Category Archives: Earth


Eat Your Brussel Sprouts!

I have many a fond memory of the fall.  It’s always a relief when the hot Texas summer days begin to wind down a bit and its enjoyable to take a morning stroll around the neighborhood without facing the dangers of dehydration.   Yes Fall!

One of the vegetables I do love to see appearing in the markets and supermarkets are Brussel sprouts.  Yes, I am fully aware the half of the people out there are excited to see this petit cabbage looking vegetable and that the other half wonder whey one would eat such a thing.  The latter half have undoubtable been scarred by the Brussel sprout during childhood.  I too suffered the mental trauma of forcing down over cooked boiled Brussel sprouts.  There were not enough mashed potatoes in the world to cover up that flavor.  These were dark times. Don’t be afraid though.  Face your fears and take another look at this nutritional and dare I say …delicious vegetable!

The Brussel sprout is a nutritional bomb.  Packing a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin k and folic acid.  They are high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, provide some minerals and there is even some research out there that they may have some anticancer properties.  This is a vegetable you must take another look at.

Brussels were very popular in Europe for several centuries and are in many areas synonymous with Christmas Dinner.  I am no genius but I suspect they were quite popular in Brussels.  Wikepedia tells us that they were brought to the United States by French settlers which I think is quite possible.  Again, I am no genius but the French Master Chef, Escoffier, in his Guide Culinaire lists several preparations for this “Choux de Bruxelles”.  Why not bring some along to the new digs?

Brussel sprouts are best when they are younger and have a firm feel and tight leaves.  They can be eaten raw and are good when thinly shaved and tossed with olive oil, salt and lemon juice.  In the old days, it was common to boil them, but I find sautéing and then a quick braise where the liquid reduces and glazes the sprouts is the way to go!

In the recipe below I do a hard sauté of the sprouts in my wok.  There is no reason you need to use a wok, a sauté pan will work just fine, especially a good cast iron.  Preferably one passed down as a family heirloom!  I just happen to have a personal attachment to my wok, nothing to be concerned about, I brought it back from Hong Kong with me and the years of use have given it a beautiful patina…. and it’s fun to use.

I use two types of oil. A neutral oil for cooking and a high-quality finishing oil for finishing.  Be careful though a bitter olive oil is not a good friend to Brussel sprouts.

Brussel Sprouts with olive oil and lemon



1 pound of Brussel sprouts

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

1 teaspoon garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of good finishing olive oil

1 tablespoon of olive oil or blended oil for cooking.


  1. Clean the Brussel sprouts by rinsing in water.  Trim the bottoms of the thickest part of the base and remove any loose outer leaves.
  2. Mince the garlic, juice and zest your lemon and get ready to cook!
  3. Get your pan nice and hot and add the cooking olive oil. Carefully add your sprouts and let them get some color.  Move in the pan from time to time but not too much.
  4. Once they have the color you like add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds then add the stock. There should be a violent bubbling of stock and sprouts so be careful.
  5. Let everything cook until the liquid is almost gone. Check the sprouts and a skewer or knife tip should go through easily with only the slightest bit of resistance.  You can add a bit more stock and cook longer if you wish.
  6. Add the finishing oil, juice and zest. Reduce for 30 more seconds and remove from heat.
  7. Check your salt and lemon to make sure you don’t want a bit more and then enjoy!

Thyme out!








Easy and Spicy Pork Vindaloo

One thing I love about the cuisine of India is the fact that it is so full of flavor.  There is a reason it’s one of the most popular cuisines in the world. . .  It’s awesome.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Vindaloo.  Pork Vindallo, epic dish from the region of Goa.  Tangy, spicy, full of spices and flavor.  A stick to your ribs dish that will really remind you why you love food!

This is a relatively easy dish to make, not completely traditional but very close.  It takes a bit of time on the stove to get done if you use the pork shoulder, which I recommend if you have the time. Nothing compares to the depth of flavor achieved during long slow cooking!  The pork shoulder will take 4 or so hours to get tender.  Time well spent!

A even quicker option would be to make the base and keep in in the cooler.  If you are in a hurry for dinner take some of the sauce out and start reducing it.  Get a few pork chops out (or chicken breasts) of the refrigerator dice them up and add them to the sauce once it is 1/3 of the way reduced.  Cook the meat in the sauce until done and the sauce coats the meat.

