday. We needed a Japanese meal to savor while watching Hakuho and Takakeisho stomp around the dohyo (clay ring). So I made sukiyaki.

If I lived in Japan, I would say I’ve gone native. Here in Ohio, I can only plead proximity to a man who is Japanese. But frankly, my husband often seems more American than I am, while I am trending Asian.

I fell hard for sumo, of all things, after watching it once for laughs on NHK, the Japanese channel we subscribe to on DirecTV. Fat men in diapers rolling around a ring? Hahahaha.

No. That’s not sumo at all. The rikishi (wrestlers) are incredibly toned and athletic although, yes, large. The sport has intricate rules and rituals that date back in legend for 2,000 years, and the costumes of the referees, judges and support staff, unchanged by time, are stunning. The matches are brief and exciting. The rivalries are intense.

The top-tier fighters are treated like rock stars in Japan, yet live a life of sacrifice set apart from society. They must wear kimonos in public. They are forbidden to drive cars. They can’t even marry or live outside their “stables” until attaining a certain rank. Dip into their world at Then dip into some sukiyaki while watching highlights of a match or two at › nhkworld › sumo.

Sukiyaki, a meal almost as ancient as sumo, is similar to the chankonabe stew that rikishi eat to gain weight. It, too, is a hot pot but is seasoned differently and is made with beef, not chicken or pork. Also, I don’t recommend you take an hours-long nap after eating it, as rikishi do to gain weight.

Sumo or no, sukiyaki is a great dish for a cold evening. The hearty “broth” is rich and slightly sweet. It brims with cellophane noodles (or shiratake if you want to be dead authentic), mushrooms, thin-sliced beef and other items depending on your pantry and location in Japan. I added shopped Napa cabbage, wilted spinach and chunks of daikon radish, simmered until soft and almost translucent.

You can sub thin-sliced carrot for the radish and shiitake mushrooms for the white mushrooms I used, and water for the dashi I made with instant granules. Add cubes of tofu if you’d like. But do keep the slippery noodles and beef, and buy some mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine) for this dish if you have none in your cupboard.

Latin and Asian groceries and some mainstream supermarkets sell packages of paper-thin sliced raw beef. I didn’t have any on hand so I partially froze a top sirloin steak and shaved it in shallow, oblique cuts with a sharp knife. My live-in sushi chef helped.

This recipe isn’t authentic — the raw egg for dipping is omitted, for example. But it is delicious and easy to make in an American kitchen.


2 cups water or dashi
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
1 tbsp. sugar or to taste

Hot pot:
4 oz. cellophane noodles (2 small nests)
4 slices daikon radish, 1/2-inch thick (optional)
Vegetable oil
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (shiitake or white)
10 green onions, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
16 to 20 oz. beef in paper-thin slices (I used sirloin)
4 oz. (1/2 head) napa cabbage, very roughly chopped
4 oz. fresh spinach

Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Submerge noodles in a saucepan of boiling water. Cover, remove from heat and let stand until softened and tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve and set aside.

Place radish in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer, covered, until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Or substitute thick diagonal slices of carrot, simmered until al dente.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide soup pot (the Japanese use a shallow cast-iron pot). When very hot, add mushrooms and stir fry until almost done. Add about 1/4 cup of the sukiyaki broth, stirring until the boiling broth evaporates. With a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a platter.

Add more oil to soup pot and when hot, stir fry green onions until fairly tender. Transfer to the platter.

Add more oil to soup pot and when hot, add beef (in batches if necessary) and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add 1/4 cup of the sukiyaki broth and boil and stir for 1 minute (the juice from the meat will prevent the broth from evaporating). Transfer to the platter.

Turn heat to high and add the cabbage. Cover and cook until cabbage partially wilts. Add the noodles, spinach, beef and remaining vegetables. Pour in all of the sukiyaki broth. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Portion into bowls, dredging noodles from the bottom and topping with meat, vegetables and broth. Makes 4 servings.


Tony and I have waited several years for the second season of one of our favorite Netflix series. Now it is here, and we invite you to join us in enjoying “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.”