Cooking the pork shoulder is a simple process stir it every so often the closer to when its done you will have to stir it more often as the sauce gets reduced.  If the pork is not tender when the sauce it getting too thick you just add a bit of water and continue cooking.

You want to have the meat beautifully tender but not shredded.  If you take your eye off it too long and it does shred, don’t worry, life is still good.  You can make tacos!  Put some of this on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some salsa.  You will be a believer!  Tacos are a great way to use leftovers of Vindaloo.  Another awesome way to use up some left overs is on eggs in the morning with a bit of naan bread or tortilla.

One last note.  Do not skimp on the quality of your spices.  Make sure they are not old.  If you do one thing make sure to buy powdered Kashmir chili only!  Do not even think of using a American style chili powder blend.  Kashmiri chili have a beautiful color and flavor.  They are a must, use 100% Kashmiri chili powder.

Serve with a nice toasted bread or some basmati rice.  I like this with a nice cold IPA or even a pilsner.



2 onions, rough chop

1 inch of ginger (about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce), peeled and rough chopped

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

5 teaspoons ground cumin (10 grams)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

10 teaspoons garam masala (20 grams)

6 to 8 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (100% ground Kashmiri chili), 8 if you like it spicy

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

7 FL ounces  red wine vinegar (200ml)


3 pounds pork shoulder, diced to 3/4 inch cubes

3 curry leaves

Water as necessary

Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and  cardamom as necessary

1.  Put all base ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2.  While the main ingredients are being puréed heat a thick bottomed pot, big enough to hold the entire recipe.  When hot add 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil) and begin browning the pork shoulder, if the pork cools the pan down and it doesn’t brown well don’t worry, just continue with the recipe.

3. Once the pork is browned off add the curry leaves and stir.  Add the entire base to the pork, stir and turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 20 min or so.  The closer to being done it gets more reduced the sauce will be and you will need to stir more often.  Also depending on the size of your pot and the heat you may find the sauce is too reduced and the pork is not tender.  If this happens add 1/2 cup of water, sir and continue cooking.  You can do this as many times as necessary.  You want the pork tender but not shredded so you wild have to watch at the end! (if it shreds make tacos!)

4.  Before removing from the stove adjust seasoning with Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper and cardamom as necessary.  This dish gets even better the 2nd day.

Thyme in,






Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps






I love it when great taste and good nutrition meet! The genesis of this was plain and simple . . . hunger and the desire to have something healthy! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator so it was just a matter of measuring, mixing and cooking. With all the fragrant ingredients the house smelled awesome.

I often lean toward Asian flavors, could have something to do with working almost ten years working for an Asian hotel chain (Mandarin Oriental). This dish, although not based on a traditional recipe it is certainly full of flavor.

For old thymes sake,



Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps




1 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 ½ teaspoons roasted sesame oil

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ recipe of my essential cabbage slaw

16 lettuce cups romaine or bib lettuce work great


  1. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the slaw and the lettuce. Mix well with a rubber spatula, trying not to let the mix warm up too much.
  2. In a nonstick pan cook a small amount to check and see if it has enough salt. You can adjust if needed.
  3. With your hand roll the mix into little meat balls about ½ ounce each. The mix will be a little soft but will firm up as they cook.
  4. Depending on the size of the pan you have you can cook the meat balls in batches. Put a small amount in oil in the pan and when it is at a medium heat add the meat balls. Cook moving them around until they are cooked through (165f). Try not to overcook as the turkey is lean and will dry out quickly.
  5. Serve them with the lettuce for cups, the slaw as a topping, and any other toppings you can think of. I like sautéed hot chilies or roasted peppers.






Simple Pickled Peppers






Have a garden full of peppers and not sure you can keep up?  No problem!

This year I planted a garden made up almost exclusively of hot chili peppers.  We have been getting a lot of rain and the garden is going wild!  Peppers are rolling in faster than we can eat them.  Last week I made an awesome hot pepper sauce, this week they are destined for a pickle jar! This very simple pickled pepper recipe will not only help you preserve your peppers but it has great flavor too.  Your pickled peppers will be great on sandwiches, pizzas, salads and just about anywhere you want a little heat.

I use this same simple pickle recipe to pickle all sorts of vegetables when I have the chance.  It makes great pickled carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, or green beans.  I have even used it to pickle hard boiled eggs.

For this recipe, which is just a quick simple pickle, I cooled the liquid before pouring on the peppers. This will help them keep the color and crisp texture. You don’t have to do that. You can pour the hot liquid on the peppers (be careful) and the peppers will take on a softer texture and will take on the pickle flavor faster.


Simple Pickled Peppers

Makes 1 quart jar of pickled peppers



Enough peppers to fill a 1 quart canning jar

2 cup vinegar (either white wine or red wine)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

5 sprigs of thyme

  1. In a non-reactive sauce pot combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer just enough to dissolve everything.
  2. Put the liquid in a refrigerator and chill.
  3. While the liquid is chilling, wash all the peppers and put in the caning jar. You want to fill the jar but not to pack them too tight. The peppers can be touching but not jammed in there as you need the liquid to work its magic.
  4. Pour the cooled liquid over the peppers, add the sprigs of thyme, cover and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of three days. Then enjoy.
  5. These peppers will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator as long as they are covered.

Thyme Out!


Miso Topped Beef Tenderloin, Garlic, Black Bean – Orange Vinaigrette





Sometimes you are in the mood for a great steak, but don’t feel like just simple grill.  You open the refrigerator, or as I would say “cooler” (then get made fun of by the kids), and you work with what you have around.  In this case a strange combination of  ingredients work very well together.  Miso, sake, orange, garlic and black beans . . .  absolutely!  The warm vinaigrette and the topping can be made ahead of time which makes this an easy dish to prepare as all you have to do last minute is cook and top the steaks then plate up!

Miso Beef with Garlic -Orange vinaigrette

Serves 4



Topping for Beef

¼ cup white miso paste

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup sugar

  1. In a double boiler combine all and cook to a thick spreadable consistency while whisking, similar to a sabayon.  This should only take a few minutes.   At this point you can set aside to use right away or cool down for later use.  This is also a good topping for fish, I’m thinking of that classic flavor of cod and miso!


¾ cup black beans (cooked drained, and seasoned)

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup orange Juice

15 roasted garlic cloves (a little Brown)

¼ cup chopped cilantro

12 orange segments

Lime salt and pepper

1.  Combine all in a sauce pot and barely bring to a simmer then pull off the stove.

2.  Season well with salt, pepper and lime.  The sauce should be nice and “zippy” with lime.  You could also add some grilled and sliced jalapeño if you want to heat things up!


4 – 5 0z Beef Tenderloin Steaks

  1. Pre heat oven to 350f
  2. Have the sauce and the miso topping done and ready to go.  The sauce should be either room temperature or warm.
  3. Season Beef with salt and pepper then sear well in a thick bottomed, oven safe pan with some olive oil.  Once the steaks are seared there is a good chance you will need to finish cooking them in the oven (unless they are thin).  Set the whole pan in the oven and cook almost to the desired temperature (slightly under cook as you will need to spoon on a bit of the miso topping and broil for another minute or so).  Cook to about 115 f (for those of you who use thermometers) or until the meat just gives some resistance (for those of you who cook by touch), turn the oven on broil, top with the miso topping, glaze in broiler then rest the steaks for 5 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Divide some sauce on 4 plates (shallow bowls would be great too)  trying to get the same amount of roasted garlic, orange and beans on each plate.  Top with the Steaks.
  5. If you are feeling like going the extra mile you can make a little salad of sprouts or lettuce tips, a drop of extra virgin olive oil, some fried shallots or root vegetables and a sprinkle of salt.  Put a bit on top of each steak.

Enjoy this unusual but surprisingly easy dinner!


Thyme Out!





Brown Butter and Sage Mac and Cheese – Venison Frito Pie



Brown Butter and Sage Mac and Cheese – Venison Frito Pie

Everyone loves chili.  Chili is also a hot topic of controversy.  A spicy melting pot of opinions, demands, facts, lies and recipes! Here in Texas, where the dew falls first from Heaven, we do not use beans, we do not use too much tomato, and we do not over complicate the chili.

In its truest form I believe Texas chili is meat, either ground or diced, seasonings, and a chili sauce made from dried chilies . . . a classic “bowl of red”.  Red refers to the brick red sauce that gloriously presents its self with you puree rehydrated dried chilies.