The series has become a cult favorite among American food lovers in the last year or two. Tony and I discovered the original Japanese series before it was marketed to American audiences. We stumbled across it while searching for Japanese programs on Netflix.

The show is a gentle comedy-drama about the odd characters who dine at a small Tokyo restaurant that opens at midnight and closes at dawn. Just one item is on the menu, pork miso soup, but the owner-waiter-chef behind the bar who anchors the restaurant will prepare anything that is requested.

While the diners reveal their stories, they eat various simple but luscious-looking dishes. We watch the chef prepare tan-men, a vegetable-forward ramen or egg tofu, a custard-like block of steamed eggs and dashi (it contains no tofu) that quivers atop a mound of rice. Each episode is named after the requested dish, but is about the people as much as the food.

If you are hungry after watching the episodes (and you will be), check out, where a San Francisco blogger has reproduced the recipes from the first season.

What I cooked last week:
Frozen cauliflower-crust pizza from Aldi (my first; not awful); sheet pan Buffalo chicken tenders, Southwestern chopped salad; whipped cream cheese, apricot jam and sliced ripe pear on toast; baked brie with apricot preserves, sugar-free cranberry sauce, shepherd’s pie with mushrooms and fava beans, sugar-free pumpkin pie, sugar-free pumpkin custard; egg sandwich on toast with horseradish and ketchup; sukiyaki.

What I ate out last week:
Low-cal plate (hamburger patty, cottage cheese, applesauce and a hard-cooked egg) at Village Gardens in Cuyahoga Falls; popcorn, no butter at Cinemark; pineapple-ham pizza from Rizzi’s in Copley; spit-grilled leg of lamb, beef tenderloin with Béarnaise sauce, pulled pork, jalapeno corn muffin, spinach-ricotta ravioli with chicken sausage, Knock You Naked cookies and on and on at the Men Who Cook fundraiser at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron.


From Molly M.:
Regarding your reader’s request for dry-aged steaks, Heinen’s and Whole Foods carry a few choices such as ribeye and strip.

Dear Molly:
Nancy S. also pointed out that dry-aged steaks are available at Heinen’s. Thank you both for the info.

From D.S.:
We have eaten at Don Quijote three times in the last month. The garlic soup was heaven, but your recipe does’t have any cheese. There were long strands of melty cheese in my soup. Next time try the Gallego, a rich soup with pork loin, white beans, potatoes, bacon and Spanish chorizo. I even got a bowl to go for my 90-year-old mother, who doesn’t get out much anymore. She thought it was delicious and asked for more anytime we went back. I also tried the Torta Espanola. A potato lover’s dream. They even have a (gasp!) hamburger on the menu, for I am sad to report some of my family aren’t adventurous.

Dear D.S.:
I did notice the wisps of melted cheese (not much) in Don Quijote’s version of the soup. They added to the deliciousness. I went with chef Jose Andres’ recipe, though, and didn’t feel comfortable tampering with it. I can’t wait to go back to Don Quijote and try the gallego soup.

November 6, 2019

Dear friends,

Yes, soup again. This one is a goodie. About halfway through a bowl of garlic soup at Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant near Belden Village Mall in Jackson Township, I told Tony, “When we get home, I’m going to make this.”

How have I not eaten this delicious soup before? I have visited Spain. I have eaten in numerous Spanish restaurants in the U.S. Over the years, at least a half-dozen Spanish cookbooks have crossed my desk.

I know how. In the 1980s, I once was a guest at an all-white-food dinner. I don’t think the the monochrome menu was an intentional theme, it just happened. It was as dreary as it sounds. The first course was garlic soup. It was chalk-white and studded with grapes. The texture was gritty from ground almonds. It wasn’t bad, but nothing I’d go out of my way to repeat. So I didn’t.

The reason I ordered the soup at Don Quijote was the picture on the menu, which showed a broth that was not white but deep gold with chunks of something bobbing in it. It turns out those chunks were bread. The burnished golden color was a mix of lightly browned slivered garlic, chicken broth and paprika — too little paprika to turn the soup red but enough to deepen the gold.