In this version I have added some beer, which with its bitterness and hoppy flavor, brings some good things to the pot.  I use some tomato, which adds in combination of the sautéed onions, brings a natural sweetness.  The masa harina adds an earthy corn tortilla like flavor . . . love it.

Speaking of chili that is sweetened with sugar or sweet chili sauces, please do not get me started on that immoral process.  Wrong is wrong.

As for Mac and Cheese, what can I say?  The dish is a catalyst for all things happy.  The sauce is the back bone of the dish and for me, its very important.  The ratio of sauce to pasta must be high – almost pasta in velvety cheese soup.  The selection of cheeses is really up to you.  I always add the mascarpone for creaminess.  Also, once the cheese is in the sauce, don’t boil it.  It will ruin the texture.

Why put this chili together with Mac and Cheese?  Why not.  Chili Mac is good, a childhood classic, Frito Pie too.  Sometimes when you are cooking, things like this just happen, one thing leads to another and next thing you know you have something like Brown Butter and Sage Mac and Cheese – Venison Frito Pie. . . Say what!

I was lucky enough to get to make this dish on a demo today at the Travel and Adventure Show here in Dallas.  I was invited by my friend Jim White, who together with his wife Vicky are the masterminds of Savor Dallas.  If any of you live in the area I highly recommend checking out Savor Dallas!  Awesome events.

Venison Chili

Serves 4 to 5


1/8th cup bacon fat (or olive oil)

1 pound ground venison (or your favorite meat)

1/2 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup tomato sauce (or puree diced tomatoes)

4 ounces beer

4 pasilla chili pods

2 cups chicken stock or water

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon masa harina dissolved in cool water (optional)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

More cumin and oregano to taste

  1. Remove stems and seeds from dried chili pods. Cover peppers with hot water for 15 minutes, drain and puree with a small amount of water to a smooth chili sauce.   It should be the consistency of a smooth marinara.
  2. Heat bacon fat in large skillet. Add meat and sear (you may need to do this in batches).  Remove meat. Add onion and garlic and sauté in bacon grease until you get a bit of color.  Add meat back. Stir in the beer and reduce a bit.  Add spices and mix well through the meat, add the tomato.  Hit it with a pinch of salt.
  3. Pour dried chili sauce into kettle with meat, dissolve the masa in a small amount of cold water and stir that in too.  Simmer for 1 hour, or until the chili is at proper thickness.  You can spice up with some cayenne, tobacco or even some slices of jalapeno or habanero at the last minute (or early on with the onions).  Season with salt a little during the cooking process, taste as you go.

Brown Butter Sage Mac and Cheese

Serves 4


3/4th quarts half and half

1/8 cup butter

1/8 cup flour

1 tablespoons sage, fresh, chopped

½ cups cheddar, local, shredded

½ cups Swiss shredded

½ cups cotija cheese

½ cup mascarpone

1/8 cup butter you will be browning this at the end and using as a flavoring

Salt, pepper and lemon

4 cups of cooked pasta, I really like shells because they hold the cheese

½ cup of extra cheese to put on top if desired

¾ cup bread crumbs to put on top if desired

  1. Using a thick pot, put the butter in first and turn on high heat.  Allow the butter to cook until it takes on a nut brown appearance  and a nutty smell.  Be careful, at this point its very hot. Remove from the heat and quickly add the flour using a whisk which the flour and the butter together.  This will be your brown butter roux.  Add ¼ of the half and half and whisk well to remove all lumps.  Then return to the heat whisk and add the remainder of the half and      half.
  2. Simmer for 15 min to cook the  flour taste out.  Add all remaining  ingredients and whisk well.  Adjust seasoning with salt pepper and lemon.

To assemble, mix the warm mac and cheese sauce with the pasta, heat gently and adjust seasonings again.  At this point you have a few options, but first you must make a decision if you are serving everything separate or made into a finished dish.  You can just serve as is in all its creamy glory.  If you are in a casserole frame of mind you can pour the mac and cheese in an oven safe serving dish or dishes, top with the optional cheese and bread crumbs and bake in a 350f oven for 10 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Keep in mind Fritos, sour cream, extra cheese, chives or scallions are ideal companions to this dish.

Thyme is money,