That handful of ingredients, simple but perfectly in sync, captured my heart. So did the restaurant, which has the kind of menu — if you ignore the Tex-Mex stuff — I haven’t seen since Madrid.

It’s obvious the tacos and such are a sop for folks who wander in off the street expecting margaritas and sombreros. The meat of the menu is the Spanish tapas, entrees and desserts, from paella (the best I’ve had in a restaurant) to the classic Spanish omelet, a garlicky sliced-potato cake that has nothing to do with eggs.

In addition to the soup, I had a by-the-book Spanish tapas of garlic-infused, sieved tomato with olive oil on crusty bread topped with paper-thin folds of serrano ham. Four of them filled a dinner plate. A couple of those and the soup were a meal.

The restaurant is a sister to one in Miami, Fla. We are lucky to have it here. It is a lovely upscale restaurant with moderate prices. I went even more upscale to recreate the soup. Jose Andres, one of the leading Spanish chefs (and Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his charity work feeding disaster victims), includes a recipe for the iconic soup in his book with co-author Richard Wolffe, “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America.” His soup looks and tastes almost identical to the one I had at Don Quijote. Because the ingredients are few, they should be of high quality. I recommend using homemade chicken stock.


3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. white wine
1/2 tbsp. Spanish sweet paprika
3 oz. rustic white bread, crust removed, torn into small pieces
1 quart chicken stock
2 large eggs, beaten
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates, about 30 seconds. Then add the paprika and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the bread and pour in the chicken stock. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes.

Add the eggs and stir with a spatula to fold them into the soup. The eggs will form long strands, almost like noodles. Simmer for 2 more minutes and add salt to taste. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

What I cooked last week:
Spicy skillet beans and ground turkey; banana pancakes; chicken stock; chicken soup; no-knead bread (twice); atsu age (breaded and pan-fried firm tofu) with soy sauce and sesame oil, grilled shishito peppers, pickled daikon radish and steamed rice; Spanish garlic soup; chicken salad; bagged Southwestern chopped salad with roast chicken; roast tomahawk beef rib steak with horseradish sauce and pan-seared brussels sprouts; chili.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Scrambled eggs, grilled pork chop and grits at Cracker Barrel; blue cheeseburger and fries at Ray’s in Fairlawn; a Jane roll, edamame, salmon roe and a gyoza dumpling from Sushi Katsu in Akron; half of a hot pork sandwich and mashed potatoes, no gravy at the Amish Door in Wilmot.


From Carol S.:
We went to Hyde Park Grill and ordered dry-aged steaks. They were so much better than the steaks we typically buy at the supermarket. Do you know of any butchers or high-end stores that carry dry-aged beef in our area?

Dear Carol:
Funny you should ask. I pseudo-aged a tomahawk rib steak in my refrigerator for five days last week. Although I’ve seen complicated instructions for home-aging meat, Tony and I just plunked the bare-naked steak on a rack on the bottom refrigerator shelf and left it like that. It tasted pretty wonderful. I don’t have the nerve to age meat longer without researching the correct technique (which I knew once but have forgotten), but you might try this no-work short-term aging.

If you want the real thing, you have options. Giant Eagle Marketplace stores in Green and Cuyahoga Falls sell dry-aged beef. You can check out various cuts at different stages of aging in a case in the meal department.

Or you can opt for my preference, dry-aged beef from Kirbie’s Meats & Catering in Stow. I called to make sure Kris Burns and his crew are still aging beef at their shop, and the answer is yes. You should call in advance if there’s a particular cut you would like. Calling is good idea anyway at this time of year, when the aged beef is in demand for holiday celebrations.

Call 330-688-4333 or, better yet, reserve a cut in person between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. any Saturday in November, when a large selection of house-made holiday foods will be offered at Kirbie’s annual tastings.

While Kirbie’s isn’t West Point Market, it’s as close as you’ll find in the Akron area. It is much more than a butcher shop. You’ll be surprised at how much luxe food the store stocks.